Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Search at Manila North Cemetery

manila north cemeteryInterestingly, a couple of days ago, I got my first Manila Gofer project (I had created Manila Gofer a few years ago), which is essentially equivalent to my Book Me service. Just as intriguing is the fact that this initial project entails finding the grave of someone buried at Manila North Cemetery way back in 1920. Easy enough -- just ask the cemetery admin and that's that -- or so I thought.

manila north cemeteryI had set out in the morning to look for Cloyde W. Williams, an American from Iowa who died at Philippine General Hospital on November 27, 1920 and interred at Manila North Cemetery on December 4, 1920 with Funeraria National as the undertaker. Unfortunately, the cemetery admin at Manila North no longer has records of the dead from so long ago. I was told that some of these records are now kept by other organizations, depending on the association/affiliation of the deceased.

So, I tried asking around, particularly the caretakers. I was navigated to a few sections that were known to be burial grounds for Americans, like the United Spanish War Veterans, World War II Veterans, American Eagle, and Masonic burial grounds. Here, we began searching via brute force for a couple of hours, looking at each grave and reading the headstone. But still, no luck.

corinthian plazaI briefly entertained the idea of sifting through the entire cemetery, but quickly killed the thought. Given the expansiveness of the burial area it would almost be like searching for a needle in a haystack, with the added factors that some headstones are no longer readable or visible (due to destruction, erosion, sinking, or exhumation). Perhaps the pieces of skull and skeleton lying around signaled me to come up with a different strategy.

I asked the caretaker where the records were held for some of these sections, and he pointed me to the Scottish Rite and to Corinthian Plaza. I took note of these, but prior to going to either place, I first went to Funeraria National (Nacional Memorial Homes) near SM Sta. Mesa; however, they too no longer hold records going that far back (only since 1996).

lrt nightThus, off I went to Corinthian Plaza in Makati. To my dismay, I didn't get very far from the taxi before being turned away. The security guard had never encountered anyone at the plaza searching for death records before; he told me to go back and ask for the specific office/company being sought.

After that it was already late in the afternoon, so I postponed my visit to the Scottish Rite and called it a day. I will have to regroup and see if I can get more information regarding Mr. Williams and his past/background/occupation before heading back to the cemetery.

If anyone else has other potential Book Me projects, I'm all ears.

1 comment:

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