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Cebuanos who find comfort living inside cemeteries

By: Pegeen Maisie M. Sararaña - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | November 01,2022 - 12:00 PM

Cebuanos who find comfort living inside cemeteries. In photo are two kids, who have already considered the Carreta Cemetery as their home for years.

Two kids have already considered Carreta Cemetery as their home for years. | via Pegeen Maisie Sararaña

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cemeteries are a place where we lay to rest the remains of our loved ones.

But for some places, like here in Barangay Carreta in Cebu City, this is also a place for living humans, Cebuanos, who seek for a space they can call themselves, a home. It could be atypical for some, but for them, this, somehow, molded their lives.

Lapida maker

Rodolfo Opong, 58, is one of the these Cebuanos, who found comfort in the cemeteries. He has been in there for more than 35 years already and has worked as a lapida maker since then.

What could be the feeling living in cemeteries? For Opong, it was creepy at first, but as time goes by, they learned to live with it.

“Sa una, naa na sad uy. Kana bitawng magmulto ba adto ibabaw sa nitso, dunay maghilak. Usahay pagtungtung sa alas 10 sa gabie, naa gyud. Unya muingon ra man akong asawa nga ayaw ra na panumbalinga kay usa ra man na ka kalag kaysa sa tawo gyud. Naanad na sad,” Opong said.

(At first, I would say that here it is again. A “ghost” manifesting on top of the row of niches, we can hear someone crying. Sometimes, this happens at 10 p.m., you can hear it. But my wife will just say to ignore it because that is just a soul as compared to a human being. In time, I got used to it.)

Challenges of living in cemetery

Maricris Ramirez, who also spent her childhood inside the cemetery, also has her story to tell. For 31 years living inside there, her life with her family was not easy, especially that their access to basic needs such as water was also difficult. They would need to walk for a few meters and buy water to provide for her family.

“Pag magbagyo, musulod ang tubig unya wala mi tarong mapuy-an. Naa mi estudyante unya wa mi ikasupport gyud,” said Ramirez, who is one of the Cebuanos living inside the cemetery..

(During storms, the water would enter and we have no proper place to live. We have a student and we have nothing to support our kid.)

Price increase 

Now that Kalag-Kalag 2022 is approaching and that they also expect increase in their daily income, Maricris admitted that their prices for their services had also increased. Now, they ask for P200 as payment for painting tombstones from P150. In lettering of names and farewell messages, they offer this to at least P100.

Aside from a hard life inside, Maricris also had an encounter with scary elements inside the Carreta cemetery.

“Naa sad, naay magparamdam. Mamalikmata sad mi nga naa mi makita. Mao man sad na kasagaran diri, murag silingan na namo sila diri ba,” she added.

(There are some who would make their presence felt. We somehow see something sometimes. That has been what most of us have experienced here, they are just like neighbors to us here.)

Better Kalag-Kalag

With the eased restrictions, for his part, Opong hopes that his family will also be able to earn more income in this year’s observation of Kalag-Kalag 2022 as they nearly had none in the past two years due to the pandemic.

“Bintaha na lang karon nga naa nay magpabuhat. Di pareha sa una nga grabe gyud to. Lisud gyud tong mga niaging katuigan. [Karon], naa na gyud [halin] tuod,” said Opong, who is among the Cebuanos living inside the cemetery..

(It is a bit better now because there are people who hire our services. Unlike in the previous years, it was so difficult then. Those years were so difficult. [Now] We really have [money for the services we offered].)

He, however, admitted that with the restrictions of the pandemic and the increase of prices of materials these days, they were forced to also raise the prices of their services.

If they average at least P4,500 for every granite tombstone in the past years, he said, they were now offering this to at least P6,000. Their most affordable price for tombstones cost around P1,500 from P1,000 in the past years.

For candles, its minimum price is P2. The most expensive is  P20 from P5 prior to the pandemic. Their flowers also range from P20 to P100.


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TAGS: CDN, Cebu City, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, cemeteries, ghost, niche, price increase

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