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Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Kabataan. Kultura. Kabilin.

- Maria Eleanor E. Valeros -

CEBU, Philippines - To give a contemporary touch to the KKK revolutionary movement, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. initiated recently the “Kabataan, Kultura, Kabilin” patterned after the “Gabii sa Kabilin” organized every May by RAFI and the Visayas Association of Museums and Galleries, Inc.

“KKK, which now stands for Kabataan, Kultura ug Kabilin, is a platform for the youth in the formal and informal sectors to get acquainted with culture and heritage,” said RAFI’s Cultural Heritage Program executive director Dr. Jocelyn Gerra in a press conference prior to the August 14 activity.

“The program aims to attract and encourage young people in schools and out of schools to visit museums as venue of cultural understanding; to connect their theoretical lectures on history, society, culture and heritage through visiting museums and heritage sites; and, in the process, to raise their level of awareness and exposure to heritage conservation efforts done by various groups here in Cebu,” Gerra added.

As expected, 600 youth shared a group experience reliving events past by visiting not just the usual five, but eight museums – repositories of our soul as a people – in six barangays here in Cebu City (Parian, Sto. Niño, Tinago, T. Padilla, Tejero, and San Roque).

The tour started at the Casa Gorordo Museum in Lopez Jaena Street with stops at the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House at corner Lopez Jaena and Mabini Sts.; 1730 Jesuit House on Zulueta St.; University of Southern Philippines-Rizal Museum, Cathedral Museum and Basilica del Sto. Niño Museum on P. Burgos St.; Fort San Pedro at Plaza Independencia; and Museo Sugbo on M.J. Cuenco Avenue. “Each museum or heritage structure offers a unique perspective of the history and heritage of Cebu,” Gerra also said.

Casa Gorordo, for example, gives the visitors an idea of the lifestyle during the 19th century. The house as an artifact is a reflection of the adaptive mechanism of culture. It offers a view on how disciplined were the people those days – visitors were received at the descanso (landing area before the flight of stairs leading to the second floor). They cannot be received upstairs unless directed to do so. The baño, detached from the main house, had bamboo walls with the skies for a roof. However, privacy rights were well observed with severe corporal punishments upon voyeurs then. Originally owned by Alejandro Reynes y Rosales, the house was bought by Spanish merchant Juan Isidro de Gorordo in 1863.

Next stop was the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House in the once Chinese settlement/district of Parian (just a few steps away from the Heritage Monument). It is made of coral stones that were glued together with egg whites while the roof is made of “tisa” (terra cotta) which weighs a kilo each piece, and the wooden parts made of hardwood – balayong and molave.

It was learned from Loyd Gatenzoga, in a brief lecture, that the said house is considered to be one of the oldest residential houses in the Philippines (built sometime between 1675 and 1700). It was originally owned by a Chinese merchant named Don Juan Yap and his wife, Doña Maria Florido. They had three children: Maria, Eleuterio, and Consolacion Yap.

During the 1880’s, the oldest daughter, Maria, married Don Mariano San Diego of Obando (Bulacan) who became Parian’s “cabeza de barangay” at that time. Just a few years ago, the old ancestral home was turned over to Maria’s great, great grandson, Val Sandiego, who himself is known here today as an art collector, renowned choreographer and heritage icon.

The house, for its priceless antiquities and century-old treasures of Philippine history, holds secrets that will make us understand more of our past. “With the knowledge this house offers, we will begin to truly understand how we became what we are today.”

Situated inside the warehouse of Ho Tong Hardware, the Jesuit House was built in 1730 and was the residence of the Jesuit missionaries assigned to spread Christianity among the Chinese residents in Cebu. Arch. Anthony Abelgas, commissioned for conservation and restoration works, pointed near the ceiling a marker which read: Año 1730. “This can claim as the oldest dated house here. And nobody can dispute kay naa gyod na diha stamped on the wall,” he said.

The Cathedral Museum of Cebu showcases century-old church relics and a glimpse of the history of Catholicism in Cebu. A short walk from the museum to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral brings one to the restored façade of the cathedral that dates back to 1835. At the Basilica del Sto. Niño Museum, priceless vestments of the Holy Child throughout the centuries and other artifacts owned by the Order of the Augustinians, are displayed. To cap this Christian history of Cebu is a visit to Magellan’s Cross. Though popularly accepted as the cross erected by Magellan in 1521, hence the name, historians seriously doubt this claim.

Fort San Pedro, the oldest and smallest of the Spanish forts in the country, is an artifact by itself and a testimony to human instinct and ingenuity to protect itself from the natural elements, as well as predatory enemies. It houses the cannons used by the Spaniards, and currently boasts of a botanical garden that features endemic species of Cebu mentioned by Pigafetta and other chroniclers.

Furthermore, the University of Southern Philippines-Rizal Museum is probably the only institution that has acquired a huge memorabilia of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. The museum was first situated in the Lahug campus of the university and is now located on Mabini St.

The Museo Sugbo, the last of the eight stops, is housed in what was called Carcel de Cebu, the old provincial jail. The museum has 12 galleries. The first four galleries feature the socio-political history of Cebu. Other galleries include the National Museum galleries, National Historical Commission of the Philippines galleries, Vicente Rama and Jovito Abellana galleries, the Provincial Art Gallery, and the recently opened Cebu Media Gallery, nicknamed the “Media Newseum”.

During the walking tour, it was pointed out that that span along Mabini St., which is now a garbage-laden murky creek, “used to be a natural harbor where Chinese unloaded goods for the flourishing barter trade.”

“Look at what remains of that this day. That’s the by-product of our nonchalance towards things past and of our lack of discipline; the decay in our value system,” the tour guide pointed out.

The activity also looked at the prospect of encouraging the OSY sector to pursue tourism-related undertakings and entrepreneurship. “There’s much potential waiting to be tapped sa atong OSYs. Waiting lang to be sparked. The KKK serves as a laboratory where activities give them the idea. Then, slowly warm up to the idea of taking seriously heritage tourism,” Gerra emphasized.

Participants engaged in a walking tour in the first six stops. Tartanilla (parada/calesa/taxihorse) and buses were provided for the last two stops.

The event was carried out in partnership with the University of San Carlos-Department of Sociology and Anthropology with its president April Ann “Chikay” Castro; and the efficient team at the Tourist Assistance Center headed by Police Senior Insp. Sandley Sabang.

CARSAS members served as tour guides, having first-hand knowledge on heritage awareness.

According to Castro, “this platform is seen to encourage more students to take interest in History and Socio-Anthro.”

CEBU

FORT SAN PEDRO

GERRA

HERITAGE

HOUSE

JESUIT HOUSE

KABILIN

MABINI ST.

MUSEUM

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