San Pedro Macati (Makati) Cemetery
On January 19, 1848, Governor General Claveria issued a decree for the establishment of cemeteries outside of urban centers in order to discourage burials inside the church or within the churchyard. Even then, some parishes intrepreted the decree with a certain degree of freedom.
On June 6, 1848, the parish priest of San Pedro, Macati (Makati), submitted a letter with a proposed plan and budget for building a cemetery just a few meters in front of the church of San Pedro, Macati. Typically, the sanitation regulation states that cemeteries should be built 500 meters away from the town center if the inhabitants do not exceed 5,000 souls. We can assume that San Pedro had less than 5,000 souls in 1848 since a Spanish census reports the town with only a population of 3,625 souls in 1887.
The parish priest attached the proposed total budget of 321 pesos broken down as follows: 178 pesos for materials and 143 pesos for labor. For materials, about 95% of the budget went to masonry costs. Masonry included 2,100 stone slabs from Guadalupe which were budgeted to be used in building the cemetery encirlement at a projected cost of 94 pesos. Around 200 cavans of lime and 250 cavans of sand were also ordered. A total of six pesos were budgeted for timber with 2 planks of molave for the crucifix and five pieces of molave for the cemetery door.
For labor, projections were made for a total of about 22 working days using 1 foreman, 9 masons, and 2 carpenters at a total cost of 143 pesos. The foreman got a budget of 18 pesos for 22 days of work while the 9 masons were paid a 7.5 pesos each for the same 22 days of work.
The parish priest also submitted a drawing of the proposed cemetery drawn in a simple fashion. The cemetery walls showing the adobe blocks and outlined almost like a square (the front scaled from 1 to 30 feet or meters?). The plan does show a cemetery gate but with no design. The most beautiful part of the cemetery plan is the cemetery crucifix built on a pedestal and located at the cemetery center.
We don’t know when actual work was completed but American colonial period photographs exist of the cemetery of San Pedro, Macati mostly during the early stages of the Philippine American war. We can compare the cemetery plan with these photographs and determined how far the plan was implemented.
Image: San Pedro, Macati Cemetery Plan circa 1849. Note the beautiful drawing of the cemetery cross.
The photograph below shows the San Pedro cemetery crucifix located at the rear end instead of the original plan at the center of the cemetery. Nevertheless, the key features of the design were retained although the actual rays of sun enamating from the crossbars are longer than what was originally drawn.
Image above: San Pedro Macati cemetery crucifix circa 1899. Note the one level niches built into the cemetery rear inner wall.
The original cemetery plan did not show any particular design for the cemetery door or gate. However, an 1889 photograph shows a beautiful small gate in front of the church. We can surmise that the budget for the five pieces of molave wood for the wooden door of the cemetery was used but the actual door could have been destroyed either during the battles between the Filipino insurgents and the Spanish troops or with the American troops.
Image above: San Pedro Macati Cemetery taken from the rear of the cemetery and facing the church. Note the church bell tower separated from the church and on ground level (right side).
Finally, in the original plan, the cemetery wall consisted only of one layer. However, instead of just one layer, two cemetery walls were actually built composed on an inner wall that contained the crucifix and an outer wall. We can only guess why the second outer perimeter wall was built around the inner wall since no niches can be discerned in the outside wall. Maybe, there were simply more adobe slabs ordered than was really needed.
Image above: San Pedro Macati Cemetery Gate (front) and inner and outer walls. Only the rear inner wall shows niches.
Our comparison of the San Pedro Macati cemetery plan and actual American colonial period photographs show how dreams are transformed into reality. And even amidst the ugly realities of the Philippine-American war, we can still sense the serenity and beauty of the place. Incomplete though the story may be, we remember the builders and the former inhabitants of this sacred place – may their souls rest in peace.