Speak of Cebu and images of the Sto. Niño , the province’s patron, come to mind. And so does the valiant Lapu-Lapu, sweet mangoes, the famous lechon, guitars and beaches. But it is more than that. Cebu is a special and beautiful place. It is also my home.
I am featuring travel and, especially local bloggers who embody a particular place, as well as other personalities from time to time. For this Cebu-Sugbo Kini series, I’m featuring Arnold Carl Sancover.
Part 1 | Part 2
As a continuation to Arnold Carl’s interview in the previous post, I asked him his top 5 non-religious heritage sites in Cebu. Below are his recommendations.
1 Cebu Capitol Building
The Cebu Capitol Building is a beautiful neoclassical American colonial period edifice that was started in 1937. It is the seat of the Cebu provincial government and is found at the end of Osmeña Boulevard (but still popularly known as Jones Ave.). This was designed by Juan Arellano, who also did the Manila Metropolitan Theater, the Executive House (now the National Museum) as well as Jone’s Bridge.
The capitol was originally built within the perimeter of the Plaza Independcia, near Fort San Pedro, which follows the traditional Spanish plaza setting. Check Arnold Carl’s post for additional information.
2 The Heritage town of Carcar
About 46 kilometers south of Cebu City, the town of Carcar is one of the impressive towns of the island province which retained its heritage structures attesting to its rich culture and history spanning from the Spanish colonial period marked with the beautiful 19th century neoclassic church and convent, some ruins of watchtowers along its coast as well as houses; to the American period marked with houses of antillan style architecture including the Carcar Dispensary shown above and the rotunda with its quaint gazebo. A hike along it’s streets is a must to see these heritage treasures.
The town is also known as the shoe capital of the province, an important economic and transit hub. For food fanatics, it is known for its sweet delicacies and pasalubongs.
3 The Jesuit House of 1730
Not too many people know this but tucked in within the compound of a lumber/hardware in the old Parian district is the Jesuit House of 1730, which is reputed to be the oldest dated house in the country today. Bas reliefs as well as carved medallions decorate its perimeter walls as well as interior including the date 1730. It’s an all stone house with tejado (tiled) roofing
Originally owned and built by the Jesuits, it was confiscated by the then Spanish colonial government when the religious order was expelled in all Spanish dominions. Over the years, it passed through various families and at one time, was even a night club. The current owner plans to open this site to the public after renovations and clearing of the hardware.
Arnold Carl’s post on the Jesuit House of 1730.
4 Historic Colon Street The oldest street in the Philippines is found in Cebu and it is Colon Street, popularly known as the downtown area. Started and based on the town plan of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi who arrived in 1565 it is named after Cristobal Colon, better known as Christopher Columbus.
It was the main street, economic and enterainment hub, considered the lifeline of the city during the Spanish colonial period where many movie houses, restaurants and businesses were built. At it’s end is the Parian district where many rich Chinese-Filipinos were located.
In the 20th century and well up to the 1990’s, it was a popular spot for Cebuanos, family events as well as commerce, wherein popular malls like Fairmart, Gaw, Gaisano and Gazini Plaza used to flank the street. During weekends, people used to flock to the many theaters here as well as dine in popular restaurants.
With the advent of malling in the 90s, wherein several huge malls were built in other sites in Cebu City, the Colon strip has descended into a shabby, crowded quarter. Gone are the once known malls to be replaced with parking lots or those cheap chinese product store outlets. Theaters have been closed while those that remained have been showing sex themed films. One historic and beautiful theater, Vision, is now a haven for bootleg sellers.
While the current state of Colon Street is not too pretty, walking and reading the different heritage markers along both sides is a wonderful experience to familiarize oneself with its past glory.
5 Old cemetery of Cebu’s rich families in Carreta
The La Loma cemetery in Manila is known for its rich architectural heritage with various mausoleums done in neoclassic and art deco styles that it is one of the capital’s heritage destinations. In fact, there are walking tours conducted there. Much more, there are many famous Filipinos and buena familias interred.
In Cebu, there is an equivalent, albeit, at a lesser prominence including land area, where the same rich architectural heritage as well as personages can be found. The cemetery at M.J. Cuenco, just near the present Carreta cemetery is one of the forgotten heritage sites in the province. This is where some of the mortal remains of Cebu’s rich were interred including the Osmena’s, Sottos, Suico’s and Veloso’s.
There are ornate marble tombs, statues made by italian sculptors and even remnants of a Spanish colonial period niche lining one corner of the cemetery. Unfortunately, the area has been overun with squatters and has fallen into neglect as some families decided to transfer to other sites.
Arnold Carl’s post on the Osmena Mausoleum.