Thursday, 5 May 2016

A Brief Heritage Walk in Cebu City, Philippines

We only have just a little more than an hour of sunlight. We decided to have a little walk around Cebu City center, especially in the heritage area.

Cebu heritage walk itinerary, Cebu,Philippines
Highlight of the walk
(Click to enlarge)

  Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

We started the walk in Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

It was built in the late 17th century and didn't really complete until 20th century.

Facade, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines

The facade is topped with a trefoil (3-leaved) pediment, and below it is a statue of  a cute folded winged angel in a niche, and bellow that and just above the entrance door is the relief of the Coat of Arms of the King of Spain.

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines

When I was there, a service had just started, you could see a large flock (in the Christian sense) entering the church. Since this is the 4th most Christian country on earth (some figures show Russian being 4th), churches were usually quite packed whenever we visited one (as tourists) in the last few weeks. The Spaniard only built enough churches for the much smaller population during the Spanish Colonial period.

Interior, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines
Standing room only...

And if you expect to see a preacher standing somewhere in the altar, you'll be disappointed. And I had been disappointed a number of times. For those people who don't use to the idea of hearing voices in a church, a TV screen is there to sooth the fear (look at the middle left of the photo above). Why this set up? I dunno...So that the preacher can appear multiple places at once? A miracle! (Of technology).

Bellfry, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines Statue of angel, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines Lamp post, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines
Statue of Christ, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines
Statue of Christ holding a scepter, standing
atop the globe
Mosaic window, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines
Stained-glass window with reflection of the
statue of Christ holding a scepter

Reflection, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines
Is it a church? Is it a car? It's an illusion...

Fountain, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines

Burning candles, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu,Philippines
A scene at the corner of the cathedral: if I don't know any better, I would've thought this is a corner of a Chinese temple.
Know what I'm trying to say?

  Plaza Humabon

Aka Plaza Humabar. This plaza situates between P.Burgos Street and P.Burgos Street (nope, you didn't see double, and there's no typo). And this isn't the (in)famous P.Burgos Street in Manila as we were clearly in Cebu.

When Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and looking for natives to convert (as we expected that he would), chieftain Humabon was the first to put his hand up, and got baptized.

It's said that Humabon (who was enemy of Lapu-Lapu) persuaded Magellan to fight with Mactan chieftain Lapu-Lapu, who unlike Humabon, didn't want to be converted into Christianity. The Battle of Mactan eventually sealed the fate of Magellan.

Well, this is one version of history. We should know that there're different versions of history of a single event across space and time (or across geography/where/which countries, and /history/when/which era). And I'm not even talking about the divergent interpretations of histories by different historians. This adds another layers of inaccuracies.

Statue of Humabon, Plaza Humabon, Cebu,Philippines
Statue of Rajah Humabon

In Magellan's voyage's log book (chronicled by Antonio Pigafetta, an Italian) is a passage, "...and men and women who paint themselves with fire all over their bodies..."

This probably described the tattoo of somebody like Rajah Humabon. The designs on his body was indeed fire.

In the same plaza is a little dwarf obelisk. I didn't go closer and look at the plaque (which was so unlike me. I'm full surprises of myself).

Obelisk, Plaza Humabon, Cebu,Philippines
The obelisk is only slightly taller than the pedestrian

  Colon Street (T Junction)

For English speaker, let me just say that the name of the street has nothing to do with intestines or a punctuation mark (this is a semi-colon); it's Spanish for Christopher Columbus (or Cristabol Colon). Sometimes, something is lost by not translating.

It should be logical that the oldest street is in Cebu rather than, say, Manila as Cebu was the 1st point of contact between Magellan and Rajah Humabon. And where Magellan planted his cross just 0.5 km south of here towards the water edge.

Obelisk, Colon Street, Cebu,Philippines
The T-junction of Colon and P.Burgos Streets

I've heard that Colon Street is a thriving shopping street, but its glorious days was in the 1980s, and it's in decline. My telescopic view from this T-junction seemed to confirm that: it's tired looking and run down. This is probably the best view of Colon Street with the obelisk.

The burning question - like my life depends on it - I ask myself is, did the Spanish or the American government who put up this obelisk? So I devoted my every waking hours and many sleepless nights thinking about this question.

I noticed that there're quite a few obelisks around Cebu (or Manila). I know Yanks love obelisks, and they have the biggest one in their capital that they called Washington Monument. And I believe they placed another one in Rizal Park in Manila where its architectural layout mirroring Memorial Parks in Washington D.C. I know European in general adore these tall and sky-thrusting Egyptian obelisks, having taking all these observations together, I'm forced - like a gun being pointed at my head - to conclude that it's Yanks, not Spaniards, who erected this pointy rod in such prominent public location.

Pushing public bus, Cebu,Philippines
Forgot to put in petrol? Dirty spark plug? Manual powered bus? Need a hand?

  Cebu Heritage Monument

As we continued northwards along P.Burgos St, we finally arrived at the Monument. This is a tableau of sculptures showing the cathedrals, history, and the cast of historical figures of Cebu.

This section of the monument show the religious side of Cebu. The bronze figures on the left showing a procession where the Santo NiƱo (Christ Child) is being carried on the shoulders of 4 men.

Behind them are various important churches/cathedrals in Cebu. The middle one is Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral that we've just visited with its distinctive 3-leaved pediment and adjacent bellfry. Next to it is the Saint John the Baptist Church.

Cebu Heritage Monument, Cebu,Philippines

Cebu Heritage Monument, Cebu,Philippines
This section shows a scene from the Battle of Mactan

Cebu Heritage Monument, Cebu,Philippines
Spanish Galeon , the Cross, Magellen and his crew

Cebu Heritage Monument, Cebu,Philippines
The prominent silhouettes of Magellan's Cross and Church spires

Cebu Heritage Monument, Cebu,Philippines
Showing the ethnic diversity of Chinese, Arab, and an ethnically ambiguous
 man with nice chiseled (or more accurately bronze cast) muscles...Filipino? Spanish? French (Jean Valjean)?

Cebu Heritage Monument, Cebu,Philippines
Smoking cloud?
Cebu Heritage Monument, Cebu,Philippines
May the power of Christ command you!
Cebu Heritage Monument, Cebu,Philippines
Lights off in 5, 4, 3, 2...

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