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Here, Where JR Used to Lie

It was early 1800s. The first cholera pandemic in the world which started in India in 1817 had reached Manila and frequently visited the Philippines until around 1824. Thus, a cemetery in Manila, which was started upon by the Dominican priests in Manila in 1814, was completed and opened in 1820 to intern the casualties. It was named Cementerio General de Dilao.

The cemetery has a circular structure. Lined on its walls are niches that were used as tombs.

There used to be five tiers of niches. But it was reduced to three when the floor was raised due to flooding.

In the late 1800s, the cemetery became a resting place for the well-off families in the walled city of Intramuros. Later, it accommodated those that came from nearby places such as Binondo, Sampaloc, Malate, Ermita, and Quiapo. The growing population in these places prompted the building of an outer wall.

Here’s a picture to give you an idea how thick each of the the wall is.

On February 17, 1872, the remains of the three martyred priests implicated in the Cavite mutiny—Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora—were buried here.

On the early morning of December 30, 1896, another body of a man was interred secretly in the cemetery immediately after his execution by musketry. It was buried between the two walls, in an unmarked grave.

The dead person’s sister searched for his body among other cemeteries in Manila. She eventually found out that his body lied at the Cementerio General de Dilao. According to historical accounts, she bribed a gravedigger to mark the grave with R.P.J., the reverse of his initials.

The man’s body remained at the cemetery for almost two years, until it was dug up by his family in August 17, 1898 and kept in an urn at the family’s home in Binondo. On December 30, 1912, his remains were transferred to the base of the Rizal monument in Luneta (now Rizal Park).

Internment at the cemetery was stopped in the early 1900s. The remains of those who were buried there were transferred by their descendants. During World War II, the Japanese forces used the cemetery to house their supplies and ammunitions. It was an ideal place because of its thick walls.

Today, the well-trimmed grass lawns and plants, the tall trees that surround it, the century-old acacia tree in the middle of the park, and the Catholic chapel that’s a favorite wedding venue betray its past. The walls that have once sheltered remains are now silent witnesses to family picnics, musical soirees, weddings and receptions, and lovers’ quiet moments.

Cementerio General de Dilao is now known as Paco Park, a National Historical Shrine. It is located along General Luna St. and at the east end of Padre Faura Street in Paco, Manila. It can be reached via LRT (alight at UN station and then walk or ride a padyak); jeepney (those plying Taft Avenue, alight at the corner of UN Avenue); or taxi.

This trip to Rizal Park is part of my Lakbay Rizal@150. The Rizal Park, Rizal Monument, Rizal Fountain, and the site of Rizal’s execution are four of the sites included in the Lakbay Rizal @150 of the Department of Tourism.

Posted 4 years, 8 months ago at 12:28 pm.

12 comments

12 Replies

  1. Chicken Feet Feb 21st 2013

    Ang galing! Very informative Ms. N! Hitik na hitik pala sa history ang Paco park.

  2. Isa sa mga fave ko na napuntahan din ang Paco Park. I really love old places and history. Iniisip ko lang, kung bumabalik pa ba ang relatives ng mga nakalibing dyan tuwing Undas. Kasi puro mga late 19th and early 20 century pa ang mga nakalibing dyan. Gusto ko lang sana mapasok yung Church sa loob. di ko pa napasok.

    trivia lang, muntik nang dyan kami mag pre-nuptial photo shoot ng wife ko. kaso naisip namin, lagi naman kami sa sementeryo. hehehe. Sa sementeryo kasi ako nag propose sa kanya, sa puntod ng tatay niya. 🙂

  3. and by the way, wala na kaya talagang mga naiwang remains dyan? lahat po ba natransfer?

  4. Been here some years ago, napaka interesting talaga ng ating history. Sayang lang dipa uso nun sa akin ang phone na may cam. Anyway, this post is highly appreciated sis!

  5. mahina tlg ako sahistory at dapat pag nagpunta ako jan nakaprint tong blogpost mo na to.. hehehe

  6. I visited this place when I was in college. Never returned there again. I plan to go back because I know that I will appreciate Paco Cemetery more than when I was a student.

  7. Wow…salamat sa istorya at pics. Ngayon ko lang nalaman ang istorya ng Paco Park. God Bless Miss N.

  8. hala, parang mas gumaganda ang lugar pag ikaw ang nagpi-picture? o, dahil maganda ka ring mag-kwento? basta… as i remember, mas dull tingnan ang lugar na iyan (haha) but your post just brought the place in a brighter and more memorable light. ahaha, ikaw na… hello! 🙂

  9. Ang ganda! Howcome I missed this? Ang ganda talaga ng Pilipinas. You tell the story with such vigor and emotion that I almost feel like visiting the place when I go home next time.

    Kamusta na anak?!

    Inay Chuva.

  10. Inaaaaaaay!!!! Na-miss po kita dito hehe.

    Maraming salamat sa pambobola tungkol sa aking skill sa pag-storytell haha! Nasa Metro Manila lang yan kaya po puwede mong puntahan when you are in Pinas.

    Ingats ka po lagi.

  11. King Deligero Sep 5th 2013

    Kung hindi ko tiningnan ito, Hindi ko malalaman na meron palang ganito sa Paco, Manila.

    I also liked the idea of being so informative, reading this gives me a lot of info’s about.

    Looking forward to have visit soon.

  12. Thanks, King. I hope you get to visit Paco Park soon.


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