Follow my journey from Hong Kong to Miami during my 70-day cruise on the Oceania Insignia. Today’s segment continues our city tour of Manila, touching on the milestones of the history of Manila and the Philippines.
We visited Rizal Park which was built in honor of the country’s hero, Dr. José Rizal. Dr. Rizal was a doctor and novelist who was shot by a firing squad in 1896 on grounds that he was organizing a rebellion against the Spanish government. The park has a full size recreation of Dr. Rizal’s final moments before the firing squad. In the adjacent Fort Santiago, one is able to view the symbolic bronzed final footsteps of Dr. Rizal, who was imprisoned and tortured there before his execution.
The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial occupies 152 acres within the heart of Manila. The cemetery contains the largest number of military graves from World War II; a total of just over 17,000. The grave markers are aligned to form a circular pattern, just as they are in the American Cemeteries I have visited in both Normandy and Luxembourg. The setting is both serene and sobering.
I think one of the reasons I love to travel is to get insight into the culture in other parts of the world. I think the custom discovered in my visit to the Chinese Cemetery in Manila has to top the list. The mausoleums in this cemetery are like apartments. The fronts have gates; many have glass behind the gates. Located in the center room are above-ground vaults containing the remains of loved ones and most have pictures of the deceased hanging above. There are small rooms on either side…usually a kitchen and a bathroom. Yes, they are like apartments even with running water, toilets and air-conditioning! Families go there at least twice a month to spend the weekend and eat and sleep there. Since my visit was close to All Souls Day, everyone was preparing for the holy day and each mausoleum was decorated with flowers plus all sorts of food offerings. There are even food stands within the cemetery selling hamburgers, etc. It was like a little city. I was so enthralled with this strange tradition. Following are a few pictures.