By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – There is now a designated Muslim public cemetery in Pampanga, courtesy of a family that donated the land for use as a common graveyard.
The National Commission Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) accepted the donation of close to three hectares of land from the Alhumayde family of San Ildefonso in Magalang, Pampanga.
Hashel Mohammad and Belen Maniulit-Alhumayed inked the deed of donation at their residence in San Ildefonso on April 23 with NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan, agency spokesperson Dimapuno Alonto-Datu Ramos said.
“The donation of 28,395 square meters land by the couple will greatly benefit Muslims in Pampanga. There has been a lingering history of burden among resident or migrant Muslim families scrambling to bury their dead within the 24-hour timeline prescribed in Islam,” Datu Ramos said.
He said the difficulty was foremost among migrant Muslims who usually face enormous cost and efforts in transporting their dead from Luzon to their respective home provinces in Mindanao.
Designations of Muslim public cemeteries in many provinces across the country, notably in Luzon, Visayas, and Metro Manila had been intensified in a campaign complemented a few years ago by Filipino movie star Robin Padilla, a Muslim revert, soliciting donation of lots or cash to buy lands.
Padilla had met with officials of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to draw support for his campaign.
Affluent families in ARMM-component provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Sulu had overwhelmingly responded to Padilla’s campaign.
In an interview with the Manila Bulletin, Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu said his family did not only give cash donations but is also supporting Padilla’s campaign through a law authored by the governor’s younger brother, Maguindanao Assemblyman Khadaffe “Toy” Mangudadatu mandating municipal and provincial governments in the autonomous region to allocate lands for use as Muslim public cemeteries.
The Mangudadatu family also donated in 2014 a five-hectare land in Buluan, Maguindanao to serve as one of the official Muslim graveyards in Maguindanao. (Ali G. Macabalang)