Spotlight was on Cebu’s rich heritage when the island-province became the venue of the closing ceremonies of the National Heritage Month (NHM) with the theme “Pamanang Pinoy: Taoid 2014” last May 31.
Organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the closing rites were preceded by a Mass presided by the newly elected Subcommission on Cultural Heritage (SCH) head, Fr. Harold Rentoria, OSA, at the Pilgrim Center of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu in Cebu City.
Fr. Rentoria is also commissioner of the NCCA.
Fr. Rentoria said Cebu was chosen to host the closing event of Taoid, as the the NHM celebration is now known, since the province would be marking several milestones next year: 450th anniversary of the Christianization of the Philippines (1565-2015); 450th anniversary of Kaplag (the finding of the image of Sto. Niño de Cebu by the Legazpi expedition); 450th year of the Augustinian presence in the Philippines; and 50th year of Sto. Niño Church as a minor basilica (1965-2015).
“Cebu has a rich history and heritage,” said Fr. Rentoria. “It is the place where the Augustinian Spanish missionaries first established their missions, and where we venerate the oldest religious icon in the Philippines, the Holy Image of Señor Sto. Niño de Cebu.”
Fr. Rentoria added that Cebu City was also a very active partner of NCCA-SCH in the protection, promotion and conservation of history and cultural heritage.
The closing ceremony kicked off with welcome remarks from Fr. Jonas Mejares, OSA, basilica rector; and cultural performances by the Sandiego Dance Company and Lumad Basakanon Dancers.
The ceremony was hosted by Miss Earth 2008 Karla Henry.
A night at the museums
The annual Gabii sa Kabilin in Cebu was held May 30. The celebration, inspired by Germany’s Lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of the Museums), was organized in commemoration of the World Museum Day on May 18. Participating cities were Cebu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City and Lapu-Lapu City.
Cebu City has 22 participating sites: Anthill Fabric Gallery; Casa Gorordo Museum; Cathedral City of Cebu; Cebu City Museum; Cebu City Hall; Chapel of San Pedro de Calungsod; Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. Memorabilia and CAP Art Gallery; Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple; Fort San Pedro; Iglesia Filipina Indepediente Cathedral of the Holy Child Jesus; José R. Gullas Halad Museum; Museo Parian sa Sugbo; Museo Parian; Plaza Parian; Sacred Heart Parish Church; San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church; St. Theresa’s College–Folklife Museum; Staypi’s Souvenirs and Collectibles; Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum; United Church of Christ in the Philippines; University of the Philippines Cebu; and University of the Southern Philippines Foundation–Rizaliana Museum.
For P150 a ticket, locals and tourists were able to enjoy cultural performances, food-tasting, exhibits, and other cultural activities from various heritage sites which were open until 12 midnight. Visitors traveled between the sites through special buses and horse-drawn carriages.
Repair of churches
Although official celebrations might have closed, Fr. Rentoria said the NCCA would be holding Taoid all year round.
He said the NCCA would be working on many projects this year, primarily repairing the heritage churches and other structures damaged by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake last October and by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in November.
“When we took over, some concerns regarding the damaged heritage structures caused by natural calamities were already addressed by former subcommission members, and we are now continuing and enhancing these policies,” Fr. Rentoria said.
The SCH also continues its close coordination with the two cultural agencies, the National Museum and National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
“Additional concerns of the subcommission this year are the implementation of the National Heritage Law of 2009; implementation of intervention activities under the Taoid Program; and the review of existing policies on the protection and conservation of our country’s history and cultural heritage,” the Augustinian priest said.
Fr. Rentoria added the NCCA was finalizing its agreement with the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines on the protection and conservation of churches declared by the government as National Cultural Treasures.
“The help will be in the form of formulation of policies in order to fast-track work and/or develop programs in order to assist them in rehabilitation, as well as offer assistance in terms of expertise in the various rehabilitation concerns for both Cebu and Bohol,” Fr. Rentoria explained.