Arnold Carl’s 5 must visit Cebu heritage sites

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The Cebu Capitol building was built in 1937 and is one of the beautiful landmarks in Cebu City
The Cebu Capitol building was built in 1937 and is one of the beautiful landmarks in Cebu City

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.

Cebu Capitol Heritage marker
Cebu Capitol Heritage marker

interviews 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.

The Carcar Dispensary, is just one of the American period structure in this heritage town
The Carcar Dispensary, is just one of the American period structure in this heritage town
Antillan style house along the main road
Antillan style house along the main road

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.

Second storey of the Jesuit House of 1730 is still standing and in good condition
Second storey of the Jesuit House of 1730 is still standing and in good condition

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.

Historic Colon St. is the oldest street in the Philippines
Historic Colon St. is the oldest street in the Philippines
Heritage marker where Teatro Empira used to stand
Heritage marker where Teatro Empira used to stand

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.

The Osmena Mausoleum in the old Carreta cemetery
The Osmena Mausoleum in the old Carreta cemetery
An art deco tombstone of the Sotto's
An art deco tombstone of the Sotto's

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.

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I help businesses get qualified leads and more sales via FB Ads and Messenger Chatbots. I'm also a photographer, blogger and writer based in Cebu, the Philippines.

A true blue Cebuano, I make stunning images and meaningful stories. My work has been published in various coffee table books as well as local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and has frequently done photo assignments for Mabuhay, an inflight magazine.

My personal Photography work has been exhibited around Asia and Europe including Paris in France, Germany, The Netherlands, South Korea, China and around the ASEAN regional capitals.

I am a peripatetic traveler and have been to all 81 Philippine provinces and abroad.

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12 thoughts on “Arnold Carl’s 5 must visit Cebu heritage sites

  1. i like the carcar dispensary. the details are just so ornate!

  2. grabe–dami ko palang namiss nong pumunta ako ng Cebu—gusto kong makita yang Osmena Mausoleum na yan~~~~

  3. pusang kalye, you should visit these when you have the chance to come back. these are out of the usual tourist spots

  4. reena, maganda nga talaga ung antillan architecture houses and structures sa carcar.

  5. Very informative post. Maybe someday I might visit one of these places in Cebu. I’m interested in the Jesuit house which look very old but still standing there. BTW congrats for winning in the Blog Awards!

  6. Interesting list. All sound like places I’d love to visit, although I think the decline of Colon Street would make me sad (but it’d still be fascinating to see).

  7. Julie, yeah, Colon has declined but its place in history is important. All we have to know about this once beautiful street are in the markers along each side and some structures like Vision Theatre.

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