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Great potential seen for RP's mortuary industry

By AJ dela Torre (The Freeman) Updated February 10, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (0)

CEBU, Philippines - The growing number of those interested in the business and the profession is an indication that there is great potential for the countrys mortuary industry. During the 5th Annual Convention of the Philippine Mortuary Association (PMA) held in Cebu, Renato Dychangco Jr., PMA President, said that there are over 500 members of PMA at present which have grown tremendously since it started and still shows a budding possibility to grow more. Dychangco said that they are now targeting to double the number of members they have to 1,000 or more which he said they are very optimistic of achieving. In their aim to further boost the mortuary industry in the country, Dychangco said that they will bid to host the Asian Mortuary conference which will be held this May in Hong Kong. Dychangco said that Malaysia and Indonesia will also be bidding but they are hopeful to get the final nod in order to show to other countries that the mortuary industry in the Philippines is doing well. He said that if they would be given the chance to host the next conference, they would be preparing for a big event which would have more than 2,000 participants. Further, as PMA aims to professionalize funeral service and upgrade the standard of death care in the Philippines, Dychangco said that with the help of the annual conventions where they have various discussions on the concerns of the sector, they would be able strengthen the high standard mortuary services that they would want for all the industry players to offer. This starting off with the discussion of procedures and policies that was discussed during the convention by the Department of Health represented by Dr. Josephine Hipolito, secretariat of the Committee of Examiners for Undertakers and Embalmers. Dychangco said that part of the discussion was aimed to intensify their goal to professionalize the industry and provide licenses for the embalmers. We are making sure that the standards of the industry would be higher and greater, said Dychangco who added that Cebu member-mortuaries in particular have been complying with the standards that they wish to sustain and is continually uplifting the standards that they are practicing. Aside from the updates from DOH during the convention, health care waste management in mortuary setting was also discussed as well as managing the perspective to success for mortuary businesses and the role of mortuary professionals in Philippine disaster protocols.

The Future Of The "Death Care" Industry Jason Ein, Find/SVP, 10.08.04, 7:00 AM ET The biggest trend to hit the death care industry recently is the country's declining death rate, which has put a damper on revenue. The National Vital Statistics System, a unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that the average life expectancy in the U.S. continues to increase, rising from 77.2 in 2001 to 77.4 in 2002 (the most recent data released). By contrast, in 2002, there were 847 mortalities for every 100,000 people, a drop from 855 per 100,000 people in 2001. To get fully personalized and confidential answers to your own business questions, visit the Forbes Custom Research Center.

It is inevitable, however, that America's massive, graying Baby Boom generation will start to change this declining trend. When one considers the Baby Boom generation, which includes 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1965 and represents 29.4% of the total U.S. population, it is clear that the needs and wishes of this group cannot be ignored (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004). As they have done in other parts of their lives, Boomers are unlikely to choose "off-the-shelf" options when it comes to funerals, preferring customized products and services. Though they are more likely to opt for less expensive cremations than previous generations, they will call on funeral homes to provide additional services. For example, Boomers may wish to add music, a performance or exhibit to their memorial service, or to add elements that make it inclusive of children, offer bereavement counseling and offer financial, legal or estate planning. Funeral homes are responding by focusing on funeral services to insure that they are as smooth as possible. They offer an expanded array of "comfort services" that can be personalized according to one's needs, such as memorials conducted over the Web, grief counseling, estateplanning assistance, and discounted airline tickets for funeral participants who must travel by air in order to attend the service. Some funeral homes even provide a greater range of costcompetitive products, such as discounted floral arrangements. The Director, the official publication of the National Funeral Directors Association, spotted in its September 2001 issue the burgeoning trend of preplanning funeral arrangements. Preplanning a funeral allows individuals to choose the type of service to best fit their beliefs and needs. It also helps ensure that an individual's preferences are met whether they involve church services or a simple memorial at the funeral home, an open or closed casket, and burial or cremation. Many also make the choice to preplan citing the preference to take the burden away from their family and friends. NFDA noted that the target market is primarily seniors, especially women age 50 or older. However, younger audiences are becoming more open to talk about death care and funeral preplanning.

With the breadth of funeral support options on the rise, it remains to be seen whether profits for businesses in the death care industry will also rise despite the current slowdown in actual deaths. Regardless, Stewart Enterprises (nasdaq: STEI - news - people ), the death care industry's third-largest player behind Service Corporation International (nyse: SRV - news - people ) and Alderwoods Group (nasdaq: AWGI - news - people ), exceeded expectations for the second quarter of 2004. Besides the dearth of deaths, another damper on the industry's profitability is the heavy scrutiny caused by the public scandals and ongoing financial troubles by leader Service Corporation International. Jason Ein is a consultant in Find/SVP's Management Advisory Group.

Is the death care business dying?


JESSE EDEP, GMANews.TV November 1, 2010 4:14pm 0 Email0 0 ShareThisNew Death is a certainty in life and there will always be a need for death care. The business of death care will never die. However, while there will always be clients in need of death care services, the Philippine Mortuary Association Inc. (PMAI) said the funeral industry has been experiencing a sluggish growth. This is not really a lucrative business," PMAI president Renato Dychangco Jr. said in an interview Monday, All Saints' Day. All Saints' Day, November 1, has become part of the traditional commemoration of "Undas," or the time for remembering the dead. All Souls' Day, November 2, is a Catholic feast day for remembering the dead. However, millions of Filipinos start flocking to cemeteries as early as November 1, All Saints' Day, also a Catholic feast for honoring all saints, both those who are known and the unknown. According to Dychangco, the growth of the funeral industry is stagnant." Mortuaries have thus introduced innovations in the death care business such as new embalming procedures, he said. Dychangco said some of the mortuaries in the Philippines have adopted from the US the technology of soft embalming," where the person looks as if he or she is just sleeping.

We have skilled embalmers and staff who can beautify the dead," he added. We train our people to handle dead bodies with utmost care. These bodies are sacred, so we handle them as we would to a living body," said Dychangco, who is also the president and CEO of Iloilo-based Cosmopolitan-Somo Memorial Chapel. Certainty in life In theory, the death-care business should be impervious from short-term economic swings. Death is one of the only two sure things in life-- getting old and dying. But despite this stagnant growth, [funeral] industry pretty much holds strong regardless of the economy," Dychangco said. According to the Central Intelligence Agencys World Factbook, the Philippine death rate fell from 5.6 percent per 1,000 in 2003 to 5.1 percent per 1,000 in 2009. This means that fewer people died in 2009 than in 2003, despite an increase in population. For many Filipinos, regardless of their beliefs, it still seems anathema to scrimp on a loved ones last life cycle event. As what most people say, A funeral is something you can only do once." Cremation Meanwhile, a few Filipinos prefer cremation, Dychangco said, underscoring that this method remains to be unacceptable to Filipinos." He said cremation is still more expensive than the traditional burial method. You still need to pay for the casket used during wake and take into consideration the cost of cremation." But cremation can still come out cheaper or more expensive depending on the service the customer would want to avail," he pointed out. These could be the reasons why the cremation rate in the Philippines is still low, Dychangco said, citing that in Cebu alone, only one to two percent of the death market prefers cremation. He also said that casket funerals retain their status as important religious rituals because Filipinos are still conservative." The Roman Catholic Church however ruled in 1963 that cremation is an acceptable burial alternative. VVP, GMANews.TV
PMA Cares By Butch D. Enerio

Service providers for the care of the departed held its third annual convention in Davao City where they discussed how the mortuary industry in the country could keep up with the modern technology according to the international standard in delivering such services. With the theme, Defining Our Role in the Philippine Health Sector, The Philippine Mortuary Association (PMA) members were appraised of the developments in the modern ways of caring not only of the remains, but also in attending to the needs of the members of the surviving family. Renato Dychangco, PMA president and chief executive officer of Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes, said that the mortuary service in the country, which has not been considered as an industry, is slowly emerging as one of the key players in the health sector providing noble services in the proper, sanitary,

and humane way of treating the departed. It is the intention of the association that we regularly inform the public of our existence as an industry and that our services are continually keeping up with the international standard. And as we progress, it is our hope that we could do more for the country, Dychangco said. Dondon, a mortician from Quezon Province, said that the organization of the mortuary service providers came just in time so that the industry players can have a voice to air their collective concerns, especially that there is no law governing the care of the dead. And besides, we want to let the society know that our endeavor is needed in the community, Dondon said. He said that growing in a family whose livelihood is to care for the dead, he has been accustomed to being referred to as the kabaong (coffin) by his classmates in the elementary grades. And during high school when he started to operate the hearse, his reference has become more morbid: The patay (the dead). But I did not mind all those name calling since I knew that my family were into a descent means of livelihood, and even a big help to the community, Dondon stressed.

Rep. Arthur Pingoy Jr., one of the guest speakers, touched on the need for Congress to enact a law defining the mortuary industry and its function in the community. In his topic outline, Pingoy pointed that the mortuary industry has been ignored by most people, even by lawmakers. Perhaps it s due to our inherent fear of death or anything connected to it. He said that in the 14th Congress, there has not been any bill filed in both the Senate and the House dealing with the Memorial Care Industry. In fact, Congress has not passed any significant legislation concerning the industry for the last thirty-three years and the only legislation which deals directly with memorial services is Presidential Decree No. 856 or the Code on Sanitation of the Philippines. There is the need to professionalize/regulate the practice of embalming but the Code on Sanitation is inadequate for this purpose that a law defining the industry is important, Pingoy said in a statement, adding that even the practice of cremating remains has no provision in the Sanitation Code. He further stated that with the approval of RA 9439, the Hospital Detention Law, there is a clamor for a similar law to prohibit funeral establishments from the practice of keeping the cadaver from the custody of the bereaved family due to nonpayment or settlement of accounts. On the other hand, the participants were reminded of the health hazards in the embalming room when handling remains. They were updated by Dr. Jeff Chancellor on the safety precautions that mortuary personnel must bear in mind, particularly on the communicable diseases that a dead body might possess and how to avoid getting contaminated. Chancellor pointed out that the necessary safeguards, such as putting on the appropriate clothing, mask, gloves, must be among the priority safety gadgets that mortuary operators provide for their embalming personnel. The waste disposal practices, which is one of the concerns of the PMA -to protect the environment must be clearly adhered to by the mortuary operators and keep its mandate in keeping the sanitary condition in and out of the mortuary establishment.
Photo above shows Rep. Arthur Pingoy Jr., left with PMA President Renato Dychangco at the PMA

Convention

Posted by The MINDANAO CURRENT at 5:54 PM

Crisis hits funeral business


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Fri, Oct 31, 2008

AFP MANILA, PHILIPPINES- THE global financial crisis is starting to have an impact on the funeral business in the Philippines, with the industry reporting a rise in a preference for modest send-offs, it was reported on Friday. Funerals, whether for rich or poor, tend to be lavish affairs with no expense spared in this Southeast Asian Roman Catholic country. However, people are starting to cut down on costs, Renato Dychangco, president of the Philippine Mortuary Association (PMA), told the BusinessWorld newspaper.

Adding to his members' woes, the industry, he said, now also has to 'deal with higher fuel, power and labour costs'. 'Here in the Philippines, most of the people are in the lower to middle classes,' he told the paper. 'So with their buying power squeezed, they have to cut back on expenses and some of that includes funeral spending,' Mr Dychangco said. However, Mr Antonio Puyat, chief operating officer of Loyola Memorial Park, one of Manila's biggest funeral homes, said scrimping on funerals had not 'plunged to the bare-bones level'. 'Filipinos are not spending heavily on burials, unlike the Chinese, but they make sure that while the service is modest, it is dignified,' Mr Puyat told the paper. La Funeraria Paz assistant vice-president Renato Tanquintic said that while business was good he had noticed 'upscale clients reducing spending'. 'Times are hard,' he told the paper.

'Market behaviour has changed. For example, some of our repeat customers who used to shell out about 500,000 pesos (S$14,827) for funerals are only willing to spend half that now,' he was quoted as saying. Burial is still the more popular form of funeral in the country, despite the fact that it costs more than cremation, said Mr Dychangco. 'People in the provinces still prefer burial over cremation because land is widely available outside urban areas,' he said. 'It's hard to get burial plots in the cities, which is why you see columbariums and crematoriums cropping up,' he said. 'The Philippines, being a Christian country, is accustomed to burials. Cremations are not yet widely accepted,' he added.

Philippines Funeral Business in Crisis

MANILA THE global financial crisis is starting to have an impact on the funeral business in the Philippines, with the industry reporting a rise in a preference for modest send-offs, it was reported on Friday. Funerals, whether for rich or poor, tend to be lavish affairs with no expense spared in this Southeast Asian Roman Catholic country. However, people are starting to cut down on costs, Renato Dychangco, president of the Philippine Mortuary Association (PMA), told the BusinessWorld newspaper. Adding to his members woes, the industry, he said, now also has to deal with higher fuel, power and labour costs. Here in the Philippines, most of the people are in the lower to middle classes, he told the paper. So with their buying power squeezed, they have to cut back on expenses and some of that includes funeral spending, Mr Dychangco said.

However, Mr Antonio Puyat, chief operating officer of Loyola Memorial Park, one of Manilas biggest funeral homes, said scrimping on funerals had not plunged to the bare-bones level. Filipinos are not spending heavily on burials, unlike the Chinese, but they make sure that while the service is modest, it is dignified, Mr Puyat told the paper. La Funeraria Paz assistant vice-president Renato Tanquintic said that while business was good he had noticed upscale clients reducing spending. Times are hard, he told the paper.