When one thinks about Cebu, one of the things that normally come to mind is Magellan’s Cross. The original cross is encased in tindalo wood since the natives believed it had miraculous powers and started to chip away parts of it. It is housed inside a small chapel along Magallanes Street, which was named after the renowned Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
On March 15, 1521, Magellan, who was also known as Fernando Magallanes, arrived in Cebu under the auspices of the Spanish crown in search of the famed Spice Islands. Upon his arrival on the island, Magellan was met by Rajah Humabon, a native chieftain who agreed to be baptized as a Christian together with wife and warriors.
A cross was planted by Magellan on April 21, 1521 to commemorate this important event that marked the start of the spread of Christianity in the archipelago. While Magellan met his end at the hands of the warriors of Datu Lapu-Lapu in the historic Battle of Mactan, one of his ships was able to successfully circumnavigate the world.
Some stories revealed that the original cross was supposedly destroyed after the natives turned against the Spaniards following the death of Magellan. A narrative indicated that the natives burned the ships of the Spaniards along with the cross, and the survivors of the Battle of Mactan were lucky to escape with their lives.
The cross is currently being used as a symbol by the City of Cebu, and an image of the chapel housing the cross can be seen on the seal of the Cebu City government. It is also used on the seals and logos of a number of Cebu-based organizations. Magellan’s Cross is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cebu, and is within walking distance to the other historical landmarks of the city.
Solar energy is the cleanest available source of energy and it is set to be harnessed in one of the northern towns of Cebu. Groundbreaking for a P10-billion solar energy power plant was conducted recently in the northern town of Daanbantayan. The project is expected to generate 43,800 megawatts of power each year starting June of next year, as reported on Cebu Daily News.
The project covers 25 hectares in Barangay Pajo and Barangay Tominjao, where around 80,000 solar panels will be installed by CeKO Solar Farm Systems Corp. The solar panels to be used for the project will last up to thirty years, according to CeKO Solar Farm Systems Corp president Jessie Tundag.
The flat terrain makes the area suitable for the project, Tundag said. It also receives around “five hours of sunlight” every day based on an evaluation of the company, he added.
Maintenance of the project will result to an increase in employment among the residents of the town. The project was welcomed by Mayor Augusto Corro of Daanbantayan, who said that aside from becoming the first town to “embrace renewable energy,” the project also generates local employment.
The investment of the company shows its confidence on the economic potential of the town and its local government, Mayor Corro added. Chairman Yong So Lee of CeKO Solar Farm Systems Corp is hoping that brownouts in the town will be prevented by the project, which may also become a tourist attraction for the town of Daanbantayan.
Tundag said the company is planning to expand the area used for the project to include Barangay Lanao and Barangay Malingin. The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines will benefit from an expansion of the project since it can provide an additional 100 MW of power to the grid.
Power generation of the solar energy power plant is expected to average 4.8 hours every day, which can enhance the load of the Cebu grid.
The screening committee of the 36th Cebu Popular Music Festival had to go through one hundred thirty-six, yes, 136 original Cebuano compositions. The committee was made up of representative from different entities to ensure the top twelve entries are the best compositions Cebu could offer. Committee members agree that while the task was grueling, it was rather enjoyable and productive.
The songs were classified into three categories: environmental, inspirational and love songs. A total of twenty-five songs with the environmental theme were screened by the jurors along with sixty-one inspirational songs and fifty love songs.
After spending at least ten hours listening to different compositions from outstanding composers, the committee was able to select the top four songs from each category. The top four environmental compositions are: Manguros Na Lang Tang Daan by Jade Castro, Asa Ta Punta by Russel Chingkoy Alegado, Kinaiyahan Matahum by Venice June Sy Corsino and Isla by Dennis Martin.
The finalists in the inspirational category are: Diha sa Pulong Mo by Bienvenido Racho, Gugma Mo by Michaen Ricaborda, Ngano Kaha by Irene Abadiez Bacus and Kinabuhi Musika by Nathan Philip Amores. And last but not the least, the finalists in the love songs category are: Sama sa Dahong Laya by Angelito Zamora Jr., Sa Gugma Magdaug by Rad Zamora, Ang Atong Gugma by Archimedes Dairocas/Luis Sebastian Rusiana Latigo Rapper and Awit Ning Gugma by Ralph Maligro.
The members of the screening committee for the 36th Cebu Popular Music Festival are: Sam Costanilla, Roger Serna, Apple Abarquez, Manolito Languido, Sanden Anadia, Eli Manlangit, Cerj Michael, Baby Condeno and Fr. Lyndon Ruiz. The Cebu Popular Music Festival was institutionalized by the Cebu Arts Foundation Inc. and has become one of the activities for the Sinulog celebrations every January. The 36th Cebu Popular Music Festival will be held on January 16.
Sure, sure, I love Cebu. But what is Cebu and where is it really? When we say “Cebu,” do we mean the island? The city? Is Cebu a reference to geographic space? Or is it a people who speak a common tongue and go by a particular frame of mind?
I remember a conversation with my late friend and famous writer of culture Edilberto Alegre. Although Tagalog by birth, Ed lived in Leyte and wrote extensively about the Bisaya including the Cebuanos. He travelled much in Mindanao where he discovered that Cebuano was the best language to be fluent in if one wanted to go about the area and do research.
It is good information to have if only to understand certain nuances of fact. And one may note, for example, how in the videotapes that recorded the last moments in the life of the late Benigno Aquino Jr., the word “pusila, pusila” floated in the audio. A well-known columnist noted this fact and surmised that one of the shooters must have been Cebuano. He was both right and wrong.
If one understands Cebuano to mean a resident of the Cebu islands, then he was most likely wrong. On the other hand, if one takes the broader view and use “Cebuano” to refer to anyone who uses the language, then he would be correct. But then, he would be referring to anyone who speaks a language spoken anywhere south and west from the Cebu and Bohol islands, certainly over most of Mindanao, including, as my late friend opined, Basilan and Jolo.
Ed explained this wide cultural spread of the Cebuano culture and language. The early colonial records show that Cebu, the island, was never much good for growing food. It was visited by regular famine. But it was central in the islands, the belly button of the whole Philippine archipelago. It was a regular route of Asian trading and commerce. It is not a big island, and land was always scarce even then. And whatever land was there was rocky-limestone, hilly and not as suitable for growing anything as, say, Negros, which was blessed by Mt. Kanlaon with rich volcanic soil. So people who became rich here usually went elsewhere to expand their landholdings, to have farms or grow livestock that they could trade and sell. Inevitably, the trading and selling would happen in Cebu. So it may be said that since time immemorial, the Cebuanos were always a traveling people. They are an immigrant culture.
This cultural trait persists to this day. Cebuanos can be found all over the Philippines and the world. And still as ever, it is the language that distinguishes them. I once played with my children at a park in Tokushima, in Japan, when a pretty lady approached me. “Cebuano di-ay ka?” was the first thing she said. “Pareho di-ay ta.” She had her own little son playing in the park. But she had been from Bohol and was now married to a Japanese.
This exchange explains in some way why despite the cultural spread, Cebuano is never thought of as an “imperialist” culture unlike the Tagalog or, if we refer to the place, Manila. “Cebuano” is not a term of exclusivity. One may be a Cebuano but still come from another place, as in the case of the Tokushima lady who came from Bohol. One may reside in a ranch in Bukidnon and still think of one’s self as Cebuano. One could be a California-Cebuano or a Cebuana New Yorker. It is all perfectly fine. No Cebuano will ever think of you as alien even if you live in Alaska or was born there and don’t even speak the language. Any sort of connection is acceptable. And this manner of accepting is rooted on an ancient tradition.
Anybody who resides in Cebu who asserts he’s Cebuano is accepted as Cebuano. Anybody who is married to a Cebuano is Cebuano. Anybody having a connection anywhere from first to nth degree of consanguinity can claim to be Cebuano. Anybody who speaks the language is Cebuano, even if he is Caucasian and grew up in Montana. No question about it. You do not have to born into the Cebuano. You can also just live into it. Cebuano is a wonderfully ambiguous concept. It has to be. The Cebuanos love it that way.
That is why people love it here. Cebuano is an accepting, nonexclusive culture. Nobody is alien here unless he or she insists on being one. And indeed, there are many who still do. But it is only because they do not understand. They are not sufficiently postmodernized, not sufficiently up-to-date in the sense of the global conception of what culture and identity ought to be. For if one truly thought about it, this is the direction the world is already going. But for a few who still insist that cultural root is something that should be exclusive and alienating, look at London, how many old-family white Caucasian English actually live there? And why shouldn’t a black South African or an Asian from Carcar think of himself as a Londoner? If the brown man from Carcar says he is Cebuano, then all the better for everyone. Cebu is nowhere and everywhere. It is the postmodern Erewhon.
This article was published in Cebu Daily News on November 30, 2011.
Today marks the 137th birth anniversary of Former President Sergio Osmeña.
Osmeña was the fourth President of the Republic of the Philippines from 1944 to 1946.
Before he became President, Osmeña served as Governor of Cebu (1904-1907), Member and Speaker of the House of Representatives (1907-1922), Senator and Senate President (1922-1935), and Vice President (1935-1944) under Manuel L. Quezon. While he was VP, he also became Secretary of Public Instruction, Health, and Public Welfare. He was also the founder of the Nacionalista Party and the first Visayan President of the Philippines.
Osmeña was born and raised in Cebu City. He acquired his elementary education from Colegio de San Carlos. After which, he moved to Manila and studied in San Juan de Letran College for high school and took up law in University of Santo Tomas after. He placed second in the bar exam in 1903.
On May 22, 1990, Republic Act 6953 declared September 9 as a non-working holiday in the City of Cebu and the Province of Cebu to commemorate the birth of the late President.
Lola Pureza's Peanut Browas, a taste of old Cebu.
Available in leading supermarkets and pasalubong shops.