Let’s call them- The Five “Muertos”
Perhaps you heard about Christopher Rivera’s wake in Puerto Rico? He was the dearly departed that wanted to be remembered in his boxing clothes, propped up and ready to take on an opponent in a makeshift boxing ring during his wake. Obviosuly, at no point was he ready to say “no mas” to the sport he loved, even in the afterlife.
Funeraría Marín, which for 6 years has been specializing in this peculiar type of wake, has done it again—this time adding the boxing ring and the Puerto Rican flag as a patriotic backdrop.
Clearly, Rivera, part of Miguel Cotto’s entourage of boxers, won’t be remembered for his victories inside the ring. In fact, he was downright dismal with 5-16 record. However, he represents a growing trend in “alternative wake presentations”.
The first to kick off this trend was Ángel Luis “Pedrito” Pantojas in August of 2008, who is now remembered as el “muerto parao”, dead man standing, because he was doing just that—he was dead but still standing and dressed as a rapper after being shot 11 times and being thrown over a bridge. Apparently, Pantojas had made it clear to his family that he didn’t want the traditional laying down in the casket for his wake, but wanted to be on his feet in a corner of his living room to greet/say goodbye to those mourning him.
Needless to say, Pantojas made quite the impression. As word got out, many came to “pay their respects”, and his desire to be remembered not only came true, but has been copied by others since then.
Pantojas’ wake, however, was eclipsed two years later in April of 2010 when everyone was talking about David Morales, the “muerto en motora”. Morales and his family took Pantojas’ idea a step further—he would be embalmed sitting on his beloved Honda
Again in Pantojas’s case, there was no need for a casket until it was time for his burial, since he wouldn’t be lying down despite being gunned down in the streets of Santurce.
The same funeral home, Funeraría Marín, that made Pantojas’ wake dream possible was now responsible for the “muerto en motora”. But it didn’t stop there, they outdid themselves during their next job a few months later in July 2010 by embalming a paramedic and owner of his own ambulance business like he desired—sitting dressed in his uniform in the driver’s seat of his ambulance. Just like he wanted, Edgardo Velázquez Velázquez will forever be known as the “muerto en ambulancia”.
Note to my family: Do not bury me in a makeshift cubicle on the phone. Please.
Despite their successful wakes, the funeral home has come under investigation due to embalming licensing issues (apparently, the owner, Elsie Marín forgot to get one and she may have participated in the embalming process. Go figure.) and for basic public health safety concerns, considering the funeral home is keeping its special chemical recipe, the one they use to preserve the bodies in such a way to make these poses possible, a family secret. Just like the secret McRib sauce at McDonalds.
Still, these pending investigations didn’t stop them from granting a family’s request in 2011 to have their son embalmed, this time sitting down dressed as Che Guevara ), and more recently, a German shephard named Capitán, embalmed posing on his owner’s motorcycle a short time later.
Funeraría Marín’s decision to prepare pet wakes, however, had more to do with the competition. When they saw another funeral home hold a wake for the owner’s dog Brownie, they lashed out, saying they’d outdo them because the dog they’d be embalming wouldn’t be in a casket but on a motorcycle. It seems Funeraría Marín won that battle since Brownie’s owner was fined $5,000 due to poor embalmment techniques. (In case you were wondering, Funeraría Marín charges anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 for putting on a wake like this for a much-loved pet.)
As the violence in Puerto Rico continues to escalate, this trend appears to be taking a stronger foothold, and unfortunately, we are all left to wonder, as disturbing as it is, what will they come up with next and if Funeraría Marín will be able to pull it off.