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Old Bajao Cemetery is an interesting site located underneath the canopy of trees in the easthern  part of the Great Santa Cruz Island, in Zamboanga City

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The site is a heritage zone and restricted area, visitors are not allowed without a guide. The Burials has been closed since 1975.

 Because of the seaborne lifestyle of the Badjao,  there’s a saying that Badjao go ashore when they die. The Badjao are generally boat dweller and sometimes  called as sea gypsies.Their religion is spirit worship with Islamic influence, they believe the journey after life.

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 Since Badjao is influence by Islamic beliefs, death rites follow Islamic practice. It was preceded by a simple ritual involving bathing and shrouding the body, followed by a prayer. The positioning the deceased is that the head is facing towards Mecca. If died in the morning, the body is ideally buried before nightfall, if died at night it buried before noon in the following day. And or it is must to bury a corpse less then 24 hours.  After the grave is filled, it is often covered with sand or crushed corals and is marked with stone or wooden marker.

Cremation of the body is forbidden.

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  Their belief about the journey after life, they put a miniature of of wooden boats  or vintas (now, soiled and damaged for a long time) to symbolized the voyages of the spirit after life.

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Badjao is one of the finest sculpture i the region, They put a human like figures atop of the grave (depend if men or women) and they believe that non-living object have spirits. Their art reflects the influence of their indigenous imagery that includes human and animal forms which is prohibited in Islamic religious doctrine.

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The Badjao  belief that the spirit of the deceased remain within the vicinity of their graves, they give some offering like wines and some other drinks.

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 There are also a white cloth cover like a canopy over the grave. The white cover indicates that the dead has a high social position in his life time.

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 The graveyard is called a Badjao cemetery but the remains includes the Sama Bangui tribe with some Yakans, Tausug and Sama Badjaos. since those mentioned tribes are the inhabitants of the island.

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Non Badjao grave markers.

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  Crushed corals grave.

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Badjao cemeteries  are  located  near on the seashore, where  crushed coral are commonly available.

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The funeral practice and burial customs in the Philippines encompass a wide range of personal, cultural and traditional beliefs and practices, which Filipinos observe in relation to death, bereavement and the proper honoring, interment, and remembrance of the dead. Talking with the locals and visiting different cemetery is a great learning, from the variety of religions and cultures throughout the complex history of our country.

Related Post:

Great Santa Cruz Island

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