People praying during the groundbreaking of
the second Islamic Cemetery in Metro Manila.
By Rexcel Sorza, IOL Correspondent
MANILA, December 19, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – After
contending themselves for years with an
over-congested cemetery, the thousands of Muslims
living in the Philippine capital will soon have a
new four-hectare cemetery.
"This is a great help to the Moro people who
migrated to Manila as this project concretely
addresses one of their most practical problems,"
Cocoy Tulawie, vice president of the Suara
Bangsamoro political party, the project facilitator,
told IslamOnline.net on Monday, December 19.
The "Islamic Cemetery for Muslims in Metro Manila"
will soon be developed in Rodriguez town in Rizal
province adjoining Manila to serve more than 100,000
Filipino Muslims living in the capital.
"Moros would usually have a hard time getting burial
permits and getting buried in other public
cemeteries," Benjie Maulana, a Maranao who migrated
to Rodriguez Rizal five years ago, told IOL.
"We felt deprived and humiliated".
The Philippines, a largely Christian state, has an
estimated Muslim minority of eight million or ten
percent of the population.
The project, officially launched on December 13, is
funded by Bayan Muna (Nation First) political party.
It has an initial development cost of two million
Rep. Joel Virador, of Bayan Muna, said that an
additional 15 million pesos have been contributed by
the Committee of Muslim Affairs of the House of
Representatives, Bayan Muna Party list and the
Office of Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte for the
development of the cemetery.
The town government of Rodriguez has donated the
four-hectare complex. Another 10 hectares is being
set aside for future expansion.
For years, Muslims, particularly those living in
Manila, used to bury their dead in the overcrowded
cemetery in the Muslim enclave in Taguig City.
Those who can afford have turned to upscale private
cemeteries but these were unaffordable to ordinary
Others have to transport their relatives back to the
southern Philippines island of Mindanao, the
birthplace of Islam in the country.
"In light of the war critical situation of Sulu and
other parts of Mindanao, this is an overwhelming
news," Tulawie said.
He thanked public servants like Mayor Ping Cuerpo
"who understands the unique needs of the Moro people
in his jurisdiction".
Tulawie noted, however, that more basic facilities
and agencies that would address the needs of the
Moro people are needed as the number of Muslims in
Manila continues to increase due to several factors,
including the forcible displacement by war and
poverty in war-torn Mindanao.
The Philippine government has recently agreed, in
principle, to allow Muslims in the south to draft
their own constitution, impose their own tax system
as well as form and maintain legal and financial
The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) still have to thrash out an agreement on
ancestral domain, which covers the territory and
resources on the mineral-wealthy island.
MILF has been pressing for the independence of
Muslim-majority areas in the south.