NMP-Cebu to spur tourism development in Visayas Region—Frasco

CEBU CITY — Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said the newly inaugurated National Museum-the first of its kind in Cebu, and the largest in the Visayas region, will spur tourism development, not only for Cebu but for the entire region as well.   

On Friday (July 28), President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and First Lady Liza A. Marcos inaugurated the NMP-Cebu together with Secretary Frasco, NMP Chairperson Andoni M. Aboitiz, NMP Director General Jeremy Barnes, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.  

The DOT, through its infrastructure arm, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) supported the restoration and conversion efforts of the NMP-Cebu in the four-year journey it took to its present state.  

“With the newly-inaugurated National Museum of the Philippines in Cebu, the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines, we open the doors to a temple of history and culture, inviting tourists – local and international alike to witness the archaeological and natural wonders and rich culture and artistry of this side of the country. The NMP-Cebu is not just a museum but a bridge to our past and a window into our future, highlighting the commonalities and strengths of our identity as Cebuanos and as Filipinos,“ said Secretary Frasco.  

“The opening of the largest National Museum of the Philippines in Visayas will not only provide tourism gains in the province of Cebu but in the entire region. Needless to say, the museum will be a substantial addition to the plethora of offerings of Cebu providing a new reason to love and visit Cebu, and Central Visayas,” added the tourism chief.

Meanwhile, in his speech, President Marcos emphasized that the conversion of the landmark into an NMP-managed property is in line with the national government’s agenda to promote tourism and nurture the Philippines’ national identity.  

“I am delighted to be with you today at the inauguration of the National Museum of the Philippines in Cebu City. It is a milestone not only for the Queen City of the South and the whole province of Cebu but for the entire country as the opening of this museum brings to the fore our rich, natural cultural, and artistic treasures,” the President said in an address.  

“Museums are considered valuable cultural assets to a nation as they build a sense of community, document history, inspire creativity, promote tourism, and unite people through shared heritage. Indeed, through the art and the artifacts that they showcase, museums enable visitors to get a glimpse of the past, understand the present, and illuminate the way to the future. The inauguration is a true testament that when we pursue a united approach to any task, we can accomplish projects that will benefit generations of Filipinos,” he emphasized.  

Rebuilding a cultural landmark  

Situated at the heart of Cebu City’s shipping capital, the building of the now NMP-Cebu was once the Cebu Customs House built in 1910 which was part of the grand design for Cebu created by American architect William Edward Parsons, to facilitate trade between the island and other neighboring communities.  

The landmark has withstood the test of time for 94 years, including the destructive Second World War. It was during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that it was converted into “Malacañang sa Sugbo” in 2004, which served as the official residence of a Philippine president in Cebu. The move was also a testament to the province’s contribution to the country as a frontier of national progress.  

But the cultural treasure was not spared from the deadly October 15, 2013 earthquake when it was one of the 25 public and private structures in Cebu City that sustained extensive damage prompting authorities to close it for safety.  

In 2019, during the chairmanship of former President Arroyo’s daughter, Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas, a proposal was made to restore and convert the landmark into the biggest regional museum of the NMP in Cebu. This is in recognition of Cebu’s rich history, paired with its cultural and natural heritage assets. The initiative was also supported by the Cebu Port Authority, the Office of the President as well as the local chief executives of the province.  

In December of the same year, the Cebu Port Authority and the NMP signed a usufruct agreement which gave the latter to use the landmark as NMP for 25 years.  

Five key art galleries  

Boasting a rich artistic, cultural, and historical relevance, the NMP Cebu features five key art galleries for its inaugural event:  

“Kinaiyahan: Cebu’s Natural Wonders” is located in Gallery 1 which features unique geological features, including some unfamiliar plant and animal species endemic to the place which would potentially draw the attention of would-be visitors.  

“Ang Karaang Sugbo ug ang mga Kabiling Bahandi” or Gallery 2 contains significant archaeological finds that would further educate visitors about the history of Cebu, and others related to the Philippines.  

“Paglawig: Cultural Movement Across the Seas” of Gallery 3 features the exhibit of sustained ethnographic traditions inculcated in maritime history and industry.  

The Gallery 4 of the museum, on the other hand, is a special exhibit especially curated for the inaugural event which displays “The Philippine Center New York Core Collection of 1974”, which brought the collection of the Philippine Center in New York to Cebu to share with new audiences the artworks of leading Filipino artists in the early 1970s.  

Finally, Gallery 5, or the “Ang Kamamugnaon ug Kinaadman ni Maestro Tinong” highlights the work of famed Cebuano artist Martino “Tinong” Abellana, likewise dubbed as the “Dean of Cebuano Painters” who became a central figure in the development of most Cebuano artists.  

Abellana generously opened his home to the children of Carcar and unselfishly shared his kamamugnaon (creativity) and kinaadman (genius) with generations of Cebuano artists for more than four decades. Paying a special tribute to the artist, the exhibition features a selection of his works—from his sketches, portraits, abstract paintings, and landscapes—pooled from the Abellana family and private collectors.  

The NMP-Cebu will be open to the general public for free starting August 1, 2023, from Tuesdays to Sundays, (except on religious holidays) from 9 AM to 5PM.  

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