ALL DRESSED UP
Gabii sa Kabilin stirs the night with the ghosts of Cebu’s past
A Tony Award winner gets profiled
by his only sister
A melting pot of different cultures, our ancestors trading with their Asian neighbors long before the Spaniards arrived, Cebu is not just another island in the Pacific. The remnants of its many- layered past are often swept under the rug of a growing metropolis. People tend to overlook Cebu as a place rich in history and culture, the number of heritage sites strewn all over the island often going unnoticed. Today, Cebu waits for its stories to be told. And when they do get told, they’re often done so in hushed tones and sound bites before ultimately getting silenced by the deafening noise of modernization.
Gabii Sa Kabilin ( A Night of Heritage) aims to change that. The organizers at Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. are all too aware that, when given the right platform, Cebu transforms into an animated storyteller, with tales that are difficult, almost impossible to get a word into edgewise.
As per Cebu City Ordinance No. 2327, the last Friday of May is reserved for the celebration of Gabii Sa Kabilin. This year, 41 heritage sites, including Fort San Pedro and Iglesia Filipina Independiente Cathedral of the Sto. Niño, were open to the public from six in the evening until 12 midnight.
Buses and horse- drawn carriages were available to transport guests from one venue to another. I chose neither, buses being a little too modern for my taste at that time and the calesa not really sitting well with me as I don’t believe in the enslavement of animals for our personal amusement. Exploring the Pari- an area on foot definitely made for a better Gabii Sa Kabilin experience.
I went straight to Casa Gorordo Museum, a former private dwelling of the Gorordos built in the 1850s. The place was closed for renovations, but guests were treated to a display of antiques outside. In the patio, an old man playing a harp that has clearly seen better days made for a nostalgic Friday night at the museum. Guests were treated to cultural dances in front of the Yap- San Diego Ancestral House, one of the oldest in the entire country. Inside, ladies in baro’t saya lent an air of authenticity to the idea that we’re all curious spectators of a bygone era.
“Intawn usab si Dodong. Nagtan- aw kang inday nagtabisay ang laway,” was what greeted me upon entering the Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu. The lyrics, which I later learned are the words to “Rosas Pandan,” are testament to the Cebuano’s lyrical wit. Poor boy, staring at Inday, drooling. Upstairs, guests had the privilege of hearing stories and anecdotes by no less than storyteller extraordinaire Ka Bino.
“Forty one venues within a six-hour time frame is crazy. It’s biting off more than you can chew,” said Pat Belarmino, a mother of two who had tagged her kids along for the ride.
Crazy, indeed. But the goal isn’t so much to see all places in one night as it is to raise the general public’s awareness and blow