Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
[left] event poster
[center] Me, Therese, and Mike
[right] repainted historical marker by the NHCP
31 August 2019
Visiting the "underground"
01 September 2019
Nagcarlan, Laguna is famous for its uniquely different architecture of a cemetery. The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is one particular and unconventional colonial cemetery in the Philippines, constructed through the auspices of Fray Vicente Velloc, OFM in 1845 (Franciscan Order).
It was also a witness to the Philippine-Spanish War in 1896, as Laguna is one of the eight provinces that first declared war against the Spaniards upon the discovery of the secret society of Katipunan, also known as KKK. It also served as a guerrilla hideout during the Japanese Occupation (Second World War) in 1942-45.
The unique architecture and rich history resulted in a declaration in 1978 making the underground cemetery as a heritage site. this is concurrently supported by the recent enactment of Republic Act no. 10066, known as the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
My first taste of curiosity was way back twenty ears ago, during my first college field trip during my first semester as an economics undergraduate of UP Los Baños (indeed, so much "firsts"). Under the course Fil20, we embarked on an educational trip that visited some of the churches of Laguna and Quezon built by the Franciscans during the Spanish Era. And coincidentally, one of the last stops of the trip was the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.
Fast forward to 2011, during my first months as an economic analyst (consultant) at the Asian Development Bank, my officemates and I organized a trip to various sites in Laguna: the Jamboree Site at UP Los Baños, the famous shoe market street retail haven at Liliw, Laguna, and of course, the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery. Sadly, it was on that very day that the underground cemetery was closed. Thus, we managed only to take pictures at the gate (see below).
My interest on the underground cemetery was awakened when a friend from college, Therese Gallenero, informed me of an upcoming lecture organized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). I immediately agreed to join for various reasons: to partake in the celebration of the National Historical Month (and being a member of the Philippine Historical Association), may "poor recollection of the field trip twenty years ago, and the "failed" visit in 2011. Mike Maclang, also one of our college friends and fellow communcation arts undergraduate back then (with Therese), coming from his shift from work, also agreed to join the lecture in Nagcarlan.
This lecture of the NHCP had some "surprise": Laguna Third District Provincial Board Member Angelica Jones Alarva arrived on the event, who imparted some message related to tourism promotion of the province. If my memory serves me right, my picture with her would be my first picture together with a celebrity (or a politician for that matter).
We had also a short visit in the small museum beside the facade of the underground cemetery. It showcased the milestones of the cemetery, as well as some historical and cultural novelties related to Nagcarlan. The efforts of restoration and preservation are also presented in some of the panels in the small museum hall.
After the lecture, we then proceeded to Liliw, Laguna to have a late lunch at the famous Arabela's Restaurant. Despite the heavy rains, we still enjoyed our pwn version of our "self-imposed educationa trip". I then decided to join Therese on her way back to Tagaytay. Thus, a "24-hour field trip" was completed despite rains and some significant traffic: from Los Baños to Nagcarlan to Liliw, and finally to Tagaytay.
Breakfast in Tagaytay was so memorable, as I had the chance to visit the newest branch of Starbucks, which is known for the best scenic view of Taal Volcano. The weather was great to have the view, making the visit more memorable.
Indeed, the first month of my return to UPLB after exactly twenty years was a real revisit of my first cultural and heritage trip, which for me remains to be one of the most interesting cultural, historical, and heritage sites of the country.
(photo from Facebook page)
Inside the chapel
(with event poster)
With Laguna Provincial Board Member (3rd District)
Angelica Jones Alarva
From the Nagcarlan
Underground Cemetery Museum
Capping the 24-hour "field trip"
01 September 2019
with Therese Gallenero (not in picture), at Starbucks Tagaytay (Domicillo Design Hotel), the newest branch