Dying can be a costly affair

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A man climbs a shaky ladder to reach a relative’s elevated tomb. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

A man climbs a shaky ladder to reach a relative’s elevated tomb. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

In the world of the living, penthouse apartments or condominium units on the top floor of a building can cost a pretty penny. But for the dead, the higher their “condo,” the cheaper the cost.

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These days, dying can be a costly affair. Preparing for a final resting place is no problem for the rich and famous, but to the millions who have to struggle to keep body and soul together, saving for a respectable plot in a cemetery is not a priority.

How much does it cost to bury the dead?

If the dearly departed is rich, a posh wake and burial could run into millions of pesos. At the Heritage Park in Taguig City, for example, a week-long funeral service in one of the memorial park’s viewing rooms would cost P450,000. This does not include payment for a burial lot, which could cost over P4 million if it is a “family estate class.” This does not include the construction of a tomb either.

For the middle class, buying a respectable memorial plan is the popular choice. Saint Peter Life Plan accepts monthly payments of P550 for five years, on the average. This entitles the plan holder a decent three-day wake in any of the company’s almost 200 chapels nationwide and the choice of an imported or locally-made casket.

Included in the plan is the use of a hearse. The plan holder can choose between a Mercedes or a Starex van that will carry his or her remains to the final resting place.

For the poor, the price of a casket can be as low as P15,000 and a three-day wake would mean an additional cost of about P20,000. A burial lot may cost the same in a public cemetery.

But thanks to the innovations in public cemeteries where multi-storey tombs have been built, even the very poor can rest in an “apartment” that only costs P5,000 and below, depending on the location of the grave.

In death, people who occupy the penthouse pay the least. But then again, their relatives would have to climb on improvised, tottering ladders when they visit.

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