Sampaloc during the 1882 Cholera Epidemic
On June 12, 1882, Fr. Pedro A. Flores, Provincial of the Franciscans of the Province of San Gregorio Magno, notified the Archibishop of Manila that the vacant post for parish priest of Sampaloc was being entrusted to Fr. Ramon Caviedas. Barely two months after his appointment, Fr. Caviedas and Sampaloc would experience the horrors of one of the most devastating cholera epidemic outbreak during the Spanish colonial period.
On August 21, 1882, the Spanish government officially declared the outbreak of cholera and by the time in ended in December 1882, more than 15,000 to 20,000 lives were claimed. This epidemic tested the capabilities of the Spanish medical, health, and sanitary capabilities such that a number of the dead remained unburied for days.
Image: Burial Records for Manila Cemeteries, August 28, 1822 (Ten days after the outbreak of cholera in Manila). Courtesy of Philippine National Archives.
In Sampaloc, the town records for 1882 reported around 954 deaths or almost 15% of the registered residents of the town. During 1881, only 5.19% of the population died and even lesser in previous year (1879 only 4.73%). While it is not clear how many of these deaths were due to cholera, the increased death rate was clearly significant for 1882 and the cholera epidemic was the only possible explanation. Even while the cholera epidemic was officially declared over in December 1882, the death rate for Sampaloc still was at a high of 10% for 1883. Only in 1885, did the death rate return to the pre-1882 cholera levels.