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Crematorium in David

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The operator of the new crematorium in David made a presentation at the BCP last Tuesday (Sep. 6, 2016).  I attended the event and these are my notes and comments, in the hope that they may be useful to the Forum.

The presenter was Jose Rogelio Arias, President of Grupo Memorial. He said that he is one of three owners of the business which is based in Panama City where it has other undertaker businesses which were not discussed. It has the only privately-owned cemetery in Chiriqui, the 20-acres Parque Las Acacias, situated in San Pablo Viejo, just outside of David, and where they have built the new crematorium. His focus during the presentation was their offer of a package deal, the main features of which are transportation of the remains, use of their facility for viewing, handling of paperwork (but excluding the death certificate), cremation and and urn for the ashes. Pricing for the package is $1,200 payable in 24 monthly installments. A lump-sum prepayment would qualify for a discount, and I believe I heard $1,000 as the number. 

Beyond the above, the presentation was awkward, as Mr. Arias seemed to me to be unprepared for the questions voiced from the audience. He improvised answers, sometimes after a side conference with his associates. 

1) It took time and effort, but they have obtained all the necessary permits in spite of vocal opposition from the residents of the barrios adjacent to Las Acacias. The crematorium equipment is new and imported from the USA.

2) He is recruiting a manager who will be resident in David, as he is located in Panama City. My impression is that his co-owners are of the silent-partner variety.

3) The facility is up and running. He claimed that they "treated" five clients in the previous week.

4) He was vague in describing the location, i.e. "close to the Pan American Highway on the west side of David, beyond Fertica." Via Google Maps I am able to locate the cemetery: four km. beyond PriceSmart toward the border, turn left and the arched entrance is about one km. down the road, on the left side. 

5) They offer other undertaking services, such as embalming and interment, but he didn't go into detail, focusing on his package cremation offer.

6) The business' website is blank. Its Facebook page consists mainly of employee portraits. But he did share lots of contact information:

Jose Arias: (507) 775-7371; (507) 6615-1732; jarias@grupomemorial.com.pa; josearias@hotmail.com

Other: (507) 6671-7732; (507) 6675-2087; (507) 6677-1736; www.grupomemorial.com.pa; office is in Centro Comercial El Faro, Local #16, Panama City.

Mr. Arias showed a couple of photos of the exterior and interior of the new building, which appeared clean, airy and inviting. On my home I was overtaken by a white, late-model hearse which I assume was his team barreling its way back to David.

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Interesting. I didn't realize that they also would be providing funeral home services. I assume that they also will provide cremation services to other funeral homes, and I wonder what the cost of that would be.

I'm not sure I understand what he may have meant by handling all paperwork except the death certificate. That certificate is issued by the Electoral Tribunal, but at least one other funeral home in David (El Retiro) takes care of this as well, delivering the certificate(s) at the time the ashes are retrieved. And I'm surprised that the cost is as high at it is. It is not significantly less than El Retiro charges, and El Retiro has to transport the body to Panama City for cremation, the major expense in their case. I wish I had attended the presentation as I had no idea they were offering anything other than cremation service for other funeral homes. 

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