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The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery in Laguna is the only one of its kind in the Philippines - it is a burial site located inside, or more accurately, beneath a church. This church is rich in history - it was built and designed for funeral mass in 1845 by the Franciscan priest Fr. Vicente Velloc. He also directed the construction of an underground graveyard 15 feet below the church.
Tombs beneath the church
Flights of stairs lead down to the tombs; the oldest tomb was dated 1886. The underground cemetery was declared a national historical landmark by the National Historical Institute in 1978. The privileged ones buried here came from elite Catholic families.
Stairs leading to the underground graveyard
The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is considered a national historical landmark because its underground crypt was used as a secret meeting place in 1896 by Filipino revolutionaries or Katipuneros, members of the KKK. During the Filipino-American War, Filipino patriots also used the underground cemetery to formulate their battle plans and to seek shelter. It also became a safehouse for Filipino guerillas during World War II. There is no famous hero buried here but perhaps, it is enough that we pay our respects to this place where our nameless heroes and patriots sought sanctuary.
Secret meeting place of Filipino patriots
At present, the church is no longer operational, regular masses are not held here anymore. But on special occasions such as the Feast of Christ the King and during Holy Week, Mass is celebrated here. The senakulo or staged presentation of Christ’s last days during the Lenten Season is also held here.
Elementary and high school students are the frequent visitors to the underground cemetery. Architecture students also come here to study the structure, while other curious tourists visit here to enjoy the peaceful scenery.
There are no entrance fees to be paid. The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is open on Tuesdays to Sundays, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. You may take photos of Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery but these should be for your personal use only. No flash photography allowed.
Photos of Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery:
Tombs at Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
The door leading to the church
Archway leading to the underground crypt
Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery Marker
Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery grounds (view from the church door)
Entrance to Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
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