Museo Sugbo – Cebu Philipines. “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” There’s always more to something than meets the eye. I keep passing by this place and I find it very interesting to find a museum along M.J. Cuenco Avenue. There’s just something about it that’s so inviting that triggered my curiosity. This interest was realized when our school joined the Essay Writing contest about the Museo Sugbo. So, we paid a visit on August 23, 2013 to observe the place. It was raining when we arrived at the museum. The museum has several galleries showing several aspects of Cebu’s heritage including artifacts of excavations, prominent people, places, journalism, pre-colonial times, political history, and much more. The complex is well kept and the exhibits are much secured.
Upon entering the gate of the Museo Sugbo, a chill ran down my spine. The place was once called Carcel de Cebu, the provincial jail of Cebu. The carcel housed not only hold criminals. Many of the Katipuneros and guerillas were held captives there and eventually executed during the Revolution and Japanese occupation. I can’t imagine what it was like to be incarcerated there without any trial. In the 1980’s, the name was changed to Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center ( CPDRC ) where the sensational “Dancing Inmates” used to be housed. The Department of Education occupied this building for a short time until the Former Governor Gwendolyn Garcia decided to turn it into a repository of Cebuano heritage and history. She made way for the conversion of the Carcel into Museo Sugbo during the transfer of the CPDRC to a more spacious and modern prison Complex in December 2004. On August 5, 2008, it was formally inaugurated.
Originally designed in 1869 by Domingo de Escondrillas, the project was approved and constructed around 1871. At the center of the museum is a large quadrangle. I visualized it to be the place where all prisoners were gathered for instructions or meetings and where the Dancing Inmates may have been practicing their dances. Upon roaming around the vicinity of the museum, I marveled at the transformation of the place from a prison, to rehabilitation, and finally, to a museum. It has now turned into a sophisticated place with fully air-conditioned galleries, equipped with Wi-Fi facilities. From a haven of criminals where ill-will, loss of freedom, and remorse used to prevail, it has now become one of Cebu’s premier tourist destinations that feed the intellectuals.
The experience I had in Museo Sugbo was surprisingly amazing and self-nourishing. It made me more appreciative of the present by being transported shortly into the past. As a Masscom student, I was more interested of the Cebu Journalism and Journalists Gallery. This is the first community media museum gallery in the country. You’ll see the antique equipment of the printing media, radios, cameras, old newspapers, and magazines. Looking at the objects validated what we’ve discussed in school. Kudos to the Cebu government for having such collections! The life story of Antonio Abad Tormis showed in the gallery moved me exceptionally considering that he was killed for exposing anomalies of the Cebu City government. What he did would always serve “to remind a free people that the price of their freedom is the blood of martyrs.” I realized that there’s more to journalism than just the passion for writing. People may praise you, but may also hate you or even sue you. But whatever it will lead you to, what’s important is that you do it out of love, with pure intentions, and consideration of the common good.
When we decided to leave, I took one last look and smiled. I was destined to visit there. For a discounted student’s fee of ten pesos, that was a very reasonable price to see the showcase of Cebu’s rich culture and enduring heritage. It was such a wonderful and lasting experience. Museo Sugbo, another pride of Cebu!