The cost of dying in PH

Katherine Visconti
Rappler takes a look at the economics of dying

COSTLY. The material used to make the casket, the length of the wake and even the technology incorporated in the service all add to the costs of a typical funeral. Photo by Katherine Visconti.

Exactly how much does it cost to die in the Philippines?

Rappler went around funeral parlors and found out funeral packages range from 18,000 at the lowest-end of the market to a whopping 2.5 million.

OPTIONS. Funeral homes around Manila offer services across a vast price range.

At the top of the line are solid bronze caskets similar to what singers Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were buried in.

This casket even comes with a seal to keep out air and water in case of a flood.

The type of wood and metal also matter. This hard rose wood coffin resembles the casket Philippine Cardinal Sin was buried in.

Experts say these types of imported wood are harder than the local wood used to make most low-end coffins.

Some premium coffins even come with detachable pieces that family members can take home.

Colors can range from gun metal blue to a brown truffle and classic white. 

The kind of life that person lived is the way that color should be represented. It’s like choosing a car for some people, some favor black, some favor silver.


Affordable technology is finding its way into death arrangements at Arlington Memorial Chapels and Crematory.

This free iPad app catalogues every aspect of the funeral package. Family members can scan through options or even e-mail them to relatives living abroad.

Memorylinks, a type of virtual obituary, costs 2,500 pesos.

TECHNOLOGY. Filipino funeral homes are increasingly incorporating the newest technologies into their services. Photo by Katherine Visconti.

Smart phones and tablets scan a quick response or QR code on a picture, urn or card. Immediately, they pull up their dead relative’s photos, videos and family tree that can be shared on Facebook.

Another innovative new option is an eco-friendly casket.

In Tondo near the former Smokey Mountain dumpsite, out of school youth organized by Gawad Kalinga are making caskets out of recycled paper and wood.

GREEN COFFIN. Caskets made from recycled material are not only good for the environment but also your pocket. Photo by Katherine Visconti.

Each costs 4,000 pesos to make and will be sold for just 6,000.  

Despite the low price tag the group hasn’t sold a single casket.

Marisa lives in a poor neighborhood, and makes 300 pesos a day packaging sardines but she and her siblings aren’t willing to scrimp on their father’s funeral.

If the person’s already dead, you don’t want to make him look like someone you pity. I mean whatever you can do for the departed do it now, it’s your last chance to say thank you.


Her father’s casket alone cost 19,000 pesos. A recycled coffin was out of the question. The family is taking revenues from gambling at the wake to pay for the funeral.

There are a number of ways to cut funeral costs, such as reducing the days of the wake.

Experts say the average 3 to 4 day service make up 30% of total funeral costs.

But some families are unwilling to consider cost effective options for fear of offending their dead loved one or to keep up appearances with the neighbors.

In the end, dying in style only matters to the living.

Katherine Visconti, Rappler Manila. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.