More Pinoys want cremation
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - November 1, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - For a long time, the Catholic Church in the Philippines frowned on cremation.

But with increasing burial costs and changing lifestyles, more and more Filipinos now choose to be practical and eschew tradition. And the Church no longer objects.

“In the past, people did not like to cremate the dead. But Filipinos are now open-minded,” said Lina Fidelino, director of the Loyola Memorial Chapels and Crematorium in Commonwealth, Quezon City.

She said more and more Filipinos now opt for cremation and subsequent interment in a columbary because of the rising costs of the traditional practice of burying the dead.

“If you purchase a lot (in a private cemetery), it costs around P80,000. And that doesn’t include interment which is usually around P25,000,” Fidelino said.

Cremation in Loyola costs P25,000 while vaults that can house two or four urns cost P25,000 and P45,000, respectively.

And while these are still higher than some of the rates offered by various funeral homes that cater to the needs of poor Filipinos, the issue of decreasing space in public cemeteries continuously crops up.

Recently, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista announced the plan of the local government to establish a city-owned crematorium and columbarium to serve the needs of those who cannot afford the costs in private funeral houses.

 

Preference for cremation

According to Fidelino, around 40 percent of those who avail of their funeral services choose cremation over the traditional burial in cemeteries.

The high number of those who prefer cremation was confirmed by Eugene Cheng, vice president for operations of The Sanctuarium on G. Araneta Ave. in Quezon City.

“Around 60 percent of those who avail of our services prefer cremation,” said Cheng. “This is very high compared to the 18 percent who preferred cremation when we started.”

Established in 2006, The Sanctuarium – one of the biggest in Asia – currently houses 25,000 vaults, almost half of which are already sold.

The building still has several non-operational floors which can house more than 50,000 vaults.

Cheng said that he foresees an increase in the number of people who would want to be cremated and placed in a columbary.

“It will go up because of the changing lifestyle of Filipinos,” he said, noting the rather hectic schedule of people nowadays.

Aside from cheaper costs, Cheng said that people who wish to visit their departed relatives or friends need not brave the weather and traffic in cemeteries because columbaria are accessible.

It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or not, the climate is controlled inside the columbarium, he added.

According to Cheng, they expect thousands of people to visit the remains of around 2,000 departed that are interred in their columbarium this All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days.

“But unlike in cemeteries, people who visit here usually don’t hang around. They leave after saying a prayer or doing some rituals,” he said, adding that some don’t even have to go to the columbarium because they already brought home the urns that contain the ashes of their relatives.

Some would like to bring the urns to their houses so that other relatives could come over and have some sort of a reunion, Cheng said.

Aside from those who recently died, he said that there is also an increase in the number of people who wish the bones of their relatives who died years ago to be interred in a columbary.

 

Prohibited by the church?

According to Cheng, many Filipinos do not want to be cremated because the Catholic Church is prohibiting it.

Many believe that burning the body will deny the departed soul of the Doctrine of the Resurrection.

“Before it was not officially allowed, but the Church now allows it,” said Cheng.

The supposed ban has already been lifted as early as 1963 when the Catholic Church started to allow cremation in certain circumstances.

This was emphasized in the 1983 revised Canon Law which stated, “The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burying the bodies of the deceased be observed; nevertheless, the Church does not prohibit cremation unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine.”

ALL SAINTS ALL SOULS ARANETA AVE CATHOLIC CHURCH CHENG CHURCH CREMATION QUEZON CITY
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