With All Saints-All Souls Day already passed, it was a perfect occasion for the Urban Roamer to visit a cemetery anew. This time, we are headed south to visit what is probably the most prominent and the largest burial area in the southern metropolis: the Manila Memorial Park.
Manila Memorial Park was opened in 1964, one of the first, if not the first, burial grounds to employ what is known as the memorial park concept. You see, back then, the Filipino idea of burial is a place of protruding stone tombs where the bodies are placed. And Manila Memorial Park changed all that by introducing the Western concept of lawn burials, buried in the midst of manicured open green fields with the grave markers on top.
Of course, no cemetery is complete without the mausoleums. Thus one can see mausoleums of all shapes and sizes. Some of them exquisitely designed as if they were luxury residences…for the dead in this case.
One thing that is noticeable in Manila Memorial Park is the presence of many Filipino-Chinese who are buried here, many of them entombed within those exquisite mausoleums. There are also the traditional mini furnaces that one usually sees beside a Chinese tomb where incense is lit to honor their dad. In a way, Manila Memorial can be considered a southern and a more contemporary equivalent of the Manila Chinese Cemetery.
Many notable figures are buried in this cemetery. Unfortunately, the Urban Roamer was not to find all the notable individuals who are buried in this memorial park. We did however find some notable burials. Most well known is the tombs of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. and his wife former Pres. Corazon Aquino, buried beside each other in an open area.
The other is the mausoleum that contains the remains of those who were massacred at the Chapel of the the Blessed Sacrament of De La Salle University.
Manila Memorial Park also has 3 venues where wakes can be held for the sake of convenience, not to mention sparing the city’s already traffic-prone streets from even worse traffic. One of them is the park’s main chapel and two are branches of popular funeral homes in the metropolis.
As with many of the city’s burial places, Manila Memorial Park is a serene place to be at from time to time, that is if the thought of walking in a what is considered to be a “morbid environment” does not scare you. It actually does have the look and feel of a vast park that you can visit any day. Maybe not for recreation as with other parks but an interesting place to visit nonetheless.
Acknowledgements to the Manila Memorial Park