The Luxurious Mausoleums of Manila Chinese Cemetery

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Walk into the Manila Chinese Cemetery in the Filipino capital and you might think you are visiting a residential suburb. There is a two-way street lined with houses and villas some of which are two or three stories tall. These houses are actually tombs, but they are not mere facades. They are fully functional homes fitted with modern conveniences such as air conditioning, bathrooms with hot and cold running water, flushing toilets, and kitchens. Relatives would often visit the dead in their homes during weekends, and offer food and light incense sticks.

Popularly known as “Millionaires' Row” and “Little Beverley Hills”, the Manila Chinese Cemetery was built in the late 19th century for the non-catholic Chinese who were denied burials in Catholic graveyards by the Spanish colonials. At that time, the Chinese settlers who peddled in all sorts of trade were some of the richest people in Manila. To reflect their increasing economic prosperity and growing presence they built the grandest of all cemeteries.


Photo credit: Nick Miles/Flickr

Even today, many of Manila's richest families have mixed Chinese and Filipino heritage, and the ostentatious tombs they have built for their dead stands as testimony to their wealth. A plot in the Manila Chinese Cemetery can easily cost up to 50 million Pesos for a 25 year lease, after which another leasing fee must be paid or the body will have to be moved to another place. Today, aside from non-catholic Chinese, many Chinese Christians are also buried in this cemetery.

Not all buried here can afford grand houses. The cemetery has a poorer section with regular-sized tombs and mausoleums. These are located along narrow by lanes away from the entrance.

There are a number of landmarks within the cemetery, such as the Chong Hock Tong Temple which is the oldest Chinese temple in Manila. The Martyrs Hall, built in the early 1950s in honor of the Chinese community leaders executed by the Japanese during World War II, is worth seeing. The Ruby Tower Memorial, dedicated to the Chinese-Filipinos who perished during the 1968 earthquake, is also located within the cemetery.

Also see: The Living Residents of Manila’s North Cemetery


Photo credit: Dnl75/Flickr


Photo credit: Stefan Krasowski/Flickr


Photo credit: Stefan Krasowski/Flickr


Photo credit: Stefan Krasowski/Flickr


Photo credit: Wayne S. Grazio/Flickr


Photo credit: Wayne S. Grazio/Flickr


Photo credit: Wayne S. Grazio/Flickr


Photo credit: Wayne S. Grazio/Flickr

Sources: Wikipedia / / Fabulous Philippines / Frommers via Messy Nessy Chic

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