Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Belated All Souls' Day entry: Historic Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery

This National Historical Landmark (so designated by the National Historical Institute) was part of the itinerary of the Quezon-Laguna heritage tour I joined a couple of months ago. [Click on photos to enlarge.]

The Underground Cemetery in Nagcarlan, Laguna is said to be the only one of its kind in the Philippines. Built in 1845-1851 by Franciscan friar Father Vicente Belloc, the cemetery became the burial ground first of Spanish clergy then of the town's wealthy or prominent inhabitants. The chapel, the catacomb and the wall surrounding the premises--of Baroque design, with wrought-iron grills and stonework--seem to be well-preserved.

Because the subterranean space was limited, many more were eventually interred above ground, or their remains moved there. The catacomb now holds only 36 crypts, while the impeccably manicured park above ground has around 250 graves stacked box-like on both sides of the wall that flank the chapel. During the revolution against Spain, the underground vault, entered through a side door in the chapel, also became a hiding and meeting place for Laguna Katipuneros.

It's an eerie, transporting experience descending the stone steps toward the underground cavern--and more so reading some of the 19th-century names and dates on the remaining gravestones. Travel blogger Byahilo says no photo- and video-taking are allowed inside the chapel and vault. But on the day we visited, our group was allowed to. Lucky me, because now I can bring you all the way from the park to the chapel to the historic underground cemetery with my images.

Next time you're on a trip to Laguna, make sure to drop by this unique heritage destination. The place is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Sunday; entrance is free.

1 comment:

rudeboy said...

Oh, those catacombs are beautiful! Thanks for the pics, Gibbs.

I don't get why they prohibit picture-taking, though, if this were such an historical landmark. Case in point: if I hadn't seen yours, I wouldn't be interested in seeing this place for myself.

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