Cebu City builds Muslim cemetery | Inquirer News
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Cebu City builds Muslim cemetery

By: - Day Desk Editor / @dbongcac
/ 05:04 AM October 31, 2011

Muslims in Cebu don’t have to go far to bury their dead.

Unknown to many, a Muslim cemetery has been put up in a 2-hectare lot in Sitio Ka Teves in the mountain barangay of Guba in Cebu City.

The lot was owned by the Cebu City government but was donated to the Office of the Muslim Affairs (OMA) in Central Visayas in 2007, specifically to be used as a cemetery.


It is the first Muslim cemetery outside Mindanao.


Although there are only a few Muslims in Cebu, the establishment of a Muslim cemetery in Cebu was a fulfillment of a promise made by Rep. Tomas Osmeña when he was mayor of Cebu City.

In 2003, Osmeña was crowned by OMA as “Sultan of Cebu” while his wife, Margot, was declared as a “Muslim princess.”

Osmeña identified the city-owned lot in Guba because it covers 2 ha and is located in a mountain barangay about 25 km from the city proper.

Osmeña, whose term as mayor ended in 2010, thanked the officials of Barangay Guba for allowing the city to put up a Muslim cemetery in their area.

To show his gratitude, he promised to give P2 million worth of projects, programs or even medicines to the barangay. The amount would be taken from his Priority Assistance Development Fund.

Osmeña said he was even prepared to give Guba P1 million per year until his term as congressman expires in 2013.


“This is my way of thanking you for allowing the establishment of a Muslim cemetery in your barangay,” the former mayor told Guba officials during his visit to the barangay last Wednesday.

Guba barangay captain Renerio Limotan said there are now over 100 graves in the Muslim cemetery.

He recalled that in 2005, the city government gave them two options: to transfer the city jail in their barangay or a Muslim cemetery be put up in Guba. They chose the latter.

“We were a bit apprehensive of having a jail in our place so we chose to have the cemetery instead,” he said.

The city jail was later relocated from Barangay Apas to the mountain barangay of Kalunasan.

The Muslims started burying their dead in 2005, said Limotan. But all the permits, including an environmental compliance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the deed of donation were completed in 2007.

The graveyard occupies one side of a hill in Sitio Ka Teves I. The men were buried in the uppermost portion of the hill while the women were at the middle. The burial site for children is located below the hill.

The area used to be a farmland planted with string beans, bananas, native chili while a creek is located below it.

A community road separates the 2-ha cemetery lot from a nearby residential area.

Benny Alcantara, 46, said farmers like him stopped tilling the lot after the lot was made into a cemetery.

“We were no longer allowed to plant vegetables in the area because this was already donated to the Muslims,” he said.

But due to financial difficulties, Alcantara decided to plant corn in a still unoccupied portion of the cemetery and sell his products in the market.

In some instances, he would pick tree branches and make these into barbecue sticks. These would then be sold for P1 to P2 per bundle.

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Alcantara said some residents earn at least P100 to P200 from digging and covering the graves of dead Muslims.

TAGS: Cebu City

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