Of historic streets and street heroes - Weekend

Of historic streets and street heroes

By Deneb R. Batucan and Patricia May P. Catan
Images by N.S. Villaflor


EVER wandered around the streets of Cebu and wondered what, or who, our streets were named after? We know these streets by heart as we traverse them each day among heavy traffic, yet we never really thought to get to know the history behind the names of our city streets. Get to know the stories behind these street heroes, as well as globally prominent names, who, even after hundreds of years, have kept Philippine history alive in the major thoroughfares of our city.

Don Pedro Cui Street

A Cebuano businessman, lawyer and philathropist, Pedro Cui was known for his works in altruism, which he did together with his older sister, Benigna. The Cui family was known as one of the wealthiest families at their prime, with tobacco plantations in various parts of the province.

Pedro also pursued law, having graduated from the University of Santo Tomas. He went back to Cebu to practice law as well as help out in the family business.

It is said that Pedro exiled himself at the family’s hacienda in Barili after learning that a client of his, who claimed innocence during trial, admitted that he was guilty after his exoneration.

Most notable of Pedro’s achievements was the founding of the first home for the aged in Cebu, where he and his sister, Benigna, donated all their wealth for the charitable establishment to become reality. Hospicio de San Jose de Barili is a place for many elderly people as well as scholars who were studing medicine and pharmacy.

P. del Rosario Street

This street was named in honor of Pantaleon del Rosario who was a colonel of the second division of the Cebu Revolutionary Center where he fought Americans who were stationed in the province and routed the well-equipped US army in the hills of Buhisan.

Pantaleon del Rosario, who lived in Imus, Cavite, had a Scottish or English origin and is connected to General Emilio Aguinaldo on his mother’s side. He obtained his early education in Ateneo de Manila and sometime in 1899, he came to Cebu by order of the president Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.

He then joined the other leaders of the Republic in the mass surrender to the Americans in October 1901 which led to the formal end of the war in Cebu. Pantaleon del Rosario died at the early age of 54 on Nov. 30, 1930 — leaving behind a family that has remained prominent to this day.

M. J. Cuenco Avenue

Mariano Jesús Diosomito Cuenco was a Cebuano politician and writer. He was born in Carmen, Cebu and studied at Colegio de San Carlos of Cebu where he graduated in 1904 and finished law in 1911 at Escuela de Derecho. He then passed the bar examinations in 1913.

Cuenco began his political career in 1912 when he was elected to the Philippine Assembly representing the fifth district of Cebu. In the succeeding years after he entered politics, Cuenco held different government positions such as President of the League of Provincial Governors of the Philippines, Secretary of Public Works and Communications and even served as the Senate President and Chairmain of the Commission on Appointments.

His term paved the way for many reforms and his significant contributions resulted in a more efficient legislative body. Cuenco continued serving in the Philippine Senate until his death in Feb. 25, 1964. Aside from serving the Philippine government, Cuenco was also known to be a prolific writer.

Sanciangko Street

Don Gregorio Gozon Sanciangco’s moniker make up the name of this Cebuano street. A lawyer and a writer, it was Sanciangco’s book, Progreso de Filipinas, which he made while working in Madrid, Spain, that cemented his contribution to the Philippine revolution against the Spaniards. He argued that the Filipinos where not indolent as per the Spanish colonizers. In his book, Sanciangco explained that for Filipinos to be capable, education, social progress and technology must be improved.

Even though Sanciangco was never a political figure in Cebu, he was considered by the illustrados of Cebu — those who have studied in Spain — as the pioneer for the movement of our country from the grasp of the Spanish regime. Sanciangco was considered the first writer of the propaganda movement. Even Dr. Jose Rizal admired his works.

Junquera Street

General Inocencio Junquera was a civil and political governor of Cebu City from 1893-1895. He was given honor by the Cebu City government by naming Junquera St. after him. Junquera’s governorship was marked by protests from the Spanish friars who saw him as a liberal because he supported separation of church and state. Because of his pro-people and non-authoritarian, liberal-minded ruling of the people and the city, Junquera was the only governor general loved by the Cebuano people.

Among his outstanding works was establishing and building the most important theater of Cebu in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which was Teatro Junquera—leaving with him a legacy to Cebuano culture.

General Maxilom Avenue

Born in Tuburan, Cebu to Roberto Maxilom and Gregoria Molero, General Arcadio Maxilom was a Filipino teacher and hero of the Philippine Revolution. Maxilom worked as a teacher in a local school before joining the Katipunan which was led by Leon Kilat.

Maxilom continued the revolution in Cebu after Leon Kilat’s betrayal and assassination and under his command, the Katipunan was able to regroup in the central highlands which Spanish forces found impenetrable. While in the hands of Spanish authorities, Maxilom managed to give Cebuanos a new found liberty, but this was short-lived with Spain having already forced to sell the fate of their former subjects to the United States for twenty million dollars.

He stubbornly refused to surrender to the American forces even as his fellow revolutionaries were starting to collaborate with new colonial power. Maxilom finally surrendered on Oct. 27, 1901.

Maxilom died in his hometown of Tuburan, after a long bout with paralysis on Aug. 10, 1924. Mango Avenue was then renamed General Maxilom Avenue in honor of the great revolutionary general.

Plaridel Street

Named after the Filipino writer, lawyer, journalist and freemason, Marcelo H. del Pilar, this street was named after his well-known pen name, Plaridel.

Del Pilar became one of the heroes of the Philippine revolution as his writing inspired the Filipinos to fight for freedom from the Spanish colonization. He was the second and last editor of the newspaper La Solidaridad, which he and Garciano Lopez-Jaena started to air out their grievances and desires for improving the Philippine government. He also published Diariong Tagalog in 1882, which was filled with observations and criticisms on how the Spanish government ran the Philippines.

Unlike Jose Rizal who wrote his novels in Spanish, Del Pilar wrote his propaganda pamphlets in simple Tagalog. His writing was eloquent, undeviating and forceful and was readily understood by the Filipinos, whom he inspired with his thought-provoking words.

Legaspi Street

This downtown street was named after Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, a Spanish navigator and governor who established Spain’s dominion over the Philippines well until the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Even when Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippine archipelago in 1521, there were no established European settlements then. Legazpi was sent to claim the Philippines, arriving in Cebu in 1565 and founded the first Spanish settlement in the site currently in the modern Cebu City.

Legazpi became the first governor of the Philippines. After conquering Cebu, he sent an expedition to the island of Luzon in 1570. There was a resistance from local Muslims in Luzon, but Legazpi fought through, and in 1571, he established the city of Manila.

Legazpi’s most notable legacy was his initiatives to lay out the foundations the conversions of the Filipinos to Christianity along with his chaplain, Andres de Urdaneta.

D. Jakosalem Street

One of the longest streets in Cebu City was named after Gov. Dionisio Abella Jakosalem, who was elected in 1907. The Jakosalem administration’s legacy was the construction of roads that linked the northern and southern towns of Cebu. After his term ended in 1912, months later he was appointed as the provincial fiscal of Cebu.

He was the first Filipino to be appointed in the cabinet during the American occupation and was designated as the secretary of commerce and communication. He held his position from Jan. 18, 1917 to Oct. 3, 1922.

As cabinet secretary, Jakosalem was able to avert a rice shortage crisis caused by World War I. He advocated the adoption of definite national water policy and a general road construction program. He also created an insurance fund for the benefit of employees and laborers in times of illness, accidents and old age.

After retiring from his public service, Jakosalem practiced law in Cebu and also joined the faculty of Visayan Institute, now University of Cebu, where he later became dean of the college of law. Jakosalem later became an administrator for the Hospicio de San Jose de Barili.

Though he lived a full life, Jakosalem died at the young age of 53 from blood poisoning caused by pyorrhea in July 1, 1931.

Colon Street

This historical street in downtown Cebu City is known to be the oldest and shortest national road in the Philippines. The street was named after an Italian explorer, navigator and colonizer — Cristóbal Colón or better-known as Christopher Columbus.

Christopher Columbus was the explorer who was credited for discovering America and although there were already people inhabiting America at that time, it was Columbus’ voyage that started the exploration and colonization of the Americas.

The original plan of the town’s design traces its origin to the plan made by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Spanish conquistador who arrived in the Philippines to establish a colony in 1565.

Colon Street was once the heart of shopping and business activity in the province where fashionable shops, offices and movie houses were situated. Although now a bit run-down and crowded, Colon is still the best place to find anything — from apparel to household needs.

Magallanes Street

As the site of the famous tourist spot, the Magellan’s cross, Magallanes Street was named after Ferdinand Magellan (Magallaness is his Spanish name). The present Magallanes Street marks the spot where Rajah Humabon and Queen Juana, as well as their followers, were baptized by Father Pedro Valderama, making them the first Filipino Christians.

Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who organized the Spanish expedition to the East Indies. This resulted to the first circumnavigation of the earth. But Magellan never completed the circuit since he died during the Battle of Mactan against the mighty Datu Lapu-Lapu. The circumnavigation was completed by Juan Sebastian Elcano, who took over Magellan’s fleet after his death.

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