It could be the perfect setting for a horror movie. For a zombie. It has it all: suggestive cracks niches, tombs of maggots and cockroaches that spring, and human bones strategically placed in the most remote corners. But there is one key element that does not fit in the story: who jump between the graves of the Manila North Cemetery have little undead. His is a full life and full of difficulties.
There are no official statistics on the population residing in the cemeteries of the Philippine capital. In fact, it would be impossible to conduct a census between rural migrants, thugs and prostitutes to escape disgrace. None would appear. But no doubt they are tens of thousands. And just look at the North Cemetery to convince possibly more. Only he and about 3,000 people live.
The advantages are obvious. First, the official residents, those whose names are inscribed in homes, do not war. Although, as a legacy of Spanish colonization Philippines is a deeply Catholic country, where superstition is too deeply rooted, the spirits are not a problem for illegal residents. "Who is there to fear the living, not dead," said Rosana Castro, whose home is 23 years, a shack built up a wall of niches, on the border that divides the land of the living and the dead.
In fact, Rosana not only the dead do not bother you, but even provide a way of life.The husband inscribed headstones and tombs clean it when relatives of a deceased decided to visit. "The Day of All Saints fed us for two months, but the remainder of life is hard," says Rosana, who charges between 50 and 100 pesos (one to two euros) per month for each grave of who is responsible. Tomorrow will be the only day of the year that can not remain in substandard housing. "We must be respectful and on All Saints' relatives come to see their loved ones. We left everything clean and left," he says.
The second advantage of living in a cemetery note directly in your pocket. "There is no rent to pay," says Rolando Lacape, a man of 45 who was born in the North Cemetery and has not moved one iota in the pantheon of Teves in which his mother gave birth without anesthesia or medical . "My parents took care of him when he lived most of the members of the family. Now there are only the grandchildren of those who bought the plot, and I keep taking care of their ancestors." In his words not seen even a hint of envy for the fact that the bones of the Teves have a home much more decent than his.
For embellishing the cemetery of the family gets part of the meager income that let you eat once a day. "We do a favor and so let us live here. In fact, give us clothes and even food. They believe that not only clean up the mausoleum, but also give company insiders." Boy, give. You may even Teves can not rest in peace, because Lacape not alone. By the graves of the family, built little more than a tejavana which ten people call home: his wife, Victoria Lacape, five children, of which only one has come to step on the school, and not for long and four grandchildren, when they are playing rock leaps with clubs that serve electric guitar, sleeping naked on the final site of Teves. Theirs is a life without opportunity. Because the advantages of living in the cemetery hardly outweigh the drawbacks. "We have to steal electricity and no running water or a suitable place to relieve ourselves and wash" lists Mamaril Mari Rose, a 32 year old woman has given birth to a baby yellow because it was "taking medicine for diarrhea during pregnancy and without consulting any doctor. "
The absence of schools and health, obviously unnecessary for the dead, exacerbates the social problems of these refugees to the cemetery. "The outpatient consultation in the area is free, but not the drugs or the treatment they need, so why do we know what we have if then nobody is going to remedy?" Asks Mamaril.
Malaria, dengue, tuberculosis and pneumonia are among the leading causes of death among the inhabitants of cemeteries and the slums of the Philippine capital, a volatile cocktail of about 12 million souls. When the virus does not cause carnage, typhoons take over. "The wind swept away the houses, and even covers up the graves and kill people. The rain is not much better," said Mamaril, without any hint of regret. "Most worrying is that many criminals come here to hide, and there are a lot of drugs and prostitution creating a poor environment for our children." The ease with which recounts the dangers facing her and his own, often accompanied by laughter, is far more terrifying than the presence of hundreds of dead around him.
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