Manila Chinese Cemetery: Inside the ‘Beverly Hills of the Dead’

Go on a spooky and educational trip to Manila's second oldest cemetery.

By Rhea J. Bernardino
October 18, 2016

Halloween is coming soon and thrill-seekers are sure to roam creepy places like churches and cemeteries in search for ghostly encounters that will make for spooky campfire stories. However, one cemetery will not only give you goosebumps, but will also make you green with envy.

Welcome to Beverly Hills
If you take the LRT Line 1 route and pass by R. Papa Station, then you’ve most likely already caught a glimpse of the Manila Chinese Cemetery. At first glance, it doesn't seem like a place for the dead: with rows of extravagant mausoleums that are closer to mansions than tombs, it resembles a posh village for wealthy Chinese families. That's because it sort of is in more ways than one. Most of the mausoleums bear magnificent and intricate architectural designs. The practice stems from the utter respect of the Chinese for their elders and ancestors and their belief that the graves of their loved ones are their dwelling on earth.

Not only do the mausoleums have magnificent architectural designs, but they are also equipped with facilities like air conditioners, kitchens, toilets and baths, and even bedrooms for the use of relatives and guests when they visit. There are even some relatives who have chosen to take permanent residence in the tombs to be closer to their dead loved ones. It is for this reason that the Chinese Cemetery has come to be known as the "Beverly Hills of the Dead."

Full of history
Aside from the architectural prowess of its structures, the Manila Chinese Cemetery also holds a historical significance that many are not aware of. Next to La Loma Cemetery, it is the second oldest cemetery in Manila. It was established during the Spanish period as a burial place for Chinese merchants who weren't allowed to be interred in the Catholic cemeteries. One of the prominent people buried in the Manila Chinese Cemetery is Ma Mon Luk, the founder of the Chinese restaurant bearing the same name, which is known for its mami and siopao. Apolinario Mabini was also buried there for a few decades before being transferred to his tomb in Batangas. The cemetery is also home to the oldest Chinese temple in Manila, the Chong Hock Tong Temple.

How to get there:
To get to the Chinese Cemetery, you can ride the LRT Station 1 and get off at R. Papa Station. Afterwards, take a tricycle to get to the cemetery. There are bicycles you can rent if you want to explore the grounds on your own. Otherwise, you can hire a guide for a more detailed tour.

So whether you're in the mood for a scare or a historical experience, the Manila Chinese Cemetery is definitely one of the most underrated places in Manila that you should definitely include in your bucket list.
  • Go to list of Manila resorts and hotels