Update: Gabii sa Kabilin 2017 was held on May 26.
Gabii sa Kabilin (Night of Heritage) is held every last Friday of the month of May and is organized by The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. Since the event started in 2006, I always try to be in the city to participate. I found that every year there are always new learnings and new experiences. Looking back to that first year, the participants were the clusters of museums and heritage houses in downtown Cebu — Parian, Casa Gorordo, Yap-Sandiego House, Sto. Nino Museum, Fort San Pedro and the Cebu Provincial Museum. Now, the event has expanded to more participating museums and heritage destinations in Cebu, Talisay, Mandaue and Lapu-lapu.
Here are my top five tips on how to make the most of your time and your ticket:
- Start early. The event starts at 6PM. Do not adhere to “Filipino time.” Be there when the staff and the guides are still preparing to open. Talk to them. I have not yet met an unfriendly guide in any Gabii sa Kabilin event. It is great to talk with the guide while they are setting up because you will learn a lot from them.
- Study the map. At the 2016 event, there were seven bus routes. Plan your night carefully so that you are assured that you will not be walking too far or hailing another mode of transportation to get to another destination. The bus fares are included in the P150 ticket so make sure you take the bus to maximize what you paid. At the 2017 event, there were lesser bus routes, and I found it not very efficient as the routes were no longer interconnected to one another.
- Allot an hour each destination. The thing with Gabii sa Kabilin is most of the destinations have fun activities in store for guests. I found that the most number of places you can visit during the six-hour event is only four (given you take a break for dinner and you leave before 12 midnight). In 2015, my husband and I spent more than two hours at the Rizal Library Museum just watching indie Cebuano films. This year, we spent more than an hour at the West Gorordo Hotel because we joined their fun treasure hunt.
- Ask questions. Cebu City is a small city and I must admit that I have been to almost all museums around the city countless of times. But I am a history-geek so I am always interested to learn more from other people. Seek out the guides because they would know more about their displays. Also, start conversations with other guests, who might turn out to be bigger history-geeks than you. Even if you are not a history-geek, it pays to know your city and its past because it is, undoubtedly, the key to its future.
- ENJOY! Do not be bummed if you cannot visit all destinations. What is important is you have the best experience in each destination you choose. By participating in this year’s Gabii sa Kabilin, you are ensured that it will be back next year.
Now, the event is far from being perfectly organized, so DO NOT get frustrated. Here are some things that you should NOT expect from the event:
- Airconditioned buses. Most buses will be from the city and participating barangays. Most will be dilapidated, heavily vandalized, and in poor condition. While riding the bus, take the time to reflect upon the status of our government and search from the bottom of your heart actions that you can do to help improve our government and public service. (Di ba, deep kaayo akong reflections while riding the bus.). Also, if you are a teenager or is still able, please give the seats to the elderly, pregnant women and people with disability.
- The event will start on time. The participating destinations will open on time but the activities will not start on time. I noticed that most activities in almost all participating destinations start around 7:30-8PM, maybe because that’s the time the crowd is building up (because people have finished eating dinner). Do not get frustrated. Instead, see Tip #1 above. Keep yourself amused, talk to other guests who might be better historians than the official tour guides, walk around.
- Good lighting. Most museums and participating destinations will have yellow lighting, which I think is good to highlight displays but bad for taking photos.
- Thorough captions of museum displays. I find this frustrating especially when there are no tour guides because a guest cannot help himself with what are displayed because there are no thorough captions.
- Senior citizen friendly. Sadly, I find the facilities and venues not friendly to senior citizens. The entryway of the buses are high and we had to “jump” a little bit to get off. In the venues, some of the displays are in the second floor, and some senior citizens would no longer be able to climb the stairs. Also, in the venues, there are no ample chairs for senior citizens to sit down and enjoy the entertainment being offered (with the exception of Museo Sugbu and Rizal Library).
ITINERARY FOR THE 2017 GABII SA KABILIN
6:30-7:00 PM UP Cebu, Gorodo Ave.
No offense to my alma mater, but I stood there pretending to be pleased with what they come up with to entertain guests of the event. Later that night, going home, I commented to my husband how I failed to understand why UP did not even mention why it was a “kabilin” to Cebu City. We only spent 30 minutes or less in the university and we left.
7-8PM Museum of Folk Art, The Mayflower Inn
I loved the fact that guests were able to interact with the displays at the Museum of Folk Art at the Mayflower Inn. There were toys and games, and both adults and kids were playing with them. I especially enjoyed the Japanese kendama ball game and the ViewMaster. Of course, I spent time looking at their camera display (I have a small collection at home).
8-8:45PM Rizal Library and Museum, Osmena Blvd.
8:45-9:00 PM Iglesia Filipinas Independiente
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) church in Parian is dear to me. I spent two months at one point in my college life here learning how to be a community leader, learning about life, and learning to have compassion and empathy. We reached IFI by way of a taxi because sadly the bus routes during the GSK did not interlink with each other. By the time we reached Pari-an, I was kind of tired with my cough and colds and found the IFI church too hot (it was also very noisy outside because of the drums) that I did not spend a lot of time inside. I would have wanted to learn more about the members of the IFI in Cebu and their kabilin. I guess that would be my agenda in next year’s event.
9:00-9:15 PM Casa Gorordo
Casa Gorordo is the most prepared venue in the GSK, and rightfully so because the casa is managed by RAFI, the organizer of the GSK. While I generally love Casa Gorordo and can hang out in this place for hours, the GSK is not the best time for me to admire the house-turned-museum. While it was still lovely, it was full of people and there were no seats for senior citizens.
9:15-9:45 PM Waiting for bus to Museo Sugbu. This was my least favorite part of the GSK. 😦 I would not have complained if it was just me and my husband, but our parents (both senior citizens) were with us and I hated for them to stand and wait for a bus.
9:30-10:30PM Museo Sugbu
We were glad there were chairs at the Museo Sugbu, the singers were good looking, and they sang really well the Bisaya songs. I was entertained for a while but browsed around to buy Jessie’s torta from Argao (better than Chitang’s) and my favorite biscuits also from Argao.
ITINERARY FOR THE 2016 GABII SA KABILIN
6-7 PM – San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church, Brgy. San Nicolas
Our first stop during the Gabii sa Kabilin 2016 was the San Nicolas Parish Church in Brgy. Sawang Calero. We live in the vicinity and we think our barangay is very rich in history and heritage, but super underrated.
In fact, after wrapping up work for the day, we went to our favorite 7-11 store across the Taboan Public Market to have some snacks before walking to the church, which is just one block away. We were very early and there was a mass going on for Flores de Mayo. There was no set-up or display yet. So we whiled our time taking pictures, eating, and talking with the people in the vicinity. We love how the church grounds were very clean and spacious. They have benches and there were people sitting minding their own business. Inside the church compound is a covered court where some people were playing basketball. Outside the church is a children’s park full of children playing.
We choose our neighbor church as the first stop because we have not explored much of our neighborhood. San Nicolas is in an old settlement, a settlement that pre-dates the Spaniards. Here is where Rajah Humabon and Rajah Tupas ruled. The San Nicolas church (built 1584) was the first church to be built by the Spaniards and the cross in Magellan’s cross was first erected in the area (specifically near Pasil Fish Market). Trivia: San Nicolas was not part of Cebu during the Spanish time. It was considered a separate town.
We were fascinated to learn that the parish of San Nicolas included up to Carcar in the south and Opon in the north. We can only imagine how dusty their Sunday shoes were after all the walking from Carcar to San Nicolas. We think people from Opon rode bancas to go to church.
Another trivia: Tres de Abril — a long street that starts in San Nicolas and ends in Labangon — was named after the famous 1898 Battle of Tres de April led by Leon Kilat. April 3, 1898 was a Palm Sunday. And, just another trivia, we wanted to name our nephew Leon because he was born on April 3, 2014, at the Miller Hospital, which is in Tres de Abril Street. 🙂
There were only about five young people serving as tour guides inside the church. We think they should create more interactive activities in future years to attract more visitors. But we actually also thought being only one of the few guests gave us more time to talk with the guides and ask questions.
The San Antonio statue, according to the guide, is one of the many statues given by the Spaniards to the locals. It is made of wood.
One of the highlights of our night at the San Nicolas church was the original Sto. Nino de Cebu. The guide allowed us to touch it. This is the Sto. Nino that is used in the fluvial and end-of-novena processions during the Sinulog week. This is the original Sto. Nino given by the Spaniards to the locals.
Before we left (which was one hour after we started the tour), the organizers gave each of us a pack of panesitos and a stampita with a prayer at the back. The panesitos are unflavored crackers, which, according to the head guide, can be used to treat ailments when you accompany it with the prayer at the back of the stampita. True enough, the panesitos saved us from hunger that night because it was another hour before we were able to finally have dinner.
Compared to other participating sites and museums, the San Nicolas church display would be considered boring. We think they need to improve it especially because San Nicolas church and the area surrounding it was a crucial government unit before the Spaniards came. The area is historically-rich and we hope the residents realize that, be proud of it, and showcase this pride to other people. The church has been destroyed many times in the past. There are no remnants of the old church, but the feeling of heritage was very visible at our young guide’s voice. That voice should be rightfully proud — after all, San Nicolas is not just one of the oldest pre-Hispanic settlements with a formal structure of government and the site of the first church to be built by the Spaniards, San Nicolas is also the birth place of many great Cebuano men and women.
7-8PM – Stop 2: Fu Guang Shan Chu Un Temple, V. Rama Ave.
There is always a first time. And indeed there is, or was. In our case, it was our first time to visit the Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple in V. Rama, which is actually only a 5-minute ride from where we live. This was a our first time here and we didn’t know what to expect.
According to the Gabii sa Kabilin guide, Chu Un Temple is a Buddhist temple established by in 1988 by the couple Paterno and Rosita Luym. Cebu has a rich Chinese history and, if you are a true-blue Cebuano, you would know who the Luyms are. (Hint: their main business operations is located near the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish church).
We didn’t know the Chu Un temple was on a hill. We were surprised and amazed that we had a good view of a portion of the city scape when we reached the temple. When we got there at around 7PM, the guides were still setting up but the temple was soon filled with visitors. Most of the guides were clad in lovely costumes from the Siddhartha play, which led us to conclude that Chu Un was a Buddhist temple. (Yup, we didn’t know that too.).
We were glad there was a food stall because it was already 7PM. We bought vegetable dumplings. It was quite tasty and we would have loved to have paired it with steamed dumpings and soy and rice. While waiting for activities, we toured around the temple and thought it was very beautiful. We also loved the “atmosphere,” how the people were very light to interact with.
We have already consumed our packets of panesitos so we decided not to wait for the next bus so we can have dinner already. That was the time the musical was about to play. Too bad we didn’t catch it, but our stomachs were already grumbling.
8-9PM – Dinner break
9-10:15PM – Stop 3: Museum of Naive Art, West Gorordo Hotel
West Gorordo Hotel is one of the many small hotels in Cebu City. It can often be overlooked because it is not situated in a prime hotel location (Business Park or Fuente Circle). The hotel is one of the three permaculture-inspired hotels in the city (the other two are Elicon House and Mayflowe Inn) and houses the Museum of Naive Art (MoNA), which displays the art works of Paulina Constancia. We have been meaning to visit MoNa but never got the chance until Gabii sa Kabilin 2016.
The main attraction of the hotel during the Gabii sa Kabilin 2016 was of course the MoNA. There were a lot of the artist’s works on display. Before entering the gallery, guests are ushered to a small room for an introduction to “naive art.” We were glad we paid attention to the short video because it helped us in the next activity. Guests were also allowed to visit the artist’s studio, but we opted to go directly to the gallery.
At the gallery, we decided to join the treasure hunt, which was a lot of fun, although our eyes were strained in trying to look for the art works included in the hunt. What we didn’t expect were the prices. Joel got a mug for getting 15 correct answers and Psyche got an Ikea food container for getting 14 correct answers.
There was also free gelato. Joel choose mango and Psyche, of course, choose choco-mint.
There was a demonstration on nilusak making, but, sadly we were not able to have a taste because it was not yet done. Guests, including us, were all happy. We thought West Gorordo Hotel had the best production during our Gabii sa Kabilin 2016 trip. The staff were very, very friendly, and generous too!
West Gorordo Hotel
110 Gorordo Avenue
Cebu City, Philippines 6000
Tel: 032.231-4347 to 49
10:15-11PM Stop 4: Anthill Fabric Gallery, Pedro Calomarde St.
Anthill Fabric Gallery was our last stop during the Gabii sa Kabilin 2016. It was already 10:00 PM by then and we were ready to hit the bed. It was just fitting then that our feet took us to Anthill because the atmosphere was relaxed with local singers performing at the front of the store.
There was 10% off on all of Anthill’s products that night and we bought a table runner. There was also free bracelet making at one of their rooms and we were delighted to be accommodated especially when we thought it was only for kids. The kids were a lot of fun and more creative than us, boldly pairing different colors and textures for their bracelets.
Anthill Fabric Gallery
Pedro Calomarde St., cor. Acacia St.
Tel: 032 505 4175
Landmark: The shop is near House of Lechon and Kia Motors.