Want to see Cebu Then and Now photos?
Cebu, Philippines — Cebu has been regarded as the Queen City of the South and has been in existence for decades now. It rose from a humble trading village to a bustling economic hub in the Visayas. When we say Cebu, it entails myriad of landmarks that gives a clue of its colorful past.
Taking a walk in the alleys and old streets, one can see that the city has always been a fascinating destination not just for history buffs but also for the common traveler. In its core, Cebu has always been linked with the rise of Catholicism in the country. Ever wondered how it would have looked like in the past? Why don’t we go ahead and take a glimpse of the Old Cebu and what is now. We start of with the Magellan’s Cross where everything began.
The original cross is now housed in Tindalo wood case to prevent damage and being chipped off by the natives, since the cross was believed to have healing powers. The chapel now is being rehabilitated after the earthquake and remains one of the most visited landmarks in Cebu, a reminder of the seed of Catholic faith that was planted by Ferdinand Magellan after he sailed from Spain to see the new world.
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is a typical Spanish colonial church in the country. Its belfry was built in 1835 during the Spanish era which is one of the remaining structures, including its facade and walls, that remained intact after the Allied bombings of the city during World War II. The church was later rebuilt in the 1950s. Several reconstructions and renovations were done to the church and it is now one of the famous wedding church destinations in Cebu.
The oldest street in the Philippines, This thoroughfare in downtown Cebu City known as Colon Street existed way back in time, since Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi commissioned its creation in 1565 as part of a settlement called “Villa de San Miguel (St. Michael’s Town)” that also had Fort San Pedro as its nucleus. It was named after Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who sailed for the king and queen of Spain and whose name translates in Spanish to Cristobal Colon.
Today, no trace remains of Legazpi’s Colon or as it was during the 19th century, with its rows of two-storey houses facing one another on both sides of the street. The residential homes of olden times featured a store, shop, or office on the ground floor and living quarters upstairs and belonged to the forebears of prominent names in Cebuano society like Briones, Gantuangco, Lu Do, Rallos, Osmeña, Singson, Cuenco, and Martinez, among others.
Cebu City Public Library
It was organized and opened to the public on April 13, 1919 by Mr. Guillermo Restun, the Chief Librarian from the Ilo-ilo Branch. The province of Cebu took charge of the initial collection and other maintenance and operating expenses. Since its establishment, the public library has been housed in many different buildings until in 1938 an edifice was inaugurated for the library. The Rizal Memorial Library and Museum became its permanent home. This entire three story building served as a fount of knowledge among education conscious Cebuanos. At present, the Cebu City Public Library occupies only the ground floor of the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum.
Cathedral Convent now Archdiocesan Museum
The Cathedral Museum of Cebu is housed in an imposing bahay-na-bato located in the downtown area in close proximity to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. As it is the ecclesiastical museum of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu, it showcases religious architecture and artifacts from the region.Although no factual information regarding its construction can be found, according to Balaanong Bahandi: Sacred Treasures of the Archdiocese of Cebu, it was probably built by Bishop Santos Gomez Marañon during the mid-1800s. No records are currently available as the archdiocesan archives burned along with the Cathedral and the original Archbishop’s Palace during the trial bombing runs of the U.S. forces in September 1944.
Cebu Provincial Capitol Building
“The Authority of the Government Emanates from the People.” This famous line has always been identified with the Cebu Provincial Capitol Building, being the inscription visible on the concave façade of this American-era government building. Declared a National Historical Landmark, the Cebu Provincial Capitol is known as one of the most beautiful Capitol buildings in the Philippines. It has been the seat of government of the Province of Cebu since it was built in 1937 during the incumbency of Gov. Sotero Cabahug. The historic structure sustained damages during World War II but was immediately rehabilitated after.
Parian Plaza now with Heritage of Cebu Monument
At the center of old Cebu’s Parian district was Plaza Parian and the massive Iglesia de San Juan Bautista, which was suppressed and destroyed in the 1870s. A number of stone, tile, and wood principalia residences were gathered around the Plaza, such as those of the Cui, Gandionco, Del Mar, Garces, Sanson, Villa, Rodriguez, and Avila families. The triangular Plaza was for a long time the venue of a theatrical performance by life-size marionettes depicting the life of St. John the Baptist up to the time of his decapitation. Year after year, until the 1970s, the decapitation scene with its fake blood and gore drew applause from its huge audience. At present, it is now the site of the Heritage of Cebu Monument, a tableau that depicts the history of Old Parian.
Plaza Independencia is strategically located between Fort San Pedro and the building that used to be the Gobierno Provincial in the downtown area of Cebu. The plaza is a popular hangout for many living or working around the area. It is one huge garden filled with trees, ornamental plants and flowers. There is also a public skating rink and a kiosk at the center of the circular skating rink. An obelisk dedicated to the memory of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the first Spanish governor-general of the Philippines, is planted at the very heart of the plaza.
The Vision Theatre in Colon Street, with a facade of naked women and sculptured by an Italian artist Dante Guidetti, was built by Agustin Jereza and opened in the 1930’s. However, at present, this is now it is being occupied by hawkers selling pirated DVDs and other stuff. Hopefully, there will be conservation plans for this landmark since it survived a world war and it has notable architectural pieces like its columns.
The convent of the Sto. Niño de Cebu was founded by Fr. Andres de Urdaneta on April 28, 1565 , the very day the Legazpi-Urdaneta expedition arrived in the island. On May 8 of the same year, when Legaspi and his men planned the urbanization of the city, they allotted a “place for the church and the convent of San Agustin, “where the Santo Niño image had been found.” In 1599, the convent was made a house of studies of grammar, headed by the Visayan linguist, Fr. Alonso de Mentrida. It also served as a rest house for missionaries working in the province and as a retirement home for the aged and the sick, usually attended to by a lay brother.
> Founded by the Spanish Jesuits on August 1, 1595, USC was formerly known as the Colegio de San Ildefonso. In 1769, it was closed upon the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Philippines. It reopened in 1783 along Martires Street on the initiative of Bishop Mateo Joaquin de Arevalo under the name Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos, named after St. Charles Borromeo, the great patron of ecclesiastical training in the Renaissance. In 1867, the Vincentians took over the administration of San Carlos. In 1930, the Colegio de San Carlos (CSC) was transferred to the new P. del Rosario building, while the Seminario de San Carlos remained in Martires Street. Five years after, the Colegio was turned over to the Society of the Divine Word (SVD – Societas Verbi Divini), which managed the school for 70 years now.
University of the Philippines
The University of the Philippines Cebu (UP Cebu) is an autonomous college of the UP System and the oldest among the UP campuses outside of Luzon. UP Cebu was established in 1918 as a satellite unit of UP Diliman. UP Cebu offers a diverse array of undergraduate courses and graduate studies which have produced alumni who have been recognized as leaders in the arts, journalism, management, politics and governance, human resource development, industrial relations, and development work.
Fuente Osmeña, or literally “Osmeña Fountain,” was named after Pres. Sergio Osmeña. The patriarch of one of Cebu’s most prominent political families served as the fourth president of the Philippines. Considering his contributions to society, he is considered a favorite son of the province.
The rotunda, which principally features the Osmeña fountain, is said to have been built during the inauguration of the City’s water system. Over the years, it has evolved from simply an exhibition of Cebuano prowess to serve a variety of more practical purposes.
After passing by these places of interest, haven’t you thought of ways to conserving them yourself? Surely, they represent a part of our past that help us become to what we are now as a nation. As a citizen, in what way/s can you help instill awareness and education to see these eventful places in a different light? Let’s Talk!
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