"Ang rate namin talaga ay 35,000 (pesos) kasama na ang embalsamo, make-up at damit, pati na ang ataol," said Orly Fernandez, a 40-year veteran in the industry and currently the manager at Eusebio.
(Our rate is P35,000 which includes embalming, make-up and clothes, including coffin.)
He said this is the best deal for the families since it includes everything. The only thing excluded is the space for the burial. For the poor, this space is usually a slot just slightly larger than the coffin and stacked like "apartments" five to six stories high. It costs from P1,500 to P7,500 in a public cemetery and good only for five years, after which the decaying bodies are disposed of.
"Kung ayaw nila, puwede nilang kunin yung katawan pagkatapos ng embalsamo, bayad sila ng 15,000 (pesos). Mahal na ang gamit naming formalin, mas mahal pa sa gasolina ngayon," Fernandez said.
(If they don't want us just to service the body after we embalm it, they can get it for P15,000. The formalin nowadays costs a lot, even more expensive than gasoline.)
Our conversation was cut short by a telephone call from one of his clients. "18,000! Okay 16,000 pero wala ng bawas yan, puwede niyo ng kunin pagkabayad ng 16,000," he said over the phone.
(P18,000! Okay, P16,000 but that's my last price, you can pull it out once you pay P16,000.)
"Mapapamahal pa sila e, kasi babayaran din nila yung service nung ibang funeraria pati yung ataol, hindi nila alam yun," Fernandez explained, justifying his wholesale price of P35,000, take it or leave it.
(They will end up paying more because they have to pay the next funeral house for service again and pay additional for coffin and other services, that's what they don't realize.)
But, for most of these families, P35,000 is almost half a year's wage or equivalent to a poor household's budget for 6 months for food, electricity, water, transportation and education for extended families living under one roof. Coughing up P35,000 for funeral services worsens their poverty.
A dream left unfulfilled