Cremation becoming a popular option among Filipinos

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 31) — Cremation is becoming a more acceptable practice among Filipinos, according to an official of a popular memorial chapel in the country.

According to Leo Nitor, a customer care director and certified crematory operator from Arlington Memorial Chapels and Crematory, they used to see a 70 percent of customers preferring a traditional burial over cremation, but that number has changed.

Speaking to CNN Philippines On the Record Thursday, Nitor said, "During this time, it (cremation) has raised to 50 to 60 percent. Mas marami na, kaunti sa burial. Nakikita namin na unti-unti natatanggap ng mga Pilipino ang cremation."

One of the reasons why families perfer cremation is cost, Nieto said. Cremation packages can cost from ₱100,000 to P400,000. Traditional burials can cost from ₱200,000 up to more than ₱1 million.

Where a person is laid to rest also factors in the cost, Nieto said. Memorial lots can cost millions, while a columbary is less expensive.

Respect the ashes as you would a body

Fr. Aris Sison, parish priest of the St. John Paul II Parish in Quezon City, reminds Catholics there are certain guidelines that must be followed after a loved one is cremated. The Catholic Church allowed cremation in 1983, although it still prefers traditional burial, Nieto said.

"Cremation is allowed, we just have to remember one of the most important Catholic beliefs in the resurrection of the dead.... What is taught by the Church is respect for the body, and in the case of cremation, respect for the ashes," he told On the Record.

This means keeping the ashes at home, scattering a person's ashes, dividing them among relatives, or keeping part of it in a locket is forbidden.

The ashes must be buried in the ground or interred in a columbary, Sison said.

"For Christians, for Catholics we always have to follow what the Church teaches about death. It's never just what we want...but we need to be guided by our faith in the things that we do," he said.

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