Death doesn’t put an end to the luxurious lifestyles of some of Manila’s wealthy Chinese residents. They are buried by their loved ones in a mammoth graveyard known as the Chinese Cemetery of Manila. This place is a small neighborhood in it’s own right, with many tombs reaching the size of mansions with all the modern amenities included!
The ginormous mausoleums lining either side of two-way streets within the cemetery are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities that many living people can only dream of. They have fully-functioning kitchens and bathrooms with luxury fittings, and plush bedrooms for visiting relatives. Some of these places even have full-time residents who don’t seem to mind sharing their living space with the dead.
Photo: Daniel Braun
The unconventional cemetery was first established by the Chinese trading community in Manila when Spanish colonials prevented them from using Catholic cemeteries. They were forced to find their own space to bury their dead, and it looks like they really went all out to customize it to their liking, making sure that their loved ones felt comfortable even in the afterlife. The extravagance of the cemetery is believed to reflect the great respect that the Chinese have towards their departed family members – they believe that the souls of the dead live in another world and their graves are supposed to be their homes on Earth. So if a family can afford it, it only makes sense for them to construct afterlife homes that are up to three stories high. Interestingly, children aren’t buried at the Chinese Cemetery – they are cremated instead and the ashes are placed at a special building within the neighborhood.
But apparently, the Chinese Cemetery of Manila was never meant to be this luxurious. Nicky Chen of Behind the Story visited the place and discovered the original rules of the cemetery carved in stone. Some of these state that “The rich should be frugal and simple in their burial, and the burial should conform to Chinese traditions”, “Grave site design should be simple and dignified” and “To discourage displays of opulence, the unit price of lots beyond two are set on a geometric progression”. Judging by the current look of the place, people have clearly forgotten all about them.
Given how comfortable these tomb-homes are, it’s not surprising that many visiting relatives have remained there permanently. In fact, some Chinese Cemetery residents claim that they were actually born on the burial grounds. Every modern amenity is available to them, including electricity, running water, drainage, telephone lines, cellular connectivity, and even a local restaurant.
The Chinese Cemetery is now a popular tourist attraction in the city, complete with professional guides. For 200 pesos, you can expect a complete tour of the eccentric neighborhood inhabited by both the dead and the living. Adventurous visitors could choose to hire a bicycle instead, and explore the sprawling grounds on their own.
Photo: Edgar Braun
Interestingly, this isn’t the only cemetery in Manila inhabited by both the dead and the living. Four years ago, we wrote about the city’s North Cemetery, where around 10,000 homeless people lived at the time. Over the years, city officials had made attempts to move people out of graveyard and provide them with housing options, but several of these resettled families prefered to go back to their old creepy homes in the graveyard.
via Messy Nessy Chic