USC & National Archives Team in New Volume on Cebu Archives

Records permeated every aspects of Cebu’s colonial experience

USC & National Archives Team in New Volume on Cebu Archives

The new book, INTEGRACIÓN / INTERNACIÓN: The Urbanization of Cebu in Archival Records of the Spanish Colonial Period, contains essays from six writers including eminent historians, Resil Mojares and Michael Cullinane. These essays all deal with different aspects of the Spanish Colonial urbanization of Cebu gleaned from materials in the National Archives of the Philippines and other sources.

There are hardly any records in the National Archives from the early years of the Spanish Period in the Cebu areas. But later maps and charts provide evidence of attempts to survey the islands and determine salient features.

Through trial and error, coves and coasts took shape on paper. The colonizers were getting to know the land and seas.

This volume is a product of a partnership between the University of San Carlos in Cebu and the National Archives of the Philippines. This is part of a planned series which started with Concripcion: Imagining and Inscribing the Ilocano World which came out in 2014.

In keeping with the earlier work, this book also serves as a Catalogue and Dossier documenting an exhibition of the same name which opened in the University of San Carlos Museum on 13 November 2013 and in the Museo Sugbo on 23 October 2014.

Two distinguished names in the fields of anthropology and sociology, J. Eleazar Bersales and Ino Manalo, edited the volume.

Integración / Internación: The Urbanization of Cebu in Archival Records of the Spanish Colonial Period

Essential to the governance of the Spanish colonial empire was the exchange of letters. Absent monarchs administered distant possessions through their satraps by virtue of orders penned on paper. With missives, reports, edicts, charts, as well as plans, colonizers were placing their stamp on their possessions. New environments requiring new behavior and ways of living were introducing societies to change.

The newly introduced concepts of life affected even the burial of the dead. Cebuanos recorded in official documents the passing of their worldly goods to their descendants, instead of burying them with their wealth. While many of the colonized integrated peacefully, there were also instances of resistance and refusal. There were moments that resulted not in integration but suppression and internment.

There are hardly any records in the National Archives from the early years of the Spanish period in the Cebu area. But later maps and charts provide evidence of attempts to survey the islands and determine salient features. Through trial and error, coves and coasts took shape on paper. The colonizers were getting to know the land and seas.

As the land became more familiar, colonizers set up the infrastructure for colonization—mostly in the 19th century. They laid out streets, often in a grid with right angles. The idea of settlements organized in grids was in keeping with the all-pervasive Spanish concept that was eventually termed La Ciudad Letrada or the lettered city. This was a global vision unifying towns wherever the Spanish had set foot on the planet. It expressed Hispanic notions of the urban and also of the urbane.

As the name suggests, the lettered city was a construction that required literacy. A bureaucracy needed to read and carry out the orders contained in the documents. Of course, people did not always realize visions. There were periods when Cebu’s influence waned, such as when they moved the capital to Manila. But there were also instances when the Cebuanos interpolated colonial designs and narratives.

Spaces and edifices were created for specific functions. At the same time, such structures would serve as settings as well as technologies that catalyzed new ways of life. The casa parroquial, for example, provided shelter from the tropical heat.

Yet it also determined the relationships between subjects and colonizers by the ordering of offices and other rooms. Only the powerful and the house close to them were able to enter certain areas.

Meanwhile, prisons were clearly instruments to enforce the colonial will. Their presence signified order but also disorder. We needed structures for connectivity. Roads had to link town centers to other town centers. Harbors and ports bound the colony to the colonizers’ seat of power.

Often, these connection could also transform: where a road passed, new settlements would arise. One activity that would eventually expand vigorously was the sugar industry.

Cebu was a leader in the production of sugar before Negros and Iloilo. The wealth that cane plantations brought allowed for a more elaborate lifestyle founded on the enhanced consumption of material goods. These goods needed proper settings. These were provided by the great private houses.

Could these have been modeled after church and municipal buildings? Or was it the order way around? What the many plans shows is that the buildings which the Spanish colonial government erected for its offices, were unlike those in Spain. The Spanish were constructing edifices of hardwood, tiles, sawali, mortar, and capiz which today would be described as Filipino.

Land was not the only setting for any colonization. Even the seas would be pressed into service. They were occupied, measured, and owned. For the sake of commerce, cargo bearing ships had to navigate sea channels safely. Lighthouses rose which would cast bright beams in radiant circles marked territory too, projecting the reach of the colonizers beyond the terrestrial into the maritime.

Lighthouses were, as well, symbol of subjugation. They towered above the sea coast, declaring mastery over all that was surveyed. Yet, much earlier, seas were areas of contention. From their blue expanses came forth swarms of warriors attacking and subverting colonial harmony. For the Spanish authorities they were pirates but for their fellows, could they have been heroes?

Records permeated every aspect of Cebu’s colonial experience. They provide evidence of what transpired even as they affected how events would turn out.

About the Authors

Resil B. Mojares is Professor Emeritus at the University of San Carlos. He earned his Ph.D. in Literature from the University of the Philippines-Diliman and has authored books in the Philippine history and culture.

He had stints as a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Hawaii, the University of California at Los Angeles, Kyoto University, and also at the National University of Singapore. His most recent book is Interrogations in Philippine Cultural History from Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Michael M. Cullinane is the Assiociate Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and also a Faculty Associate in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He obtained his Ph.D. in Southeast Asian history at the university of Michigan.

He has most recently been affiliated with the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of San Carlos. His most recent book is The Battle for Cebu: Andrew S. Rowan and the Siege of Sudlon (1899-1900) from the USC Press.

Danilo M. Gerona holds a Ph.D. in Philippine Studies from the University of the Philippines. Specializing in the early Spanish colonial era in the Philippines, he did extensive research in both Philippine and Spanish archives.

As author of the book, Ferdinand Magellan Armada de Maluco and the European Discovery of the Philippines, he sits the Comite International of the Fundacion Civiliter Sevilla 2019-2022, a global committee based in the city of Seville which spearheads the 5th centennial celebration of the Magellan expedition’s circumnavigation of the world.

Trizer Dale D. Mansueto is involved in researches, museums, and translations. He has authored and co-authored books and articles on culture and history topics. He obtained his Master of Arts in history degree from Siliman University.

Eleazar R. Bersales is concurrently the Head Curator of the University of San Carlos Museum and Manager of USC Press. He is associate professor at the USC Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and History. He obtained his Ph.D. in Anthropology degree from the University of San Carlos (under a joint educational partnership program in archaeology with New Mexico State University) as well as an M.A. in Philippine Studies from the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Known as Jobers in Cebu, he has edited, authored, or co-authored a number of books on culture and heritage. He also writes a weekly column in the Cebu Daily News entitled “Past Forward”.

Ino Manalo, who is also known as Victorio Mapa Manalo, has been Executive Director of the National Archive of the Philippines since 2011. He is a writer who has won national prizes like the Don Carlos Palanca Award for Literature.

Ino holds a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University, and also a Post Graduate Certificate for Archival Studies from Hongkong University. He is a former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

About the National Archives of the Philippines

The National Archives of the Philippines (NAP) has two main functions. It oversees records management protocols for all government agencies in the country. As such, no official records may be disposed without permission from the NAP. The NAP also administers the archival records of the Philippines. To promote public awareness of its holdings and services, the NAP produces exhibits as well as publications and conducts workshops.

About USC Museum

The University of San Carlos Museum was formally inaugurated on 23 April 1967 by Fr. Pres. Rudolf Rahmann, SVD with First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos as guest of honor, a few minutes before husband Pres. Ferdinand Marcos was to deliver the commencement address to the graduating class.

From 1952 onwards, the museum carefully collected, studied, catalogued, and exhibited its growing collection of excavated ceramics, rare and exotic flora and fauna, as well as exemplary ecclesiastical, historical, and ethnographic objects.

In 1908, a museum with ‘cabinets of curiosities’ inaugurated at the old Seminario of Colegio de San Carlos at the original campus beside Plaza Independencia. Unfortunately, the American liberation bombings in 1945 destroyed that museum along with its precious collection.

About Museo Sugbo

Museo Sugbo, the Cebu Provincial Museum, occupies the entire former prison complex known in the colonial period as “Carcel de Cebu.” It was converted into a museum and inaugurated by then-Gov. Gwendolyn F. Garcia on August 5, 2008. Its 10 galleries, all dedicated to the prehistory  and history of Cebu spread in three late Spanish period structures of coral stone and lime mortar masonry. The exhibition on of these galleries is the subject of this catalogue.

About USC Press

USC Press, the premier university press in the South, publishes coffee table books as well as paperbacks, and judges have recognized many of its publications as finalists in the prestigious National Books Awards. From history to religion, culture to poetry, the topics of its books range widely.

Last month, the launch of two of its books from two of Cebu’s foremost authors – Resil Mojares and Simeon Dumdum – highlighted this year’s LitFest. Recently, USC Press undertook the publishing of textbooks for senior high, providing student with authoritative, affordable, and user-friendly companion materials for their studies.

 USC Press is managed by Dr. Jose Eleazar Bersales, Ph.D.

Here are the highlights of the event. WATCH and ENJOY! Don’t forget to grab your copies too!

Read Also: History of Cebu


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