The Heritage of Cebu Monument is a bronze sculptural tableau located at Parian in downtown Cebu. It depicts the important historical events and personalities that have shaped both the city and the province through the centuries. This was said to be an original idea of the artist Eduardo Castrillo and Alvin B. Garcia, the city mayor when it was still constructed from 1997-2000.
The monument has been a familiar site to me since I lived close to it when I was still reviewing for my licensure examinations. I only gave it a second look a few years ago, when a friend and I tried in vain to identify all the characters and landmarks depicted on the sculpture. It would have been easier if we could just tag the them all in Facebook, but to this day, Magellan, Legazpi and Lapu-lapu and the rest of them, do not have profile pages.
I finally had the time to dissect one of Cebu city’s landmarks over the weekend. Allow me to start with the side along Mabini Street. At the far left, we have Ferdinand Magellan and beside him is Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. These explorers manned the Spanish galleons that placed the Philippines in the world map. However they could not have ‘discovered’ the archipelago because based in their accounts the natives already had a form of government and were already in trade with the Chinese and nearby islands. This is shown by the Chinese and an Arab* trader in the monument.
In the middle and the most prominent feature is a tall cross, which we might identify as Magellan’s Cross. But it may not be referring to the same cross housed in that iconic kiosk near the Cebu City Hall. According to Balbino Guerrero, a history buff and local tour guide, the one encased in tindalo wood could have been Legazpi’s instead. He said in a Yahoo article that ‘the chronicler Antonio Pigafetta saw the natives chopping the cross off as Magellan’s remaining soldiers left Cebu.’
At the other side of the monument you can see these churches: San Juan de Bautista Parish Church, the Cathedral and the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino. Beneath the churches is aSto. Niño procession, Fort San Pedro (the oldest of its kind in the Philippines), and something that looks like downtown Colon (the country’s oldest street).
A figure that looks like a priest is smacked in the middle. If that’s Fr. Pedro de Valderrama, then he was the one who baptized Rajah Humabon and his wife into the Christian faith. Then we have Lapu-Lapu at the far right, Mactan’s chieftain who led the battle against Magellan.
Finally we have Sergio Osmeña, the 4th president of the Philippines, Pedro Calungsod, who was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012 and Leon Kilat* (Pantaleon Villegas), a revolutionary leader.
Dissecting the Heritage of Cebu Monument gave me a clearer picture of our collective history beyond our highschool textbooks. But at the end of the day, it does not change at all the fact the monument showed the rich cultural heritage that every Cebuano should be very proud.
I’d like to know what I missed in this exercise, so please leave a comment below for my further learning. I failed to find an English version of Pigafetta’s diary, so I may have channeled Yoyoy Villame’s song to fill in the gaps. 😉
* inputs from Ka Binoy Guerrero.