Within the Japanese sector, one of the heartwarming scenes at the Baguio public cemetery today is a place of worship, showing a simple triangular roof cradling an altar to Devine Providence.
To Christians of the Catholic faith, there are surely subtle but unmistakable signs of the Christian sect's influence on the religious symbol. It is, however, an ecumenical place of worship which perforce was designed to be.
Sister Theresia Unno F.M.M., soon after arriving in Baguio 20 years ago, found the Japanese section in the Baguio Cemetery unkempt, looking abandoned and uncared for. The sad condition of the tombs -- the headstones of the graves had been knockdown, many destroyed and scattered and quite a few desecrated; and remains were slowly being occupied by other tombs -- saddened her.
Knowing how sacredly Japanese regard their dead, Sister Theresia took upon herself the mission of protecting the remaining tombs from further disturbance. After reporting the situation to the Japanese Embassy of Japan and asking assistance, the good sister, with the help of the Japanese descendants, restored many of the tombs.
Sister Theresia also noted that many former Japanese residents and their families who died during the WW II had no tombs or graves. She gathered all their names and engraved them in marble tablets and place them inside the walls of the Memorial Chapel she built. The chapel was designed in a way that there is a cross and symbol of Japanese shrine.
The ground-breaking of the Chapel was on November 29, 1982 and blessed by Rev. Fr. John Mitsudome, a Japanese priest. The chapel was inaugurated on February 19, 1983 in time for the 80th anniversary celebration of the entry of Japanese workers in the construction of Kennon Road.
Today, though crowded, the small Japanese section in the cemetery is neatly well-cared and distinctly fenced around. At the head of the section near the entrance gate is an obelisk with an inscripttion in Japanese characters. Engraved at the base is the biblical quotation from the book of Isiah 26:19: "The Dead Shall Live".
The place of worship catches the rays of the early morning sun and is limned before the purple seaward horizon at sunset, with a few tall pine trees still standing around in green perpetuity. It is really a beautiful worshipful sight. It breaths deep faith.