Arts Reporter Ange-Aimee Woods reporting for CPR News. Graveyards do not generally make comfortable homes for people who still have a pulse.
But “Living with the Dead,” a new documentary by Colorado filmmaker Jessica Chance which opens at the Sie FilmCenter on Saturday, March 29, tells the story of the thousands of living people who call a cemetery in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, home.
Manila is the world’s most densely populated city with more than 43,000 residents per square kilometer. Poverty and overpopulation partly explain why more than 2,000 people have chosen to live in a cemetery that also houses hundreds of thousands of the city’s Catholic dead.
“I agreed to be interviewed so that people would know that you can live anywhere with dignity,” Jenny Juan, a mother of four who lives in a mausoleum with her husband, says.
Some of the residents featured in the documentary, like Angelina Cabuso, a grandmother who came to live in the cemetery after her home was devastated during World War II by Japanese and U.S. troops fighting for control of the city, have lived in the city’s North Cemetery for generations.
“We were born to this situation, we endure it,” Steve Cabuso, her son, who was born in the cemetery, says.
Cabuso earns his living by looking after tombs near the North wall of the cemetery. He keeps the graves clean and receives a little money from the families of the dead in return for his work.
Cabuso’s daughter Jennylyn, who is graduating from college this year, vows to leave the cemetery her family has lived and worked in for generations.
CPR caught up with Denver filmmaker Jessica Chance, the director and co-executive producer of “Living with the Dead,” to find out more about the making of the documentary.
Read Ange-Aimee's "Five Questions," here: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/5-questions-colorado-filmmaker-jessica-chance-living-dead