Friday, September 4, 2015

Wealthy Chinese Cemetery in Manila

I have heard about this famous Chinese Cemetery in Philippines which is the most unusual in the world. I read them in media tabloids and watched TV documentaries which showed how the whole place looked like. My wife's associate also suggested that we should visit this unique Chinese Cemetery and the slums of Smokey Mountains.

The history wrote that the previous Spanish ruling government refused to allow the Chinese immigrants to be buried in the same grounds of the Christian Cemetery. So this Chinese Cemetery was built instead but I have no idea how they built big individual mausoleums with grave tombs instead. This has been known for the wealthy families only. 

We hailed a taxi to get there and the driver had no idea about its exact location as it is quite far from Makati. The driver had to stop and ask the people several times before driving into the narrow lane.
The sudden change of street scenes outside Makati made me nervous!

This place is not exactly opened to the public as it is fully well guarded at the entrance. The guards saw us in the taxi and let us inside, probably thinking that I was a filial grandson. Other foreign tourists who arrived later were subject to long questioning by the guards who were just doing their jobs. We were the only 2 visitors inside the whole cemetery for the first hour. 

1. We got down from the taxi and walked up the slope
to the cemetery area on the hilly land.
I had a lump in my throat and the sun was shining very hot
but I felt chilly with dripping cold sweats.

2. This is a memorial. 

3. This building is for the wake and ceremonial last rites.

 4. I snapped over a hundred photos of the mausoleums
but you would see just a few random ones. 
As a respect, I peeped into many Tomb Houses but did not snap the photos inside. 
Honestly, I was scared stiff like a frozen fish walking on egg shells.

5. My brave wife who has the steel heart of a Tigress always walked ahead of me!
There are many rows of quiet lanes where the thousand tombs all stood individually like
terrace houses. Inside each unit has concrete tombs inside with huge photos on the walls.
Most of them were elaborately furnished with tables, chairs and even kitchen with resting rooms for the visiting families. I heard that many had mahjong tables for the descendants to play.

 6. My heart was beating fast with cold sweats and mouth mumbling all the mantras
until my tongue got twisted. I could still snap many random photos just to share
with you guys. I bet most of you may not want to visit this place but it is an eye opener.
It was like walking into a housing area and every house had a funeral
taking place with the concrete tombs and big photographs
facing the door.

 7. All the tombs had their own elaborate designs using the best finishing of marble, tiles and sand stones complete with grill doors, gates, fencing and gardens for some bigger lots.

 8. This is the only interior of the mausoleum I took 
as it had side windows and the tombs faced another direction.
All the mausoleums have the visible concrete tombs
above the ground.

 9. Some units were 2 storey and looked very modern like KL's bungalow
homes with glass balconies! I saw that in someone's website and could not
locate it as the cemetery grounds are so huge and seemed endless.
My chicken heart didn't want to venture too far while the sun was still hot.

10. Another memorial place.

 11. That's me walking ahead of my wife now. 
The main roads are wider and bigger grave houses are built there.
I was shocked to see several mausoleums had people walking
and sleeping inside. They are the caretakers and alive.
Then, the dogs started barking everywhere.
They even had guard dogs leashed to the doors!

12. This mausoleum was built in accordance
to the ancient Chinese architecture.

13. This mausoleum is very big and looked like a church
but it is a grave site of a family inside.

 14. This is a Hero's Grave and the President of Philippines 
sent a fresh floral wreath as respect. The tomb has a plaque that
explained his great contributions to the country.
At the side narrow lane would lead you to many more hundreds of grave
sites which I did not enter as the space is always too narrow.

 15. Far behind these open space, lined many slum houses along the fence.
That was the end of my visit.

 16. We decided to try catching their LRT trains back 
to Makati as the station was just outside. I was relieved
and looked pale like white sheets.

17. After one hour of long wait, we gave up as no trains stopped to pick us up.
It was sardine packed and sometimes out of service. Even the station master has no idea
about its disrupting services!



  1. Good afternoon TM, hot weather in Singapore...

    1. Hello Zumba Queen.

      You need to be a swimming coach instead so that you will not sweat under the sun.

  2. An eye opening for me, as i have not visit Cemetery like what you did, thanks for sharing about it...

  3. Wow.. didn't realize these are tombstones till I read... so grand... I thought the ones in Pantai Remis are already considered big... Really an eye opener... Yes, can imagine how it feels to walk along the tombstones and some more, so quiet.... 7th month somemore.. :)

    1. I think I have seen those colourful ones in Pantai Remis that stood on the hills by the road. Correct? They have similar one in East Malaysia too.
      You should visit Manila.

  4. TM, this is so interesting! So those houses are actually mausoleums housing tombs of the rich families. Were you and your wife the only visitors that day? The place looks deathly quiet. And you are right, I would not want to visit here. I was even more chicken than you. And by the way, your expression "I was scared stiff like a frozen fish walking on egg shells" had me laughing like a hyena!

    1. Goodness me!!! My fingers were stiff with numbed brains until I lost my vocabs. Now you reminded me that it is called mausoleums!!!!!!!! It was being etched all over the whole place there.
      Voila! Thanks and I have to modify all the text again with the correct word mausoleums. I also forgot about the caretakers and dogs inside. Why am I so timid??

  5. Replies
    1. wah lau betul betul kasi the taxi drive pening leh. He must have been wondering why the heck this man wanna go see a cemetery.

      1. huh??? lump....feeling spirits following you like usual?

      2. Memorial of what?

      3. looks a bit creepy

      4. LOL...later suddenly hear a voce call come visit me ah? Got bring oranges or not.....

      5. Letchumi much braver la. Some more day time leh. Letchumi not scared you scare pulak. Wah looks like there if cheng ming the whole family will visit the place and have mahjong session leh

      6. you are right. I wont wanna visit lo. If can avoid then i avoid la Mana tau my CB mouth ter-say something that might offend them leh

      7. guess those must be for a few generationsto be buried there

      8. ....

      9.betul what you said. Like a housing estate leh

      10. dont know why but first glance of the design looks like japanese type of design

      11. the double storey house at the right is for human or for ancestors one? Looks like normal house dei

      12. betul betul like normal house. imagination running wild jor. thinking night time they will come out and party like the old shanghai

      13. Oh i thought it is a church

      14. Must be a big hero for the president to send flowers.

      woi..narrow meh? Or your 3rd eye saw something else which lead you dare not go in ah? From photo looks wide wnough for 2 person to walk by wor

      15. What you mean slum houses? The black boxes ah?

      16. What you tuk tuk there oh. go buy ticket la

      17. what the.....adui..buta buta waste one hour.

    2. Wah!!! You jahat nia tease me so much! LOL. Ha ha...

      The mausoleums house individuals and some with several wives along as seen on the giant sized photos inside. They looked like neat like housing estate with doors and windows.

      The space in the narrow lanes had little space like 3-4 feet width only. There are hundreds of lanes and I might never find me my out inside the maze. So I better walked on the main roads.

      Yeah the slum houses were made of mixed materials and stacked up like boxes. Seeing is believing. I have visited the poorest slums of Manila and will blog it last.

      Those memorials commemorated some famous people la. I am not going to type here.

      I believe that during Ching Ming the whole place would be full of cars and families coming to pay respects.

      You are so observant dei. The individual mausoleums had many designs that looked a bit Japanese and mixed Western & Chinese.

    3. where go jahat muhahahaha..

      aiks several wives....sounds like gonna be war even after death3-4 feet enough la. You not big size like kaldip ma

  6. Didn't realize those were tombstones until I read your description twice.. It looks so grand, like normal big houses.. Your wife very brave ahh, walked in front and lead the way.. You said you kept shivering, why? You can sense "those people from the other side"?

    1. Oh yes. The unseen & sad friends were all over inside their places.

  7. this place doesn't look like cemetery at all!

    1. I thought the same like you before my visit. When you start walking inside for miles, you can clearly see all the huge photos above the concrete tombs inside. I did not wish to snap the photos inside out of respect. It is truly a very nicely built cemetery to respect their loved ones.

  8. Thambee has heard about the luxury tomb house in The Philippines, but have not really seen one, not to mention the entire area of these tomb houses.. this post is indeed an eye opener.. i guess we can only see this in Anay's blog as i don't think most people who made a trip to Manila will actually choose to go there huh??

    #1.. aiyoh, hot weather but dripping cold sweat?? like that will get sick very easily dei, somemore it's the 7th month of the lunar calendar!!

    #2.. why your photo of the memorial so senget?? you were too frightened??

    #3.. oh, so they have a special building just for the wake?? Thambee would have thought they do everything inside the tomb house dei.. so it's something like the apartment where there's a community area for the wake to be done..

    #4.. "scared stiff like a frozen fish walking on egg shells".. wah, what a bombastic description!!! Thambee must learn and remember this phrase!!! how about "like a ball-less chicken walking on the diamond rings of a hippo"?? muahahaha~~

  9. #5.. Thambee heard of how luxury the tomb houses can be, with tables and rooms and beds and kitchen and everything a house need to have, and the relatives will just bunk in to celebrate and have party in the house.. little does Thambee knows they are just like our terraces!!! oh, this is such an eye-opener!!

    #6.. very true with what you have said.. not many people would choose this place as one of the itinerary of their vacation huh??

    #7.. we have just seen the terraces which all share the same design.. now the bungalow style where they can have free style design.. indeed very impressive!! i wonder in what kind of house the descendants actually live in??

    #8.. oh, you took a photo of that!!! did you asked for permission from the unseen before doing this?? and also if you are permitted to share it on your blog??

  10. #9 & #10.. wah, this one looks really like a neighbourhood!! the park with so many lovely flowers that Anay may just sit there admiring the blossoms for the whole day!!

    #11.. well, that actually rose my curiosity.. if they have built such a nice tomb house with full amenities and facilities, it make sense that the house is actually "dwellable".. that was my question in the previous comment.. where do the descendants stay if they can build such beautiful tomb houses for their ancestors??

    #12.. this one looks like an aged one, ancient Chinese architecture.. stood out from the rest huh??

    #13.. indeed looks like one huge Church, and the neighbouring one a grand Chinese temple..

  11. #14.. interesting architecture of the different tomb bungalows!! did Anay go and study what were written on the brick walls for each of the houses?? and is there a reason why you put them all under #14??

    #15.. oh, so there are also the rich and the less rich.. after the bungalows and terraces, we now see the so-called "slum"?? when it comes to slum, that must remind Anay of his slum back in his hometown Tiruchirappalli~~

    #16.. that's the LRT in Manila?? looks like our KTM.. now we see why Anay was squatting down and pretend to look stylo in this photo, he was actually relieved and pale after seeing that many tomb that somehow lessen his positive energy and frequency!! now tell Thambee was that true??

    #17.. an hour's wait and no sign of the LRT?? so where did Anay and Letchumy end up to?? macam suspending only lah you end this post like that~~

  12. Wow! Truly amazing... I ever seen such beautiful cemetery with each and every grave built on individual design/architecture. Really wonderful how they preserved it neatly and you know if you haven’t said anything about this place and posted only photos it would have been taken into our preservation as an old colony or residential complex.

    Great knowing this place!

  13. You always have very interesting things to share, Tan. I'm amazed the place even has mahjong tables for the deceased. Lol! Wonder what will happen if the sky suddenly turns dark with a thunderstorm............. eeee.......

  14. Now 7th month you dare to visit cemetery

  15. Felt chilly in the hot day due to the many spirits around? You are right. I would not visit this place even though you offer me a 100 dollar note. In the end, did the guards allow the foreign visitors to enter? What reason did the foreign visitors give to enter this place? These people were just too wealthy like the Egypt Pharaohs with their pyramids.

  16. haha, you were rather brave too. I might not venture so far like you did. bravo! thanks for sharing.

  17. I thought the cemetery that we set my grandma in was impressive, there are a few elaborate mausoleums with kitchen and bedrooms and living room for the living visitors too. But, this one in Manila is next level already! Seems like what is grand scale in Malaysia is normal in Manila.

  18. Great shots indeed! Jaws dropped seeing those huge 'bungalows' just for the deceased

  19. Did you manage to go inside any of the mausoleums? Wonder how will the inside be. According to Chinese customs no roof shall cover the grave and must be 'open air' for the sun to shine.

  20. But for certain places, I still like to visit there to see with my naked eyes even I've seen enough picture of it, such as the Paris eiffel tower, hahaha! And also the one you posted before about the places in Japan where they got bomb in WW2, that caught my attentions a lot!


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