AFTER the Doña Pepang and Calamba cemeteries, more places for eternal rest will face beautification or conversion into heritage parks as the City moves to make tours to these places a cultural event, according to a Cebu City official.
Inaque Garlet, the mayor’s protocol officer and project director for the Calamba Catholic Cemetery beautification project, said that during one of his walkthroughs with Mayor Michael Rama, the latter directed that all cemeteries left unattended be subjected to beautification.
One of the cemeteries recently added to the City’s list for beautification is the Cebu City Veterans Cemetery (CCVC) in Barangay Labangon, Garlet said Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023.
He said that as per Rama’s instruction, the Cebu City Cultural and Historical Affairs Office and the Cebu City Tourism Office will handle the project.
He said the CCVC project is still in the planning stage; however, for Calamba Cemetery, which is owned by the Archdiocese of Cebu and run by the San Nicolas Parish, the beautification and clearing operations are ongoing.
Built in 1863, the coral stone chapel in Calamba Cemetery has been declared a cultural heritage property.
Garlet revealed that for the Calamba Cemetery, Rama had provided a budget that came from his own pocket, but he did not specify the exact amount.
Meanwhile, for the CCVC, which Garlet said was owned by the Cebu City Government, the budget will still be discussed and decided during their meetings.
The cemetery is the burial place of American and Filipino soldiers who fought for Philippine liberation during World War 2.
According to Garlet, Rama conducted last Oct. 29 an inspection in the Cebu Chinese Cemetery in Barangay Carreta and the Calamba cemetery.
He said several areas in the Chinese cemetery are already dilapidated, needing more significant restoration and beautification.
“Morag dako gyud ang buhatonon sa Chinese cemetery. Sayang kaayo iyang aesthetic value. Some parts of the cemetery kay dilapidated na,”Garlet said.
(It seems a lot of work will need to be done on the Chinese cemetery. It would be a waste not to do so because of its aesthetic value.)
SunStar Cebu tried to obtain updates from Dean Decal, memorial division administrator of the Asociacion Benevola de Cebu Inc., on the conversion of the more-than-century-old Chinese cemetery into a heritage park, but to no avail.
Last July, Anthony Librando of Cebu City’s Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor, said the City intended to construct two four-story buildings in the area to accommodate all the 215 informal settler families that had made the 3.6-hectare property their home.
The Chinese cemetery along M.J. Cuenco Avenue is one of the cemeteries that the City Government plans to convert into a heritage park along with the Doña Pepang Cemetery that straddles Barangays Tejero and Carreta.
Garlet said the Doña Pepang conversion project is now under the direction of Raquel Arce, head of the Cebu City Traffic Office, as it was turned over to her by Ramil Ayuman prior to the campaign period for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections 2023, as the latter ran for barangay captain in Barangay Apas.
Doña Pepang Cemetery is the final resting place of former first lady Estefania “Doña Pepang” Veloso Osmeña, wife of the late president Sergio Osmeña Sr., grandfather of former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña.
As for the Calamba cemetery, Garlet said Rama had instructed to rid it of the makeshift houses within the premises as these may be used as drug dens.
He added that they had also been instructed to close all unnecessary exit ways as well as to install lighting in dark areas of the cemetery.
Night of Origin
The Cebu City Government is working to rehabilitate and beautify some private, public as well as church-owned cemeteries in Cebu City, as it aims to create its own version of the well-known cultural event “Gabii sa Kabilin (Night of Heritage),” which is an event organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
The City’s own version of the event will be called the “Gabii sa Gigikanan (Night of Origin).”
The cemeteries considered for the tour include the Doña Pepang Cemetery, the Cebu Chinese Cemetery, Carreta Cemetery on Gorordo Avenue, Pardo Roman Catholic Cemetery in Pardo, Cabantan Cemetery on P. Cabantan Street in Mabolo, and Calamba Catholic Cemetery on V. Rama Avenue.
Among those in the list, the Doña Pepang and Calamba cemeteries were already done with the groundbreaking ceremonies for their restoration, last June 22 for Doña Pepang and July 29 for the Calamba cemetery.
The plan is for Doña Pepang to be converted into a heritage park at no cost to the City Government.
Last June, Ayuman, then special assistant to the Mayor’s Office on Special Projects, said 15 stakeholders had committed to finance the nearly P50 million Doña Pepang conversion project under a public-private partnership.
Rama also voiced plans to convert the Chinese and Carreta cemeteries into beautiful parks.
The Carreta Cemetery is run by the Sto. Rosario Parish and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
Garlet said Task Force Eternal Dwelling (TFED) will soon be made official once Rama signs the executive order.
He said the TFED will be the supervising committee on the restoration, rehabilitation and beautification of old cemeteries in Cebu City. It will be headed by Msgr. Rogelio Fuentes of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu.