Vicente Sy Quia died on January 9, 1894 and was buried, like every prominent Chinese man in Manila, at the La Loma Chinese Cemetery. After the deaths of his sons and grandsons, his tomb was abandoned and slowly buried in debris and forgetfulness.
However, in 2018, a fateful visit to Kaisa Heritage Foundation in Intramuros yielded more than just historical information on the Syquia family but to the re-discovery of Vicente’s tomb at the Chinese Cemetery. Tessie Ang-See and Dr. Richard Chu had written about this forgotten tomb. Ms. Ang-See gave us a picture of the tomb and served as a starting point.
Phones calls to the offices of the Chinese Cemetery and the Philippine Chinese Charitable Association (the institution that operates the Chinese Cemetery) could not give could not give us answers to the actual location of the tomb because their records start from the year 1930. A handful of relatives, Maridol Syquia Mabanta, Nicky Montoya, Carla and Mitos Pacis decided to take the Chinese Cemetery tour of Ivan Man Dy with the last stop at the tomb of Vicente Syquia. To our dismay, the tomb laid buried in decades of debris, wild grass (talahib) and bushes.
Arrangement were made to clear the grass and on the next visit this is what the
tomb looked like.
After five truck loads of debris and mud, the tomb area was cleared, a grand sarcophagus built in the neo-classical style was revealed and about several meters away, the statue of a life-size angel kneeling on one knee and lovingly looking towards Vicente’s tomb. Written in large letters at the cornices of the sarcophagus are the names Ricardo and Evaristo and on one side of the sarcophagus the words:
D. VICENTE ROMERO SY-QUIA
NATURAL DE AMTAO PROVINCIA DE EMUY
IMPERIO DE CHINA
On the other side,
HOMENAJE DE AMOR Y CARIÑO
DE SU DESCONSOLADA ESPOSA
HIJOS, NIETOS, HERMANOS Y SOBRINOS
Translated as Homage of Love and Affection from his inconsolable wife, children, grandchildren, siblings and nephews.
The discovery of the tomb has brought up many questions, Why is his wife Petronila and their five children not mentioned by name? Who were Ricardo and Evaristo? Is this inconsolable wife his Chinese wife? Are Ricardo and Evaristo his sons with his Chinese wife? Where is Petronila buried?
These are just a few questions this amazing discovery has raised.
Written by Mitos Belofsky