La Loma Catholic Cemetery

La Loma Catholic Cemetery
Spanish-era funerary chapel of  La Loma Cemetery in Manila (Leo Cloma Collection)

La Loma Catholic Cemetery aka Campo Santo de la Loma / Location: Santa Cruz, Manila / Built 1870s-86

The Campo Santo de La Loma, initially known as Cementerio de Binondo, is considered one of the oldest existing cemeteries in the country. It is situated on a loma, Spanish for hill, at the northern end of Santa Cruz district, Manila; the northernmost sector now pertains to Caloocan City. The site began as a cemetery for the Chinese in the 1870s and was expanded in 1878. A Catholic chapel known as Chong Hong Tock was built here in the Chinese style, complete with sloping roof ridges. A massive cholera outbreak struck Manila on 22 August 1882, with reports of 2,000 casualties a month. The unparalleled death toll resulted in an ordinance prescribing burial in cemeteries near Manila parishes instead of inside churches, following the ordinance of Gov-Gen Narciso Claveria in 1848. The new ordinance also pushed for the opening of the La Loma cemetery on 21 September 1882 to accommodate the burials of the cholera victims. The Dominican parish priest of Binondo, Fr Jose Hevia Campomanes, arranged for the purchase of the La Loma land and the construction of the cemetery. Although the chapel bears the year 1884 over its entrance, it was ceremonially blessed by the archbishop of Manila, Pedro Payo, on 20 January 1886.

The cemetery and chapel served as battleground and stronghold respectively during the Philippine-American War in 1899-1902. The cemetery grounds were used by the Japanese military to execute Filipinos during World War II.

The cemetery used to have a 3-meter-high perimeter stone fence. The intricate wrought iron grille gates still provide access to the cemetery. The funerary chapel of adobe blocks is intact with its imposing dome. It is reached through flights of steps at both front and rear. Two stone lions guard the main entrance. A seal on the composite-style facade bears the Latin inscription Beati mortui qui in domino moriuntur meaning “Blessed are the dead who die in the grace of the Lord.” Buttresses alternating with windows line both sides. The interior has rare, excellent acoustic properties.

The cemetery was decared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in 2017.

SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer

Originally posted 2012-11-22 00:10:30.