Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery

* the entrance to the underground cemetery

* the inside of the chapel; notice the remaining ceiling planks, they seemed to me the original ones placed again to reinforce the originality and serenity of the place

* view of the underground as one reach the last flights of stairs down

* a close-up of a crypt; notice that this one died at 104 years old; that is one super senior citizen

* this faded words of some sort captured my attention as well; since I was not able to figure it out, I resorted to an entry posted by Kuya Arnaldo which has these words; it said: “Go forth, Mortal man, full of life / Today you visit happily this shelter / But after you have gone out / Remember, you have a resting place here / Prepared for you”

Perhaps one of the historical places that have gripped me with a very intense awe is the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery. The serenity of the place, the well-groomed lawn, and the overall cleanliness of the area served to produce an ‘awe effect’ to whoever comes across the cemetery.

On the main gate is a small board telling the visiting hours, the last hour of which was supposed to be 4 pm. And it was kind of awkward, as I was well beyond the closing hour, having done the visit out of boredom one late afternoon in our house. Nevertheless it was with excitement that I entered the land of the dead, knowing that I was literally the only breathing being at that time (I do not recall hearing any birds of any other animals nearby).

The soft thud of foot steps reached my ears just as I came upon the chapel at the end. I turned around to see a stocky, middle-aged man who turned out to be a guard of some sort in the place. He nevertheless greeted me amicably and welcomed me to the place. Just no camera flashes; that was the general rule.

This underground cemetery is the only one existing in the country (if you might want to create another one, you might do so, I think). A certain Father Vicente Velloc, of the Franciscan order, oversaw the construction of the place in 1845, together with the construction of the town church as well as the convent. During the revolution of 1896, revolutionary leaders made the underground as their meeting place. One can only imagine those meetings, in a period when myths and pamahiin about the dead was more or less still prevalent. With just the faintest of light, enough to see the faces of the attendees or the documents at hand, they braved the cold place and conspired and brewed their plans.

The hardest part of all was to take pictures below as the lighting is poor (the positions of the light, I think, were meant to keep the ‘eeriness’ of the place). I thought I was already encountering ghosts or something, as I began to heard children laughing; voices that seemed to me were playing. I am a hardcore unbeliever in spirits or anything connected to it, but man, in a place like that!?

I lingered for a while, enjoyed the brief solitude that the place gave. Upon going back up, I immediately asked the guard if there are residents behind the cemetery. There are thus solving my little mystery.

The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is a priority destination to those who are into cultural-historical-religious things. It is not a place for picnics, but it sure makes you love the past (I mean the culture particularly) of our country.

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