Cleaning relatives’ tombs or hiring someone to do the job

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 31 Oct) – Amid 10,000 graves in a public cemetery here, a 56-year-old man was painting a five-layer tomb light yellow as early as Monday afternoon.

ALL SOULS' DAY. Thirteen-year old Anthony Cabunoc paints the tombs of their departed family members at the Davao Roman Catholic Cemetery or Wireless Cemetery in Davao City Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. MindaNews Photo by Ruby Thursday More
ALL SOULS’ DAY. Thirteen-year old Anthony Cabunoc paints the tombs of their departed family members at the Davao Roman Catholic Cemetery or Wireless Cemetery in Davao City Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. MindaNews Photo by Ruby Thursday More

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 31 Oct) – Amid 10,000 graves in a cemetery here, a 56-year-old man was painting a five-layer tomb light yellow early Monday afternoon.

Deonico “Junie” Cabunoc, who lives at Piapi Boulevard here, was in a hurry to finish his job before sunset as he still had seven more graves to repaint at the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Madapo Hill.

“I always have a headache every All Souls’ Day. I can’t visit all tombs of my departed relatives,” Cabunoc told MindaNews in Cebuano.

His wife, three of his eight siblings and other departed relatives are buried at the Madapo cemetery.

Others are buried at cemeteries in Buhangin, and in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Manila, he said

But Cabunoc, who earns a living from plumbing and carpentry, can only repaint the tombs of relatives who are in the city.

But he said he prefers doing the work instead of hiring someone to do the job on his relatives’ graves. Having been a widow for the past three years, he said he can always find time to visit cemeteries where his relatives are buried.

“All Souls’ Day happens only once a year so I always have time to visit,” he said and smiled, though he was already there four days earlier to make sure the tombs are presentable on such a special day.

Other people, however, are painting strangers’ tombs.

Sitting on a bench along a path towards the inner part of the cemetery, Frederick Adolfo, 17, was waiting for a customer to hire him to do a repainting job.

He began work here last Sunday, skipping school until the “kalag-kalag” is over. On his first day of work, he earned P500 for cleaning and repainting tombs and retouching the letters on tombstones.

He charges P200 to P300 per tomb depending on the size, using paint that he bought from P150 to P250 a gallon.

Last year, however, he charged lower by P50 because paint was cheaper then.

He will be working all day in the cemetery until Sunday, then go back to school on Monday, Nov. 5 when classes resume.

“Sayang man ang kitaon. Absent na lang ko (I’d rather be absent in class than lose the chance of earning.),” he said.

He began working at the cemetery only last year. His father, Pedrito, now 53, used to do cleaning and repainting tombs for so many years.

Frederick’s 14-year-old brother Jonel is doing the same thing, to contribute money for their family.

Living just near the cemetery, Frederick finds time working on strangers’ graves but ironically could not visit the tombs of his departed relatives in Bansalan, Davao del Sur. He said he and his family could not afford to travel to Bansalan on All Souls’ Day.

Frederick’s father is somewhere in the city working in a construction site and her mother takes care of her three-year-old child while selling snacks to cemetery goers.

Three of his elder siblings are already married, he said. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)

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