By William Lawrence King*

A lapida is a permanent indicator placed over or next to the site of a burial.  It is also a symbol of respect and recognition of the dead. It is in the lapida that the name, age and birth date as well as death date can be found.

What may sound as a morbid topic to research on, we actually had a lot of fun. To begin gathering information, we set out to a cemetery to observe the many lapidas that can be found. We were confronted with hundreds of assorted lapidas in concrete, stone, granite and tiles. Most common of all though were the ones made of marble.

We also visited Jaro Cathedral to check out the older, bigger and more artsy lapidas. We scrutinized about 40 lapidas inside the church. Check out Kathryn’s post entitled “Jaro Cathedral’s Artsy Lapidas.

To learn more of the modern sleek-looking lapidas, we headed out to E. Lopez Street in Jaro where lapida makers can be found. The sun was at full blast and the traffic jammed, we started with the first among the nine lapida making shops along the street.

At Golden Lapida, we met Mr. Romdy Panso who introduced himself as the lapida maker for the shop. In between bites of his pamahaw we were able to find out that the shop has been in business for eight years and is owned by a Mr. Raul Salvador. They offer lapidas in marble, granite and stainless steel. Romdy claims to be able finish one lapida a day. As we were about to visit the next shop, we caught a glimpse of a unique lapida because it had a picture of a person on it. The picture of the deceased seems to be in wallet size and it was laminated. Upon observation we found out that it was actually just stuck to the lapida. The shop also offers special brass lettering services for the words on the lapidas.

Next in line is Ricky Marble Services.  We were told by the shop’s lapida maker Sandy Bayot, 17, that this is the oldest lapida making shop in the entire row of lapida makers.  The establishment opened on 1976. The shop was first started by Roque Mingo Sr. but is now being managed by his son Ricky. Ricky Marble Services also offers lapidas in marble, granite and stainless steel.  Also available is the tile lapida which is only made by this shop. It would take Sandy two hours to finish a tile lapida and it costs about P2500.  By the way, Roque Mingo Sr. who was featured in MMK for his syokoy appearance owns another shop, Mingo Marble Services which offers the same rate.

We then visited Alma Salvador’s A&C Marble Works. We learned that the shop employs two workers but on this hot day, only one is present. John Pineda, 18, kindly answered our probing questions. They offer lapidas in granite and plain marble. What is special about this shop is their blue-pearl granite which is the most expensive material to use for a lapida. This particular kind costs about P6000. We asked for a sample but sadly it’s unavailable because it needs to be pre-ordered because the lapida is imported from abroad. Interestingly A&C also owns Salvador Marble and Metal Services, another lapida shop along E. Lopez.  We thanked him then for his time and trudged toward the next lapida making shop.

Nonoy Casera Lapida Maker is a shop with a small entrance. We were greeted by a smiling 21 year-old Luis Merida IV (that’s him in the photo with Kathryn and myself). The shop offers lapidas in marble and granite. Luis was in the middle of carving a lapida which gave us the opportunity to actually see how one is made. We asked questions while he was working on the marble lapida. He calls his carving material as “sinsil” for use on marble and “carvite” for granite lapidas. When asked of his background in lapida making, he told us that it was one of the most important things his father, also a lapida maker, ever taught him. Lapida making is learned through mentor- apprentice correlation.

It would take about week to a month of practice to be a good lapida maker. We stayed the longest on this shop as we looked on while he was working. Of course it was a relief from the heat as well.

We then made our way to Ronnel Lapida Engraving. The shop as we saw in its BIR registration is owned by Ronnel Rovia. In the shop working is Redan Rovia who is the brother of the owner and the worker of the shop. He was working on a lapida and did not seem to be in the mood for answering questions. Somehow, we were able to learn though that the shop has been in operation since 1976 and that they only use Romblon marble for their lapidas. After gathering this much info we left him to finish his job and made our way to the shop next to it.

C.E Lapida Engraving is owned by Ms. Pacita Macato Chan. We asked their only worker Joey Rubia about this particular shop. He was only able to answer few of our questions. The shop has been in business for more than 10 years. They only use granite and Romblon marble.

We walked under the late morning heat toward Choi’s Place Special Gravestone. Stepping inside we came face to face with a woman who seemed to be in charge. She did not offer any answer to our questions. Before leaving, we caught a glimpse of the BIR registration and saw that the shop is owned by Mr. Gerard S. Deblois. We left in a hurry and laughed at the cold treatment we got from the old lady.

We visited the last lapida shop in our list. CMC Lapida Engraving which has been in business for 10 years is owned by Consoladora Chan. They have one worker named Ronald Macabata who said that he is not allowed to give interviews. We thanked him anyway and walked back toward our starting point. Being done with the interviews, we left the blistering heat for the cool comfort of SM City.

From the information we have gathered, we can say that there are only few participating business entities in the lapida making industry. This is because it is a business that booms only on the months of September and October. Also lapida makers are limited as it is learned in a mentor-apprentice correlation.

We were also told that since Ricky Marble Services opened in E.Lopez, the rest also opened in the same area to share in the market. From what we have seen, the lapidas are generic in appearance regardless of the maker. So ones choice as where to have a lapida created may depend on the availability of material used and of course the price of having one produced.

If you need help in choosing the right lapida maker, we made a table to aid you in your choice.

 

Lapida Shops

Material

Ricky Marble Services and Mingo Marble Services500-7332 Golden Lapida Makers09268711566 A&C Marble Services andSalvador Marble & Metal Services

328-4053,

09272337314

Nonoy Casera Lapida Maker328-4163 Ronnel Lapida Engraving09193476770 C.E. Lapida Engraving301-0826 Choi’s Place CMC Lapida Engraving300-3641
Granite30×40

60×60

40×60

P5000 P3000 P6000 P4500

P3000

P2000

P3000
Marble30×40

50×60

P600 P500 P500P400 P600 P500 P500

P800

P500
Tile P2500
Stainless P2500
Add photo P150 P250 P150 P250
Add StainlessLettering(per letter) P1000
Add Brass lettering(per letter) P50
Lapida Shops

Material

C.E. Lapida Engraving301-0826 Choi’s Place CMC Lapida Engraving300-3641
Granite30×40

60×60

40×60

P3000

P2000

P3000
Marble30×40

50×60

P500

P800

P500
Tile
Stainless
Add photo P250
Add StainlessLettering(per letter)
Add Brass lettering(per letter)

About the author

William Lawrence King is a third year marketing major at the University of the Philippines Visayas. He completed his secondary education at Ateneo de Iloilo. Visit his site at http://www.chinohere.multiply.com for his blog entries and other media presentations.