Manila City has inaugurated its first Muslim Cemetery and Cultural Hall to pay tribute to Muslims who have brought great honor to the nation’s capital.

Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso led the cemetery’s inauguration on Monday, June 7 as part of the observance of the Philippine capital’s 450th founding anniversary.

The Mayor was joined by Vice Mayor Ma. Sheilah ‘Honey’ Lacuna-Pangan, Muslim Affairs Bureau Director Shey Sakaluran Mohammad and other local government officials.

The 2,400 square-meter cemetery will also serve as a symbol to remind the youth and more generations to come of the capital city’s “history, culture and tradition,” Domagoso said.

Muslims have long been neglected by the local government even as the city’s history showed that even before the Spaniards came, Manila has been the so-called the “land of the rajah’s”.

“Itong araw na ito, iniaalay ng kasalukuyang henerasyon sa mga ninuno naming Muslim dito sa lungsod. Ito’y simpleng tanda ng pag-alala kung sino talaga kami,” Domagoso said.

“They will be reminded of the continuing existence and sense of belonging sa ating mga kabataan, para mabura ang bias, so that we can erase biases and prejudice. We are Filipinos, after all,” the Mayor added.

Domagoso said the cemetery was built as a way to address the Muslim community’s struggles to bury the deceased, noting the lack of proper burial grounds in the capital city.

Likewise, Manila’s Vice Mayor noted that the construction of the cemetery showed that Domagoso was still fulfilling the campaign platforms he had promised as a candidate, including promoting inclusiveness in the city.

“We offer this tangible edifice and site as a manifestation of how the city honors and respects the culture and tradition of its forefathers with Islamic ancestry,” Lacuna said.

“We welcome you all in our city that acknowledges diversity, where differences are integrated not annihilated,” she added.

Manila Muslim Affairs Bureau Director Shey Sakaluran Mohammad also expressed her gratitude to the efforts of the city government for her community.

“No Manila mayor has done more for our Muslim brothers and sisters and has stood up for us like Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso did,” she said.

Inspired by the Manila Muslim Cemetery, a bill requiring other local government units to allocate a public Muslim cemetery will be filed by Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael ‘Toto’ Mangudadatu.