March 1, 2024

The city government targets to construct a public crematorium and columbarium within the cemetery compound to expand the capacity of the already overcrowded public burial ground.

This is part of the plan to redevelop the public cemetery and transform its presently congested and disorderly state into a modern, aesthetically designed and structured final resting place.

The plan was prepared by the City Environment and Parks Management Office in response to Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s call for the rehabilitation of the city cemetery.

In the project proposal submitted by Cepmo Department Head Rhenan Diwas as prepared by Public Services Officer III Arturo Killip, the necessity of providing crematory and columbarium services was stressed noting that these have now been an accepted alternative to the common way of disposal and treatment of the human remains.

“As more dead people are buried in the cemetery, orderliness, aesthetics and public comfort were given less importance. Despite the setback, the city government must accommodate requests for burial spaces and for this reason, the cemetery today is disorderly. It was only in 2012 that there was a tenancy period of five years. Thus this proposal aims to control the allocation, arrangement and tomb construction that should put orderliness in the already congested city cemetery,” the proposal read.

Apart from the crematorium and columbarium proposals, other recommendations made for the redevelopment were the installation of apartment/condominium type niches, reclaiming of the areas occupied by informal settlers and developing a new cemetery site.

Implementation will be subject to procedures spelled out in the project proposal, foremost the creation of a technical working group to formulate the redevelopment concepts and plans, enactment of an ordinance, formulation of the master plan, selection of a development concept before the final implementation.

The city cemetery, which started operations in 1932, has an approximate land area of 9.16 hectares with only 58 percent available as burial site.

A study said the carrying capacity of the cemetery is about 10,000 burial lots to make it safe, comfortable and aesthetically appreciative. However, the 2011 survey showed there were already 19,725 burials done.

Despite this status, burials continue to be done out of necessity subject to remedial measures adopted by the department.

The Cepmo said the city government is aware that cemetery is an amenity that it should provide thus the fees and rentals imposed are way below from that of the private cemeteries, to wit: burial fee – P500; lot rental – P100 for five years; exhumation fee – P300; condominium tomb: lower and top levels – P12,000; and middle tombs – P15,000.

On the other hand, the average cost of gravesite plot at memorial parks is P70,000 and the average cremation cost is P25,000.

According to Cepmo records, there are other cemeteries and memorial parks in the city which are either privately managed, managed by the barangay, or managed by a clan: Everlasting Memorial Park, Pyramid Memorial Park, Paradise Garden, and Kias Cemetery, all in Kias barangay, The Sanctuary in Heaven’s Garden – Loakan Proper,  Baguio Memorial Park – Naguilian Road, Ambiong cemetery, Bakakeng  cncestral cemetery, Loakan cemetery, Benin cemetery at Pinsao Proper, Sadanga cemetery at Ambiong, Baguio City Veteran’s Cemetery, Loakan Road.

Crematoriums are Pyramid Memorial Park Crematorium, Beyond the Sunset, and Sanctuary in Heaven’s Garden. – Aileen P. Refuerzo