Heritage of Cebu Monument (Cebu City, Cebu)

Heritage of Cebu Monument

The Heritage of Cebu Monument, a visually and contextually interesting tableau of concrete, bronze, brass and steel sculptures in the historic Parian District, shows scenes of significant and symbolic events in the history of Cebu back from the time of Rajah Humabon to the recent beatification of the Cebuano martyr, Pedro Calungsod.

Battle of Mactan

It was built on the site of the St. John the Baptist Church which was demolished in 1875 by the diocese of Cebu.  This work of art stands on a traffic circle, with narrow streets flanking the sides. Across the street is the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House.

Check out “Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

Galleon Trade

The late, multi-awarded Cebuano sculptor Eduardo Castrillo designed and conceptualized the monument and, with the late Senator Marcelo Fernan, together with donations from other private individuals and organizations, funded the construction of the monument.

Plaque

Construction began in July 1997 and, after three years, the monument was inaugurated on December 8, 2000.

Magellan’s Cross

The structures carved into the huge monolith are the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the St. John the Baptist Church, the Magellan’s Cross, and a Spanish Galleon while scenes depicted are the baptism of Rajah Humabon and his followers to Christianity, the local revolution against the Spanish rule, a procession of the Santo Niño, a Roman Catholic mass, and the April 21, 1521 Battle of Mactan between Lapu-Lapu and Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. The persons depicted in the monument include the late president Sergio Osmena Sr. and St. Pedro Calungsod.

Spanish Galleon

Heritage of Cebu Monument: Sikatuna St., Plaza Parian, Cebu City, Cebu.

How to Get There: Jeepneys along Colon Street, with the signboard showing “SM” and “Pier,” pass by the monument. You may also take a taxicab as most drivers are familiar with the place. From Ayala Center or SM, it is a 15-20 min. taxi ride.

The Jesuit House (Cebu City, Cebu)

The author at The Jesuit House

The grand opening of One Central Hotel & Suites had just ended and, as we still had a little over an hour to make it to the Jesuit House (claimed to be the oldest dated house in the Philippines), Rona, Rhea and I took a taxi to quickly get there. However, the driver only spoke Cebuano, which none of us spoke, and, coupled with that, didn’t know the destination.  But, thanks to Waze, we were able to make our way there.

Check out “Hotel and Inn Review: One Central Hotel & Suites

The entrance to the Jesuit House (also called Museo de Parian sa Sugbo) was through the main gate of Ho Tong Hardware along Zulueta Street. A streamer, with the words “Welcome To The Jesuit House of 1730,” hangs on the hardware gate. Most people, including us, would probably  have just passed by the area, ignorant of the historical treasure inside as a towering fence, built to protect it from theft (it still is a warehouse for the present owner’s business),  hides the house from street view.

At the office, we paid the admission fee and waited, at the adjoining coffee shop, for museum curator Christian Joseph Bonpua who was to guide us through the museum. The knowledgeable and versatile Christian was well versed in the history of the Jesuits in relation to the Philippines (considering he was a graduate of the Dominican-run University of Sto. Tomas), sharing a lot of historical and current facts. 

Museum curator Christian Joseph Bonpua

He  presented a birds eye view of the history of the Jesuit house during the Spanish and American periods of history via a video presentation.  The Jesuit House is actually two houses connected by a bridge.

“Ano de 1730” plaque atop the entrance (photo: Ms. Rhea Vitto-Tabora)

During our guided tour, Christian pointed to a low relief plaque, bearing the date “Año 1730,” on the inside wall above the main house’s entrance door, an artifact in itself. However, the house’s history remains murky, even contentious.  Some historians argue over the exact year of the house’s construction, some saying that the date on the relief plaque was not 1730 but 1750, pointing out that the third number from the left resembled “5” more than “3.” One piece of evidence hints that the house was built even earlier.

Airconditioned ground floor gallery

In his book Pictorial Records and Traces of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines and Guam prior to 1768, published in 1936, Fr. William Repetti, S.J. (1884-1966), a seismologist (he was Chief of the Section of Seismology and Terrestrial Magnetism of the Manila Observatory, 1920 to 1936) and archivist of the Jesuits, noted the existence of this house, identifying this old structure as the “Jesuit House of 1730.”

It is also widely believed that a tower once stood beside the house. An old, badly damaged painting of the house showed that it was attached to what is believed to be a watchtower for spotting seafaring raiders. In his book, Fr. Repetti also included a reproduction of this old painting of the house. Today, pictures of Fr. Repetti’s visit as well as a framed drawing of that painting hangs on the Jesuit house wall.

However, recent restoration works proved that the house could even be older than 1730. A coin, found buried in one post of the original house, was dated to the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).  Broken ceramics, also pointing to the Ming Dynasty, were also dug out.

Display of pottery shards

It gives the idea that the house may have gone through a number of transformations and that its first owner may  have been Chinese (the Chinese were among the early settlers in the area). In her book Life in Old Parian, memoirist Concepcion G. Briones happily noted that the house has now come full circle – somehow it is back to Old Parian hands (as the current owner is Filipino-Chinese).

Japanese porcelain shards

Chinese influence in the house construction can be seen in rafters that feature a design resembling a pagoda plus the intricate carvings on the trusses also show that Chinese artisans may have worked on it.  Sy believes the Jesuit house is even older than the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House because its second level, like the ground floor, is still made of cut coral stones, indicating it was built before a Spanish decree disallowed this practice.

Statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola

The decree, indicating that the second level of all houses should be made of wood, was made to prevent the loss of life after a number of houses using coral stone on both floors were destroyed and many lives were lost during a strong earthquake.

Check out “Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

The remarkably preserved house, sitting on around 2,000 sq. m. of land, served as the residence of the second highest official of the Jesuit society in the Philippines.  Other priests of the order or deacons going to or coming from other provinces for missions were also received here. Historians say that the Jesuits were indeed in possession of the house until 1768 when, following their suppression in Europe, they were expelled from the Philippines. The Jesuits are credited to have introduced masonry construction to the Philippines.

Old movie projector

In 1910, after having been built and occupied by the Jesuits, this huge stone-and-tile mansion bordered by two streets on a lot in old Panting, adjacent to Parian, was bought by Don Luis Alvarez y Diaz, the Alvarez family patriarch.  The Alvarez family, originally from Asturias (Spain), settled in Cebu via Lawis, Leyte.

Scaled model of a Chinese junk

Who Don Luis brought it from is still mystery but, based on a lead provided by Edwina Link-Harris (Don Luis’ granddaughter), it is surmised that it may have been from Don Cristobal Garcia, a Spaniard and a Tabacalera agent of the then municipality of Cebu who returned to Spain. At one point in time, Don Jose Alvarez leased the house to Gov. Sergio Osmeña who used it as a meeting place for Cebu’s elite. The Alvarez family are the current owners of Montebello Villa Hotel.

Diorama of the the old Parian area, showing the now non-existent Church of St. John the Baptist, the Jesuit House and other landmarks.

During World War II, the house was also used by the American forces.  In the 1960s, the house was leased to Peping “Jap” Rodriguez, an Alvarez kinsman, for use as a club. Within the decade it again changed hands, this time going to the Sy family. Jaime “Jimmy” Sy, the current owner, inherited the property from his father.  Jimmy, who operates Ho Tong Hardware, is married to the former Margie Vaño of the Old Guard, related to the Sanson-Velosos, the Coromina-Fortiches, and the Escaños.

Stairs to second floor

Dr. Michael Cullinane (associate director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies), an American historian on the Philippines, has a different version of the house’s history. Unearthing the earliest record on the house, he revealed that it once belonged to the pious Villa family of the Chinese mestizo principalia (local aristocracy). Around 1880, the Villas gave the house to the Jesuits on certain conditions, including one on the dedication of specific prayers for living and dead members of the family.

Azotea

Jimmy questioned this claim, saying that, even before 1880, the house was already in the possession of the Jesuits as indicated on the Jesuit seals, carved in two separate places in the house, which are definitely in the 18th-century style, as well as the legend “1730,” which is definitely in 18th-century calligraphy. Fr. Rene Javellana, SJ, a Jesuit art historian and professor based at the Ateneo de Manila, supports Jimmy on his contention as the Jesuit presence in Cebu was not reestablished until the erection of Our Lady Queen of China, Sacred Heart Parish in 1952, debunking the 1880 deed.

The two-storey house, along the defunct main entrance on narrow Binakayan Street, has cut coral stone walls with original molave (tugas) hardwood floors of alternating planks of dark and light shades, carved decorative corbels that support the ceiling, stout posts made from the trunks of trees, and a terracotta clay tile roof (a double row of tiles, with each row with a tile atop the other, facing down and cupped by a single tile facing up in the kulob-hayang pattern).

Antique sala set and television

The ground-level interior space (zaguan) has terracotta flooring.  It has 3 m. high ceilings and big door and window openings. Its second floor is connected, by a covered wooden walkway, to a smaller house.  The smaller house is the building we entered. A bipartite building, the smaller house’s lower storey is of coralline limestone while the upper portion is wood, typical of Fil-Hispano colonial houses.

Antique cash register

Antique typewriter, cameras and telephones

According to a 1989 essay written by Fr.  Javellana, the smaller house is believed to have served as an azotea or recreation area.  Another possible explanation, according to Sy, for why this structure was built separately but close to the main house and connected to it at the second level through a wooden bridge, is that it could have functioned as a kitchen situated outside of the house in case of fire.

Jukebox

This house annex, though still retaining its original wood reliefs, the corbels that support the ceiling, the huge, uncut tugas posts and big planks of tugas floorboards lined side by side, already has a galvanized iron roof and renovated modern walls. The presence of disjointed smaller corbels indicates that the ceiling was much higher today than when it was first built.

Tugas (molave) post and coralstone wall at second floor

The original wooden staircase leading up to the livable space on the second floor, described by Fr. Repetti as having a newel post and decorated with intricate carvings or motifs (similar to the monastery of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño), is also gone. It is said that, when they left, the Alvarez family brought the banister and post with them and used these in a house they had built in Bohol.

A towering concrete fence, resting on the original fence of coral stone (said to be older than the house), hides the house from street view. The original entrance to the property, through a narrow road called Binakayan near Colon, has been closed off to protect, on the gate’s lintel, the monograms of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Though the Sys do not live in the house anymore, they turned the house into a semi-public museum in 2008, making it as a repository of antique furniture and other items (including a jukebox, old GE electric fan and an antique payphone) they’ve collected over the years, thus preserving it as a testament to Cebu’s rich cultural heritage.

Kitchen

In addition to the antiques collected by the Sy family, the museum also features a diorama showing the house during the Spanish era as well as the old furniture owned by the previous owners and items (Ming Dynasty coins, pottery shards, animal bones, etc.) that were unearthed at the location and displayed at the airconditioned ground floor gallery.

Cross at fence

Typical of its time, everything about the house was generous, almost grand and made to last generations. Even with the clutter of warehouse items, the innate importance of the Jesuit House was immediately apparent to us visitors.

Bas relief at the coralstone fence

The Jesuit House: Hotong Hardware, 26 Zulueta St., Brgy. Parian, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu. Tel: (032) 255 5408.  Admission: PhP50/pax (PhP15 for students). Open daily, 8 AM – 12 noon and 1 – 5 PM.  The museum is one of the stops of the annual Gabii sa Kabilin where locals and visitors alike can take a tour of the rich heritage of Cebu City.

How to Get There: The Jesuit House, across the Heritage of Cebu Monument built right on the old Parian plaza, is a few steps away from the obelisk that marks the start of Colon Street at its northern end. Taxi drivers may not be familiar with the Jesuit house so just say you want to go to the Parian Fire Station, which is 10-15 mins. away from Fuente Osmena.  From Ayala Center, take a 13C jeepney and drop off at the Heritage of Cebu Monument. From Colon, take the 01K jeepney and also drop off the monument. 

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House (Cebu City, Cebu)

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

After breakfast at One Central Hotel, we still had time to kill before the 1 PM grand opening of the hotel, so I, together with lady media colleagues Maria Rona Beltran, Rhea G. Vitto-Tabora and Javelyn J. Ramos, decided to do some museum sightseeing.  Outside the hotel, we hailed a jeepney that took us to the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House, part of the Casa Gorordo Museum Complex.

Check out “Casa Gorordo Museum”

After paying the PhP50 admission fee to a lady receptionist clad in old Filipiniana dress and logging our names in the visitors’ logbook, we were toured around the house by a well-versed guide.

L-R: Ms. Maria Rona Beltran, Ms. Rhea G. Vitto-Tabora, Ms. Javelyn J. Ramos and the author

The Spanish-Colonial era Yap-San Diego Ancestral House, in Cebu City’s Parian District (founded in 1590 after the arrival of Chinese traders), is said to be the first Chinese house built outside of China.

Listening to our guide explaining the history of the house

Often referred to by the locals as the Balay nga Bato ug Kahoy (“House of Wood and Stones”), this ancestral house was built, sometime between 1675 and 1700, and is considered as one of the oldest existing residential structures in the country and a proof that the Parian district in Cebu City was a bustling barangay where houses are often designed with a second storey.

The house was originally owned by Don Juan Yap, a Chinese merchant, together with his wife, Doña Maria Florido.  They had three children, namely: Maria, Eleuterio and Consolacion.

Portrait of house owners Val and Ofelia Sandiego

In the 1880’s, their eldest daughter, Maria Florido Yap, married Don Mariano Avendano San Diego from Obando, Bulacan, who was, at that time, the Parian’s cabeza de barangay (district head). Since then, the structure had become a busy center of activity in Parian.

In 2008, the house was handed down to the aforementioned Val Mancao San Diego, Doña Maria’s 10th generation great great grandson, and his wife Ofelia Zozobrado-San Diego.

An art collector, one of Cebu’s famous choreographers and a heritage icon, Val believe that this ancestral house was part of Cebu’s history and heritage so he carefully restored his ancestor’s home and turned it into a private museum.

Fine china

And though there have been offers to buy the house from him, he still continues to ignore such proposals and vows never to sell this historical house in his lifetime, no matter what the offer is.

Religious statuary

Though Val and his family don’t live in this house, every so often, during weekends, they still come over to stay at the house. This ancestral house was been featured in the book Chinese Houses of Southeast Asia of noted Chinese cultural historian Ronald G. Knapp (2010, Tuttle Publishing)

An antique harp

This 2-storey house, its design combining Spanish and Chinese architectural influences, has a ground floor built with coral stone, glued with egg whites, and a second floor built with tugas (molave) and balayong wood. The curving roof was made of tisa (red terra cotta clay tiles) from China, each piece weighing 1 kilogram.

Four-poster beds

Outside is a beautiful garden (a boat from the 1800s is currently being used as a flower bed) and a still functional old well (its water is only used for the plants).

The beautiful garden

The ground floor was unpaved (since it was only used as a warehouse or kamalig) but, before we ascended the second floor’s creaking staircase, we had to wear shoe cover booties to protect the hardwood floor upstairs from scratches.

Stairway

The house was filled with well-crafted life-sized statues, religious icons and images of santos, especially of the Sto. Niño (including one sitting on a rocking chair) and angels, in every size and material imaginable (the family was known to be deeply religious).

Dining Area

There’s also an impressive array of new contemporary and ancient artworks; priceless, century-old antique pieces; a wooden harp; fine china and cutlery; antique décor; clay jars for storing water and Cebuano-made native period furniture made of balayong, tugas and narra.

Most the old items which were preserved here came from Carcar, Cebu. The front door has a knocker that came from a Chinese temple.

The bedroom had a four-poster bed and a wooden baby crib. Also at the second floor is a banggerahan with its rack for drinking glasses and cups. Having survived natural calamities and earthquakes, the house has retained over 90% of the original structure.

Yap Sandiego Ancestral House: 155-Lopez Jaena corner Mabini St., 6000 Parian District, Cebu City, Cebu. Open daily, 9 AM – 7 PM. Admission: PhP50 per person.  Tel: (032) 514-3002, 514-3003 or 253-5568. Facebook: www.facebook.com/Yap-Sandiego-Ancestral-House-214835631903226/

How to Get There: From Marina Mall, ride a multicab or jeepney that carries a ‘highway’ signage and tell the driver to drop you off at Maguikay. From there, ride any Mandaue jeepney (with a “Catedral” or “Colon” signage) that will take you to Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral or Colon Street. Upon reaching these landmarks, The Yap-San Diego Ancestral House is just a walk away. At SM Cebu or near Radisson Blu Hotel, you can ride a jeep with 01K code. Go down at Shamrock and take a short walk to the right where you’ll find the Parian Plaza and its Heritage of Cebu Monument. The house is just a few steps away from it.

Check out “Heritage of Cebu Monument

10,000 Roses Café (Cordova, Cebu)

10,000 Roses Cafe

Part of One Central Hotel & Suites-sponsored tour of Cebu City

The 10,000 Roses Café, opened last February 6, 2017, is one of Cebu’s newest craze.  It has a stunning garden in the open area of the facility that are “planted” with 10,000 artificial white roses that are filled with LED lights, the first in the Philippines.

About 3 feet tall, these roses dance with the sea breeze during day time.   Around 6 PM every night, they are lit and transformed into magical lights that glow at night. That’s why it’s best to go there before sunset until closing time.  Because of its unique theme, it instantly became a hit and is, undeniably, the most popular and most sought-after café.

Cordova Tourism Center

Lantaw Floating Restaurant

Located at the end of Cordova Tourism Center, just next to Lantaw Floating Restaurant, many visitors frequent the place to have their pictures taken in a different kind of setting.  It is owned by interior designer Miguel Cho who was inspired by the more than 25,000 LED Roses of the famous Dongdaemum Design Plaza in Seoul, South Korea.

View of the 10,000 Roses from the Cafe Viewdeck

A perfect spot for photographers, the café, situated on a reclaimed wharf property, has a viewing deck, surrounded by glass walls, that offers an amazing view of Mactan Island, the skyline of Cebu City, the neighboring cities and municipalities, the island’s mountain range, the sea and, of course, the roses.

10,000 Roses Cafe

The coffee shop and restaurant serves drinks, pasta, panini, sandwiches, potato fries, nachos with salsa, cheese plate, fruits plate, salad and varieties of coffee, teas and beer.  The ground floor has a modest indoor dining area, with modern and stylish seating, which can accommodate 20 to 25 customers.  The alfresco dining area can accommodate additional 40 to 60 customers.

Indoor Dining Area

Al fresco dining area

The 10,000 Roses Café: Brgy. Day-as, Cordova, Cebu.  Tel: (032) 496 7023. Open daily, 10:30AM to 11PM. Admission: P20/person.

One Central Hotel & Suites: Cor. Sanciangko and Leon Kilat St., Cebu City 6000, Cebu.  Tel: (+6332) 888-8000, 888-8111 and 888-8168.  E-mail: info@onecentralhotel.com. Website: www.onecentralhotel.com.

Alegre Guitar Factory (Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu)

Alegre Guitar Factory

Part 10 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

Prior to our return flight back to Manila, our van made a stopover at Alegre Guitar Factory.  One of the remarkable guitar-makers in Cebu, it is, by far the most impressive-looking as well as the most well known guitar factory in Abuno, Lapu-Lapu City. Its world-class guitars, gently created, outstandingly strong, competitive and of extraordinary quality, have never cease to impress seasoned guitarists and musicians.

Our guide showing us the different types of wood used in guitar making

Here, we were to make a short tour of the facility.  Our very knowledgeable and accommodating guide explained how Alegre’s quality guitars are all made by hand using imported wood  as well as indigenous woods (acacia, lauan, langka, mango and rosewood for backboard, and almasiga for the soundboard), with Philippine mahogany being one of the favorites.

Imported wood used include German spruce, Engelman spruce and cedar from Canada; Sitka spruce from Alaska; palisander from Africa; black ebony from Madagascar and Indian rosewood. The type of wood used, as well as local shell ornaments, make one unique instrument.

The assembly area was open for visitors and we were lucky enough to see some of the workers working, at different states of the process, on a guitar or a ukelele.  All the guitars are held together using glue and vises and twine hold the guitar parts in place during drying. However, due to health reasons, the area where they paint the guitars is closed.

Our short tour ended in a boutique full of finished products of all kind of qualities and prices, its walls neatly arranged with standard guitars of every type (there’s even a section for left-handed guitars as well) as well as other stringed instruments, all made by this guitar making family.

Prices for handmade guitars and ukeleles vary. There is a separate room showcasing the greater part of the top-quality and more expensive guitars that never stop to dumbfound the prepared, skilled guitarists and musical craftsmen.

Cocoleles

Ukuleles

Alegre doesn’t just sell guitars and ukuleles. They also sell the bandurria (a Philippine version of the mandolin), bass fiddles and even cocoleles (the Philipine version of the Hawaiian ukelele using coconuts for the body).

Marco Souvenir Shop

In addition, there is also an area for buying souvenirs (can’t play these).  Souvenirs, with prices anywhere from PhP150-900, include a tiny guitar with capiz shells in the front. They also have a wall full of pictures of artists, celebrities and famous musicians who previously visited their place.

Alegre Guitar Showroom

During our tour, we interviewed current owner and manager Mr. Fernando M. Alegre, himself a professional musician. The Alegre family, one of the pioneers in the guitar-manufacturing business, is on its third generation of proprietorship.

According to Mr. Alegre, the factory used to export guitars to to countries like Canada, Australia, Japan, and the United States but, as they get a lot of orders, they quit awhile back because the factory could not keep up with demand.  Still, people from all over come to buy the guitars made here.

Our visit to this guitar manufacturing center was a great educational experience as we saw how guitars were made using different types of wood material. Aside from visitors, prospective buyers, who are interested in the different stages of guitar-making, can take a look at the workshop to witness the craftsmen do the actual guitar-making process.

Mr. Fernando M. Alegre

Prices of Alegre-manufactured guitars and stringed instruments, compared to other guitar-selling shops, are quite expensive. The guitars range in price from around PhP2,000 (around US$40) to over PhP75,000 (around US$1,500). Still, you will get your money’s worth as their guitars last for a considerable amount of time.

Members of print media with Mr. Alegre

Alegre Guitar Factory: Pajac-Maribago Rd., Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.  Tel: (032) 340-4492 and  (032) 505-0706.  E-mail: alegreguitar@yahoo.com.ph.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Church of Our Lady of the Pillar (Sibonga, Cebu)

Church of Our Lady of the Pillar

Part 9 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

This southern Cebu town’s present stone and brick church was started by Fr. Juan Alonso (parish priest from 1868 to 1881) and finished by Fr. Enrique Magaz in 1881. Fr. Emiliano Diez was applying the finishing touches when the revolution broke out in 1898.

The simple and bare, Pseudo-Gothic facade

In 1907, the church was restored and blessed by Msgr. Jeremiah James Harty, Archbishop of Manila, American Bishop Thomas Hendrick and 17 other priests.

NHCP Plaque

On December 2, 2010, a cast-iron national historical marker was unveiled at the church’s facade by National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman Ambeth R. Ocampo along with Sibonga’s parish priest Fr. Leo Cabahug and the Sibonga Ecclesiastical Heritage Commission’s president Dr. Noel Ponce.

The convent

The solid and beautiful convent was built by Fr. Prospero Puerto (parish priest from 1833 to 1868) following the plans of Bishop Santos Gomez Marañon. The oldest bell, dedicated to Santa Filomena, was installed in 1863. The bell tower was destroyed during the typhoon of November 25, 1877.

The church’s beautiful interior

The altar

The church’s simple and bare, Pseudo-Gothic façade, divided into three sections by shallow pilasters, has a flame-like arched main entrance flanked by massive twin bell towers with pyramidal roofs and flame-like arched windows. The Gothic-style triangular pediment has a rose window sporting the Augustinian seal in wrought iron.

Left side retablo

Right side retablo

The one-nave interior, clearly influenced by Carcar City’s Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, has a wooden colonnade and a mesmerizing series of  ceiling murals at the nave.

Baptism

Confirmation

Holy Communion

 

Matrimony

Holy Orders

Extreme Unction

Penance

Painted in amber and brownish tones by famed Cebuano artist Raymundo Francia (popularly called the “Michaelangelo of Cebu”) in 1924, they feature the  Seven Sacraments (“Baptism,” “Confirmation,” “Extreme Unction,” “Penance,” “Matrimony,” “Holy Communion” and “Holy Orders”).

Christians Defending Their Faith

Christ Purging the Temple

At the entrance vestibule are the ceiling frescoes  “Christians Defending Their Faith” and “Christ Purging the Temple.” The “Creation of the World,” the mural above the altar, shows the Biblical scene of the seven days of creation (Genesis). The ceiling of the side aisles was expertly painted to create an optical illusion of a coffered ceiling woodwork. 

The Creation of the World

Optical illusion of coffered woodwork at ceiling

Church of Our Lady of the Pillar: National Highway, Poblacion, 6020 Sibonga. Tel: (032) 486-9390. Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar: October 12.

How To Get There: Sibonga is located 60.7 kms. south of Cebu City.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Monastery of the Holy Eucharist (Sibonga, Cebu)

Monastery of the Holy Eucharist (Simala Shrine)

Part 8 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

The majestic and sacred Monastery of the Holy Eucharist, popularly known as the “Simala Shrine” or “Simala Church,”is one of Sibonga’s most visited locations.  From a distance, the shrine looks like a castle.  It is technically not in Brgy. Simala, but the road leading to it traverses through Brgy. Simala.

A flood of tourists and devotees flocking into the shrine

Built by the Marian Monks (fondly called “Mga Monghe ni Maria”)  from Pampanga in 1998, the place was formerly a small farm gradually developed by the monks who planted vegetables and trees as well as raised animals.

Due to the presence of the Marian Monks who, after some time, built houses and a chapel, it was later called Marian Hills. The church became famous due to miracles that happened in the area made through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

After the community was hit by an epidemic, the monks reportedly prayed for an intercession by the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking her to save the children suffering from the epidemic.

Simala Church

A painting at the shrine depicts a religious old Lindogon native named Ireneo Villamor (fondly called Inkong Niyong).   Around sixty years ago, he predicted that the Lindogon hills will become balaan (blessed) in the future.

Ceiling of Simala Church

He also said that a lady in white will become the center of all people and her devout servants will have to go through persecution and suffering. The site has been associated with various miracles – one of which is the shedding tears of blood of a statue of the Virgin Mary housed in the site.

Testimonies for healing or wishes granted

Many devotees make the trip to the Simala Shrine to pray to the Blessed Virgin for healing of physical and spiritual illness.  Many of them have their own stories of miracles in their lives, all documented at the church and stored in cabinets close to the exit of the shrine.

Statue of Birhen sa Simala

Within the spacious and green environment is a huge statue of Virgin Mary (or the “Mama Maria sa Lindogon” or Birhen sa Himala), sculptures or statues of various saints, and various images and statues of the Virgin Mary from various cultural backgrounds such as the Virgin of Guadalupe or the Virgin wearing a kimono.

Open cottages for picnics

There’s also a replica of the Nazareth Well where people throw in coins while silently wishing for something. There are also cottages there, free and available for families or group of friends who brought their packed lunches with them. The whole shrine is still in the process of improving its structures.

Replica of Nazareth Well

When visiting the shrine to offer a petition or prayer, there are candles for sale (more or less Php35.00). Each color has a corresponding purpose. Here is a guide:

  • White– Purity (enlightenment, guidance, right path, etc.)
  • Yellow– Peace (courage, strength, hope, etc.)
  • Violet– Achievements (plans in life, journey, struggles, endeavors, voyage, etc.)
  • Red– Love (unity, family, friendship, engagement, etc.)
  • Pink– Thanksgiving, Happiness, Joy (physical, spiritual)
  • Orange- Reconciliation (sweetheart, husband, wife, family, enemy, etc.)
  • Gray– Deliverance (bad ways, things, spirits, etc.)
  • Green– Prosperity and Success (financial, business, study, exam, etc.)
  • Gold– Healing (good health, spiritual, recovery, family tree, etc.)
  • Cream– Conversion and Faith (household, children, couples, etc.)
  • Brown– Vocation (marriage bond, single life, God’s servant, etc.)
  • Blue– Perseverance (employment, career, promotions, assignment, etc.)
  • Black– Souls (pardon, forgiveness, etc.)

The following are prohibited within the shrine:

  • Taking pictures with flash
  • Wearing revealing clothes such as miniskirts, short shorts, see-through blouses and pants, tube and crop tops (Note: for those wearing such, there are shawls or cloaks for rent at Php20.00 each).
  • Smoking and alcoholic drinks
  • Shouting and making loud noise
  • Wearing of footwear inside the prayer room

Station of the Cross

Monastery of the Holy Eucharist: Marian Hills, Brgy. Lindogon, Sibonga, Cebu. Open daily, 8 AM – 8 PM. The Simala Shrine celebrates mass every day – Mondays to Fridays at 12 noon, Saturdays at 10:30 AM, and Sundays at 12 noon and 3:30 PM.  Masses are also held every 13th day of the month at 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM.

How to Get There: To get to the Simala Shrine, take a Ceres bus or a more expensive van at the South Bus Terminal (near Elizabeth Mall) that passes through Sibonga (a 2.5-hour trip). Get off at the motorcycle terminal at Lindogon and, from there, take a 10-15-min./5-km.  tricycle or motorcycle (habal-habal) ride going up to the shrine.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria (Carcar City, Cebu)

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria

Part 7 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

Carcar City is noted for its striking examples of preserved colonial architecture, both from the Spanish and American eras. The most notable structure is the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria. Around 1622, the town’s first convent and church was burned when Muslims sacked the town.

The church’s Graeco-Tuscan facade

The present masonry church, probably the second or third church, was built on a hill for greater security. It was started by Fr. Antonio Manglano in 1860, continued by Fr. Gabriel Gonzalez in 1865 and completed (including the interior painting) by Fr. Manuel Fernandez Rubio in 1875. Its roof was blown away during the November 25, 1876, typhoon.

An array of statues of some of the 12 Apostles at the church patio

Statue of Judas Iscariot, now painted white

Its lovely and massive Graeco-Tuscan façade, with its strong Muslim influence, has a double recessed arched main entrance (similar to an iwan of a Middle Eastern mosque), a blind wheel rose window below the upper recessed arch (above it is a carved Augustinian symbol), spandrels with geometric flora and a Baroque pediment on a high entablature, which crowns the middle segment.

The church’s interior

The lower story is flanked by a one-story structure corresponding to the aisles flanking the 68-m. long, 22-m. wide and 12-m. high-main nave. Neo-Classical altars, a coffered ceiling and carved cherub heads located along the arcade separating the nave from the aisle embellish the church’s interior.

The church patio, surrounded by a low fence of coral stone and wrought iron, has statues of the 12 Apostles, all painted white.  The statue of Judas Iscariot, standing all alone on a pedestal in front of the convent, used to be painted black but is now in white.

The Neo-Clasical main altar

The twin Muslim-like bell towers have solid geometric pylons which act as buttresses, and have no openings except at the third storey where ogee arches are used for the bells. This level ends up in onion-shaped domes reminiscent of minarets. One of its bells bears the date 1810, suggesting that a church was already in place by the early 19th century.

The church pulpit

Fr. Manuel Fernandez Rubio also built the masonry and wood convent, established on May 23, 1559, under the advocacy of the Visitation of the Virgin. An independent structure separated from the church by a road, it measures 33 m. in front and 22 m. at the side.  The convent sank during the November 25, 1876, typhoon.

The choir loft

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria: Tel: (032) 257-3272. Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandra: November 25.

How to Get There: Carcar City is located 42 kms. (a 1-hour drive) south of Cebu City.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Carcar City Museum (Cebu)

Carcar City Museum (formerly Carcar Dispensary and Puericulture Center)

Part 6 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

The very first museum in South Cebu, this museum is housed in the former Carcar Puericulture Center and Dispensary, a two-storey hospital for women and children. Resembling a doll house rather than a medical institution, it was perhaps meant that way to dispel the fears of the patients.

The second floor veranda

An excellent example of American-era civic architecture in the Philippines, this ornate and gracefully designed dispensary was initiated by Mayor Mariano Mercado in 1929 and inaugurated by Ms.Flora Base Mercado, the mayor’s wife, in 1937 with Gov. Sotero Cabahug in attendance.

Historical plaque

The building was inaugurated as the Carcar City Museum on July 8, 2008, during Carcar’s first anniversary as a city.

Calado woodwork

Stairs

This outstanding, beautifully restored white painted architectural landmark has a profusion of artful latticework, semicircular transoms, carved barandillas (railings) and mini-canopies and stained glass window panes. Beside the museum is a small gated park that pays homage to Don Mariano Mercado, who was responsible for many of Carcar’s beautiful landmarks.

The author at Carcar City Museum

Its galleries, in several rooms, feature objects with historical, cultural and artistic relevance such as a traditional corn milling stone, antique furniture, winning costumes used by Carcar contingents in numerous artistic performances, women’s clothing worn during that era, religious artifacts, leather cutters, kitchen utensils, journals, paintings, war weapons, medical tools, musical instruments and old news clippings about Gen. Pantaleon “Leon Kilat” Villegas.

Antique sewing machine

Farming implements

Props for Linambay (Cebuano term for komedya or moro-moro)

On the museum walls, visitors can see a chronology of events that took place in Carcar from the Pleistocene period up to the present. The terrace (terasa) is the best place to feel the cold breeze from the outside. 

Aparador

Bajo de unas (double bass) used in a rondalla 

Sousaphone

Carcar City Museum: Carcar Square, Carcar City, Cebu.  Open Mondays to Saturdays, 8 AM to 5 PM. Admission: free.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Church of St. Isidore the Farmer (San Fernando, Cebu)

Church of St. Isidore the Farmer

Part 5 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

The town’s first church was constructed at Brgy. Pitalo but, after repeated repairs, it was decided that a new and much better church was be constructed on a land donated by Doña Clara Najarro at Taboan Market, not far from the town’s present cemetery.

The Neo-Gothic facade

The present masonry church was started by Fr. Miguel del Burgo on December 1870, following the plans of Spanish architect and engineer Don Domingo Esconrillas, and continued by Fr. Emiliano Diez on March 11, 1876. During the November 25, 1877 typhoon, half of the church’s roof, the sacristy and convent fell.  It was finished and solemnly blessed on October 25, 1886.

The pointed recessed arch main entrance

During World War II, the church was spared from war damage. In 1945, the separate, two storey, coral stone convent was turned into a school. From 1968-76, Fr. Constantino Boctoy renovated the church.

The right side of the church

Its Neo-Gothic facade has a flamboyant pointed, recessed arch main entrance flanked by two small pointed arch windows.  The main doorway is topped, above the cornice line, by a large, elaborately carved rose window.  Flat pilasters, mounted on high rectangular pedestals, rise up to the pediment line.  They end up in pinnacles and divide the facade into three vertical sections.

One of two bell towers

The upper level, integrated with the gable, is crowned at the apex by a cross and has a small, centrally located carved Augustinian emblem.  Traceries line eaves of the pediment. The church interior has been heavily renovated.

The church interior

A strong typhoon cut the tops of the twin Gothic-style square bell towers and they were never rebuilt to its original height. The present twin belfries, seemingly incongruous with the overall coral stone structure, were actually built in concrete later in the 20th century. They have one wheel window on the lower level, flame-like windows on the upper and both taper into spires topped by pinnacles at the corners of the painted dome.

The church altar

Church of St. Isidore the Farmer:  Natalio B. Bacalso South National Highway, Brgy. Poblacion South. Tel: (032) 488-9314. Feast of St. Isidore the Farmer: May 15.

How To Get There: San Fernando is located 29.3 kms. south of Cebu City. Buses to San Fernando park at the Cebu South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Ave. in Cebu City.  The church is just across the municipal hall.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.