Before she died, his mother was upset because she couldn’t get into the niches across the way.
"She did not want to be underground to be eaten by bugs," says Cagigal.
Funerals and cemeteries have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. Being surrounded by death, personally and geographically, has had an effect.
“Death was just always running in the background, in a way that I didn’t realize,” he says. "Much like an app on the phone you don’t realize is running. It might drain the battery power a little bit, but you learn to deal with it.”
Cagigal's friend, H.P. Mendoza, spent his teen years in Colma, leveraging them into a career in movies. He wrote the screenplay and music for the improbably captivating “Colma: The Musical." Manohla Dargis of the New York Times called the film "an itty-bitty movie with a great big heart."
One of the songs is called "Deadwalking," a somber (naturally) reflection on hanging out in graveyards, something Mendoza did quite a bit of. That activity might play into his love for and making of horror movies, he speculates.
"A lot of [that] has to do with the activity of hanging out at a cemetery at night with a bunch of friends, telling ghost stories and then trying to scare each other from behind tombstones."
He says loitering in a cemetery is "lonely and really quiet."