Not many people visiting Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga City know that the place is also rich in history. One of the things you shouldn't miss when visiting the island are the Old Badjao Burial Grounds on the eastern part of the island. It is my first time to see a Badjao grave and its quite fascinating to know how they bury they loved ones compared to the Christian way that I am familiar of.
It was quite interesting to see the details of the grave where there are miniature wooded boats and human effigy. As they are popularly called sea gypsies, they live almost their entire lives in the sea. These miniature wooden boats signifies their deep connection to the sea in the form of grave markers. It is also noticeable that there are some items such as plates and mugs on their graves. Later on, I learned that they also put the departed's favorite items in the graves.
This burial ground is not anymore used as burying in the area is now prohibited. The last recorded Badjao that was buried was (I think) in the 1960's.
Before the end of Ramadhan, their family members visit the graves to clean it, change the cloth canopy and offer some food and prayers. We visited the graves in December 2012, this maybe the reason why some of the graves are clean and well-fixed.
The Badjao burial ground is an interesting site if you are into indigenous culture and history. Sta. Cruz Island not only a place for an awesome time at the beach but will also let you have a glimpse on the culture and traditions of our Badjao brothers and sisters.
You might ask, why visit a cemetery? In my previous travels in different parts of our country, I've been visiting remarkable cemeteries. I believe that I have acquired a fascination with old and interesting cemeteries that are rich in history and has a lot of "out of the ordinary" stories to tell. So, whenever there are interesting cemeteries that I could visit, I include it in my itinerary.
SEE ALSO: 5 Must-Visit Cemeteries in the Philippines and Things You Should Know About Them
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