By ALI G. MACABALANG
Chief of Correspondents
Construction works for a Muslim cemetery and cultural hall in Manila formally started on Wednesday, July 22, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) proudly announced on the same day.
The groundbreaking ceremony was jointly led by NCMF Secretary Saidamen B. Pangarungan and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Damagosoat the Manila South Cemetery located at South Avenue, San Andres district, agency spokesperson Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos said in an online statement.
The establishment of a Muslim cemetery alongside a cultural convergence hall was conceived early this year when a team from the NCMF-National Capital Region paid a courtesy visit to Mayor Moreno early this year, and proposed a number of ventures for the welfare of Muslim residents in the premier city.
One of the proposals was for the formation of Muslim Consultative Council (MCC) in Manila. The MCC, which aims to coordinate efforts for resident Muslims’ welfare and concerns, was eventually organized with the guidance of Moreno and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, for Manila, and Sec. Pangarungan and his regional workforce, for the NCMF.
Datu Ramos, Director of the NCMF’s Bureau of External Affairs, said the establishment of Muslim cemetery coupled with a cultural hall would entail P49.3-milliion from the treasury of the premier city government.
The cemetery covers 2,400 square meters enough to accommodate 378 tombs or graves and a mosque, he said.
At the groundbreaking rite, Mayor Moreno pointed out the need to “preserve the Muslim Filipino culture in Manila for its historical significance to the city’s existence.”
The popular mayor believed that promoting Muslim culture is essential in fostering cohesion in Manila, and national unity across the country, it was learned.
For his part, Sec. Pangarungan delivered a ceremonial message underscoring the essence of the twin projects and acknowledging the Manila City government leadership’s stance in giving priority to the p0light of Muslim residents.
“He (Pangarungan) reminded everyone that this (undertaking) is a collective effort of the NCMF and the Manila City LGU, and (its) success is guaranteed only with everyone’s support,” Datu Ramos said.
Also present at Wednesday’s ceremony were Vice Mayor Lacuna, and NCMF Chief-of-Staff Nikkolai Saidamen, and Acting BPCR Director Cosanie Derogongan, among other local dignitaries.