The sun’s rays were slanting down the old stone gates of the ancient burial place as we boarded down from an almost hour-long jeepney ride from Liliw Church in Laguna. The renowned Underground Cemetery of Nagcarlan closes at four in the afternoon and we arrived thirty minutes after the said hour.
The gates were still open however, and we quickly marched our way inside lest we miss our chance to visit this place. Halfway through the promenade, we met the landmark’s caretaker, people from the National Historical Commission, I think. We asked if we can roam around the place a bit before they closed for the day and they unsmilingly obliged.
I personally think that the people in charge of this place could be a bit more warm and pleasant to their visitors, a little smile wouldn’t hurt.
This is actually the second time I’ve visited Nagcarlan’s Underground Cemetery.
The first time I was here, they gave a lecture before letting us proceed down the crypt, this time though, there was no history lessons, most probably due to lack of time.
The Nagcarlan’s cemetery ground is quite small by today’s standard and we were told was still used for burials until a decade or two ago. The chapel, which is the centerpiece of the ground, was built by a Franciscan priest in 1845 and was then used for funeral rites before the deceased are laid to rest.
Underneath the chapel is a crypt, which is the only one of its kind in the Philippines. The catacomb was used as a secret meeting place by the Philippine Revolutionaries during the Spanish era and later on during the Filipino-American War.
In 1973, the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery was declared as a National Historical Landmark.
I was actually expecting a labyrinth under the chapel, but I was a bit disappointed when I saw that it was really not as large as my mind imagined it to be. Too much Edgar Allan Poe I guess.
The cemetery reminds me of Paco Park in Manila, with stacked tombs circling the grassy grounds and a small chapel right smack in the middle.
Nagcarlan’s Underground Cemetery can be toured in thirty minutes, or even less if you’re not into taking pictures. But small as it may be, I recommend visiting this unique and curious burial place if ever you find yourself around this side of Laguna.