“Plite, ‘Nong, kutob ra Capitol.” “Sakay na ‘Day og ’Dong, mu-agi ni’g Capitol.” – Okay, so most of us know where the Capitol is, but do we really know what it is or what it stands for? Saying that the Capitol is just another white building you see along the street during your usual jeepney rides in the city, undermines our culture in some way or another. Knowing even just a little bit about this Little White House of ours should be like basic knowledge of a true-blue Cebuano, somewhat like remembering your birthday! Akin to how your birthday is special to you and the people who care about you, there is a reason why the Capitol is special to us Cebuanos. And here begins our mini History class, the cool kind though…
With the US Capitol as inspiration, construction of our Provincial Hall began in 1937. The following year, on June 14th, this Little White House of ours was awarded as “The Most Beautiful Capitol Building in the Philippines.” The inauguration was led by no other than Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon the following year on June 14.
In Pres. Quezon’s speech, he said there were some people against the construction of the building. He called it “a long and hard fight,” but he believed that the different views were both born from acting faithfully as concerned citizens.
It was difficult for then-President because these people who were criticizing his decisions were his friends. “It is only human that when you can decide things in favor of your friends, you prefer to decide them on their side. But I had a duty to perform, and I had to perform that duty even against the wishes of my friends and regardless of what the people might think when I was convinced that what they were thinking was wrong.”
Pres. Quezon joked that he would have to become the Governor of Cebu because the Capitol at that time was bigger than the Presidential Palace! “It was after the great fire of Cebu that Vice-President Osmeña conceived of a new City of Cebu. At the time when he envisioned what we are now seeing here, I am positive that no other Filipino in the Philippines had such ideas about a modern city as he had.”
The building was part of a greater plan – “An honest, efficient, and fair government… Let us have peace, peace based on justice, peace based on cooperation, peace based on the common desire to see this country of ours the greatest nation on this part of the globe.”
The Provincial Capitol of Cebu still stands today as the seat of provincial political power. But only few understand that it also stands as a stark reminder of many struggles – struggles in blood, in opinions, in duty over friendship – and an embodiment of national pride and a vision for a greater Cebu that began in 1937.
Now, the next time you see that white building along the street during your usual jeepney ride with your friends, you can tell them what you learned from this mini History class, the cool kind from that #ThrowbackThursday article you read in #EverythingCebu.