Several types of cemetery records exist. Sextons, priests, or caretakers of cemeteries generally keep records of the names and dates of those buried and exhumed, and they may also have maps of the burial plots. There may be tombstones in the cemetery, and the information on them may have been transcribed.
Cemetery records often include birth, marriage, and death information. They sometimes provide clues about military service or religion. These records are helpful for identifying children who died young or women who were not recorded in family or government documents. Because relatives may be buried in adjoining plots, you may want to best to visit the cemetery and examine the records and tombstones personally, if possible.
There is, however, a good chance your ancestor’s remains are not in their original burial place. Exhumations are very common in the Philippines. Plots may be exhumed because of prolonged flooding of the cemetery, foreclosure on an unpaid plot, urban development of graveyards, or severe crowding in existing cemeteries. Poverty and war in the Philippines have left many buried in pauper’s graves or in hastily dug mass graves.
Locating Cemeteries and Cemetery Records
To find tombstone or sexton records, you need to know where a person was buried. There are community, church, private, military, and family cemeteries. Most burials are near the place where the person lived or died or where other family members were buried. You can find clues to burial places in funeral notices, obituaries, church records, and death certificates.
Most recorded pre-twentieth century burials and exhumations were sanctioned and performed by the Catholic Church. The Family History Library has a modest collection of cemetery and exhumation records (cementerios, exhumaciones) from the Spanish colonization. These records are in the Locality section of the Family History Library Catalog. Look for exhumation records under “Church Records” and cemetery records under “Cemeteries”:
PHILIPPINES - CEMETERIES
PHILIPPINES, METROPOLITAN MANILA - CEMETERIES
PHILIPPINES - CHURCH RECORDS
PHILIPPINES, METROPOLITAN MANILA - CHURCH RECORDS