The lifestyle of the Filipino-Chinese families in the Philippines have earned a certain reputation. It is widely believed that they are hard working, thrifty, practical, and most of all, filial. A Chinese family is expected to be solid, with the younger generation always deferring to their elders. Additionally, they certainly have the upper hand in celebrating life in style.
The Chinese Immigrants in the Philippines
Coming from mainland China, the influx of Chinese immigrants that came to the Philippines didn’t really have a lot. These are on top of the Chinese businessmen who were already in the Philippines via the Silk Route.
These mainlanders escaped an oppressive regime and they traveled on boats. They were mostly from the Fujian province in China, one of the nearest points to the Philippines. They and their descendants comprise the big part of the Filipino-Chinese population today. 
Naturally tall, lanky, and pale while talking in a foreign language and writing in characters so different from the alphabet, it wasn’t easy for the Chinese to build a new life and assimilate in the Philippines. But they did everything to survive, including working hard and saving up money as much as they can. If they could help it, they stuck to their kind and avoided inter-marriages.
Through the years, we have read of so many extremely wealthy and successful Chinese families in the Philippines. Some of them were the original settlers while others are the young and dynamic progeny. Two notable things about them–they worked hard and lived a frugal lifestyle.
Celebrating Life in Style Need Not Always be Lavish
Due to their exposure to hard times, being thrifty became embedded in the consciousness of the Chinese. Despite some inter-marriages, it’s still the prevailing culture. Or maybe, they also choose partners who espouse the same practices and beliefs.
However, there are certain events that the Filipino-Chinese spend on. They reserve their resources in order to be able to celebrate life in a certain style on these special occasions. These are:
- A child’s first birthday
- An elder’s end of decade birthday
They also celebrate Chinese New Year as well as the Mid-Autumn Festival, but these are just within the family at home.
- Related: Chinese New Year Activity for Kids
The Death of a Loved One
There are many customs and traditions related to the funeral of a Chinese. This includes what to wear. Family and god children are required to wear white. Other friends wear dark colors. Meanwhile, the fourth generation wear red.
Before the deceased is laid to rest, the body with a photo of the deceased is driven to the places that he or she frequents during the lifetime. It could be the home, the business, or the place of worship.
The Chinese are very traditional about treating ancestors. On the altar where the remains are placed, they sort of “worship” and make food offerings during the death anniversary.
It’s something spiritual for them, believing that how the dearly departed are treated affect the lives of the current generation. If the ancestors are offended, they might withhold blessings until a generation atones for that offense.
Chinese Funeral Traditions
In China, the traditional funeral and burial are mostly observed primarily because they have a big land area. However, since real estate is expensive and limited in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the Chinese there prefer cremation. 
In the Philippines, it seems that the Filipino-Chinese have embraced both. Those families who were able to buy funeral plans just continued with whatever they have. On the other hand, there are many who prefer cremation and when asked why, the answer is the same: Cremation is practical.
About Cremation | Why The Filipino-Chinese Prefer Cremation
The modern generation Filipino-Chinese in the Philippines, whether Christians, Catholics, or Buddhists, seem to agree on one thing–they prefer cremation. It’s a common concept among them and it’s being openly discussed among families, especially the elders. They prepare for these things beforehand — talk about foresight.
Yes, cremation for the Filipino-Chinese is already accepted across beliefs and the main reason is that the whole process is practical and even very dignified. The public doesn’t have to see the final physical form of the deceased, especially if an ailment led to the person’s disfigurement.
Another practical reason is the maintenance. If there are graves, the family continues to regularly pay for the cleaning and painting of the site. Otherwise, it will stick out like a sore thumb in a well-manicured lawn. When the remains are in a vault, there is no need for this as the columbarium management will be responsible for the upkeep of the whole place.
In Bacolod City, the number of those that are being cremated is not that big yet because of the limitations in facilities. But with the new developments in this area, it is not surprising that many Filipino-Chinese families will opt for this.
Source: Bacolod Mommy Blogger Sigrid interviewed several elderly people from the Filipino-Chinese community in order to get insights about cremation.
So what is cremation?
Cremation is the process of burning the remains of a person inside a crematorium. What remain are are the bones, which are then grounded to become powder and stored in an urn of the family’s choice. There are many kinds of urns to choose from, so the family has a selection depending on budget and tastes.
The cremation could happen before or after the funeral service. Many people opt to have it before the funeral so that there will no longer be a viewing of the dead. They just remember and celebrate the life of the departed through worship services or masses at the chapel with only the urn and a photo of the person during good times.
Advantages of Cremation
Cremation actually has more physical as well as psychological benefits for the family.
- No need for embalming.
- Caskets may be rented.
- Public doesn’t have to see the final form of the deceased.
- Less hurting.
- Many stylish urns to choose from.
- Easier to let go.
- Can easily keep the departed close (one father encapsulated his wife’s ashes and distributed them as pendants to their children)
Where Do The Ashes Go
There are many ways how to go about the final resting place of the urn. If the family has a big house, they may opt to set aside an area and transform it in a shrine for their departed ancestors. Or they may buy a niche at the columbarium, which they just visit from time to time.
For the Buddhists, they place the urns of their loved ones in the vaults of their local temple. This way, even if the family members can no longer visit the dead for whatever reason, spirits of their loved ones are still covered in prayer by the monks.
Beliefs Regarding Cremation
While cremation is already a popular choice among the Filipino-Chinese community in the Philippines, the Filipinos seem to prefer the traditional funeral services and manner of burial. For some, it’s superstition.
Others, however, think that there is a certain perspective to the burning of the human body, which is like experiencing hell on earth. For others, it has a spiritual connotation. Quoting 1 Thessalonians 4:16:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise.”
Some people believe that people who have been cremated could not “rise” because they no longer have physical bodies. However, there are those who dispute this idea, quoting, 2 Corinthians 5:1:
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
Ron Rhodes writes, “It does not matter how our ‘earthly tent’ (body) is destroyed; all that matters is that God will raise it from the dead. Even those who are buried eventually dissolve into dust and bones. So, regardless of whether we’re buried or cremated, we can all look forward to a permanent resurrection body that will never be subject to death and decay.” 
So it really boils down now to the family’s preference. Will it be traditional funeral or cremation?
Christ the Redeemer Columbarium Complex by Teresa Development Corporation
Meanwhile, Bacolod City shall soon see the rise of the most modern and luxurious columbarium ever. It’s the Christ the Redeemeer Columbarium Complex developed by Teresa Development Corporation located in Brgy. Bata in the northern part of Bacolod.
The Christ the Redeemer Columbarium is the brainchild of Mr. Ramon Lacson, CEO of the TDC. For decades now, his company has given people the opportunity to commemorate the lives of their loved ones in the most dignified way.
His desire to give people better choices has led to the idea of putting up a first-class columbarium. And next year, Bacolod City is going to see it rise up.
Designed by Architect Geoffrey Montelibano, it’s the most modern and luxurious columbarium complex in the Philippines today. Despite that, the funeral packages they offer are flexible and very affordable. They also have easy installment plans.
With this development, it is pretty sure that there will be more Filipino-Chinese families in Bacolod and around Negros Occidental that will resort to cremation.
Standing tall at three stories, the columbarium is not just any kind of “apartment” building. It is an interpretation of heaven, with the three domes in the courtyard symbolizing the Holy Trinity. The roof will be made of solid polycarbonate, with angles designed to deflect sunlight into the columbarium and light up the interior during the day.
Aside from its eco-friendly function, the material also makes the columbarium look like an ethereal edifice, especially when the sun is high up in the sky.
“We have positive feedback about cremation. It’s less painful for the family because they only see a happy and healthy photo of their loved one during the funeral,” Mr. Lacson says.
The Artists’ Rendition of the Christ the Redeemer Columbarium
Amenities of the Christ the Redeemer Columbarium Complex
The columbarium is an expansive 5000-square meter area that’s adjacent to the Rose Lawns Memorial Park and the Acropolis Gardens — the two other properties under the TDC Funeral services.
Below are the world-class amenities proposed for this new Bacolod columbarium:
- The Family Suite – a private space with vaults for families. It has a toilet, kitchenette, and spaces for up to 12 urns.
- The Amethyst Clusters – vaults on the ground and second floors. Each vault can contain up to six urns.
- Multi-purpose Chapels – these can be rented for the family’s use.
- Pool of Providence – this is a large area that can be accessed by guests from different levels. It’s designed to be a sanctuary of peace and comfort for the bereaved families.
- Admin Office – will serve the needs of clients.
- Parking Space – more than 1,500 square meters of space is devoted to parking for the visitor’s vehicles.
- Public Restrooms – for everyone’s convenience, there are public restrooms on the second floor, aside from the private restrooms in the suites and chapels.
Teresa Development Corporation Funeral Services
Owned by Mr. Ramon Lacson, Teresa Development Corporation is one of the biggest real estate developers in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental. But they are best known for their pioneering efforts in the business of funeral services.
This kind of business is very delicate to tread upon because of the sensitivity of the human emotion in relation to the passing of a loved one. But after more than 50 years, we can safely say that the TDC has successfully handled the different needs of Bacolodnons by giving genuine care and attention to the bereaved families.
At present, the TDC has four businesses dedicated to celebrating life in style. These are:
- Bacolod Memorial Park – located in Alijis, Bacolod City
- Rose Lawns Memorial Park – located in Brgy. Bata, Bacolod City
- Acropolis Gardens – located in Brgy. Bata, Bacolod City
- Christ The Redeemer Columbarium Complex – coming soon at Brgy. Bata, Bacolod City
Through the years, the TDC has been proven trustworthy in terms of their products and services. With the addition of the first-class columbarium complex and crematorium in Bacolod City, it will not be surprising that more and more Filipino-Chinese families will choose cremation over traditional burial services.
I should know. My husband’s clan has already purchase a vault at the new columbarium during the pre-selling for an aunt, uncle, and their son who have already passed away. Their urns are still at their residence but will eventually be moved to the new columbarium once it opens.
For more information about the Christ the Redeemer Columbarium Complex as well as other Teresa Development Corporation Funeral Services, visit or call:
Teresa Development Corporation
Galo Street, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
Tel. No. (034) 434-5555
Official Facebook Page: TDC Funeral Services
Acknowledgments for this story:
Mr. Se Hoy Lo | Mrs. Mary Lo | Mrs. Anita Go | Mr. Tomas Lim
- Chinese-Filipino – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Filipino
- Chinese Funeral Traditions – https://www.royalpalmmemorial.com/download/13832/ChineseFuneralTr.pdf
- The Complete Book of Bible Answers, Answering Tough Questions, by Ron Rhodes, President of Reasoning from the Scripture Ministries
Filipino-Chinese Family Stories
Meanwhile, here are some other stories about the Filipino-Chinese community in the Philippines, told from my point of view. Just click on any link:
- DIY Chinese New Year Field Trip for Homeschooling Kids
- Cha Misua | Chinese Birthday Misua Recipe
- Bacolaodiat Festival and Spring Festival Gala for Chinese Cultural Experience
- Teething Powder from Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Serravallo’s Tonic for New Mothers Who Just Gave Birth
- Dealing With Startle Reflex in Infants
- Bright Kids Preschool Bacolod: 10 Years of Nurturing and Teaching Excellence