Rare Glimpse of Philippine Chinese Anti-Japanese War Memorial Hall within Manila Chinese Cemetery

The small group of about 10 friends went at the iconic Manila Chinese Cemetery. We spotted that the door of the Philippine Chinese Anti-Japanese War Memorial hall was  open.

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Philippine Chinese Anti-Japanese War Memorial Hall

According to the caretaker of the war memorial hall, They would only open the hall during November 1 or during important meeting of the association.

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Consul General Clarence Young road corner Chun Chin road

We were quite lucky to have the rare chance of seeing the collection. Our group wrote  our names at the visitors log-book and took sometime exploring the museum.

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Manila Chinese Cemetery south entrance ( Felix Huertas street) Santa Cruz, Manila

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Wha Chi historical marker installed in 1994

Although i have been at the memorial hall several times before, have not brought any camera to document my visit. It is good that some of my friends brought some cameras.

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NHCP historical marker installed in 2005

The memorial hall is neatly landscaped with blooming ixora ( santans), champagne palms and potted Adenium obesum ( Bangkok kalachuchi).

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boy with native hat mannequin

Philippine Chinese Anti-Japanese War Memorial Hall

Filipino-Chinese

staircase going to the second floor

The memorial hall is grouped into two parts, The first part consists of pre-Pacific war materials, when the Filipino- Chinese supported the war of resistance against Japanese aggression in China. The second part consists of materials after the Pacific war broke out.

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That was the period when the Filipino-Chinese joined hands with the Filipino people and American forces to resist Japanese occupation. They organized their own guerilla groups and gallantly engaged the enemy in actual combat, and in so doing, made them indelible contribution to international war.

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The materials on display includes historical photos,charts, books, paper money, flag, medals, uniform, map and paintings.

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San Pablo, Laguna massacre of hundred of innocent civilians among which are Filipino-Chinese  (painting)

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mimeograph machine

Although far from being complete, these at least represent the veins of that period in history.

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bas relief

The group was also lucky and got a chance to visit the balcony area, We were able to view a big portion of the cemetery and surrounding skylines.

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Manila Chinese cemetery and immediate surroundings

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Aside from tombstones, historical personalities, bird watching activities, jogging and biking. Manila Chinese Cemetery can boast of its own unique nice flora.

Note: Special “Thanks” to Mr. Roland Roman Roldan for some of the photos with watermarks, He is an online friend¬† used to work as a photographer and cameraman in a reputable media entity.

Horticultural Stroll within Manila Chinese Cemetery

Manila Chinese Cemetery is one of the biggest cemeteries at 54 hectares about 133. 43 acres which borders Manila and Caloocan City. The site used called “ Paang Bundok” and part of the triumvirate of cemeteries which also includes La Loma Catholic Cemetery and Manila North Cemetery. The area was chosen because of its hilly portion, good feng shui and vantage point.

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rows of mid 20th-century houses leading to the entrance

It is rich in history, architectural heritage, cultural and horticultural wealth. Manila had few areas of greenery and the place is a treasure trove of stories to tell, share and appreciate.

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boungainvillea hybrid

 Boungainvillea hybrid planted by one of the home owner which lives near the cemetery. This tends to get bushy during the rainy season. The owner told us that the flowering shrub also serves as buffer within their property line.

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 Alstonia scholaris  locally known as devil tree / dita tree also found within the cemetery ground

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 Another dita ( Alstonia scholaris ) is flowering, with yellow oleander and ixora ( santan) at the foreground

The cemetery had two gate opening, one is located at Felix Huertas street, Santa Cruz, Manila and is open daily at around 7:00 am until 5:00 pm and R. Papa street within Caloocan City. The R. Papa gate only opens during days leading to All Saint’s Day and All Souls Day.

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newly re-built Chong Hock Tong Temple and administration building at the back

Chong Hock Tong temple which was rebuilt few years ago had a re-landscaping done.

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Chong Hock Tong temple with century-old mangoes and rain trees are planted within the compound.

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Drynaria quercifolia or commonly known as pakpak lawin/ paypaymo/ paipaimo

Most of the trees, plants, shrubs and flowering plants are exotic with very few native species. However what remains within the cemetery is still a sight to behold.  The place is also good site for bird and butterfly watching.

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Drynaria quercifolia with Dendrobium anosmum ( sanggumay)

The rain tree, acacia or akasya tree is a perfect host for different kinds of epiphytes like Drynaria quercifolia and Dendrobium anosmum.

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Shanghai Beauty or Jatropha integrrima

Shanghai Beauty is a flowering shrub was probably introduced into the country in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s by landscapers. They would use the flowering shrub extensively in their projects. This is relatively easy to grow and propagation using different kinds of method. The most popular is thru air layering, cuttings or seeds.

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 banana plant with fruits

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pandakaki , rosal and adenium obesum

kalachuchi

Plumeria alba or Puting kalachuchi is another feature of the cemetery. There are dozens of plumerias planted in different parts of the cemetery. There are red colored plumerias, yellow and pinkish form.

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red kalachuchi

Some of the big kalachuchis were at least 50 years-old. Few years ago, caretakers would collect dried flowers of kalachuchi and sell them to incense maker.

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roses

The pink rose featured above is relatively an old cultivar variety,Which can be grown carefree in lowland areas like in Metro Manila. This used to be very popular flowering plant throughout the archipelago from the 1950’s even until the mid -1990’s.

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Ficus pumila and garlic vine covered this memorial tomb marker

Ficus pumila refers to the latin word” pumilus” meaning small or dwarf and refers to the very small leaves of the plant.

Some local gardeners would sometimes refer this as climbing ivy, creeping fig, wall creeper, climbing ivy or poison ivy. This is popular fig grown in perimeter walls in posh subdivision and old adobe walls.  landscapers would plant this creeping fig to soften the grey color of the walls.

Young fig leaves would have different colors and shades of green, Thus having a cooling effect to the immediate environment.

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Ficus pumila leaves and stems

Ficus pumila tend to entangle the walls and eventually its long roots and stems would tend to erode portions of the walls or adobe stones in the long run. The old vacation house of Manuel Quezon that use to be located along Gilmore Street had several old Ficus pumila growing in its walls, When portion of the walls are being disassemble for transfer to Quezon Memorial Circle.  Most of the old adobe stone walls and hollow blocks had structural defects cause by the massive root system.

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Don Manuel/ Scarlet Bush or Hamelia patens is a flowering semi-bush introduced to the country from Central and South America.

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Annona squamosa commonly known as atis or sugar -apple are also found planted within family mausoleum plots. One caretaker told us that the relatives of this family mausoleum would bring atis and offer them. Then the fruits are eaten and the seeds are discarded at the ground.

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sampaguita/ arabian jasmine

Sampaguita/ Arabian jasmine are also planted in several family mausoleum pocket garden.

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champaka,champaca, chempaka, tsampaka, sampaka, sampaga trees

 Some families emphasize on planting fragrant flowering plants like kamuning, sinamomong sungsong/ cinamomo (Aglaia odorata), gardenia, pandakaki, ixora, kalachuchi,champaka, roses within their plots or mini gardens.

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potted flowering lilium hybrids ( these are locally called star glazer)

Potted flowering liliums, chrysanthemums, orchids, guzmanias and blooming plants  are placed in family mausoleums.

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commonly called Malaysian mums or garden mums

The growing trend among visiting relatives would bring and offer these potted flowering plants at family mausoleums. Flowers can last longer and fresh for several days or even weeks. Compared to offering flower arrangements which could only last between 1 to 3 days.

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caladium or popularly known as corazon de maria

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cassava

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an outdoor garden, outdoor family tomb and a mausoleum

This is a rather large family mausoleum with sprawling garden. There are several old mango trees, ti plant and pineapples planted within the garden area. According to my aunt, this family mausoleum plot belongs to a distant relative’s family. This is located just a few meters away from my grandparents mausoleum.

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This is a more traditional family mausoleum which had been repainted

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De Vera family mausoleum

We would refer those neighbors as (kapit-puntod). In life and death, It is ironic that some relatives, friends and business associates were buried near each other.

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calamansi/ kalamansi

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okra

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Yu family mausoleum or more popularly known as Regal mausoleum

The Yu family clan mausoleum is one of the largest building within the cemetery. Here lies the moral remains of the clan. Caretakers and people would refer this as Regal mausoleum in referral to Mother Lily Y. Monteverde, the clan’s most famous celebrity maker and entrepreneur.

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Kalanchoe daigremontianum or Bryophyllum daigremontianum

Kalanchoe daigremontianum or Bryophyllum daigremontianum had almost naturalized in some family estate plots and on top of family mausoleums. Cacti and succulent enthusiasts would be happy to see these grow in almost carefree environment.

A leisurely stroll within Manila’s Chinese cemetery would yield a lot of interesting stuffs and interest.

Note: All photos are taken by the author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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