Manila North Cemetery

The Manila North Cemetery (Spanish: Cementerio del Norte) is one of the oldest cemeteries in Metro Manila, Philippines. The cemetery is owned by and located in the City of Manila, the national capital, and is one of the largest in the metropolis at 54 hectares. It is located alongside Andrés Bonifacio Avenue and borders two other important cemeteries: the La Loma Cemetery and the Manila Chinese Cemetery. Numerous impoverished families notably inhabit some of the mausoleums.[1]

Manila North Cemetery
Manila North Cemetery 2.jpg
Entrance of the Manila North Cemetery
Coordinates14°37′59″N 120°59′20″E / 14.633°N 120.989°E / 14.633; 120.989Coordinates: 14°37′59″N 120°59′20″E / 14.633°N 120.989°E / 14.633; 120.989
Owned byManila City Government
Size54 ha (130 acres)
Find a GraveManila North Cemetery

History and ArchitectureEdit

Aerial view of Cementerio del Norte (1928)

The Manila North Cemetery was formerly part of La Loma Cemetery, but was separated as an exclusively Catholic burial ground.[2] The cemetery formerly known as Cementerio del Norte[3] was laid out in 1904.[4]

The cemetery in its entirety was once called Paang Bundok, the area National Hero Jose Rizal selected as his final resting place. The current Paang Bundok is now a barangay located before the cemetery grounds.[5]

During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II the cemetery became the site of atrocities, with accounts that Imperial Japanese forces led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita brutally killed more than 2,000 unarmed noncombatants in the cemetery from October to November 1944.[3]

The cemetery being one of the oldest cemeteries in the metropolis is evident on the different designs of mausoleums that reflect the prevailing architectural style in the Philippines during the period they were constructed. The styles range from simple, plain-painted with a patch of greenery, to very complex designs that contain reliefs that are difficult to carve while also having different colors.

Informal settlementEdit

Many people already live inside the cemetery with some of them serving as caretakers of the mausoleums where they also stay to survive. When the families or owners of the mausoleums come, especially during and after All Soul's Day, the families transfer to other places. In addition, the informal settlers often serve as informal tour guides, bringing visitors to tombs of famous people and discussing the oral history of the area.[4] Others take advantage of the quantity of visitors during the Allhallowtide holiday, setting up stalls to sell drinks and snacks, and providing visitors other services like renting out their toilets.[6]

Clearing operations made in 2019 destroyed the shanties and other obstructions inside the cemetery, displacing the families who lived in the makeshift homes and in the mausoleums.[7]

Heritage StructuresEdit

Bautista-Nakpil PylonEdit

The Bautista-Nakpil Pylon at the North Cemetery was designed by Juan Nakpil as a tribute to both Bautista and Nakpil families, including his uncle and benefactor, Dr. Ariston Bautista. The funerary pylon is a tall, square podium which has four human figures on the top corners that form a gesture of prayer capping off the tall columns. The frontal side is embellished by geometricized flowers, spiraling foliage, and nautilus shells in low-relief concrete panels which has a highly decorized stoup on the lower portion.[8] An octagonal lantern-like form sits on top of the podium with miniature columns buttressing on all sides and crowned by a rigid dome.

Mausoleum of the Veterans of the RevolutionEdit

The Mausoleum of the Veterans of the Revolution is a memorial dedicated to Filipino revolutionaries of the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine–American War.

Notable burialsEdit

The remains of key figures in Philippine history such as former Presidents Sergio Osmeña, Ramón Magsaysay and Manuel Roxas; historian Epifanio de los Santos; and celebrities as actor Fernando Poe Jr. are buried in the cemetery.[9]

Most of the people have their tombs on the main avenue of the cemetery while other notable people are located near the main entrance.[4]

Mausoleo de los Veteranos de la Revolución
Magsaysay Memorial
Juan Nakpil Memorial
Poe Family Mausoleum

Group plotsEdit

  • American Association plot
  • Armed Forces of the Philippines Cemetery
  • Boy Scout Cenotaph (in memory of the 24 Boy Scouts who died in a plane crash en route to the 11th World Scout Jamboree)
  • Firemen's plot
  • Jewish Cemetery
  • Masonic burial grounds
  • Mausoleo de los Veteranos de la Revolución
  • Military and police plot
  • Thomasites' plot
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars plot (now neglected, since relatives all migrated to the USA)

Popular cultureEdit

  • The Museum Foundation of the Philippines and Carlos Celdran's Walk This Way both used to hold walking tours the Chinese Cemetery, North Cemetery and La Loma Cemetery.
  • Manila North Cemetery and Chinese Cemetery have a trove of funerary architecture. Mausoleums are designed to look like Chinese pagodas, Hindu Shikhara temples, Egyptian pyramids guarded by Sphinxes, Greek- and Roman-inspired temples, Romanesque-type churches, even Art Deco mausoleums.[12]
  • The Manila North Cemetery was the plot setting for the episode 'Paa' of the 2010 horror film Cinco.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ James Chance (2010). "Living with the dead: Manila's North Cemetery". Pictures of the Year International. Donald W Reynolds Journalism Institute. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  2. ^ Republic of the Philippines: Presidential Museum and Library."Our Heritage and the Departed: A Cemeteries Tour Archived 2015-09-28 at the Wayback Machine".
  3. ^ a b Palafox, Quennie Ann (4 September 2012). "Cemeteries of Memories, Where Journey to Eternity Begins". National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Vintage Philippines. December 2, 2010. "Manila North Cemetery: A Time Capsule of Philippine History Archived 2014-05-03 at the Wayback Machine".
  5. ^
  6. ^ Sauler, Erik. November 2, 2012. Philippine Daily Inquirer. "From buko shakes to portalets, entrepreneurs thrive at Manila North Cemetery".
  7. ^ Valenzuela, Nikka G. (2019-10-30). "Illegal settlers out of Manila North Cemetery". Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  8. ^ Lico, Gerard (2008). Arkitekturang Filipino: A History of Architecture and Urbanism in the Philippines. Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press. pp. 331–332, 339. ISBN 978-971-542-579-7.
  9. ^ Philippine Daily Inquirer. November 2, 2012. "Did You Know: Manila North Cemetery".
  10. ^ Pedrajas, Joseph Almer (2020-08-29). "Former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim is laid to rest". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  11. ^ [1] CWGC Casualty record.
  12. ^ Walter Ang. October 28, 2013. "8 Trivia About Manila Cemeteries".

External linksEdit