Earlier this year, in May 2010, the University of San Carlos and several heritage houses located in Carcar were declared as heritage sites by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. On December 2, 2010, three additional cast-iron national historical markers were unveiled in Cebu.
The facade of the Nuestra Señora del Pilar Church in Sibonga was unveiled by NHCP Chairman Ambeth R. Ocampo along with Sibonga’s parish priest Fr. Leo Cabahug and the Sibonga Ecclesiastical Heritage Commission’s president Dr. Noel Ponce.
The Sibonga church, which is dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar of Zaragoza, was built in 1868. The construction was interrupted by the 1898 Revolution and was finally completed in 1907. It was inaugurated in 1917 by Msgr. Jeremias Harty, then Archbishop of Manila, and Msgr. Juan Gorordo, who was to become the first Cebuano bishop of the province of Cebu.
The neo-Gothic structure features Raymundo Francia’s ceiling paintings done in 1924. These paintings are said to be the only ones preserved among his works in Cebu. The declaration as an NHCP heritage site is a step closer to becoming a National Cultural Treasure, which Sibonga hopes to achieve under the NHCP in light of the full conservation of Francia’s ceiling paintings and the church itself.
Dr. Ocampo then unveiled the historical marker on the main building of the University of the Philippines Cebu College.
In 1929, Engr. Agustin Jereza constructed the building for the Junior College of Liberal Arts. In the 1950s, the main building was occupied by the Jesuits who renamed it as Berchman’s College. The edifice, which is a glorious 81-year-old structure, was able to survive World War II but it does have some horrific memories of being a Japanese garrison.
The unveiling of the marker on the Bank of the Philippine Islands’ Magallanes branch capped the day’s events. The old BPI building is just a few steps from the famous Magellan’s Cross. The building was designed by Architect Juan Marcos Arellano and began construction in 1941. Arellano also designed Cebu’s Capitol building. The neoclassical edifice is also a survivor of the war, with just a corner hit from a dud bomb.
Cebu still has more sites and structures that are waiting for NHCP recognition. The Cebu Normal University, the Cebu Technological University and the Cathedral Museum are just a few of these.