Buried cemetery draws faithful, tourists alike

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    Fr. Manabat is joined by Gov. Pineda and Board Members David-Dizon and Dizon as they offer prayers to the thousands buried at the more than 300-year-old Campo Santo de Bacolor.

    Photo by Ric Gonzales

    BACOLOR, Pampanga – Not only for funerals but for pre-nuptial photo shoots and contemplative moments too, the old Campo Santo de Bacolor is now already famous.

    The first recorded burial in 1776, the one-hectare Roman Catholic cemetery is final resting place for some 2,000 people, said Fr. Jess Manabat, curate of the San Guillermo parish church which administers the cemetery.

    “All year round we begin to get more local and foreign tourists visiting our old cemetery. By October 31, there will already be visitors in the cemetery, some of whom do not have relatives there but merely admire the history of the place and use it for many purposes,” said Manabat.

    Droves of the Catholic faithful are expected on November 1, All Saints’ Day to pay respects with candles and flowers their departed loved ones, added Manabat.

    “There are also a great number who come on November 2, exactly the day of the dead or All Souls’ Day,” he added.

    Manabat tour-guided Gov. Lilia Pineda and Board Members Trina Dizon and Olga Frances “Fritzie” David-Dizon at the Roman Catholic cemetery, which was buried by lahar flows from Mt. Pinatubo in 1995.

     The dome of the buried small chapel where the dead received their final blessing before interment serves as a silent memorial to that devastation.

    Manabat showed Pineda and the two women board members the site of the dome filled with water during the wet season. He said they still offer prayers for the dead there.

    David-Dizon, whose family has a property beside cemetery which they may tap to increase its space, said “we must not forget our departed loved ones, notably our parents, and we must always remember that without them we will not be here enjoying the glory, triumphs and even the struggles of life.”

    Both her parents – board member and one time acting Pampanga Gov. Edna David and three-term Porac Mayor Roy David – are buried in a family-owned cemetery in nearby Sta. Rita town.

    Manabat said former parish priests, local officials and caretakers of the cemetery in Barangay Cabambangan began to record the list of buried men and women in 1904.

    Pineda, who joined Manabat in offering prayers for thousands buried in the more than 300-year-old cemetery on October 30, said former Pampanga governor, Philippine Senator and lawyer Pablo Angeles David is one of the prominent personalities buried in the cemetery, which is part of the three-hectare property of the San Guillermo Parish Church.

    David was born in this town in 1889 and was buried in the cemetery at the back of the church in 1965.

    Pineda said she also learned from Pampanga historian Francis Musni that Augustinian friars were buried in the cemetery.

    The first-term governor is closely coordinating with Musni “to connect the past and present of Pampanga and the real stories behind the historic towns and cities.”

    Pineda said the priests and brothers, most of whom were Spanish nationals, began to arrive in the country in the late 1500s.

    They were chiefly responsible for the old churches in Pampanga, including the St. Augustine Parish in her native Lubao town built in 1572.

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