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Communities started as people grouping themselves to secure basic

necessities which include food, shelter, clothing and transportation. Over time,

these communities developed into cities and urban areas brought about by

technology advancement and the ever-changing needs of the people namely

housing, food and basic services such as water and electricity, security and

health care. In many communities, all of these basic services are not met

resulting to problems such as informal settlement (widely known as squatting),

poor sanitary condition (e.g. absence of toilets) and high crime rates (e.g.

robbery and theft).

As cities and urban areas are generally viewed capable of offering more

opportunities, a local migration scenario is common in the country—people from

the rural areas move to the bigger cities to seek for better employment or another

source of living. For instance, a young college graduate from one of the

provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao will seek job opportunities in bigger cities

such as Manila and Cebu. As the population continues to grow brought about by

the influx of people, congestion became an unavoidable problem in urban areas.

Obviously, the new settlers’ lack of land property within urban areas is the reason

of informal settling. Settlement became a major problem and even reached the
point that it seemed uncontrollable.

Like any cities and barangays in the Philippines, the city of Cebu also

faces the same problem of congestion and informal settlement. As the second

largest city in the Philippines, in terms of economic activity, population migration

is not surprising. The Cebu City government in general and its comprising

barangays in particular have their respective stories to tell revolving around the

issue on informal settlement. One of the

identified communities of informal

settlers in Cebu City is located in

barangay Lorega-San Miguel,

particularly those living within the Old

Municipal Cemetery. Within it, ironically

a place where the dead rests, houses

(classified as illegal structures) served

as homes for the living. In a report

Photo 1: Actual View of a basketball playing area
inside the cemetery
published in Sun.Star Cebu newspaper

dated July 10, 2010, it was stated that for many years now, the cemetery has

been home to urban poor families who have built their homes on top of tombs.

Moreover, among these illegal structures, 91 have tombs underneath the house.

Sixty tombs still have cadavers, while the other 31 are empty (KAL/RRF, 2010).

Hence, it is a fact that these people live in an inappropriate site for settlement. As

the area is not made for people to live in, problems on health and sanitation

among others arise.

Theoretical Background

The study has its basis on the concept of human settlement in the

Philippine Constitution, which states that every Filipinos has a right to quality of

life. With this, having a decent land and domicile for the latter to uplift and

prosper himself is of great importance and is one of his basic needs. This need,

part of the other basic elements of human living settlement, is particularly

stressed out in the Ekistics theory which is proposed as the science of human

settlements by a Greek architect and urban planner named Constantinos A.

Doxiadis. In his theory, he explained that man, part of a living organism which is

the community, has his needs and these needs must be addressed. In

addressing such needs, he is able to survive and set himself as a factor

influencing other elements comprising the community. One of these elements

which have a bearing on man’s survival is the shell which refers to body covering

and a house or a domicile. This has become a very important property that the

latter should have to protect him from the danger the outside world may bring.

Similar to this, the occupants in Lorega-San Miguel Cemetery also has this

perception of a house or domicile where they and their families are secured.

As much as this need became prevalent, arriving on a solution which

would satisfy these people’s need is also a matter of considering the existing

factors within the locality of Cebu City. These factors that were considered on the

solution were as follows: the government agencies, department and sections

namely the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP), the Housing and

Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), the Department of Social Welfare and
Development (DSWD), the City Planning and Development Council, the Local

Government of Lorega-San Miguel; the non-government organizations in the

likes of the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation, the Action for

Nurturing Children and Environment (ANCE); the most importantly the existing

laws are ordinances that could affect the solution on accommodating the

occupants of the cemetery on Lorega-San Miguel. Figure one below shows the

above mention.


Non- Government Existing Laws and Government

Organization Ordinances Agencies,
Department and
Homeowner’s BP 220 of the Socialized Sections
Association- UCESIRA or and Economic Housing
the United Cemetery Act Division for the welfare
Side Residents of the urban poor
Association PD 1096- The National
Building Code of the Department of Social
Gawad Kalinga Philippines Welfare and
Community Development
Development PD 1185- The Fire Code
Foundation Inc. of the Philippines City Planning Office

Action for Nurturing PD 957- The Housing and Land Use

Children and the Condominium and Regulatory Board
Environment (ANCE) Subdivision Buyers
Protective Decree Lorega Local
Government Unit
RA 7279- The Urban
Development and Proponents of the

FIGURE 1: A diagram on the factors affecting the accommodation of settlers in Lorega-San Miguel Municipal Cemetery
Significance of the Study

Any project undertaken always has impacts on people and the

environment. This study is for the provision of better accommodation and

housing for the informal settlers of barangay Lorega-San Miguel Cemetery and

for security of the health and well-being of the people. Resolving informal settlers

as one of the pressing community issues is likewise seen as a good blueprint to

serve as inspiration and guiding document in addressing matters of and relating

to informal settlement. Specifically, the study is most significant to the following


Residents of the Cemetery grounds:

This is most beneficial to these people in as much as the solution to

the problem of informal settling will determine the capacity to reside permanently

within the cemetery grounds.

Cebu City Government:

With the possible accommodation of residents in the cemetery

grounds, the implementation of a statute of disallowing cemeteries within urban

areas is clearly implemented. Likewise, the problem of informal settlers gets to

be resolved through the joint effort of the city and the community.

Local Government of Lorega-San Miguel:

With this, barangay officials may become aware and vigilant in the

approach of this certain problem and that, on the onset of informal settling, they

may be able to nip it in the bud before it becomes a problem.


Through this, there is clear delineation of land use and that the public is

made aware that the Lorega-San Miguel municipal cemetery is no more and that

the grounds have been made to accommodate “live” people as residents who are

monitored by LGU units; thus, appeasing the public that no shady characters

abound the area.


Statement of the Problem

Giving these informal settlers better housing condition is a matter that the

City Government has to address. However, the lack of these people in terms of

land property in an urban area like Cebu City poses an explicit constraint in

carrying out this responsibility. This matter is considered alongside the influx of

people in the city.

However, the issue on land property can be addressed with a better

strategy on accommodating these people. It is on this regard that the thesis

proponents believed that turning these informal settlers into formal settlers is

possible. As steps to achieve this goal, the following sub-problems should be


1. When did these occupants start to reside inside the cemetery grounds?
2. What are the reasons for migration of these residents from the rural to

urban cemetery grounds?

3. How many settlers, in terms of families, have been identified to reside the

Lorega-San Miguel Cemetery?

4. What economic activity/ies are indulged in by the residents?

5. What is the condition of the area like?

6. Has government taken action on the plight of the residents of the


7. Is the cemetery, in terms of property ownership, a government or privately

owned land?

8. Is the particular undertaking, a project acceptable to the local residents

outside the cemetery grounds?

Scope and Limitations

The study covered the identified residents of the municipal cemetery,

located in barangay Lorega-San Miguel. Moreover, data on living conditions have

limited to the government agencies, departments and sections in the likes of the

Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP), Department of Social

Welfare and Development (DSWD), Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board

(HLURB), City Planning and Development Council, Geographic Information

System (GIS) and the local government of Lorega-San Miguel; and the non-

government organizations: Action for Nurturing Children and Environment

(ANCE) and Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation (GK CDF);

and the United Cemetery Side Residents Association as respondents to vital

information on the problems on property through interviews and surveys. The

study was undertaken on June 2010 to February 2010.

Definition of Terms

Cemetery: a site intended for burials of the deceased

Lorega-San Miguel Cemetery: is a municipal cemetery located in Barangay

Lorega-San Miguel. Also known as General Echavez Old Cemetery it

came into its current land use as a cemetery due to the reason of

accommodating non-Catholic burials in the past. With basis on

zoning, it was classified as commercial and as its name clearly

suggests, it is a place for the dead. However, there are people

occupying within its grounds.

Tenement: a term used on an apartment building for rent or rent to own that

meets the minimum standards of comfort and safety (Merriam-

Webster Dictionary, 1991)

Tenement Housing: a vertical development housing or apartment building

provided by the Government as a program to the poor and

marginalized sector


The study used the descriptive method in which clerical and mechanical

tools were applied in the data collection. Include in the tools were interview

guides, on-site observation checklist, Moreover, the gathered data and results

obtained were then presented in a descriptively with supplementary documents

such as photos and hand written notes.


Lorega-San Miguel Municipal Cemetery is a government owned lot which

was the selected site of the study. It came into its use due to the need of non-

Catholic people to bury their deceased loved ones in another area apart from the

nearest Catholic burial site including Carreta Catholic Cemetery. These non-

Catholics were urged by this need because burying their dead loved ones in

Catholic cemeteries would be costly for them, and by tradition, it had been a

norm for us Filipinos to separate the Catholic and non-Catholic burials which was

an influenced from the Spanish colonizers. As much as it serves its use in the

present, a problem on informal settling came into the picture.

Currently, there are people occupying the cemetery grounds and these

people have been living the area since 1960’s. Even the area was an

inappropriate site for human settlement, as local news reports describe that most

houses are built on top or beside tombs; the occupants still dwelt on it because it

was the nearest place to set up their homes from their workplace and it was an

area they knew that can accommodate them within the city. Moreover, they also

found the place less hassling because they don’t have to pay rentals for it.

Due to this circumstance, an outbreak on scabies happened as these

people dwelt within the cemetery grounds. Scabies, also known in the vernacular

language as kagid-kagid, caused by a bacteria became a rampant skin disease

for the occupants. With this, the people became aware of the threat that may

affect them by living inside a cemetery. Given options on avoiding this threat

through relocation, they also became unreceptive on such idea. As a result,

these people requested for a legislation to happen on converting the site into a

residential area, and on July 09, 2010, a resolution on the closure of the

cemetery was passed and with it, the project on housing was pushed through. At

this point of time, the Cebu City government is on its phase of removing and

transferring the remains of those tombs which will be affected by the housing



The occupants of the municipal cemetery were the respondents of the

study. In addition, they were usually the ones who were screened and got
passed as legitimate beneficiaries of the project and members of the UCESIRA,

a homeowner’s association within the cemetery.

Tools Procedure

As what had been discussed previously, the tools used were the clerical

and mechanical. Under the clerical tool, instruments that were included were the

interview guides and observation checklist. Interview guides were made as an

option to survey questionnaires due to the fact that the intended respondents

were those identified as members of the UCESIRA and those who passed the

screening made by the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor. As these

respondents were already identified, the researchers still had to make interviews

to identify more beneficiaries that had not been listed as a member of the

association within the cemetery. In it questions were crafted carefully by the

researchers to obtain data from these people. Prior to this, a letter of request had

been made and received by the people through their association. The interviews

were scheduled prior to the deadline on the data presentation and were done

casually. To gather more substantial data, the researchers also attended

meetings held at the UCESIRA office every Sundays and note what were the

updates and activities the members were up into.

On-site observation checklist was a researcher-made list used to identify

existing elements within the site. This was an important tool on obtaining

pertinent data particularly from the site for it would have a bearing on the solution

of the problem particularly on the physical aspects. In it, list of existing structures,
utility line and services, vegetations and type, the site characteristics and

condition, the current tomb and dwelling pattern of the site and other physical

attributes of the site were listed and were marked as present or absent. This

instrument aside from the interviews made was scheduled prior to the

submission of data presentation and was used on site visitations.

Under the mechanical tool, included instruments were photographic

cameras and voice recorders. These were used alongside with the interviews

and on-site observations to document data. The camera was used extensively to

document the existing condition of the site, during interviews and at every

Sunday meetings at the UCESIRA office. The voice recorders were used during

interviews for purposes of documentation. Handwritten notes were also made in

the absence of the voice recorder.

Scoring Method

Since the study did not used any survey questionnaires, scoring of the

data obtained were not based quantitatively, rather it was more of the qualitative

method wherein, the substantiality of the data relied on the appropriate

respondents and interviewee the researchers selected. Moreover, the

identification of the stakeholders became an obvious factor of not using survey

questionnaires. Hence, the latter became a matter that the researchers had to

consider less since the data collection were intended to obtain more beneficiaries

of the project and their preferences.

On the other hand, the on-site observation checklist was an instrument

used on checking the condition of the site and the characteristics of its elements.

No tallying had to be made in this instrument, since it only presented the

existence and absence of necessary elements the site had.



Settlement as defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary is an act or

process of settling, has been a prevalent activity or phenomenon caused by

behaviors. Particularly, in humans, this occurs due the latter’s need for food,

water, shelter and many others. With this, people tend to move from one place to

another in search for their basic needs to survive. It was in this manner that

nomadic life was an apparent settlement. But later, as these people learned new

things and started to develop new technologies which would help in their means

for survival, permanent settlements known as agricultural village were

established. From this, towns and cities were later developed and

industrialization happened. At this point of time, factories and industries came

along which generated employment, and also caused the influx of people

towards the industrial cities. These would have been beneficial to industries

which requires workforce. However, the influx of people also caused problems

instigated in the likes of accommodation and housing of these new settlers, and
because of these settlers’ lack of land properties with the city, settlements known

as squatting happened.

In the process of human settlements, there must have been an identified

site which is suitable for human living. This site should have also been

possessed by the settlers wherein they should have legal evidences of the site or

land ownership. This process supposedly must have happened in the

Philippines, but, it did not for many reasons. One is that laws and local statues

addressing human settlements were not that firm on imposing strict rules against

squatting. Another was that, zoning of lands according to its pre-empted use was

not strictly followed. Others are by political reasons.

In effect, informal settlers increased their numbers, and as time passed,

these people became unreceptive when ask to move out of their areas. In terms

of planning, this was so because of the mere truth that these people had already

established themselves on the areas they have lived. Moreover, the idea of

evicting these people from there homes would be like uprooting an aged tree

from its location, causing detrimental effects to the latter. Hence, evicting this

people from the land they do not own is less an effective solution in solving illegal

settlements in urban areas. With this growing problem in urban areas,

particularly in the Philippines, the government has to promulgate laws to address


In this scenario, an act, known as the Republic Act 7279 or the Urban

Development and Housing Act of 1992 was promulgated. Also known as the Lina
Law, it had already been made to protect these settlers from being evicted from

the properties they are squatting and provide guidelines on providing

resettlements on the particular beneficiaries. This act was promulgated since

1986 by then Senator Jose ‘Joey’ Lina, which states that informal settlers living

on lands they do not own for 30 years and over from the time the law’s

promulgation are protected from any means of eviction. Whereby, in the event

that these settlers have to be moved out from the properties they are squatting

due to a valid cause, the government will mediate and shall help these people for

resettlement. However, people who were not covered with this law are not

protected and are subject to eviction. As what has been published in SunStar

News, a local newspaper; “Cebu City Hall will demolish illegal structures along

Cebu City’s riverbanks and it will not provide relocation sites to affected

families”(PDF, 2010). These planned actions were done on the matters of

discouraging illegal settlers and most importantly, securing the safety of these

people. However, the truth that these informal settlers which were regarded as

the Urban Poor has probably no more fundamental problem than their inability to

access decent, secure lands for even the most minimum housing needs. Access

to land is an inseparable ingredient in a poor household to survive, earn, thrive

and lift itself out of poverty. Evicting households might be an effective way of

clearing land for other uses, but in almost any eviction, the poor are the greatest

losers: they loose the houses that they have invested in, they often loose their

jobs, their belongings, their building materials and their social support systems.

Plus, evicting informal settlements reduces the city’s stock of affordable housing
and instead of solving the problem simply moves it elsewhere, at very high

social, economic and political costs (UN Human Settlements Program and UN

Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 2008). Hence, the

government still has to find ways in dealing with this people in a manner that it is

not violent and is beneficial on part of the land owners and the informal settlers.

As mitigating measures are also tried to be used in addressing issues on

informal settlements, so are other Local statutes and National Laws which has

concerns on this matter also had to be considered and implemented. Primarily,

these laws were made to provide guidelines on how to make settlements

appropriate for the people who will be involved. One of these is the Socialized

and Economic Housing Law, also known as Batas Pambansa bilang 220 which is

“an act authorizing the ministry of human settlements to establish and

promulgate different levels of standards and technical requirements for economic

and socialized housing projects in urban and rural areas from those provided

under presidential decrees numbered nine hundred fifty-seven, twelve hundred

sixteen, ten hundred ninety-six and eleven hundred eighty-five.”

With this law, guidelines and standards on how to settle informal settlers

through low cost housing are provided, and as stated, this law also correlates

with other laws established which the following are: PD no. 957 or the subdivision

and condominium buyers’ protective decree which shall “regulating the sale of

subdivision lots and condominiums, providing penalties for violations thereof, PD

1096 also known as the National Building Code of the Philippines that shall

regulate the implementation of buildings in line with the accommodation of the

settlers, PD 1185- The Fire Code of the Philippines, which sets out guidelines in

developing safe structures and buildings against fire, BP 344- The Accessibility

Law of which is a law that sets guidelines on incorporating physical features that

would provide and encourage access to persons with disabilities, “to put them

back on the mainstream of society”.

With these Republic Acts and laws, accommodating informal settlers in

urban areas though housing and resettlements is made possible. However, with

the constraint on a limited area that a city has, efficient housing and resettlement

strategies should be considered. Particularly in Cebu City, a highly urbanized city

with a prevalent problem on informal settling, there is less land available to

accommodate these people. Hence, tenement housing is an option.

As traced from history, a tenement has been in its existence since the

ancient times, particularly the Romans, who housed in their slaves and the poor

in this particular dwelling. Even in the later times, during the Industrial

Revolution, a third of low-income families lived in one room, as more highlanders

crowded into tall tenement dwellings. This situation happened because Western

Europe underwent a period of rapid urbanization: the number of people living in

cities and towns grew more rapidly than did the percentage of people residing in

the countryside (Merriman, 1996). In the Philippines, tenement housing is used to

accommodate the marginalized sector of the society. Existing examples of such

were in Manila, particularly in Tondo.

In Tondo, the well-known tenement housing

is called the Punta Sta. Ana Tenement

House built in 1965. It was the first urban

government housing project under the

administration of President Diosdado

Macapagal. As cited from a blog posted by

Howie Severino, this has been condemned

Photo 2: A child resident looking at the condemned Sta,

for over 15 years, yet is still the crowded
Ana Tenement Housing in Tondo, Manila
Source: home of over 1000 families. Existing with

daily danger, they nevertheless take pride in not being squatters. The seven-

story high-rise is now a wretched symbol for what has gone wrong in the country

since. When Marcos defeated Macapagal in 1965, the housing project was

virtually abandoned by the government, identified as it was with the previous

administration. But those who had been homeless and awarded units there,

which they call condos, continue to live there and hope.

Shortly after the earthquake of 1990, residents were told by government

officials that the building was condemned and no longer livable. But hardly

anyone left. Most have nowhere to go since the government offered no

assistance for relocation. The National Housing Authority so far refuses to say if

it has a plan for the residents, 17 years after the NHA itself declared it unsafe

(Severino, 2007).
Another example of the same building type

is also located in Tondo namely, the Jaime

Cardinal Sin Village. It is a seven-storey

building which was built recently by the

Archdiocese of Manila, with the help of

Gawad Kalinga for those who are less

fortunate people.

PHOTO 3: A One Point Perspective View of the Like any other means of
Jaime Cardinal Sin Village Tenement Housing
Building Source:
http:// accommodating the marginalized sector of

the Philippine society, the Cebu City government also envisioned tenement

housing as a solution since the city has lesser lands to develop housing projects

horizontally. With this, vertical development is a possible choice wherein the poor

could still be accommodated. With the help of non-government organizations

such as the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation and the Action

for Nurturing Children and Environment, Cebu City is now pushing through the

said development. The housing development However, the down-side of such

development is that the people would less likely to be used in living on a vertical

housing since it is not one’s culture to reside on this type of development.

Moreover, the fact that these people would rather live on shanty or exchange

their awarded units for moneys is a problem that the Government had also to