It was a day spent visiting cemeteries. It may not sound exciting to many, but oddly enough, the cemetery tour was packed with so much history. Not the oldest, but North Cemetery certainly is the biggest at 54 hectares. Like an open air museum, we marveled that such reminders of our past are contained in hectares upon hectares of land within our densely packed metropolis.

 

 

When we saw the Mausoleum dedicated to our veterans, I couldn’t help but compare it with the Pantheons found in Europe. Yes, it pales in comparison, for sure. But the architecture reminds you how and why pantheons are built. This pantheon — or “panchong” in our local dialect — honors our Katipuneros who shed blood so present-day Filipinos can have the freedom we now enjoy. Looking at it now, one laments how these revolutionary patriots are nearly forgotten.

 

 

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Like this pantheon, there are other reminders of our patriots and leaders, honored at least for a single day within a year. North Cemetery has become the resting place of past Presidents, celebrities and prominent families. Just like the nearby La Loma Cemetery, architecture flourished in this area.

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It would be interesting to draw up a list of graves whose “tenants” now grace some street signs around Manila. The place also counts resting places of past Presidents and national leaders. In particular, there’s one Presidential tomb site which included a resting place for the Presidential dog. “Bogie” must have been so loved by the family of ex-President Manuel A. Roxas to rest beside the Roxas patriarch.

 

 

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And in case you’re wondering why there are fire hydrants scattered in a patch of land here, this happens to be the resting place of firemen. Remember that the North Cemetery was created during the American occupation, so don’t be surprised to find the statue of an American (or Irish?) fireman here.

 

 

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And lest you forget….. Long before Manny Pacquiao and Flash Elorde, there was Pancho Villa. This boxing legend was never beaten in the ring but many would argue that’s because he had a short lived boxing career. Unfortunately for this young lad, he was knocked out at the early age of 23. Not of a 1-2 punch nor boxing-related ailment, but of complications resulting from a tooth extraction!

 

 

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Not too any Filipinos would remember that the Manila Cemeteries also served as execution sites for those who resisted the Japanese Occupation. Among those is Josefa Escoda, founder of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines and many other unknown heroes. A monument now stands here to honor them.

 

 

As for that last photo. Pyramids and sphinx — this is the resting place for the Arroyos. Last interred here was Cong. Iggy Arroyo a.k.a. Jose Pidal.