Every October 31 to November 2, the streets of Marikina end in a stand still as thousands upon thousands of people flock to the Loyola Memorial Park, for the traditional visiting of the graves of loved one during Undas (All Souls and All Saints Day, or Los Dias de los Muertos to others).
Founded in 1964 by Senator Gil Puyat, the development of the park was an affect effect of the mass exodus of people from Manila to Quezon City after World War II. During the Battle of Manila, in 1945, the Americans bombed the whole city and its outskirts, and they basically leveled the whole place. Most of the infrastructure in Manila were flattened, and hundreds of thousands died.
The Jesuit run Ateneo de Manila school decided that they couldn’t hold classes in their Padre Faura campus in Manila, and they decided to move to the area now called Loyola Heights in 1949. Originally, the Loyola Heights was still part of the municipality of Marikina, but was later annexed as part of Quezon City by 1956. With that transfer, many of the families that enrolled their sons in the Ateneo soon followed suit, and they started developing nearby communities such as Xavier Ville, Blue Ridge, Loyola Heights, and La Vista. Nearby, the Ateneo purchased a lot to build residence for its employees.
With the exception of the La Vista subdivision, most of these communities were named after an aspect of the Ateneo (the color blue), or a Jesuit saint such as Saint Francis Xavier (1506-52) and Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556 / the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits).
Soon there was a need for these new residents to have their departed interred, and the Loyola Memorial Park was conceived.
Entering the park, one first passes through Plaza de las Flores (Plaza of Flowers), where a concrete installation of roses reminds the visitor to buy flowers for their departed loved ones, at the nearby flower shops.
Near the entrance of the park, one is greeted by a statue of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, as he offers his sword in service of Jesus Christ. Saint Ignatius once fought in the Moorish Wars, and was injured during the Battle of Pamplona in 1521. While in recovery, he was inspired by a vision of Jesus Christ, and later founded the Jesuit Society.
This statue is a recent addition to the park, where wealthy patrons can have their dearly departed buried beside or in the base of the monument.
Far off to the right of the Saint Ignatius statue is a monument of “The Lord’s Prayer”, with a marble image of Jesus Christ, and the whole prayer is etched in English on the marble wall behind the figure.
Far off into the park, Eduardo Castrillo’s 1974 monumental brass sculptures called the “The Redemption” rises from a amphitheater on a grassy knoll. Around 30 feet tall (9 meters), the monument depicts the Risen Christ appearing before the Apostles.
Eduardo De Los Santos Castrillo (1942-2016) is a noted sculptor, who had defined the second wave of modernist sculpture in the Philippines. Castrillo graduated from the UST Fine Arts program, and first started at first as an illustrator for publishing before embarking into a career in public sculpture. In the course of time, Castrillo has represented the Philippines in many exhibitions abroad, and has also been commissioned to create monuments all over the country and overseas. He received the TOYM Award for sculpture (Ten Outstanding Young Men) in 1970, the 13 Artists Award by the CCP in 1970, Outstanding Makati Resident in 1971, Outstanding Sta. Ana Resident in 1974, Outstanding Son of Binan Award in 1980 from the Maduro Club, Outstanding Son of Laguna Award in 1980 from the Laguna Lion’s Club, Adopted Son of Cebu in 1996, the Far Eastern University Green and Gold Artist Award in 1998, and the Most Outstanding Citizen Award of Quezon City.
A circular structure is built around the monument, which you enter to view the crypts stationed around it.
Around a hundred meters from “The Redemption” is another Castrillo monument, the “Our Lady of Fatima”, which was erected in 1979.
There are many noted personalities buried at the park; such as the veteran actress Nida Blanca, actor and Ateneo graduate Jon Hernandez, the young drama actress Julie Vega, comedian and actor Jay Ilagan, actor and diplomat Amado Cortez, matinee idol Rogelio de la Rosa, pre-war actor Jaime de la Rosa, actress Mina Aragon, action star and local politician Anthony Alonzo, comedienne Chuchay, comedian Georgie Quizon, and TV and film personality German Moreno. However, one of the most prominent graves is that of the first National Artist for Painting, Fernando Amorsolo (1892-1972). Standing in front of his tomb is a bronze sculpture of the painter holding a palette and brush by his contemporary, the first National Artist for Sculpture, Guillermo Tolentino.
Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890 -1976) is a classical sculptor who was named National Artist for the Visual Arts in 1973. Tolentino took his art studies at the U.P. School of Fine Arts, and later at the Ecole de Beux Arts. In 1926, he started teaching at the U.P. School of Fine Arts, and he would later be given the position of director. Tolentino sculpted the University of the Philippines’ most recognizable emblem, the “U.P. Oblation”, as well as the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City. He was also awarded the UNESCO Cultural Award in Sculpture in 1959, Araw ng Maynila Award in Sculpture in 1963, Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1967, President’s Medal of Merit in 1973, and the Diwa ng Lahi Award in 1972, before given the highest honor as National Artist.
Fernando Amorsolo y Cueto (1892-1972) is one of the most important artists in the history of painting in the Philippines. Fernando, along with his brother Pablo, lost his father at an early age; and they were “adopted” by their uncle Fabián de la Rosa. Born in Paco, Manila, Amorsolo earned a degree from the Liceo de Manila Art School in 1909, before entering the U.P. School of Fine Arts and graduating in its first batch in 1914. Amorsolo’s portrayal of the beautiful and dignified peasants of the Philippine countryside, as a form of silent nationalistic protest against the rapid adapting of American styles and attitudes among Filipinos in the city, and thus he was showing the true spirit of the Filipino was to be found in the provinces. He was declared the first National Artist, by Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, in 1972. Amorsolo is also known for designing the label of the very popular gin, Ginebra San Miguel.
Near the Amorsolo tomb is Marikina Police Roll of Honor monument and flag, which is a tribute to the Marikina Policemen who had died in the line of duty in 1972:
P/CPL. Magtanggol B. Gatapia
PAT. Lorenzo T. Santos
P/SGT. Isidro L. Lesaca Sr.
P/CPL. Ernesto C. Lopez
PO3 Victor Q. Santiago
PO3 Rodolfo G. Samaniego
There are many interesting crypts built by the wealthy to house their loved ones. In one side of the park is a row of buildings that look like a town-house subdivision, but these are actually fully air-conditioned crypts with sleeping quarters, bathrooms and kitchens for the visiting relatives who want to have a comfortable stay in the park.
Another interesting crypt has a small pond encircling the structure, with a small bridge to get to the crypt.
Around the park other statues of saints, which the some patrons may opt to have their relative buried under the eternal watch of the saint.
This is the statue of St. Jude
This is the statue of Saint Anthony de Padua
The Loyola Memorial Park is more than just a cemetery, as many people come over to relax among the greens, while other use the wide unpolluted spaces for jogging. Nearby is Barangka Park, where the local youth engage in field sports such as soccer and baseball.
Looking further up is the Loyola Heights, where one can spot some buildings of the Ateneo de Manila, specifically the dorms and the Jesuit Residence; which will be the topic of my next post.