When we first heard that Inik Zuniga, her family and fellow-residents were living at a cemetery, we pictured a shanty town or settlements on the outskirts of the cemetery. We were gravely mistaken, the residents of Carreta cemetery actually live within the enclosure that houses the burial sites of this public cemetery - sarcophagus' acting as beds and kitchen tables. And if you're wondering whether this is an abandoned cemetery forgotten by the society, it is anything but, as funerals and burials are performed here on a daily basis. Preposterous and shocking as this may sound, this is just one manifestation of how the poor in the Philippines are pushed to the extreme fringes (literally and metaphorically) of society with an estimated 20 million slum dwellers living in shanty towns, dump sites and cemeteries like Caretta.
While witnessing such extreme cases of urban poverty is not an uncommon sight in the Philippines, the juxtaposition and the irony of the living seeking refuge from the dead is not lost on Caretta's residents. In addition to providing shelter to the residents, the residual wax left behind by those offering respect to the departed is collected by the residents at the end of every day and sold for about PHP 20/kg (USD 45 cents/kg); and this is the primary source of income for most of the residents there including the host for this tour, Inik. In fact, she and a few others take the wax collection a step further and reuse the wax themselves to make candles that are sold at the very same cemetery for about PHP 1/candle (USD 2 cents/candle).
In this tour of Carreta, Inik will give you an intimate insight into the daily life of the residents at Carreta. As part of the tour she will take you through the nooks and crannies of this cemetery where you will see residents go about their daily lives, seemingly oblivious to the living conditions they have chosen (or have been chosen for them) for themselves. We'll leave the rest of the details for Inik to share with you, but one thing you can be assured of, there is no better example of the tenacity and the will to survive of the Filipino people than what you will see here at Carreta.
Note: During the tour, we ask you to be respectful of the privacy of the residents and those that might be paying homage to the departed.
If you want to make this tour exclusive for you, kindly choose from the add-on the exclusive tour.