The Chinese cemetery is a truly distinctive place with the exotic appearance of the tombs and their historical significance never failing to draw the imagination of the beholder. Visitors will encounter a multitude of elaborate tombs, temples, halls and memorials at the site. The location features numerous lanes and alleyways. Some of the grand tombs in ‘Little Beverly Hills’ and ‘Millionaire’s Row’ are elaborate structures which include running water, furniture and in some cases even featuring air conditioning. Many of these extravagant mausoleums are estimated to have cost a fortune to build, and accordingly are guarded 24 hours a day. However the more modest graves of less wealthy persons can also be seen at the cemetery.
At the site you will see several structures of note, including the Chong Hock Tong Temple, a historic Chinese shrine whose architecture resembles the temples of Fujian province and those of Malaysia and Singapore. Another significant feature is the Martyrs Hall, Liat See Tong which was constructed in the 1950s in memory of the leaders of the Chinese community who were executed by Japanese invaders at the time of World War II.
As typical of Chinese communities, ancestor worship is a well established tradition amongst the Chinese population of Manila. According to tradition the spirits of deceased family members must be accorded proper funeral rites and due reverence as they might turn against the family if this is not done. However if the spirits are duly venerated and appeased they are considered to act as guardians. Each Sunday and on All Saints Day the Chinese community honours their ancestors and hold extravagant feasts and games in reverence of the dead. Family members sit around a table and play mahjong, with an empty chair kept for the deceased one.