"..a bardy view!"

The Living Cemetery

A programme called “Explore” was aired on the British television channel BBC2 last night, and it was all about the Philippines. From the endangered rice terraces of Banaue, to the suffocating streets of Manila, to unwanted tribes in Palawan, and the troubles of Mindanao.

Overall it presented a grim picture of a country with a population out of control, a Catholic church which rejects contraception to prevent it, and a Republican government which appears helpless to address it; as well as being complacent and powerless to stand up against the rampant destruction of the forests, thereby risking some of the rarest animals and birds on the planet.

In an oxymoron marriage between state and church, one is impotent and the other celibate. Between them they manage to produce an awful lot of children!

There really wasn’t anything positive which came out of this programme, even Emelda Marcos (yes, that one) appeared to be living in a different world, as she wallowed in her luxuries, whilst the poor seemingly starved on the streets!

She says that her incredible wealth was purely generated by her late husband’s aptitude of playing the stock market, and clever analysis of commodities. “He was an expert in gold investments” she was proud to proclaim.

She justified her excess of shoes by implying that their purchases in some way aided the economy. “They were all made in the Philippines” she further espoused.

So for people who had never visited the Philippines before, and after watching all this, they would be unlikely to even consider it as a destination in the future.

One of the most disturbing elements was the portrayal of the North Manila Cemetery, where whole families have been born and raised amongst the tombs, indeed even make a living from them.

A veritable community seems to thrive here. Some are paid to look after the graves by the incumbents relatives, and for those who cannot continue to pay the plot fees, find there loved one’s bones being evicted to make room for some other body. It’s quite frightful and concerning (It wasn’t made clear what happened to the removed remains). Yet people seem to be happy with their lot. Some think they are better off than most!

This is a country which was ruled for almost 400 years by Spain, and then another 50 years by the United States. Both of them in their own way having negative impacts upon it’s culture and politics. It will take time to get things right, but one thing which has to be dealt with imminently is the population.

The country will not be able to sustain many more people. Both the Church and State must grasp this nettle with vigour. They need to bang each others heads together and knock some sense into their empty and seemingly detached craniums. It’s too late for theological pontificating. Action is required. Now!


February 16, 2009 - Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Politics, Religion, The Philippines, Travel


  1. Another great post, isn’t there something similar to this in Egypt, people making a living from the cemeteries. It’s common in Zimbabwe today for poor people to desecrate graves, they melt down some of the tombstones and then sell that off. However by the same token if someone happens to move a rock on one of their graves it is considered sacrilegious.
    As to the population,’ go forth and procreate,’ whatever happened to common sense?


    Comment by Spook Moor | February 17, 2009 | Reply

  2. As for a fact, we cannot put all the blame to people for being “ignorant” living on cemeteries or on places wherever they want. Living in this poverty-stricken country, we’ve been mocked a lot by other countries and all have been said and done. Everyone aim for a change. Though there are some pro’s and con’s on that BBC feature, it is still an eye-opener to the rest of the world but a melancholic image of what is on the other side of the Philippines. Yes, we want action now! 🙂


    Comment by naiza | February 19, 2009 | Reply

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