Flores Para Los Muertos Mural Paintings at Manila North Cemetery

Flores Para Los Muertos (Flowers for the Dead) was a joint project between of Pino Art Museum, Davies Paints, Boysen and the Manila city government last October 6, 2019.


butterflies and birds


Caesalpinia pulcherrima is a flowering shrub introduced to the country during the Spanish colonial regime.

Locally called peacock flower, caballero, bulaklak ng paraiso or paradise flower.




hibiscus or gumamela




lilium hybrid or commonly called star gazer

Collective Art

There were at least 300 creative artists from Ilocos Sur, Tarlac, Bulacan and Rizal provinces volunteered to come together and paint this mural.




 hydrangeas or milflores

Mr. Ferdie Montemayor ( artist) spearheaded in organizing the volunteers, together with other artists from the Pinto Art Museum.


 looked like santan or ixora


The team managed to paint the whole mural in just 10 hours which included 3rd district Congressman John Marvin ” Yul Servo” Nieto.


bird of the paradise


Managed to visit the wall few days after they painted the perimeter walls of the Manila North Cemetery.



This also gives more time for the paint to age and the art work to mature.


toucan and butterflies








 The project hoped to brighten the bare white wash walls of the cemetery which borders Manila and Quezon City.


Zanthedeschia hybrid and Rapidophora leaves

The wall paintings is located along the 500 meters perimeter wall along Andres Bonifacio Avenue.


Vanda hybrids

According to a long time resident of the area, The local government should also improve on the street lighting along the stretch of the avenue.


Vanda sanderiana and hybrids


Phalaenopsis hybrid aka moth orchids



The most popular flowers which the artists painted were orchids, hibiscus ( gumamela), tulips, anthuriums and bougainvilleas.

The public is also advise not to put graffiti or destroy the wall painting.


Quick Stroll at Manila North Cemetery (Part 2)

Manila North Cemetery is much cleaner compared a year ago, but there were several road projects within the cemetery that walking around the community is still quite hard.

We visited the middle part of the cemetery along Main street in which major family mausoleums, family plot and famous people were buried.


boat shaped tomb

Manila North Cemetery

There are also interesting flowering plants, trees and butterflies at the Manila North Cemetery


Mausoluem of the Veterans of the Revolution or Panteón de los Veteranos de la Revolución , the Mousoleo de los Veteranos de la Revolución.


Mr. Arcadio Arellano brother of Architect Juan M. Arellano made the design for the monument in 1915 and the Asociacion de los Veteranos de la Revolucion.


historical marker installed in 1993

The neoclassical mausoleum is painted white with massive cubic structure on an elevated square podium. A shallow dome rests on a drum with small openings to allow the circulation of air and  let the natural light to come in.


shallow dome from inside

The facade had a bas relief of Swags, frets with key patterns, and human figures that represent grief to those who died in the causes of the revolution from Spain and United States of America.


bas relief

We met a Manila cityhall employee and told us that there were a lot of Katipuneros and fighters of the revolution were already exhumed and returned to their respective families or provinces.


One of my friend who hails from Makati told us that he is distantly related to one of the  revolutionary. We lighted white candles to pay homage to these veterans. Jewish cemetery and Pascual Poblete tomb is not far from this iconic landmark.


Pascual Poblete

 Pascual H. Poblete (May 17, 1857—February 5, 1921) was a Filipino writer and feminist, remarkably noted as the first translator of Dr. José Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere into the Tagalog language. The bust used to be painted white and overrun with cadena de amor. 


Jewish Cemetery

Jewish Cemetery plot is not that big, This site was the allotted in 1925 or 5685 in Jewish calendar. The site is the final resting place of several prominent Jewish nationals and Filipino-Jews.


Arellano family family plot is located just few meters away from the site. The family plot seemed well-kept and clean.


family plot


Isabelo delos Reyes and family plot


Thomasites plot

Thomasite is group of 600 American teachers who traveled from the United States with 365 males and 165 females—left Pier 12 of San Francisco on July 23, 1901, to sail via the Pacific Ocean to South East Asia. The memorial plot was erected in 1917.


Pancho Villa

Francisco Guilledo (August 1, 1901 – July 14, 1925) more popularly known by his boxing screen name Pancho Villa. He fought 103 boxing round and winning 89 and 22 knock outs in his boxing career.

Pancho Villa is the first Asian to win the World Flyweight Championship in 1923.  His sudden death at only twenty-three from complications following a tooth extraction.


Tuazon family mausoleum and tomb

This is one of the oddest family mausoleum within the Manila North Cemetery. This become one of the tourist attractions. The family tomb is located near Poe family mausoleum.


sphinx guardian

This is the grandest Egyptian style tomb. There are similar but on less grand scale in Manila Chinese Cemetery, La Loma Catholic Cemetery and Manila Memorial Park.

We continued the quest within the cemetery and visited some graveside of distant relatives, friends and neighbors. Some of which were already exhumed several years ago.

Quick Stroll at the Manila North Cemetery ( Part 1)

Manila North Cemetery or Cementerio del Norte is such an interesting place to visit. This cemetery used to be called ” Paang Bundok” serves as a border between Manila and Quezon City.


Manila North Cemetery entrance

Paang Bundok in Tagalog language meant foot of the mountain, which is one of the highest portion of Manila. Large portion of the cemetery were carved from the La Loma Catholic Cemetery when it was formed in 1904.

The place is an ideal spot to get a decent burial over a century ago. With only few people, large acacia trees,tranquil place away from the usual hustle and bustle of the urban landscape.

American colonial master deemed it more hygienic place, away from the general population.

In an undated letter to his parents and love ones, Dr. Jose Rizal mentioned that he wanted to get buried within ” Paang Bundok “. This was also mentioned by  Mr. Leon Ma. Guerrero in his notes.

We took sometime last week exploring the major street and important tombs of famous people interred at the cemetery.


Boy Scouts of the Philippines cenotaph and monument

Boys Scout of the Philippines cenotaph and monument was erected near the main entrance of the cemetery. The 24 boy scouts who died when their plane crashed in the Indian ocean during the 11th World Jamboree in Marathon, Greece in 1963.

The area had a high steel fence with large kalachuchi, coconut palms, blooming ixora ( santan) planted.


Noble Rivera family tomb – the structure resembles a neo-gothic style


Familia Lacson family tomb which resemble CCP main theater

Juan Nakpil

Ariston Nakpil, Juan Nakpil and Anita Noble Nakpil tomb


Jose Figueras- former secretary of labor


Cuenco family tomb

Cuenco family tomb includes prominent Mariano Cuenco who is a senator and writer.


President  Sergio Osmeña Sr. tomb


President Ramon Magsaysay


Luz Banzon Magsaysay – first lady


Familia Limjap family mausoleum

Familia Limjap family mausoleum still maintain its old grandeur. The top most portion of the structure had a missing head of the angel.


Ramon Ongpin tomb

Mr. Ramon Ongpin (1847–1912), businessman, philanthropist, nationalist and civic citizen


Ongpin family


Jaime Ongpin , Simon Ongpin and immediate family’s tomb stone


Familia Ongpin


Hilario-Samson family plot

One can admire the art deco elements in the Hilario -Samson family plot.

Visited some family plot of distant relatives and friends within the cemetery.  Manila North Cemetery had an interesting array of old trees, flora and local community.

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 — 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 –The 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’s 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 – Chinese –Filipino 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 – 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’s 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 – Rizal’s 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 – . 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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