Private firms offer to foot bill for Pepang conversion to park; Osmeña hits Rama for ‘deception’

DOÑA Pepang Cemetery, which is located in Barangays Tejero and Carreta, will be converted into a heritage park at no cost to the Cebu City Government.

Lite Ferries president Lucio Lim Jr. has donated P3 million to the City Government for the conversion of the cemetery. Fourteen other stakeholders have also promised to finance the nearly P50 million project.

Its ceremonial groundbreaking on Thursday, June 22, 2023, however, prompted former mayor Tomas Osmeña to call the project a “farce” and accuse his archrival, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, of deception.

Rama led the ceremonial groundbreaking at Doña Pepang Cemetery, which is the final resting place of former first lady Estefania “Doña Pepang” Veloso Osmeña, wife of the late president Sergio Osmeña Sr., grandfather of Tomas Osmeña.

Ramil Ayuman, special assistant to the Mayor’s Office on Special Projects, told SunStar Cebu Thursday that they plan to begin the construction of the park on the first week of July with the target to complete the project in six months or a maximum of one year.

Ayuman also said Doña Pepang is not the only cemetery that Rama aims to develop into a heritage park.

Ayuman said the team would begin reconstructing the main road leading to the Doña Pepang Mausoleum and its immediate perimeter.

He explained that Rama wanted them to immediately spend the P3 million on the project instead of depositing it to the City’s treasury.

“The initial budget is ready. We are just waiting for the revised estimation of the area,” Ayuman said.

He said City Architect Eleazar Lipang had made some minor revisions on the total area to be covered.


Fourteen other stakeholders have promised to help in financing the P49,081,000 project which will be undertaken through a public-private partnership. These private partners include SM, Robinsons Galleria, Opascor, Benedicto and Sons, Queensland, M Lhuillier, White Gold House, Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Philippine Retailers Association-Cebu.

Ayuman said they would negotiate with these private firms to help finance the following items whose budgetary estimates from the Office of the City Architect signed by Lipang on May 10, 2023 are as follows: landscaping (softscape), P5,100,000; landscaping (hardscape), P16,660,000; sidewalk with curb and gutter, P1,802,500; fence and grills, P4,736,000; signage and electrical works, P2,000,000; drainage system, P3,282,500; columbarium, P500,000, and an amphitheater, P15,000,000.

Ayuman said they let Lite Ferries Corp. provide the initial budget, hoping that others would also give.


Ayuman said there is no need for a consultation with the Osmeñas on the conversion of Doña Pepang Cemetery into a heritage park.

He said that former mayor Osmeña himself wanted to turn the cemetery, using his own words, into a “beautiful park” way back in 2008.

“Osmeña asked permission from the late Archbishop of Cebu Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal through a letter dated 2008,” Ayuman said.

The cemetery lot became the property of the Cebu City Government after the City swapped its property in Barangay Pasil with the cemetery lot owned by the Archdiocese of Cebu in 2011.


Osmeña, in a text message, told SunStar Cebu on Thursday, that he is fed up with Rama’s deception.

Osmeña hoped that people would realize that Cebu City would never achieve a Singapore-like status under Rama’s leadership.

He also claimed that the so-called “heritage park” project is just a scheme to eventually relocate the remains of Vicente Rama, grandfather of Mayor Rama.

“What is this farce about creating a Heritage Park? What’s so ‘Heritage’ about it? To me it’s a scheme to transfer eventually the remains of Vicente Rama, the alleged father of Cebu City,” Osmeña said.

He said this is a disrespect to Don Sergio Osmeña, who spent his adult life on nation building. An insult which comes directly from the Cebu City Government.

He suggested that they develop the eight hectares of land in Barangay Lahug, reserved for Don Sergio Osmeña, as the Don Michael Rama Shrine instead.

Vicente Rama authored the bill that turned the municipality of Cebu into a city. He is buried in Cebu Memorial Park.

Informal settlers

Ayuman said lawyer Butch Librando, Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor head, has already identified places to put the informal settlers in the area who will be displaced by the project. These include Barangays Quiot, Pardo and Budlaan, which is located in the upper portion of Talamban, Cebu.

However, he is not sure whether the informal settlers have already been transferred to their designated places for relocation.

Eternal dwelling

Ayuman said Doña Pepang is just one of the old cemeteries that Rama would like to develop into a heritage park.

He explained that through Task Force Eternal Dwelling headed by Monsignor Rogelio Fuentes from the Archdiocese of Cebu, Rama would convert old cemeteries such as the Chinese Cemetery and Carreta Cemetery into beautiful parks that will be open to the public.

Rama has negotiated with some parishes that manage cemeteries and was just waiting for the approval of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Ayuman added.

Ayuman assured that the remains of some prominent Cebuanos will stay in the cemetery even after it is converted into a heritage park. He said some will be moved to different spots within the cemetery to organize them better.

The mausoleum of Doña Pepang will remain at the center and other mausoleums owned by Jerez, Juarez, Pelaez, Rallos and Atega-Borromeo will be at the edge.

He argued that unlike how Osmeña has perceived it, turning the cemetery into a heritage park will never disturb the dead. (with CTL)