Heritage of Cebu Monument

Cement, iron, and steel come together to form the towering Heritage of Cebu Monument built right on the original Plaza Parian in Cebu City.

Conceptualized by the late National Artist sculptor Eduardo Castrillo, the mammoth structure depicts significant moments in Cebu’s history beginning with that fateful fight of April 21, 1521 in the island of Mactan where native chieftain Lapu-Lapu killed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

The monument also portrays as well the conversion of Rajah Humabon and his followers to Christianity, local revolution against Spanish rule, Cebuano veneration of Sto. Nino, and beatification of first Cebuano saint Pedro Calungsod.

PLAZA PARIAN. This photo taken at about 1910 shows the old Plaza Parian, looking down to corner Colon Street. There were only a few automobiles in Cebu at this time and most went around in tartanillas or horse-drawn carriages. (This photo is part of the Galileo Medalle collection of the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of the San Carlos and is used in this project with the center’s permission.)

Construction of the structure began in July 1997; its inauguration was on December 8, 2000.

Funding for the monument’s construction came from the late Cebuano senator Marcelo Fernan as well as private individuals and groups.

Historical structures carved into the huge monolith are the Basilica del Santo Nino, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, San Juan Bautista Parish Church, Magellan’s Cross, and a Spanish Galleon.

Also to be found in the monument are statues of the late president Sergio Osmena Sr. and Blessed Pedro Calungsod.

The structure is in Parian, which got its name from the word “pari-pari” meaning to barter or trade, according to scholar and historian Resil Mojares. It was where the wealthy Chinese merchants of old lived and held lavish events. A few homes constructed during the 17th to 19th century remain standing today.

Cebu’s history as told by the monument

Sergio Osmeña Sr.

Former Philippine president Sergio Osmeña Sr. is shown seated. Osmeña is also a former governor of Cebu, speaker of the House, and senator. He is the patriarch of the prominent Osmeña political clan that includes his son, former senator Sergio Osmeña Jr., and grandsons former senators Sergio Osmeña III and John Henry Osmeña, former governor Lito Osmeña, and former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña.

San Pedro Calungsod and Sinulog dancers

To the left is an image of San Pedro Calungsod, who was martyred in Guam in 1672 while doing missionary work. Calungsod was identified as from the Visayas. He is said to be from Ginatilan, Cebu. At right are Sinulog dancers on top of Fort San Pedro. Sinulog is both a dance that venerates the Sto. Niño and a festival held in his honor every 3rd Sunday of January.

Cebu churches

From left, if you’re facing the monument, are the replicas of the 3 significant churches in Cebu: San Juan Bautista Parish Church, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. The San Juan Bautista church used to stand near this monument but it was destroyed in the 19th century. The story of its destruction can be read in the marker that is found near the chapel across the monument. Below the churches are dancers performing the Sinulog atop a replica of Fort San Pedro.

First mass

This scene commemorates the holding of the first mass in the Philippines. From the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, it was generally accepted that the first mass happened in Butuan. Scholars and historians, after studying Pigafetta’s accounts and other pieces of historical evidence, said that the mass recorded by the Italian chronicler happened in the island of Limasawa in Southern Leyte. Two panels organized by the National Historical Institute said that the mass on Easter Sunday on March 31, 1521 happened in Limasawa. Butuan, however, recently pushed forward another claim and the National Quincentennial Commission convened a panel led by National Artist and historian Resil Mojares to restudy the issue.

Battle of Mactan

Ferdinand Magellan died on the shores of nearby Mactan Island in the hands of native warriors led by chieftain Lapulapu. Magellan attacked the Mactan settlement after Lapulapu refused the order to provide food and other supplies and convert to Christianity.

That battle on April 27, 1521, is celebrated yearly as the Kadaugan sa Mactan or Victory in Mactan. In 2021, the country will commemorate its 500th year with a nationwide celebration.

Ferdinand Magellan

The Portuguese explorer led the Armada de Molucca for Spain, meant to find a western route to the Moluccas or the spice islands. The existing eastern route was already controlled by Portugal.

Magellan led a fleet of five vessels. Of the five, only one eventually made it back to Spain. Magellan was killed in the Battle of Mactan on April 27, 1521.

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi

The Spanish navigator was known as El Adelantado. He was the first Governor-General of the Spanish East Indies that included the Philippines, Guam, and the Marianas Islands.

Legazpi arrived in Cebu on April 27, 1565. Locals led by Rajah Tupas fought the Spaniards but were subdued. A Spanish soldier later found inside one of the houses the image of the Sto. Niño given as a gift to Queen Juana when Magellan was in Cebu. The discovery led the Spaniards to name the settlement “Villa del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus.”

Leon Kilat and Cebuano revolutionaries

This scene shows Katipuneros in Cebu with their leader, Pantaleon Villegas, more popularly known as Leon Kilat. He led the rebellion against Spaniards that broke out on April 3, 1898, a Palm Sunday. He was, however, betrayed and killed in Carcar on April 8, a Good Friday.

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