The cemetery a few hundred steps away from the place where I grew up has a secret.
We used to jump along its tombs during hot summer days when there was nothing else to do and my friends used to fly kites from the highest mausoleums on October months where the wind is at its strongest. My grandfather, who now rest inside its hallowed grounds, used to take walks here every morning where I occasionally accompany him.
The Malabon City public cemetery has been our playground of sorts during my growing up years. But it holds a terrible secret. An inverted icon of the Catholic faith that sends chills through my young mind; an almost life-size sculpture of a feral devil standing over Archangel Michael with a fork aimed at his face.
A marker on the left reveals an exchange between Lucifer and St. Michael; the devil proclaiming that he owns the world and St. Michael pleading to the people. On the right is a crumbling bas relief of Adam and Eve, probably a symbol of the first sin of Man.
Stories about the perverse statue abound. Some say that the figures used to be small and supernaturally grew each year to its current height. A few whisper about the devil roaming around the graveyard at night. And more stories pervade about the tomb below the sculpture, which up to this day remains blank and probably empty.
But everything about the controversial icon have all been hearsays, stories that has been passed from one generation to the next; for the sculpture is ancient. Older that a 60-year old lady I talked to who says it’s been there since she was a kid.
The shroud of mystery however soon lifted as Noli de Castro of the infamous show, Magandang Gabi Bayan, visited our town one October some years past to feature the Demon of Malabon on its always anticipated Halloween chiller.
It was revealed that Simeon Bernardo, the person buried on the lower tomb, specifically asked his children to build the sculpture over his grave to remind society that darkness has taken over the world; the devil has won and there is no God.
Simeon, who died in 1934, suffered a bitter fate during the Spanish Regime in the Philippines. Accused as a filibuster, he was imprisoned in Fort Santiago and was mercilessly tortured by the government. The ordeal made him believe that God does not exist and indoctrinated the belief to his children.
Now encased in iron bars to protect from stones thrown by people, the bizarre image of the devil beating down upon an archangel is an unsettling reminder of how society was back then. And according to the Bernardo clan, they will reverse the statue and put St. Michael on top once they see that the world that their great grandfather witnessed has already changed from the one he saw centuries back.
Malabon Municipal Cemetery
Address: Simeon Bernardo Tomb, Brgy. Tugatog, Malabon City
GPS Coordinates: 14.660813,120.968804
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here