Halloween and cemetery-visiting season is approaching. Oh wait, forget the cemetery visits this year thanks to this pandemic. Fortunately, the Urban Roamer has some relevant new content to share in this post, a tradition of this site for years now.
This year’s edition takes us to the Taguig Catholic Cemetery. If you come to pass this place these days, one may be mistaken that other than a cramped space filled with tombs, in an area that’s not that big for a cemetery, with no interesting mausoleums or burial tombs to see, there isn’t much to see here.
But quite the contrary, there is one interesting sight in this cemetery: a dome-shaped, adobe-built chapel towering above these tombs at least by a storey high, making it hard to miss and a dominant sight in this part of the neighborhood. This particular structure is known as the “Simboryo”, a Tagalog term for a structure with a dome-shaped roof.
It is believed that the Taguig Catholic Cemetery Simboryo was believed to have been built around 1700 by the Augustinian friars which at the time administered the Santa Ana Church of Taguig under whose jurisdiction the cemetery falls under to serve as a mortuary chapel, just like the chapels found in La Loma and Paco, the latter bearing some similarity in design to this one.
As such, on the “ground” level of the Simboryo is the area where the remains of the departed are entombed, should their loved ones choose to have them buried there. And surprisingly (or not) it is still being of use to this day. The same cannot be said of the chapel area on the upper level, which has long fallen into disuse though still being maintained to a degree.
One interesting tidbit about the Simboryo is that there used to be a tunnel that connects it to the aforementioned Santa Ana Church of Taguig. Unfortunately, for safety and other reasons, the tunnel has been sealed off now.
Today, the Simboryo stands as a surviving relic of Taguig’s past, still standing amidst the vandalism, need for greater maintenance, and threats from the continuing urbanization of Taguig. For instance, the recent construction a mall a few kilometers away was enough to raise concerns on the simboryo’s stability.
That being said, the efforts to preserve the Simboryo despite being not quite known outside Taguig proper and the constant problems of the elements and urbanization has to be lauded. Here’s hoping it continues to serve as a living symbol of Taguig heritage, its not-so-lively location notwithstanding.
Acknowledgements to the Taguig Heritage Society for their time and help in taking me and fellow volunteers and members of my organization through a Taguig immersion tour held last February