Annual Heritage Walk shines light on Cebu’s cultural treasures
Text: Deneb R. Batucan with Kaye Santander and Joyce Villaflor
STC Mass Comm Interns
Images: Alex Badayos and Amper Campaña
THERE are so many places worth visiting in the Philippines, but getting to know one’s hometown could be a treat in itself. Cebu has so much heritage and culture brimming at the seams — one just has to know where to look.
One of the most unique events Cebu City has to offer is the Gabii sa Kabilin or Night of Heritage, which is one single night at the last Friday of May where guests can roam around the various museums and heritage sites of the city as well as the neighboring cities of Talisay, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue.
SunStar Weekend got to tour the various museums in the metro, which makes for an engaging look at the Cebu of the yesteryears and even the Cebu of the future.
Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu
Mabini corner Urdaneta Sts., Señor Santo Niño, Cebu City
Throughout history, the Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu has been reconstructed many times. It has evolved from being a parish convent, a school, a cooperative store, and a temporary chapel to an ecclesiastical museum. One of the best preserved authentic bahay na bato, the museum was built in the 19th century and was reopened in November 2006. Most of the artifacts found in this museum date back to Spanish colonial times.
This ecclesiastical museum houses galleries, which show photographs of how the Catholic faith grew, memorabilia of Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, pictures of how churches were constructed during the Spanish era and materials that were used, collection of statues and saints from different parishes, display of chalices, and a sample of a priest’s bedroom.
Basilica del Santo Niño Museum
Osmeña Blvd., Cebu City
Located in the oldest church in the Philippines, the museum opened in 1965 during the commemoration of the fourth centennial anniversary of the Philippines’ Christianization. It is filled with religious artifacts from the local Augustinian community. These are artifacts such as ancient vestments worn by the Santo Niño, religious images, priestly vestments, liturgical vessels, ecclesiastical books and various works of art.
Among the displays in the museum are ex-votos, which are jewelry and toys given to the Santo Niño from pious devotees grateful to the Child Jesus for answered prayers.
Casa Gorordo Museum
35 Lopez Jaena St., Tinago, Cebu City
The house was built by Alejandro Reynes y Rosales in the mid-19th century and is one of the three remaining old houses that date back to the Spanish Colonial period in the Parian district of Cebu. It is a lifestyle museum that features altar pieces, antique furnishings, paintings, and relics that give the guests a glimpse of what the daily lives of Cebuanos were before, providing perceptions to a foregone era.
The lower floor of the Casa Gorordo Museum houses offices of the museum, an area for art exhibitions, and a small store. The second floor houses the antique furniture, costumes, books, and memorabilia. Noteworthy is the master’s bedroom, which displays the collection of “sayas.” Also, a typical balcony is visible, wherein one could watch over the activities the casa’s pristine manicured garden.
Sugbo Chinese Heritage Museum
Gotiaoco Bldg., M.C. Briones St., Cebu City
Dedicated to Chinese culture and heritage in Cebu, the Sugbo Chinese Heritage Museum is home to various artifacts, documents and memorabilia donated by 15 Chinese-Cebuano families.
Situated at the Gotiaoco Building, the century-old former prime site for many multinational companies and in itself a precious historical marker, the museum has three floors dedicated to the history of the Chinese settlement in Cebu.
Among its interesting displays are the storyline of the early Chinese in Cebu, artifacts exhibit, background of the construction, and restoration of the building, among others.
Jose R. Gullas Halad Museum
D. Jakosalem corner V. Gullas Sts., Cebu City
This is a musically themed museum that houses the works of long-forgotten Cebuano composers from lyric sheets to musical memorabilia. One can also see displays of digital music stations and turntables in the museum.
The museum is divided into three galleries dedicated to Cebuano music. These are the Halad Music Gallery, Kinaiyang Sugbuanon (Cebuano Cultural Traditions), and the Founder’s Gallery.
The Halad Music Gallery displays composers from the 20th century who have produced well-known Cebuano songs, as well as artists who have earned international recognition for their talents. The Kinaiyang Sugbuanon showcases Cebuano traditions over time, including life-cycle events, popular practices, and expressions of religiosity in the different artworks depicted. The founder’s gallery is devoted to the founder, Jose “Dodong” R. Gullas, who pays tribute to the most influential people of his life, his parents and his living commitment to heritage preservation.
Museo Parian — 1730 Jesuit House
Zulueta St., Tinago, Cebu City
Located within the walls high walls of Ho Tong Hardware, the Jesuit House in the Parian District of Cebu is said to be the oldest dated house in the Philippines.
After undergoing renovations, the ground floor of Museo Parian is now a mini museum called Sugbo Gallery, which displays photographs and maps of Cebu during the 70s. The second floor is where the fixtures and other ancient personal collection of the owners are located. It also showcases some artifacts that are brought by Chinese traders during the Ming Dynasty. Parian was where the wealthy Spanish mestizos and Chinese merchants used to trade, which explains why the Museo Parian has a touch of Spanish and Chinese architecture.
The Sy family, who presently owns the Jesuit House, is currently restoring the house and developing the museum while ensuring its preservation. The Jesuit House also won the Best Museum category during the 2015 SunStar Best of Cebu.
Cebu City Museum
Osmeña Blvd., Capitol Site, Cebu City
The museum is housed in the same building as the Dr. Jose Rizal Memorial Library. It was constructed through the efforts of then Councilor Jose Nolasco and designed by Architect Juan Marcos Arellano.
The building’s second floor housed the museum, and the ground floor became the Rizal Memorial Library. The library’s collection, which included the Filipiñana section, was so extensive that some of its books could not be found in the National Library in Manila.
The museum houses an assortment of antiques, sculptures, furniture, and mixed carvings donated by prominent Cebuano families. Around the museum are portraits of well-known Cebuano figures, and paintings and sculptures that depict the Cebuanos’ lifestyle during the 1500s to the Japanese occupations in the 1940s.
Museum of Heritage and Folk Art
Mayflower Inn, A. Villalon Drive, Capitol Site, Cebu City
Located in Mayflower Inn, a heritage and permaculture-inspired hotel built in 1953, the Museum of Heritage and Folk Art is teeming with an assortment of collections from national and international cultures. Its walls and shelves are filled with art, crafts and historical artifacts, such as sacred art, folk art, ethnic musical instruments, coins and banknotes, home, business and communication gadgets, as well as an extensive toy collection.
It also has a mini forest inside, which is used as a home for residents turtles, koi and even visiting birds.
Don Sergio Osmena Sr. Memorabilia & CAP Art Gallery
Osmeña Blvd., Sambag II, Cebu City
Don Sergio Osmeña Sr., the only Cebuano president of the Philippines, lived in what is now a famous landmark in the city. Named after the former president, Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. Memorabilia contains information about Cebu’s history and the Philippine government under his term. Some of his possessions are also on display, such as the suit he wore while he was in exile in the US, a photo essay of his political career, different photographs of his travels, sound system and communication paraphernalia that were used during the war, and a shiny black Cadillac that is placed on the center of the room.
With the death of the former president in 1961, the College Assurance Plan bought the property but preserved the president’s quarter on the second floor. The CAP Art Gallery added an annex on the ground floor, which serves as their office and exhibits the works of Cebu’s amateur and professional artists.
Museum of Naive Art (MoNA)
West Gorordo Hotel, 110 Gorordo Ave., Cebu City
This museum houses art exhibits of Paulina Constancia, a Filipino-Canadian artists and poet best known for her bright-colored, capricious narratives painted on quilts and tiles, assemblages, and mixed media artworks.
The museum provides the opportunity for Cebuanos and other guests to rekindle our connection to nature, to ourselves, and to other people through the use of childlike images, vibrant colors, and scenes of daily living. The art exhibits are painted in saturated colors that creates an illusion of figures, making the paintings look like they’re floating. With these paintings, one can be reminded of saving nature and of respecting the creations of the earth.
St. Theresa’s College Folklife Museum
Ramon Aboitiz St., Kaputhaw, Cebu City
The museum, situated in one of the best colleges in Cebu since the 1940s, was managed by Belgian nuns before and is now under the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Folklife Museum started as a project in Philippine History of Sister Maria Delia Colonel, ICM, in 1965. Most of the collections are religious objects that came from the different towns in Cebu donated by the students of the school.
One section of the museum is the Theresiana Collections, which shows photos of the former directresses, old uniforms, and photos of some students. It also features the three island groups of the Philippines — Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao — which displays indigenous clothes, musical instruments, and hunting materials of the islands. Also shown are artifacts from Asian countries that have had trade relations with the Philippines. The museum also keeps a copy of the great Maranao Narangen Epic of Mindanao, along with other items belonging to the Mindanao Lumad collection.
Museum of Bicycling
Elicon House, corner P. Del Rosario and Junquera Sts., Cebu City
This new and unique museum, which opened during Gabi-i sa Kabilin, is the first of its kind in the Cebu and probably the country. It exhibits the importance, practicality and versatility of the bicycle. The bicycle can be used in various mediums that maximize its capacity, including as appropriate technology for washing machines, water pumps and blender. In arts and culture, a bamboo bike made in the Philippines plays its role.
The museum was built out of the passion of Elicon House on using the bicycle for sustainable transportation.
Democrito T. Mendoza Museum
JSU-PSU ALU VIMCONTU Cpd., Pier 1, Cebu City
The museum pays tribute to the labor leader and founder of the Associated Labor Unions (ALU), Atty. Democrito T. Mendoza, whom many consider as a champion of the Filipino workers’ rights and was among those who defended the country against Japanese invaders during World War II.
His life and times are on display through various photos and memorabilia, where onlookers can get a closer look at labor unions and trade unionism, and take account of Mendoza’s efforts in making a more humane and just society for Filipinos.
M.J. Cuenco Ave., Tejero, Cebu City
Museo Sugbo is one of the most prominent museums in Cebu. This Cebu Provincial Museum was once called Cárcel de Cebú, the provincial jail of Cebu. Its name was changed to Cebu Provincial Jail during the American era, and in the 1980s, it was renamed to Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center. When CPDRC was relocated, the place was converted to Museo Sugbo, and on August 5, 2008, the first four galleries of the museum were inaugurated. A year later, the total number of galleries rose to 10.
Some of these galleries are about the Spanish era. The Spanish gallery contains architectural blueprints, maps and charts, while the American gallery contains a collection of letters and memorabilia from Thomasite teachers. Other galleries are about the Katipunan Revolution and the American Colonial Gallery, War Memorial Gallery, Gregorio and Jovito Abellana Special Exhibition, Vicente Rama Special Exhibition, National Museum Gallery, and Cebu Journalism and Journalists Gallery, Provincial Art Gallery and Cebu Media Gallery.