A Visit to the Immaculate Conception Church of Bulan Sorsogon

Bulan , Sorsogon province -Philippines

The Immaculate Conception Parish Church is said  to be  as the biggest parochial church in Sorsogon province . This is more popularly called Bulan Catholic Church .

watchtower

This used to be a small parish church built during the Spanish period but the church is continuously expanded and a new belfry was erected in 2000. According to our relatives from Bulan, the church used to be open 24 hours a day but due to safety and security concerns . Caretakers had to open the church only on special request or past 4:30am .

marker

There is a belfry that was constructed on March 15, 2000 and finished on May 25, 2000 . It was blessed and dedicated on June 12, 2000.  This was spearheaded by The 3M Squires Foundation.

marble plaque -donated by Mrs. Torribia Viyuda De Vera ( my maternal grandmother) 

The church ground is quite big with major construction happened from 1965 to 1967 with prominent families , politicians , public school teachers, Filipino-Chinese association donating money for the construction of the foundations of the church.

The names of the families and associations which donated to the construction had their family surnames etch on a plaque and installed at the pillars of the church.

Bulan District Teachers

Tomasa viyuda Lim

Lola sa Tuhod -Se√Īora Tomasa viyuda de Lim is my maternal grandmother’s – stepmother .

Queen Mely de Vera – Miss Bulan 1965

 According to the stories of my second cousin Ms. Myrna Uy of Bulan , Sorsogon. There was a beauty pageant organized by the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry РBulan chapter way back in 1965 together with the Bulan community. The aim was to help built the church and the proceeds of the pageant was used in the construction of the church.

There were several young women that joined the competition and people would buy ballots in support of the candidates. The contestants were judge not on beauty alone but on bearing . After the tabulation, Miss Milagros Lim de Vera ( maternal aunt) who won the title and all the proceeds were donated to the church .

main altar

There is also a daily mass which starts at around past 5:15 am , The language spoken is Bikol- Sorsogon .

immaculate conception -this is about 15 feet statue

the statute is lighted during the mass

our lady of perpetual help

This is located just a few meters from the house of where i stayed.  A Visit to Sibil Cemetery in Bulan, Sorsogon

 

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A Visit to Sibil Cemetery in Bulan , Sorsogon : Reconnecting My Family Roots

Bulan , Sorsogon province -Philippines

MRRL Trading and General Merchandise

It is my first time to visit and stayed in the town of Bulan , Sorsogon , We stayed with my second cousin’s home and hardware store at C. Gotladera street . It used to be known as Manuel Trading and was recently renamed to MRRL Trading and General Merchandise ¬† .

 

C. Gotladera street corner Z.  Asuncion street 

Maternal Great Grandparents

Our maternal family genealogy¬† can be traced over a century ago, as recounted by my maternal aunts and cousins .¬† The story started when my maternal great grandfather ( Lolo sa Tuhod ) ‚Äď Patricio Villanueva Lim from Zamboanga province and maternal great grandmother ( Lola sa Tuhod)¬† Cristina Tankiko / Tangkeko ( or Tangueco )¬† who hails from Malabon , Rizal married resulting in the birth of 7¬† female and 1 male with total of 8 children . The names of the children were¬† Victorina T. Lim,¬† Dionisio T. Lim ,¬† Agueda T. Lim , Otilla T. Lim, Maria T. Lim ,¬† Rosario T. Lim , Lola Torribia T. Lim and¬† Asuncion T. Lim. Lola Asuncion or known as Yaya Susoy.¬† My great grandmother died shortly after she was born .¬† My maternal grandmother is Lola Torribia T. Lim was born on May 17, 1910.

They settled and stayed in the town of Bulan and their old house is one of the first that got galvanized roof. ( de- galvanizado ) . They also acquired some lands within Bulan and nearby towns . They are considered as one of the prominent families of the place.

marble stoup donated by Mr and Mrs. Juan  R. Grillego and lower marker indicates the name Mrs. Torribia Lim viyuda De Vera 1966 at the Bulan Church

The Bulan church foundation ( one of the pillar ) have the name of my maternal grandmother ( the name of the people who donated to the construction of the church had their name etched in a marker – reconstruction started from 1965 to 1967 ) Unfortunately, the marble marker had been repainted and the donors name cannot be visibly seen .

My maternal grandmother , Lola Torribia Lim- De Vera is one of the siblings of the union. ( Please visit related link : Manila Chinese Cemetery  )

Lola sa Tuhod Cristina Tankiko / Tangkeko¬† ( or Tangueco ) -Lim is a well -bred mestiza woman , ( Tagala – Chinese lineage ) from Malabon , Rizal ‚Äď Ms. Myna Uy ( my second cousin ) recounted that she had the privilege to visit the place several decades ago and there were some long lost relatives which visited her few years back from Malabon . She somehow have forgotten the exact barangay and could not recollect . According to her , the family is landed and fairly educated . She probably died around 1912¬† due to miscarriage, She was between 30 to 35 years-old .She was buried somewhere in Malabon .

According to the stories of my aunts and second cousins, Some of the relatives and nephews of my maternal grandmother would visit them in the mid -1950’s ( around 1954 or 1955 ) in their upholstery store in Gandara aka Sabino Padilla street. They could only remember Mr. Moises Tankiko /Tangkeko ( Tangueco) was around late 40’s¬† and Mr. Rene Tangkiko/ Tangkeko ( Tangueco) in his late teens.

Lolo sa Tuhod Patricio Villanueva -Lim my maternal great grand father is a mix of Chavacano , Spanish and Chinese who hails somewhere from Zamboanga province. He was probably born around 1860 , since some of my aunts had met him . They told me that he was about 86 years-old in 1946 when they met him. He died a year later in 1947.

My maternal great grandmother died young and my maternal great grand father remarried twice the second wife died shortly . My maternal aunts could not recount her name . I think they have 1 to 2 children .

Lola Tomasa Giro-Lim ( Lola Masa ) from Bulan ‚Äď They have 2 siblings ‚Äď Mr. Maximiano Lim and Ms. Salud Lim .

According to the stories of my second cousins: Ms. Myrna Uy and his brothers , My maternal great grandfather  and maternal step great grandmother might have been buried somewhere within this cemetery or was it at the other Catholic cemetery.

l-r Mr.Raymond L. De Vera , Mrs. Nenita L. De Vera and Vice Mayor Tessie Lim-Guran

I think they belonged to the LIM and De Vera family clan . We also paid a visit to the current vice mayor of the town of Bulan and have a courtesy call to Honorable Tessie G. Lim- Guran and her sister whom our maternal lineage are related ( great grandfather is also the same with her ) She is known as ” Para-Bulong ”¬† sort of faith healer , practicing it for over 30 years ! She lived in Luyo / Loyo or Zone 8¬† and we saw dozens of people would lined-up and wait for her .

I knew that she would inherit some qualities , since some people would tell us that the family is quite mystical and my maternal grandmother would also conduct some faith-healing session with the locals.

entrance to the civil or sibil cemetery

We have visited the Civil or Sibil cemetery to pay our respects to our Tsinoy fore bearers and to the UY family clan members that were interred at the cemetery . However due to time constrains , We were not able to locate the exact burial location.

 Chinese Martyrs Monument of June 13, 1942 erected on June 13, 1946 during the incumbency of Salvador Escudero Рprovincial governor 

So Tian Syo Leocadio Corro- Merchant

So Hong Su – Principal

Yap Tiong Kiat – School Teacher

Tan Ka Leong – Merchant

Te Yan Koy – Merchant

Lim Koy Han – Merchant

So Kun Siok – Student

Lee Kim Tian – Student

Tan Lin Siu- Student

Tan Liong Siu – Student

Chinese grave with inscription

Chinese businessmen and students who were shot by the Japanese at the  gate on suspicion of being guerillas or collaborators. Here also lies as the resting place of  many underground guerillas , patriots, fighters and others , both identified and not were interred.

chinese style pagoda entrance

Those who were killed during the many military encounters in Bulan between 1972-76, and hastily buried within the cemetery grounds. .

Mr. Tony Ariado and Mr. Fenito Guan are also buried within the cemetery and  countless of teachers and brave soldiers.

One can easily identify the prominent clans of Bulan, to the west the Geronas, the Galiases, and the De Castro to the eastern portion, the Gillegos and the Gotladeras.

The Sibil / Civil is the resting place of all others, especially of the Tsinoys. In the mid 19th and early 20th century ,  it was only in the  Romano or Campo Santo de Bulan  referring to the old Roman Catholic Cemetery where masses and blessings of the dead were held, but no longer this time. They now say mass in the Sibil.

A visit to the town surely gave a some time to trace my ancestral roots and i think more will surely unravel if i can trace my lost relatives in Malabon , Zamboanga and Sorsogon. Who knows there are more relatives out there .

 

Manila Chinese Cemetery- mounts, monuments,mausoleums ,magnate

The Manila Chinese Cemetery (founded in 1879) is the second oldest cemetery in Manila after Paco (1820), and was designated as the resting place for the Chinese citizens who were denied burial in Catholic cemeteries during the Spanish colonial period. In later times, however, even the Chinese who had converted to Catholicism were allowed to be buried in this cemetery. The place was also designated as a burial ground for people who died of communicable diseases.

Chinese cemetery -south gate entrance arch

The cemetery was once featured in several international programs like Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous in the 1980’s and on several international travel guidebooks.

a family mausoleum with dragon design and pagoda

The Chinese Cemetery is part of the three-cemetery complex of Manila; namely: Campo Santo de La Loma (La Loma Cemetery) 1884, Cementerio del Norte (North Cemetery) and Cementerio ng mga Instik ( Chinese  Cemetery). During the nineteenth-century, only the Catholics were allowed to be interred in La Loma. The paupers, non-Christians, victims of communicable diseases, and enemies of the colonial government were relegated to the Chinese Cemetery  for burial. The Chinese cemetery also sits on the highest  elevated portion of the district.

Through the years, as more of the Chinese rich interred their dead here, the cemetery was acquired by the Philippine- Chinese Charitable Association, Inc., and became a private cemetery. Prime movers are Don Carlos Palanca Tanchueco ( Tan Quien Sien) , Lim Ong which contributed in purchasing both the present Chinese cemetery lot and Chinese General Hospital .

Joaquin Saez Co Guanco mausoleum

A typical family cannot just buy a burial plot outright at the Chinese Cemetery; the family must properly coordinate with the Philippine- Chinese Charitable Association that had control of the site, proper measures, paper works must be done in order to secure a family burial plot . Some Filipino- Chinese may even consult the services of Feng Shui expert before the actual interment of the family members.  Many believed that choosing a proper place for graveyard is very important for the welfare not only of the dead but also for the future generation of the clan.

A family plot can only be leased for twenty-five years then can be renewable for another 25 years and so on. However, if one had achieved exemplary accomplishments in life ‚ÄĒ toward the betterment of the society¬† while living, that¬† person could be rewarded a burial site for free as in the mausoleum for Chinese martyrs and fire volunteers.

an emptied family mausoleum

For those families unable to afford a continuance of the lease once due for renewal, they are no longer allowed to do any more maintenance work on their respective grave site or mausoleum. However, the cemetery administrators will not evict the buried by digging up and disposing the remains, because they might only attract bad luck into their life. Instead, a grave site or mausoleum will be left untouched to decay with time.

Mang Nolasco

According to Mang Jun Nolasco one of the tomb caretakers, there used to be over 600 caretakers at any given time in the Chinese cemetery. They lived in nearby places. This was some sort of a profession; some of us here are already tomb caretakers for more than 40 to 50 years! However in recent times their numbers had decline to barely 250.¬† The cost in maintaining a family mausoleum relatively high, imagine you need to pay a renewal fee to the association which happens when the term lease expires, then the association will measure the family plot ‚ÄďThe association charges a typical fee of Php 1,400 per square meter, excluding renovations, re-painting and others.

Most of the families who moved out of this place would just buy plot outside in a modern memorial garden. At least they own the lot.

Chinese Fu-Dogs made from ceramic

There are about ten security guards on bicycle patrol and another ten security guards on foot patrol.  They guard some of the vital vantage points of the cemetery, the perimeter walls bordering  (North Cemetery), main gate, and temple. Sometimes vandals would cross the walls from North cemetery to Chinese cemetery.  The 30 feet high adobe wall separates the Chinese cemetery to the North cemetery.

A Chinese Fu-Dog guardian of family mausoleum – made of ceramic

Located near the main entrance was the pyramid-shaped monument (a significant symbol to Free Masons) now stands on the original site of his resting place at the Chinese Cemetery.¬†¬† Apolinario Mabini, “the Sublime Paralytic“, and as “the Brains of the Revolution.” Is one of our country‚Äôs national heroes.

Apolinario Mabini grave  with pyramidal- shaped monument  and historical marker

He was buried inside the Chinese cemetery for the aforementioned criteria: he was a Mason; hence, a non-Christian; he died from cholera (a communicable disease back then) ; and his insurgent writings and involvements in the 1896 and Filipino-American 1898 revolution deemed him enemy of the state. Upon his death on May 13, 1903, he was buried in the Chinese Cemetery, His remains were later transferred to his hometown in Tanauan , Batangas   to a permanent gravesite.

Apparently, Apolinario Mabini had a street named after him near his gravesite.

This is the simple De Vera family mausoleum located within Ceng Chong Road a few blocks from the YU– Chu Family mausoleum (more popularly known as Regal mausoleum) within the cemetery.

De Vera family mausoleum

My grandfather was Mr. Federico De Vera of Sorsogon and Samar province (August 18,1909 to December 20, 1956)¬† Chinese- Filipino origin. ( Mother’s surname is said to be Hernandiso )

My maternal grandfather is a farmer, trader and worked before in Rialto Studio . During the Japanese occupation, my grandfather was a guerrilla intelligence spy. Being married with 8 children at that time, he choose to stay as an underground spy with few actual combat encounters against the invading Japanese forces in Sorsogon province. There was also one incident that he was spotted by 2 Japanese soldiers while boiling peanuts and was fired-upon twice, Luckily he escapes towards the creek by diving .

frangipani blooming beside the family tomb

Mrs. Toribia¬† (Tankiko / Tangkeko / Tangueco ) Lim -De Vera hails from Bulan , Sorsogon (May 17, 1910 to November 20, 1983) is of Spanish ‚Äď Chinese ‚ÄďFilipino origin. However, According to family members, De Vera family surname belongs to the Chinese¬† (So) surname clan.

My maternal grandmother is also a farmer, plant lover, herbalist ,¬† entrepreneur. She also knew how to drive a car (at the time when very few knew how). She¬† can speak in Spanish, Bikol ‚Äď Sorsogon, Tagalog, English, Mandarin and Hokkien.

grandparents pictures on top of the gravestone

Colorful ribbons signify a recent visit made by family members or friends. These colorful papers  are pasted all over the tombstones and mausoleum.

She maintained 3 general merchandise stores about 6×6 square meters in Matnog, Sorsogon in the early 1940‚Äôs which sold a variety of school supplies, candles, candies, light bulbs, rice, canned goods, dress, dried fish, abaca, cigarettes.¬† It is said to be one of the biggest in Matnog area before they were ransacked by the Japanese during the closing days of the second world war.

According to some old relatives, her family is a distant relative of the Realonda ‚Äď Rizal‚Äôs mother.

tomb stone marker

This family mausoleum was built on December 1956, when my grandfather died of a sudden heart attack.  The simple cross and old frangipani tree that severed as point of reference. The family mausoleum is not grand or ornately built compared to nearby mausoleum but the simple architectural structure would imply the simplicity and the income bracket of the family.

There were other relatives from So, De Vera , Ymaz , Lim , Chan , Kho, Dy  family clan  and some victims of the infamous Ruby Tower earthquake  who were  also buried within the cemetery.

Yu-Chu family mausoleum

Locate in between Kong Teh and  Ceng Chong road is UNO High School ( Filipino- Chinese School ) founder  Don Domingo Yu Chu family mausoleum Р. This prominent Filipino- Chinese educator, businessman , philanthropist , copra magnate envisioned founding a school to educate the youth thus UNO school is his lifetime dream. He also help to established Chang Kai Shek College .  The family mausoleum is more popularly known as Regal mausoleum ( since Regal is the film company  Mrs. Lily Y. Monteverde) .

Don Domingo Yu Chu monument

The family mausoleum is one of the most popular mausoleum  in the cemetery . The big green tile roofs and massive structure almost 3 to 4 stories high, with tombstone marker made from carrara marble and granite  are all imported from Italy .  Big Chinese fu-dogs guard the main entrance  and a statute of the family patriarch Don Domingo Yu Chu  stands .  This is also one of the most massive structures within the cemetery.

Ma Mon Luk mausoleum with his two wives

This mausoleum with a huge crown on its top belongs to famous restaurateur  Mr. Ma Mon Luk ( Mami King ) . His two wives are also buried here on either side of him. Ma Mon Luk was a salesman, showman ,cook and hopeless romantic; his was a life worthy of a telenovela (soap opera). He worked very hard and started to peddle his goods , people used to call his mami ( gupit)  in pre-war Intramuros and Binondo  areas. Some of his first clients were students from Colegio de San Juan de Letran , Ateneo and Filipino- Chinese.

At least three Ma Mon Luk restaurants are still operational in Benavides ( now called Masuki), Quezon Boulevard

near  Quiapo church and Quezon City  Quezon Boulevard  near Banawe.

While some of his descendants opened another mami chain called Masuki which had 3 to 4 stores in operations – Benavides ( original Ma Mon Luk ) , Greenhills , Ortigas .

Chamsamco family grave

A family mausoleum which caught my fancy was the Chamsamco family built in 1947 with the famous swastika equilateral cross . Archeological evidences of this design may be traced back from the Indus valley region dates back from the Neolitic period.  This is widely used in Eastern and Dharmic religion such as Buddhist, Hindusim, Jainism.

modern style family mausoleum

The Chinese cemetery is a repository of various architectural marvels from simple tombstones, ornate, art deco, modern, traditional , hybrid , classical .

Manila Chinese Cemetery

Location :Felix Huertas Street corner Aurora Boulevard

Transportation : jeepney ride, tricycle , ( LRT- Blumentritt station) , pedicab
Opening Hours: 7.30 am to 7.00 pm daily.
Admission: Free.

Note: Tour guides are available ( offered by the cemetery) rates differ from Php 300 to Php 500  individual or group.

But if you knew someone with dead relatives or friends just hop along with them.

Video taping is not allowed . ( permission must be sought)

* The author occasionally does a free walking tour around the area upon request by close friends or relatives.


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