5 Unusual Cemeteries You Can Visit In The Philippines

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No matter how young or old you are, Halloween will always call for all things spooky, creepy, and sometimes even horror-filled (haunted house anyone?). If you happen to think that you’re too old to dress up in a costume and go trick or treating, why not do something different, but still spooky! Like what, you ask? Well, you can always visit a cemetery!

And we don’t mean just any ordinary cemetery. We’re talking about the five unusual cemeteries we’ve included in this rundown! There’s one that’s underground, another that’s under the sea, and one that’s high up in the sky attached to a limestone cliff. Not scary enough? We have one that houses what people call the Fire Mummies!

If you’re looking for something that’s more odd and funny than scary, there’s also a cemetery in Baguio where you can bury your negativity! Figured out which one you’re up for yet?

1. The Hanging Coffins of Sagada

This is one cemetery that is heavily steeped in ancient traditions and customs. The native Igorots believe that hanging their deceased loved ones against the cliff brings them closer to heaven. Although, it can also be attributed to fears of the remains being ruined by both natural and man-made factors.

If you’re willing to make the short trek to have a closer look at these hanging coffins, you’ll also discover that they’re not very long in size. This is because the dead are buried in a fetal position due to the belief that one must leave the Earth exactly the way they came in.

“The feeling was very surreal,” EJ M. says of his experience in his looloo review. “I’ve been looking at pictures of these from the internet, Instagram, and looloo, and I’ve never felt so happy to see it myself.”

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada can be found along the Staunton Road, Sagada, Mountain Province.

2. Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves

Known as the Kabayan Mummies, Benguet Mummies, Ibaloi Mummies, or Fire Mummies depending on who you ask, these remains are found in the Timbac Caves in the town of Kabayan in Benguet. Be ready for a long journey if you want to see this particular burial site. It takes around ten hours or so to reach it and a part of the journey has to be done on foot. So if you’re up for trek, this trip is for you.

It is believed that the Ibaloi tribe preferred mummification as a means of preserving the bodies of the deceased. The whole process begins when a dying person is made to ingest a salty drink. When he or she dies, the body is cleansed before it’s set into a seating position over fire.

“To see this in actual is like a dream come true for me,” Jon B. says in his looloo review. “I know that there are plenty of mummy caves here. Some are just waiting to be discovered. I’ll definitely come back for more. You should include this on your bucket list when visiting Benguet.”

The Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves can be found in Kabayan, Benguet.

3. Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery

Now that we’ve told you about two burial sites hidden in the depths of the mountains, let’s head underground for the third cemetery on our list!

Believe it or not, there’s only one underground cemetery and you can find it in the town of Nagcarlan in Laguna. Built in 1845 under the leadership of a Franciscan priest named Fr. Vicente Velloc, the underground crypt was actually reserved for the Spanish friars and the rich and elite residents of the town.

Because of its hidden location, this underground cemetery eventually became a meeting place for the katipuneros during the Philippine Revolution, as well as a hideout for the guerilla forces during World War II. The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery seems really, really old when you know its history. But here’s a fun fact: the most recent addition to its tombs was only in 1982.

“As you descend into the catacombs, you will see another altar, lit only by candles. The place looked eerie, as the light sometimes flickered and played tricks before our eyes,” says April H in her looloo review. “Chills went down my spine as I realized that the last rites of the dearly departed were said at that very altar before the burial. Definitely not for the claustrophobic.”

The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery can be found along the Nagcarlan Liliw Road, Barangay Bambang, Nagcarlan, Laguna.

4. Sunken Cemetery

From an underground cemetery, now we move on to one that’s below sea level! Aptly known as the Sunken Cemetery, a giant cross stands above the water to mark the place where a cemetery and a portion of the town of Catarman once stood. These places sank when Mt. Vulcan erupted in the 1870s. Up until the 1940s, it was possible to dive underwater to see some of the tombs and remnants from the sunken town. But when Mt. Vulcan erupted one more time in 1948, the area sank even deeper.

Photo from Rampelthels L.’s looloo review of the Sunken Cemetery

It’s possible to reach the base of the cross by boat. However, if the weather is not good and the waves are rough, you’ll eventually be advised by the local boatmen against pushing through. So make sure to time your visit on a day with good weather!

“The place is awesome,” shares Judy R. in her looloo review. “The view was postcard-worthy. Highly recommended and a must-see site whenever you go to Camiguin.”

The Sunken Cemetery can be found in Catarman, Camiguin.

5. Cemetery of Negativism

Whoever says only dead bodies can be buried has never been to the Cemetery of Negativism. Also known as the Lost Cemetery, you won’t find tombs of deceased relatives and loved ones of the Baguio community here. Instead, what you’ll find is more of a symbolism and visualization of what should be done to negative thoughts: bury them!

The sign at the entrance best explains what this place is for: “NEGATIVISM is man’s greatest self-imposed infliction, his most limiting factor, his heaviest burden. No more for here is buried the world’s negativism for all time– but for you a stern reminder. As you leave this hill, remember that the rest of your life be more positive. Have a good day — treat today like it’s your last, though it’s the first day of the rest.”

The “tombstones” you’ll find will surely bring out a lot of laughs and lightbulb moments when you get the pun. For example, there’s Kantou Nuthn Wright, who was born on December 5, 1905 and died June 14, 1903. You probably read it and thought, “That can’t be right.” That’s exactly the point.

The Cemetery of Negativity can be found in the Camp John Hay Historical Core, Baguio City.

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About Author

Bella Javier

Bella is a lover of all things sweet, a multi-time winner of the timeless children’s party and icebreaker game, Name That Tune, and a self-proclaimed queen of wishful thinking. A wanderer whose hunger lasts 24/7 and a proud owner of an oldies playlist mixed with songs she can sing fluently but does not understand, she’ll choose neither Edward or Jacob when asked that same old question.