Last Friday, November 5th, I got a text from Michelle: Rhett has organized a gothic tour of Manila: Chinese Cemetery, La Loma, Intramuros, Film Centre, Etc. Meet at Gateway tomorrow, 11AM. See you?
Being an avid traveler and since my plans for Ocean Park has been cancelled, I immediately accepted. I could not resist a chance to see other facets of Manila that I do not know about or haven't seen yet. I met the guys at Fully Booked Gateway [hah! I didn't get to buy anything - yay me for not succumbing to temptation], and ate lunch while waited for the rest of the party to arrive. Then, our first stop was the Chinese Cemetery!
It's amazing how the rich and the poor could also be divided in death. There's no apartment tombs in the Chinese Cemetery, compared to the ones that are more apparent in North Cemetery. Almost all the tombs are in intricate mausoleums, and since All Saints Day and All Souls Day had just finished the week before, there were coloured papers on top of the tombs, and the signs of burned material are still in the burners. Apparently the Chinese burn offerings [ie paper money, paper cars] to aide in the afterlife of their loved ones. [ie if they burn paper money, they in turn are sending money offerings to their deceased loved ones. Amazing.]
For me, there is something very enlightening in visiting a cemetery - never mind that it's full of deceased people, but it is a quiet area to meditate on your life as well. Facing death, how would you be able to make your life more worthwhile? And then the questions come in: if I die, would people look at my grave and visit me and pay their respects?
Anyway, moving on to the tour instead of my insights - we eventually got back in the car after walking through some gothic tombs. We eventually decided to try and find Andres Bonifacio's tomb, which was shaped like a pyramid. Then the questions pondered us: "Is Bonifacio Chinese?" Maybe. Maybe not. But we did find out for a fact that the non-Catholic people cannot be buried in La Loma or in North Cemetery so most Filipinos/Chinese were buried in Chinese Cemetery.
We eventually found ourselves in a memorial for General Yang Guangsheng. He was a Chinese Consul for the Philippines at the time, and as his plaque explained, he was shot to death in a grassy field when he tried to help the Filipino guerillas fight against the Japanese. Initially the Japanese wanted the General to call on his fellow Chinese to help the Japanese with their cause. His refusal ended in his and his entire staff's death. Way back in the World War II days, not much light has been given on the Battle of Manila, but it definitely is a shocking and interesting tale on how Manila has been a pivotal point in the War of the Pacific. I command the General for fighting with the Filipinos even though he himself is not of our race.
We saw a foreigner checking out the memorial of the General, and I was a bit happy to see that there are other foreigners who are touring Manila! By this time, one of our group saw a "tacky" crown on top of a mausoleum and we decided to check it out. They shrieked in delight when the mausoleum said "Ma Mon Luk." I honestly had no idea who this Ma Mon Luk was until Peter patiently told me that there is a restaurant named after him which serves the best siopao. Oh! So they paid their respects to Ma Mon Luk by having a photo in front of the mausoleum. I didn't join them because honestly, I'm a bit freaked of having my photo taken with a mausoleum -- I've seen some telly series where there are other people showing up in the photos and I'm not particularly keen on having that sort of experience if it does happen.
We then walked to Mabini's grave. It is found in Mabini St, but it is tucked in a little side street that's a wee bit hard to find, esp if you're not that familiar with the cemetery. Apparently the reason for the odd shape of Mabini's grave is that he was part of the Freemasons. Oooooh! Da Vinci Code, Philippine version anyone?? That would be a great book plot! LOL.
So, that's the first stop of our tour. We went to La Loma Cemetery after, which you can read in a different blog post once I've got over my laziness. Teehee!