One event that should not be missed in Cebu this May is the annual Gabii sa Kabilin, which is bigger this year since it will involve 21 heritage sites and include children’s activities as well as an exhibit of Cebuano delicacies.
Dr. Jocelyn Gerra, executive director of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI)-Culture and Heritage, said they are aiming to attract 10,000 people to the May 25 event that will start at 6 p.m. and end at midnight.
Tickets cost P150 and allow participants access to the 21 sites where cultural performances, exhibits, art fairs, food markets, and interactive demonstrations will be held.
What tourists should include in their Cebu to do list is go on a heritage walk. Cebu City’s downtown area is a heritage belt of old churches, houses, and other structures that date back to its colonial Spanish past spanning no less than 300 years.
These places are of walking distance from each other and have given rise to guided visits that include stopovers in some or all of these sites. Whether you hire a licensed guide or do the tour on your own, this is one walk you can’t afford to miss.
Cebu to do activities
1. Start at Fort San Pedro, oldest in the country. It was constructed on May 8, 1565 or 11 days after Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in Cebu. According to a report from Restoration USA (Source: http://www.restorationusa.com/fort-lauderdale/), its restoration in 1972 called for the replacement of 20,000 pieces of coral stones in the main building. /A. Pigafetta St./ 256-2284, 416-7080/Monday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Entry fees: regular, P30; senior citizens, P24; students/children, P20
Parking fees: car, P15; coaster/bus, P30
An authentic Spanish mansion with period furniture, the Casa Gorordo along Lopez Jaena St. in Cebu City showcases a lifestyle from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century.
The stone and tile structure, restored and maintained as a museum by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI), is one of few remaining houses called “balay nga tisa,” which was the building of choice of Cebu’s local rich families in the 1800’s.
Architect Melva R. Java, writing about island architecture in “Cebu: More Than an Island,” said the Spanish-period houses of coral stones and clay tile roofs depict a synthesis of “two world views–Asian transiency and Western permanence.”
Casa Gorordo’s lower floor served as storage spaces and probably also housed the horses and carriage like the other “balay nga tisa” of the landed gentry in colonial Cebu. Today, it accommodates museum offices and an area for art exhibitions.
The house’s lower floor walls are made of coral stones, and it bears all features typical of a balay nga bato: spacious interiors with ventanillas or vents below the window sills, sliding Capiz windows, and tugas posts and 12-inch wide floorboards.
An arch with intricate carvings of plants and birds separate the dining room or comedor from the landing and living room. At the end of the dining room is a kitchen typical of that period when the house was built.
Sliding doors open up into a wide balcony or azotea that runs by a long section of the house. Beside the house was built a new service building inspired by 19th century architecture and the garden, which has been landscaped, has been the venue of several events.
Aside from being one of the few remaining Spanish-period houses in the country, Casa Gorordo also gained prominence because it was the residence of Cebu’s first Filipino bishop.
The house was owned by the Reynes-Garces family before it was bought by Juan Isidro Gorordo, father of Juan Gorordo–who served as bishop of Cebu from 1910-1932, in 1863.
Casa Gorordo, which was declared a national landmark by the National Historical Institute in 1991, was opened by RAFI as a museum in 1983. Displayed inside the house are antique furniture and altar pieces as well as relics of a lifestyle at the turn of the century.
The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Entrance fees are: P10 (elementary and high school students), P15 (college students), P40 (local), and P70 (foreign).
How to get there
Casa Gorordo is part of surviving heritage structures found in Parian, which got its name from the word “pari-pari (to barter or trade)” because it used to be the Chinese trading district of old. The area was the home of Cebu’s affluent citizens in the 19th century.
Parian is 20 to 30 minutes by cab from other areas in Cebu City.
Click play on the YouTube video below to load a video tour of Casa Gorordo by its curator, Florencio Moreno II. Caution: the audio is loud because it is meant to be listened to on a phone without using earphones.