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

Church of Our Lady of the Pillar

Part 6 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.

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

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria

Part 3 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.

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.

Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi (Naga City, Cebu)

Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi

Part 4 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

The town’s coral and limestone church was built by Fr. Simon Aguirre in 1839 following plans prepared by Bishop Santos Gomez Marañon.  Its bell tower was destroyed by the November 25, 1876 typhoon, repaired, destroyed again in 1942 and rebuilt in 1974 by Msgr. Cesar Alcoseba. On October 3, 2007, the church was upgraded as an archdiocesan shrine.

The unusual Baroque facade that suggests Mexican art

The convent was started in 1864 by Fr. Enrique Magaz, continued in 1882 by Fr. Gregorio Ros and finished in 1887 by Fr. Roman Gonzalez.  It was destroyed in 1942 and rebuilt in 1974 by Msgr. Cesar Alcoseba. During World War II, the original bell tower was destroyed and portions of the church were damaged. A new separate bell tower was built in 1979.

The side of the church

The church has one main nave, a transept and measures 75 m. long, 15.4 m. wide and 10.6 m. wide.  Angels and gargoyles guard its doors. It’s simple interior, relatively unchanged since it was built over a century ago, features a dropped ceiling bearing geometric patterns and a gilded retablo and cornices adorning the Corinthian pillars and side walls.  A huge statue of St. Francis of Assisi adorns the patio adjacent to the church.

The church interior

The unusual Baroque-style façade, suggestive of Mexican art that is skillfully integrated into the local Filipino religious architecture, has no distinct architectural style.  It has twin minaret-shaped buttresses with projecting domes and is divided into lower and upper rectangular panels.

The main and two side retablos

The bare lower panel has a triangular arched recessed main entrance with molded door jambs flanked by six square columns while the overly-decorated upper panel has a miniature retablo (the cross with outgoing rays represent the expansion of the Christian faith) flanked by two sets of tiny columns and a frieze heavily-decorated with ornamental Roman-like acanthus leaf patterns and self-repeating designs divided into several rows.

Plaque

The pediment has a centrally located niche flanked by two sets of tiny columns with the Biblical saying Predicate Evangelicum omni creaturae.  It is also decorated with winged cherubs, rosettes, dancette or zigzag molding (below the raking cornice) and other embellishments. The symbols of the Cross, the Lamb of Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Monstrance are supported by ornamented columns resting on atlantes.

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi

Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi: Cebu South Rd. Tel: (032) 489-9799  and (032) 272-2123. Feast of St. Francis of Assisi: October 10.

How To Get There: Naga is located 21.7 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.

Archdiocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Minglanilla, Cebu)

Archdiocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Part 2 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

The town’s first church was a temporary structure built in 1856 on orders of Gov.-Gen. Manuel Crespo. The first permanent structure was built by Augustinian Fr. Miguel del Burgo in 1878. The present structure was started in 1880 by Fr. Nicolas Lopez with harigues and mortar and completed in 1886 by Fr. Juan Alonso. On August 23, 2007, the church was declared as a archdiocesan shrine by Cardinal Ricardo Vidal.

The Early Gothic and High Renaissance facade

This hilltop church, one of five structures built by the Augustinians in Cebu that have hints of Gothic architecture, is 18 m. long, 13 m. wide, 15 m. high and has a beautiful transept. Its facade has Early Gothic and High Renaissance features.  The pointed aisle roof and flame-like arches are typical of the Gothic style while the semicircular arched main entrance and windows are Baroque features.

A circa 1930s photo of the church. Note that the top storeys of the bell towers, the entrance porch and the left and right wings are not yet around.  The structure on the right seems to be the convent.

Based on a circa 1930s photo, it seems that the church’s exterior has been heavily renovated.  The entrance porch, the top storey of the twin bell towers and the lower structures on the left and right side of the church (built to accommodate additional parishioners) are recent additions. In August 2005, the church was repainted from pink to blue and white.  The trefoil arches (where the new left and right wings are now) suggest possible Muslim influences.

The bell tower on the right

The flanking, pointed roofed bell towers have pinnacles on the four corners of the lower roof. Its oldest bell was installed in 1863 by Fr. Fernando Magaz. The other one was installed in 1881. All that remains of its masonry and wood convent, built by Frs. Miguel del Burgo (1877) and Juan Alonso (1878 to 1886), is the part which housed the kitchen.

The church interior showing the new left wing.  Trefoil arches separate this wing from the nave.

The church interior showing the new right wing

Archdiocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary: Poblacion, Ward 3 Tel: (032) 490-9635 and (032) 490-8021 and (032) 272-5807. Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary: August 22.

How to Get There: Minglanilla is located 16.4 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.

San Pedro Calungsod Chapel (Cebu City, Cebu)

San Pedro Calungsod Chapel

Part 1 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

The mesmerizing, contemporary and airy San Pedro Calungsod Chapel, designed by US-based architect Carlos Arnaiz, was donated by Henry Sy, Sr. and Felicidad Sy to the Archdiocese of Cebu. It is dedicated to the second Filipino saint who, incidentally, is a Cebuano (born 1655 probably in Ginatilan).

Some of the rectangular panels

The chapel is located on an elevated, 5,001 sq. m. lot within the SM Seaside City Complex (allegedly touted as SM’s biggest mall). The first structure built on the complex, it reflects a practice, during the Spanish era, of towns around the archipelago being built around a church.

The chapel’s Minimalist interior

Pedro Calungsod,  martyred in Guam in 1672, died defending Spanish priest Fr. San Vitores and his Catholic faith. A spear hit his chest, then his head was struck with a machete. Later, he was thrown out to sea, with rocks tied on his feet. He was beautified on March 5, 2000 by Blessed Pope John Paul II. On October 21, 2012 San Pedro Calungsod was canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.

The chapel article

On November 29, 2012, when it was dedicated, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma along with Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal celebrated the consecration Mass of the chapel. Prior to the mass, a motorcade, from the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, brought the pilgrim image of the first Visayan saint to the chapel. The Archdiocese of Cebu assigned Msgr. Vicente Tupas to act as the rector of the chapel.

The special quiet room for children

Also called the Church of 100 Walls, the one distinctive feature of the chapel is its 100 unique and inviting, avant-garde walls.  Of great importance to the sparse, Minimalist architecture, each rectangular, white and cream panel is of a different height and width. Seemingly almost like people, no wall is the same and yet they are all connected as they exist together as a cluster, coming together to form a kind of congregation.

Adoration Chapel

The entire 100 walls are all elevated and facing in one direction, making the structure appear solid in one side and, when viewed from a different angle, have a totally opaque or transparent appearance. These two states represent the dark and light side of life.

One of 14 Stations of the Cross

This sanctuary of sand, stone and glass, big enough to accommodate 803 people at the same time, has an adoration chapel (to the right of the altar), the sacristy, a baptistery, prayer niches, the 14 Stations of the Cross and a special quiet room for children where your child can be kept at peace when you are praying your heart out. A multi-purpose area, for church functions, is located below. 

SM Seaside City

San Pedro Calungsod Chapel: Chapel Ave., SM Seaside City Complex. Tel: (032) 255-2170. Mobile number: (0917) 770-6021. Open daily, 10 AM – 5 PM (until 7:30 PM during Mass days). Holy Mass Schedule: 6 PM – 7 PM, Mondays to Saturdays (anticipated mass), and 9 AM – 10 AM  and 6 PM – 7 PM on Sundays.

How to Get There: take the My Bus from SM City Cebu to SM Seaside City. The chapel can be easily seen from the mall.

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.

Pungko-Pungko sa Fuente (Cebu City, Cebu)

Pungko Pungko sa Fuente

Upon checking in our rooms in Bluewater Maribago Resort and resting a bit, we were scheduled to experience the Old Cebu Walks of Mr.  Balbino “Ka Bino” Guerrero Jr., the curator of the Cebu City Museum.  Ka Bino’s tour draws inspiration from the popular Manila tours such as Ivan Man Dy’s Binondo Food Tour and Carlos Celdran’s “Walk This Way” tour of Intramuros. It was raining on the afternoon of our first day so Ka Bino brought us to Fuente area for a unique dining experience called pungko pungko.

A tray filled with fried street food

Not your normal, everyday fine-dining experience, this literally is what I call “street food.” Taken from the Cebuano word pungko, which means “to squat” in English, it is a term used to describe a manner of dining or can also refer to small self-service eateries along the road selling these all time-favorite fried foods.

Mr. Balbino Pada “Ka Bino” Guerrero Jr.

Among the cheap but fairly, gastronomically satisfying Cebuano pungko-pungko favorites are ginabot or chicharon bulaklak (crispy, deep-fried pork innards), lumpiang ngohiong (long or short spring rolls), bola-bola (fried meat balls), hotdogs, hard-boiled eggs, longganisa, taugi (munggo bean sprouts), fried chicken, pork chops, crab meat, fried brains, fried fat, fried spleen, okoy (shrimp cake), buwad nokso (dried fish)  and  chorizo.

Puso (hanging rice)

We sat on small, low benches that can occupy about 2 to 3 people, with a container or several trays containing a wide array of dishes displayed on tables in front of us. According to Ka Bino, for less than PhP50, customers can just pick at least 2 viands they like to eat, a soft drink and 3 to 4 pieces of puso (hanging rice), paired with a to die for vinegar mix with chili and sliced onions, without waiting for the vendors to serve them.

Members of media listening to Ka BIno

In the past, their customers were taxi and jeepney drivers, construction workers and students. Now, they include call center agents in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry and bank employees.  They also cater to hospitals and even families. Pungko-pungko vendors mostly depend on their customers to tell them what they ate and some are not honest enough to count their orders correctly.

So, if you want to get a quick meal in Cebu City, you don’t have to go far! Eat the pungko-pungko way! It might not be the healthiest among recommended Cebuano dishes but they are everywhere and they cater to anyone.

The dining area

Pungko-Pungko sa Fuente: 52-A J. Llorente St., Cebu City 6000. Mobile number: (0922) 699-6888

Mactan Shrine (Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu)

Mactan Shrine.  On the left is the small building housing two plaques while on the right is the Magellan Monument

Part 4 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

This shrine is dedicated in honor of Lapu-Lapu (the Philippines’ first National Hero) and the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and was erected on the supposed spot where the Battle of Mactan (April 27, 1521) took place. The shrine has three prominent monuments

Lapu-Lapu Monument

The 20-ft. high Lapu-Lapu Monument, beside the shore, features a bronze statue, on a pedestal, of Datu Lapu-Lapu, sculpted with great realism, holding a kampilan (curved sword) on his right hand and a shield on the left.  The Magellan Marker, shaped like a large headstone, allegedly marks the spot where Magellan fell dead in the hands of Lapu-Lapu’s men.

Magellan Monument

A little farther away is the 30-ft. high Magellan Monument, on a base of several levels and surrounded by a low fence. It consists of plain, coralstone obelisk, on whose apex rests a sphere, mounted on a tall plinth that rests on a tripartite structure – an octagonal base, on which rests a tall quadrilateral structure, divided into a lower part, decorated with high relieves of vases, and an upper part pierced by narrow arches.

Relief of a vase

The monument is inscribed with texts. On one side is A Hernando de Magallanes, Ferdinand Magellan’s name written in the original Portuguese language.

Inscription with Magellan’s name

On a second side is the phrase Glorias Españolas (“Glory to Spain”),  on the third is the phrase Siendo Gobernaor Don Miguel Creus (the Spanish governor of the Philippines at the time) and on the fourth side is the phrase 1866 Reinando Ysabel II (the Spanish monarch at that time).

Inscription with Gov. Miguel Creus’s name

The monument was said to have been built in 1866 during the administration of Augustinian Fr. Simon Aguirre, who was cura (parish priest), from 1857 to 1871, of Opon (the old name of Lapu-Lapu City).

The plinth with two plaques

Between the Lapu-Lapu and Magellan monuments stands the Philippine flag.  East of the Magellan Monument is a small building housing a plinth flanked by plaques.

The Lapu-Lapu plaque

The plaque about Lapu-Lapu (installed by the Philippine Historical Committee in 1951) reads:

Lapulapu

Here on 27 April 1521, Lapulapu and his men repulsed the Spanish invaders, killing their leader Ferdinand Magellan thus Lapu Lapu became the first Filipino to have repelled European aggression.

The plaque about Magellan’s death

The other plaque about Ferdinand Magellan (installed by the Philippine Historical Committee in 1941) reads:

Ferdinand Magellan’s Death

On this spot Ferdinand Magellan died on April 27, 1521 wounded in an encounter with the soldiers of Lapu Lapu, Chief of Mactan Islands. One of Magellan’s ships, The Victoria, under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano, sailed from Cebu on May 1, 1521 and anchored at San Lucar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522 thus completing the first circumnavigation of the earth.

The huge mural painting

Behind the plinth is a huge mural painting depicting the battle. The Battle of Mactan is reenacted along the shores near the shrine during the 27 April Kadaugan sa Mactan Festival.

The Kadaugan sa Mactan re-enactment site

Mactan Shrine: Punta Engano, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

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.

Temple of Leah (Cebu City, Cebu)

Temple of Leah

Part 3 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

The grandiose Temple of Leah, Cebu City’s newest attraction, has been called the “Taj Mahal of Cebu.”  Perched on the hilltop of Busay, it was built by Teodorico Soriano Adarna, owner of the Queensland  chain of motels in Davao, Manila and Cebu, as a testament to his undying love and ceaseless devotion for Leah Villa Albino-Adarna, his wife of 54 years (Leah was 16 and Teodorico was 19 when they married), who died of lung cancer in 2012 at age of 69.

They had four children— the 56 year old Allan, 54 year old Arlene, Arthur (deceased) and the 39 year old Alex, plus 16 grandchildren, including 29 year old Filipina actress and model Ellen Adarna (eldest and only daughter of Allan). Teodorico has since remarried and now lives in Davao.

The author

This 7-storey, still unfinished temple became an instant domestic tourist attraction as it interestingly resembles the ancient Parthenon of Greece.  Started in 2013, this Philippine version of the Taj Mahal of India is due to be completed in 2020. The west balcony, surrounded by resplendent sculptures along the balustrade, has a panoramic view of the cities of Metro Cebu (Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu) and Cebu City’s highlands.

The gigantic lion statue overlooking the west balcony

A beautiful statue along the balustrade

Its fountain has statues of four seated horses at the base and three naked maidens (in my opinion, they are probably The Three Graces) standing on a basin on top that were inspired by the Adarnas’ trip to Europe.

The three statues of naked maidens on top of the fountain

The Classic Greek and Roman-inspired (rectangular design, raised podium for the shrine, a triangular pediment above the portico of fluted Doric columns and an altar of the cult goddess under the skylight) architecture of this huge edifice is meant to be admired from the outside, awing visitors with its imposing breadth. The engraved moldings on the vaulted ceiling were, on the other hand, inspired by the temples of India.

Inside are 24 chambers, built on opposite wings, including a museum, an art gallery and a library with all the favorite and personal belongings of Leah such as books, vases, Buddha heads and various figurines, ceramic statues and souvenirs gathered from the couple’s extensive travels.

Leah’s favorite personal belongings

The statues of gigantic seated lions, on each side of the grand staircase, guided us to the door step of another jaw-dropping view, at the middle of the temple, of a grand Y-shaped staircase, a pair of huge brass angels and the 9-ft. high, bronze statue (said to have cost PhP4,000,000) of a seated Leah Albino-Adarna on a marble pedestal, with crown and flower.

Trumpet blaring brass angel

Behind the statue is a semicircular arched stained glass window featuring various angels.  At the foot of the statue is this inscription:

 

BELOVED WIFE AND MOTHER

Leah V. Albino-Adarna was chosen Matron Queen of her Alma Mater, the University of Southern Philippines. This nine-foot bronze statue portrays her composure and regal bearing when she was crowned. May the beholder discern her innate beauty, poise and genteelness.

(signed)

Teodorico Soriano Adarna

Born December 13, 1938

 

Seated statue of Leah

Distant view of the temple

Temple of Leah: Roosevelt St., Brgy. Busay Cebu City. Tel: (032) 233-5032.  Mobile number: (0906) 324-5687.  Open daily, 6 AM – 11 PM. Admission: PhP50 per pax. Professional photography for events: PhP2,500. Parking fee: PhP100 if inside the premises, free if outside (limited slots only).

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.

How to Get There: From JY Square, ride a jeepney going to Busay (PhP10, one-way) and ask to be dropped off at the mountain view highway intersection. From there, you can walk towards the Temple of Leah.  From JY Square, you can also hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) going to the Temple of Leah. Fare is about PhP50-100. For a more convenient ride, you can just hail a cab.

Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden (Cebu City, Cebu)

Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden

Part 2 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden, opened last October 2016 (and relaunched February the next year), is the first botanical garden of its kind in Cebu and in the Philippines.

Petunias, one of 127 flower species in the garden

Marker with fascinating quote

It is home to 127 species of flowers (including the popular celosia flower) whose names, identified through markers etched with various fascinating quotes and poems which were personally selected by the owner Yuri Barrameda, were set up, and their scientific names identified, by members of the Botanical Society of the University of San Carlos (USC).

Entrance gate and driveway

Yuri bought the 2-hectare property in 2007. To be able to rekindle family ties by spending time with his three children (Andrea Carmela, Cheska  and Moses), he first created a rose farm, open only to friends and family. Later, having observed the lack of green spaces in Cebu, he decided to convert one hectare into a public garden by adding more flowers.

Canopied stairway

The author

Most of the local flowers, with butterflies and bees fluttering about from one petal to another, are meticulously arranged by the green-thumbed gardeners from Brgy. Malubog to form part of the hedges of 56 terraces following the natural contours of the hill’s slope. For the terracing, the gardeners used an ancient technique, which the upland farmers of Busay are familiar with, used in creating the Banaue Rice Terraces.

Flower terraces

The 1-m. thick riprap of interlocking stones, protecting the flowers used as ground cover, allows water to flow freely without eroding the topsoil.  This reduces the chances of a landslide during heavy rain. Others are planted on the ground while some snake up and down trellises or cover the arched roof of the canopied footpath.

Foot path

Initially, a father’s expression of love for his children, Terrazas de Flores, with its colorful flowers, chirping birds and cool mountain breeze, is now a charming but not too remote little hideaway up in the hills where visitors can relax, unwind and spend time with their special someone by sitting, beside the flowers in the garden, on outdoor benches, on comfortable sofas in one of the garden’s three cozy cabanas (again representing Andrea Carmela, Cheska and Moses) or at the viewing deck.

Two of the garden’s three cabanas

Or, they can go to Terrazas de Flores Café (owned by business partner Ms.Lenny Lyn Lapiña), in the middle of the property with a good picturesque view of the lush flower terraces and the mountains of Balamban town in the distance, and dine on cakes; pastries; sandwiches; cold cuts; cheese platters; rice meals (PhP100) which comes with beef, fish, pork, and chicken; plus hot and cold coffee, wine and other beverages, while listening to nice, popular love songs played softly, in the background, from speakers.

Terrazas de Flores Cafe

Waters flowing down the small man-made lake add to the serene, relaxing ambiance of the place. With another hectare to develop, there are plans to expand the garden to include a topiary, stargazing deck, hanging bridge, an art gallery and more cabins on the forest side of the hill.

Pond with mini waterfall

Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden: Transcentral Highway, Brgy. Malubog, Busay, Cebu City. Mobile number: (0917) 653-4227.  Facebook:   facebook.com/terrazasdefloresofficial.  Open weekdays, 8 AM – 9 PM, and weekends, 8 AM to 12 MN. Admission: PhP100 for adults, PhP50 pesos for children 7 years old up to 12 and free for children 6 years old and below. They also give discounts to senior citizens and students upon presentation of identification.

The garden can also accommodate pre-nuptial photo shoots and birthday, anniversary and wedding parties, prices for which are available upon request. As exploring the garden requires a lot of walking, wear comfortable shoes. As the temperature at the garden is usually three degrees lower than mainland Cebu, the wind can sometimes get too chilly and it is advisable to bring a cardigan or light jacket. Extra charges may apply if visitors bring in food and beverages inside the cafe. It is explicably prohibited to pick flowers or step on the plants.

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.

How to Get There: To get to Terrazas de Flores, you can take a cab from any part of Metro Cebu. It is a 20-min. drive from JY Square. There’s an available shuttle (PhP120 per pax for a round trip ride), at Dessert Factory, SSY Center, across Watsons/JY Square Mall, going to Temple of Leah, Tops Lookout and Lantaw.  From Ayala Cebu Terminal, you can also ride a V-hire or van going to Balamban.  Landmarks nearby are the Malubog Elementary School (its garden gate is just across) and La Tegola, an Italian restaurant in Busay which is 900 meters away from the garden. Parking spaces are available.