Dwelling atop the dead: With no room to live, some Filipinos sleep in graveyards

The Philippine capital of Manila is now one of the most densely-populated urban areas on earth.

The city, the second-most populous city in the country, is so congested that its nearly 1.7 million inhabitants occupy just over 9,500 acres.

And with one of the fastest-growing populations in Southeast Asia, some people are forced to seek refuge in local cemeteries as squatters where they eat and sleep on top of tombs and mausoleums.


The Manila North Cemetery is currently bursting with life, home to more than 10,000 Filipinos who run businesses, raise families and live out their lives in between the headstones and crypts. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour


The Manila North Cemetery houses not only the deceased but a large population of Filipinos, because the city is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour


The population living in the cemetery gradually grew as people who could no longer afford a home moved their family into the crypts, often sharing the space with the deceased remains of their parents and grandparents. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour


This man stores his food cart here in a crypt at the Manila North Cemetery where his family lives. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour


A man cleans a tomb inside a mausoleum at the Manila North Cemetery. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour


A mother and her daughter outside their home in the Manila North Cemetery. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour

sleeping in cemetary

A man sleeps on top of a tomb in the Manila North Cemetery. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour

store in cemetery

There are so many people living in the cemetery that it has become a place of commerce. A small store is pictured. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour


Filipinos sit atop the tombs in the Manila North Cemetery. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour

Watch our full broadcast report from the Philippines below:

Support PBS NewsHour: