Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cemeteries as tourist attractions

BALIWAG, Bulacan—Cemeteries must be preserved and developed into tourist destination, a heritage conservation group based in Bulacan urged.

Jaime Corpuz, chair of the Bulacan chapter of the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS) said cemeteries are not just home to dead loved ones.

He said that it is a repository of images and artifacts with cultural and historical, and resting place of people of importance.

“We have so much to learn about cemeteries, but not too many government unit or agency have seen its significance,” Corpuz said.

He said that monuments like mausoleum and sculpture in cemeteries are good basis for cultural and historical studies.

“Those are historical time pieces that will tell us how our ancestors lived in the past, and what are the influences of other countries to our culture by studying architecture and sculptures,” said Corpuz.

He stressed that cemeteries, especially those that are owned by the Church and by local government be protected and preserved.

Corpuz also proposed tourism programs like Lakbay Kaluluwa study tours be developed by local government units.

The same was echoed by Isagani Giron, the president emeritus of the Samahang Pangkasaysayan ng Bulacan (Sampaka).
He said that before a tourism program is developed, local government units must join hands with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the Catholic church in conducting inventory of materials with cultural and historical significance.

“We only go to cemeteries during All Saints day, but it is good subject for cultural and historical studies,” he said.

He cited the Malolos Catholic Cemetery which was built in 1680 as one of the oldest in the country and is the resting place of some of the remains of the members of the famous women of Malolos.

He also agreed with Corpuz that cemeteries are considered as second home to Filipinos, thus, the construction of house like mausoleums.

“Mausoleums are clear example of Spanish influence in our culture because native Filipinos do not have cemeteries, instead, our ancestors used to bury their dead by the river,” Giron explained.

For his part, Father Ruel Arcega of the St. Augustine parish here said that going to cemetery on All Saints day have deeper religious meaning.

““Ito ay pagkilala natin sa muling pagkabuhay, at sa huling araw ng paghuhukom, ang muling pagsasama ng kaluluwa at katawan katulad ng ipinakita ni Panginoong Hesus at Birheng Maria,” said Arcega

With regards to cultural dimension of mausoleums in cemeteries, the priest explained that it’s a testament of the difference betweenthe rich and poor.

On Saturday, the STAR took photos of the mausoleums inside the Sto. Cristo Catholic Cemetery here.

Some of the mausoleums even have a roof top and others were designed like a house complete with power and water supply and comfort room.  (Dino Balabo)


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