- Posted October 9, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
Ancient graveyards in Philippines have the same belief with the Greeks on after-life
It’s almost 86 kilometers away from Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol.
The graveyards are found in cliffs and in order to see them one needs to hire a pumpboat or banca.
The burial caves or graveyards have boat-shaped coffins.
The boat coffin was a funeral custom in ancient times. Usually a dead person was put into a coffin shaped like a boat. It was believed the dead would traverse the sea.
The cliffs are very steep and quite accessible. One would ask how expert and skilled the ancient people the way they buried their dead.
The boat coffins have aroused the interest of many people eager to explore its mystery. People believe it was a funeral custom of the ancient fishermen living in the coastal side of Bohol.
According to Prof. Jose Marianito Luspo, a local historian, the boat coffin is a part of the belief system particularly in relation to beliefs about the soul and the afterlife.
“It’s part of the belief system of the ancient people that death is like a river or passage to other life which can be reached by a body of water,” said Luspo.
Among the ancient Greeks, they believed the so called river Styx that can traverse by spirit on his or her way to the afterlife.
“It’s not surprising, here in the Philippine also has that tradition,” explained Luspo. “We human beings are born to the womb of our mother which is always liquid-filled. Perhaps this give an idea to the ancient people that when we die we pass thru the passage.”
I have been there several times and I’d noticed that only few of the boat-shaped coffins can be found wedged on cliff sides.
Residents in barangay Basdio said that there were hundreds of boat coffins in the cliffs. However, boat coffins were ransacked by grave robbers.
Whatever happened to the boat coffins stolen in Basdio, no one knew.
Luspo added: “Definitely, there is a need to preserve the boat coffins found in Bohol. They formed part of relics we received from our ancestors. This give us sense of continuity between the past and present and also sense of respect for things have passed.”
Basdio fishermen are now commissioned by the local government to keep close watch on the remaining boat coffins.