A multi-million peso privately-run columbarium is quietly being constructed right in the church grounds of Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish in the town of Valencia, Negros Oriental.
From the reports that we received, the construction of this spanking columbarium resulted from a memorandum of agreement between the Diocese of Dumaguete and a private group headed by Constancio Sia.
The Diocese of Dumaguete is involved because it owns the land where the columbarium is to be constructed, which is located within the premises of the Valencia parish church.
I have to admit, I was ignorant about what a columbarium is until I stumbled into this in Valencia.
A columbarium has been defined a place for the respectful and usually public storage of cinerary urns (i.e. urns holding a deceased’s cremated remains).
So after the remains of a dead person is cremated, it is reduced into ashes, and has to be stored in some placed where the living would pay respects.
The ashes are placed in what is called a columbarium.
In Valencia, aside from the columbarium, what are to be contructed are usuary park, plus adoration chapel.
The idea is to offer these mini "memorial plots" commercially to private persons who may be interested.
Apparently, it is on "pre-selling" mode because the columbarium has not yet been completed.
As of this writing what has been done on the land area is levelling of the ground, and the construction of the cemented fence.
There is only one columbarium that I know that exists in Negros Oriental, and that is the one inside the Dumaguete Cathderal, and is being run by the diocese.
The one in Valencia is in partnership with a private entity.
When I was in Valencia during the holidays, the residents have no idea what is being done on the parish premises, although there is a big board showing the proposed construction of the columbarium, usuarry park and adoration chapel.
Obviously, the columbarium caters to the well-to-do families, and those who have relatives working abroad because each plot costs thousands of pesos.
What I noticed about this columbarium in Valencia is that it will take up much physical space out of the parish.
The land lays idle, and being church property, is exempt from tax.
But when it becomes income generating, someone has to pay the government its due.
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