Making a (Dirty) Living out of the Dead-A A +A
By DP Limlingan
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
SINCE we are now at the time of the year when we visit the final resting places of our departed loved ones and honor them, let me “blend” in with my observations of some cemeteries.
Year after year, during the first day of November, many Christians encounter problems of missing tombs and sometimes, missing loved ones. Others meanwhile go to cemeteries only to see that their fences or steel roofs are missing.
In the Philippines, there are the Catholic cemeteries, which are usually under the jurisdiction of the parish church where it belongs. These are often houses, old pantheons or buildings containing tombs or memorials of the dead.
Some of these Catholic cemeteries date back to the later Spanish period and have survived calamities and war. Some of them have mini-chapels made of adobe stones and bricks. Adobe stones and bricks are not spared from looters.
I have visited an old Catholic cemetery in one of the towns of Pampanga and saw how its mini-chapel was looted of its adobe stones, making some portions of its wall collapse. I surmise that those who are fond of old things and antiques acquired these adobe stones and put them in their gardens. Bricks were not also spared as these can be re-used for aesthetics and architectural designs.
In some towns, there are municipal or public cemeteries which house tombs that are disarranged. Some of the living bury their dead underground or above-ground tombs indiscriminately. Even in cemeteries, pointing fingers (to claim a portion of the cemetery) is extant.
There are miners in some public cemeteries who say that a piece of land “is mine”. The result is a disarray of tombs and tombstones.
In both cemeteries, there are incidents of missing tombs. This is probably the result of the “mining” of some, where they destroy tombs and claim a piece of the earth where a missing tomb used to be.
Some tombs on the other hand are empty. This is because cadavers are now likewise stolen by some who are said to sell the same to medical schools.
These looters of the dead have thick linings in their stomach, much like their thick faces. Their act of desecrating cadavers is now happening in some localities especially in remote places. Surely, medical students will benefit from these bones and everything that’s left, but it does not justify their vile acts.
In places where there are many junkshops, chances are that there are looters locally known as “kalakal boys”. Many fences of tombs and steel roofs of mausoleums are stolen only to end up in junkshops sold per kilo. While these “kalakal boys” directly benefit from their burglary, it’s still a commission of theft or robbery as the case may be.
I once saw, before All Saints’ Day of the previous year, a family who visited their loved ones enshrined at a medium-sized mausoleum. The steel roof of their structure was missing. Members of the family were disgusted and cannot help but blame the cemetery caretaker.
It seems nowadays that it’s not only the funeral parlors who make a living out of the dead but also looters and scavengers who profit from things in cemeteries. There are a number of instances where these havens of the dead are ransacked and desecrated by some who make a living too out of the dead.
Many years ago, I’ve heard a story wherein the gold-plated teeth of a cadaver were stolen only a few days after the dead has been interred. This ghastly act of thievery can only be perpetrated by people with evil minds. They make a living out of the dead.
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Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on October 30, 2012.