Gabii sa Ka­bilin stirs the night with the ghosts of Cebu’s past

Cebu Living - - Front Page - By JOSEPH DAX VELOSO

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

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