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Why Is There a Piece of Manila Inside Makati? 

Who owns Manila South Cemetery?
IMAGE ROEL BALINGIT/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO
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If you take a look at the map of Manila and Makati, you will see something strange: There is a square chunk of Manila right in the middle of Makati. 

Upon closer inspection, you realize it is actually the Manila South Cemetery, a 25-hectare land roughly the size of the University of Santo Tomas (21 hectares). 

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Why is Manila South Cemetery Located in Makati? 

The Manila South Cemetery belongs to the city of Manila and is part of the district of San Andres. It is an exclave—a portion of a territory of one government that is completely surrounded by the territory of another government. 

 

Manila South Cemetery 

 

 

How a chunk of Makati land came to be in the possession of the city of Manila is a story dating back to February 1920, when Manila’s councilors passed Ordinance No. 726, which appropriated the sum of P703,750 for the development of a cemetery south of the city. 

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The councilors must have felt that a cemetery at the heart of Manila would run contrary to the beautiful urban plan they had set aside for the city, so it was decided to purchase land in the south. 

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At the time, the Zobel family had aggressive plans for the development of their estate, which was then known as San Pedro Macati Estate and belonged to Enrique Zobel. Part of that estate was sold to Manila. A Municipal Board resolution on August 31, 1920 reads:

“Endorsement by the Mayor requesting concurrence of the Board regarding the land selected by his office for the proposed south cemetery, namely, a parcel of land of the San Pedro Macati Estate belonging to Mr. Enrique Zobel, who is willing to sell it at the rate of one peso per square gratuitously to give access to the cemetery from Calle Vito Cruz, referred to the committee on cemeteries for comment and recommendation.”

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Who owns Manila South Cemetery?

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Today, Manila South Cemetery is owned by the City of Manila. When the Zobel family sold that parcel of land to the government of Manila, Makati City had not been founded yet. San Pedro Macati Estate was part of Rizal Province, which, at the time, was the one of largest provinces in the Philippines. 

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Notable People Buried in Manila South Cemetery

Currently, there are an estimated 295,000 graves in Manila South Cemetery. It is one of the most visited public cemeteries in the country. The following are some of the most notable people who were interred in Manila South Cemetery. 

  • Leon Guinto (1886–1962), mayor of Manila during World War II, and governor of Quezon 
  • Ramon Bagatsing (1916–2006), longest-serving mayor of Manila, a survivor of the Plaza Miranda bombing 
  • Elpidio Quirino (1890–1956), sixth President of the Philippines, reinterred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on February 29, 2016
  • Espiridiona Bonifacio (1875–1956), nationalist and revolutionary, and sister of Andrés Bonifacio 
  • Lucrecia Roces Kasilag (1918–2008), composer, music educator, and National Artist for Music
  • Lope K. Santos (1879–1963), novelist, linguist, and grammarian of the Filipino language
  • Paraluman (1923–2009), actress 
  • Rafaelita Soriano (1915–2007), ambassador, educator, scholar, researcher, and historian

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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