Cebu News

At least 3 heritage sites defaced: Vandalism mars GSK

Aldo Nelbert Banaynal, Mitchelle Palausbanon - The Freeman
At least 3 heritage sites defaced: Vandalism mars GSK
At least three heritage sites have been vandalized by unknown culprit or culprits during the recent Gabii sa Kabilin in Cebu City.
Aldo Nelbert Banaynal

CEBU, Philippines — Administrators are asking the public for assistance in catching the culprit or culprits who committed vandalism and wrote the words “Black Rainbow” on several Cebu heritage sites.

The walls of Basilica Minore del Santo Niño just outside its Aula Hall and the Sintra board wall at the staircase of the Sugbo Chinese Heritage Museum in Cebu City were vandalized with similar markings and signed with the said words.

The furniture in the old Jesuit House in Brgy. Parian, Cebu City also suffered the same fate.

The perpetrator who committed the act on all three sites likely used a large black-inked pen to write his personal markings.

Fr. Ion Miranda, Basilica Minore del Santo Niño friar, said the culprit must have found time to do the act while dancers go in and out the Aula Hall area, where they were stationed prior and after their performances during the Gabii sa Kabilin (GSK) last May 10, 2024.

The GSK is one night when participating museums and heritage sites open their doors to the public. The annual activity has drawn a steadily growing number of visitors, including an apparently evil-minded person.

Ma. Elena Lim, Sugbo Chinese Heritage Museum executive director, said the perpetrator must have done the act at the early goings of the night, when several guests started to swarm the museum.

As for the same marking at the Jesuit House, the vandalism occurred inside the comfort room, making it difficult to catch the culprit even with the presence of CCTV cameras outside of it.

“The Sugbo Chinese Heritage Museum is fortunate enough to have the mark only on the wall while others were not so fortunate. The thought however remains, that a museum is a house of heritage and preservation. It is a space of education and learning for the people from different walks of life. It is a source of understanding and a cradle of inspiration carrying years of contribution or science and art. We immensely thank all the other visitors that had behaved accordingly and respected our property,” said the museum on its Facebook page.

It said that while the museum granted everyone freedom of movement that night, somebody chose to use that freedom to disrespect and hurt not just the museum but also the people who painstakingly worked to preserve Cebuano heritage and culture.

“This is a reminder that when one visits a museum and decides to go beyond the line of respect and damages its property, whether by vandalism or another, the damage is done not only to that part of the museum or to the museum itself but to all that made an effort to preserve heritage and culture,” it said.

This year, GSK offered visitors “a reflection and rediscovery on the many reasons that make Cebu and Cebuanos unique and special” within the confines of the 22 participating museums and heritage sites in the cities of Cebu, Lapu-lapu and Mandaue.

This year’s GSK bannered pride in being “Bisaya”, to cultivate “a sense of belongingness and pride of place to be able to say, ‘Of course, I am Bisaya’!”

Initiated in 2007 by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), the GSK aims to “celebrate Cebu’s rich heritage, cultivate a sense of identity and pride of place among Cebuanos, and help preserve local culture and heritage by encouraging Cebuanos to visit museums”, something that apparently was not in the mind of whoever defaced the three museum and heritage sites.

It also “encourages people to visit museums as avenues for cultural understanding and to make partners and participants realize the need for heritage conservation”.

The Freeman tried to get a statement from RAFI but it failed to send back any response as of press time. — (FREEMAN)

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