Daughter picks up pa’s work as cemetery caretaker
WHEN her husband passed away, a woman who lived near the cemetery all her life augmented her meager income by picking up on his work.
As a teenager, Josephine Rosal-Laurente of barangay Guizo, Mandaue City, used to accompany her father Felomino Rosal, a cemetery caretaker, when a body has to be exhumed in the Mandaue City cemetery.
Laurente, 51, was the only sibling among eight who showed interest in her father’s job as caretaker.
Rosal was appointed by then mayor of Mandaue City Demetrio “Boy” M. Cortes, father of incumbent Mayor Jonas Cortes.
Laurente said a body would be exhumed five years after it was buried. The grave would then be replaced with a new body.
At first, Laurente said she was reluctant to watch her father digging caskets. She said images of zombies that she watched in films would come to mind during those times.
As it is inappropriate to dig up bodies in daylight during visits, Laurente and her father exhumed bodies at night.
Josephine said after digging, her father goes down into the pit and opens the casket. The bones will be gathered and separated from the clothing and placed in a plastic bag.
Laurente said these would then be burned to ashes. She said they only used a keresone lamp while working which usually lasted for two hours.
In the ’70s, Josephine said they exhumed an average of 20 bodies per month at P50 each.
Now that Mandaue City plans to close the cemetery because of full occupancy, Laurente said she only exhumes five to eight bodies at P1,500 each.
When her father died in the late ’80s, Laurente said she assumed her father’s work fulltime with help from her sons.
Working in the cemetery for more than 30 years, Laurentesaid she, too, witnessed a paranormal activity more than 20 years ago.
Laurente said she was resting in a bamboo bench under an acacia tree when she saw a white lady descending from the tree.
Laurente said she could not believe her eyes. Then she gathered herself and scampered away from the tree. She said she never ran so fast in her life that time.
Now, Laurente said she was not scared of dead bodies.
She said she avoided the acacia tree after that incident and now hangs out at the cemetery entrance. /Correspondent Norman V. Mendoza