Cavite City, Philippines
part of the story of how I became a taphophile
Saint Peter Catholic Cemetery in Cavite City is much different from the cemeteries that I visit in the United States. In the U.S. cemeteries, there are only a few “above ground” tombs that I can remember. Most have in-ground graves and columbariums. My future wife took me to Saint Peter Catholic Cemetery to visit the tomb of some of her family members. It was a new experience for me! There are no in-ground graves!
Brief history of the graveyard site
Cavite is on a flat peninsula that extends into the Southeast side of Manila Bay. It is Southwest of the Capital City of Manila. Its proximity to Manila made it an ideal port for shipping and trade, and the site of many international conflicts over control of the Philippines. You can see the remaining brick structure of the church in some of my photos. Known locally as San Pedro Apostol Parish, the original building was destroyed during World War II. Sangley Point at the North end of the Cavite Peninsula was a U.S. Navy base in World War II, making it a prime target for Japanese bombers. Here is a link for more information: San Pedro Apostol Parish Of Cavite City – It’s Me Bluedreamer! (bluedreamer27.com)
The current St. Peter Catholic parish church is nearby in the Caridad neighborhood. Here is a link to the church’s Facebook page: Saint Peter Parish Cavite City | Cavite | Facebook Since the cemetery probably started while the church on site was still active, we would call this a graveyard in the U.S.
With the flat peninsula, parts of the city flood with the high tide at least 10 times a year. The regular tidal flooding, of course, is detrimental to in-ground burials, so all of the “burials” are in above-ground tombs. In the cemetery, workers are available near the entrance to assist family members with the tombs. The workers also help families retrieve the remains of deceased removed from an apartment tomb if the “rent” expires. (see below)
Photo above: a closer look at some of the “apartment tombs” in Saint Peter Catholic Cemetery in Cavite City. Bodies are placed in the tombs for 2-3 years at a time. If the family must pay the “rent” to leave the body in the tomb after the initial payment. If not, cemetery workers remove the bones to make way for another body. Most of the soft tissue is gone after 2 years due to the constant tropical heat and humidity.
If a family member is not present when the bones are removed from an apartment tomb, they are left nearby for the family to collect.
photo below of some of the above ground tombs
Photo above: deep inside the cemetery, looking back toward the main entrance and the brick church structure. There are many above-ground family tombs. These tombs often hold the bodies of several family members. When multiple names are listed on the tomb, it indicates, of course, that multiple remains are in the tomb.