Coffins sell fast in Zambo

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 18 Oct) – Funeral homes in the city are having a hard time coping with the demand for coffins.

Representatives of local funeral parlors said their carpenters have their hands full as deaths occur more frequently, whether from COVID-19 or not.

Jodex Francisco, of Villa-Arcega Funeral Homes, told MindaNews over telephone that over the past week, their carpenters had to make five caskets in a day.

He said that their coffins for COVID-19 deaths are in short supply. These, Francisco said, are simple but decent, sold at P12,000 each.

Corpses from COVID-19 deaths at the Zamboanga City Medical Center. Photo courtesy of ZCMC

The situation is the same at Remedios Memorial Homes & Funeral Service. Nancy Bernabe said they have stocks of coffins for non-COVID deaths. But relatives of those who died of the virus have to wait a day or two as the funeral parlor’s workers are also working overtime.

“We went around all funeral homes in town but there is no coffin available, because many corpses are in a queue,” said Rea Monsales Sombe in a Facebook post.

Emmylou Mariano, manager of St. Peter Funeral Homes (SPFH), said Sombe had called her and the staff had allocated one for her grandfather who passed away, but she did not call back anymore. Sombe apparently got a coffin elsewhere.

“The death rate now in Zamboanga is like what we had in the first wave,” observed Dexter Enriquez, manager of Funeraria La Merced, the city’s biggest funeral parlor. He was referring to the surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths recently.

According to the City Health Office, there were 278 additional new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, 182 new recoveries and 4 new mortalities. The city now has a total cumulative cases of 19,032, with 2,858 recoveries and 805 deaths.

The city has been placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine until Oct. 31.

SPFH’s caskets, according to sales agent Ivan Espiritu, are built in Oroquieta City in Misamis Occidental and are transported by big trucks to Zamboanga.

Mariano, the manager, said that before the pandemic, 24 units of caskets would sell out in 2-3 days. But with COVID-19, the same number would be gone in just 1-2 days.

“While we have the supply replenishment delivered by truck from Oroquieta, we also have to wait for the permit, and the driver has to take the antigen test and we have to wait for the results,” Mariano said.

She stressed that their priority are the plan holders but “we receive walk-ins whenever there are available stocks.”

The company has recently agreed with the local Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) that the truck carrying the caskets may be allowed to get through without the driver’s antigen test result for as long as the driver does not alight from the cargo transport and only those from Zamboanga would bring down the caskets.

Mariano recalled that there was a time when there was no casket production because three of their personnel in Oroquieta were infected with the virus. “The company maintains quality control in casket production and delivery of services,” she emphasized. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)