Friday, May 28, 2010

Cebu’s Gabii sa Kabilin (Night of Heritage)

It’s a wonderful show, yes. And last night was the fourth such affair in Cebu! Translated, it means Night of Heritage. This is a unique activity in this country, as I have not heard anything like it anywhere else. This affair, show, whatever involves museums and similar heritage conservation institution by opening their doors for one night (6PM to 12MN). And this time, nine institutions participated.

Being a special celebration, tickets are cheap at just P100 for entrance to all 9 establishments which otherwise could be 5 or six times more. Oh there was an extra P50 if you wanted to ride (unlimited) the kalesa or “tartanilla” and the buses dedicated to this affair.

So who were involved? These were… Casa Gorodo Museum, Cathedral Museum, Basilica Del Sto Nino Museum, Fort San Pedro, Yap-San Diego Ancestral House, Museo Sugbo, Jesuit House, Sacred Heart Parish and University of Southern Philippines – Rizal Museum beside the cathedral museum across plaza Hamabar. The earnest desire of this special night is to get everyone (residents and visitors alike) closer to and cherish the Cebuano Heritage. And the think-tank behind this is RAFI – Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. Ah I’ve been to all these places on my own and in the past but I thought I’d go for it if only to experience the “Gabii Sa Kabilin”!

You can google if you want descriptions about, before and after the occasion. It’s in one of those web news articles where I learned about this affair anyway. But let me get to my notes…

Folks start at any of the 9 institutions mentioned where they could buy the tickets. Every such institution were supposed to simultaneously open at 6PM. I opted to start at USPF. There were students clad in beautiful Filipiniana costumes to greet visitors but the lady in charge of tickets was in such a hurry she just pushed my tickets after I paid, then hurriedly left for the university’s lobby. It was just 5:52PM and the guard told guests that the “museum” was not yet open. So I strayed on to look at the lobby. Oh, there was food and some university folks were partaking of it. And that was why the lady who sold me tickets was in a hurry. She wanted to eat – I saw her there. Hmm, was she a teacher? Manners please!

About 8 of us, just stood there waiting and as if trying to memorize Rizal’s family tree posted near the “museum” since that was all we could do! I was wondering too, if they have actually transferred the whole museum from its original location at the Lahug Campus to where I was standing. Those who were eating just made glances at us but soon a gayish man in barong advised the guard to let us enter. We were in – and OMG what a display! The whole area is probably just 3 meters on each side. At least there were two real Rizal mementos. I smiled when the woman beside me exclaimed, “this is it? ito lang?”. What a remark! She said that in English and Tagalog hehe! I offered the information that it was probably just a snippet of their real Rizal Museum. So we piled out. Oh the woman selling tickets was back and I asked her what time will they start the program as I wanted to watch the re-enactment of Rizal’s execution. She said “oh ser, we have already started, its done, that’s why we are eating”! Oh okay, I said. Then I walked the few steps to the Cathedral Museum – I noticed about 4 ladies were following behind me.

About 5:57PM we were in front of the cathedral museum where a lot of the “tartanillas” were parked and there was a table too for tickets. In that table, they did not just sell tickets – they had information printed on bond-paper as to where one should take a ride or take a walk! I approached and asked if it was already open. The guy in charge told me not yet but soon at 6PM. And while he was saying that a group of people praying with a priest in charge came from somewhere in the direction of Metropolitan Cathedral blessing all displays, horses and tartanillas with holy water. Done. There was small talk amongst all present and the priest joked that most of the horses would squirm when holy water hit them! We roamed the museum. Cameras are allowed here! Yes, allowed!

After the Cathedral Museum, I was out in front of it again and there was only one tartanilla. I loved the tunes of those Visayan Music being played at Plaza Hamabar. Then I overheard one of the folks in charge barking at his radio that the re-enactment of Rizal’s Execution was about to start. Hmm, therefore that hungry woman at USPF did not tell me the correct info. I asked at this table if we were supposed to ride the tartanilla to Sto Nino Museum. The reply was yes, so me and a couple climbed in. They checked if we had tickets. Capacity of a tartanilla is usually four adults so I asked the driver (or is that jockey?) if he was waiting for one more passenger. He said not necessarily, but instructions were that he should not leave if not one tartanilla arrives to replace him. Ah I decided to walk hehe!

Entering the pilgrim center, I caught a holy mass service was just finished with communion and as I walked the priest was announcing about Gabii Sa Kabilin. He even mentioned the ticket prices, the museums participating and that Lumad Basakanon was to perform a ritual right on that area immediately after his mass. I still entered the museum (its under the pilgrim center) as I knew I would hear the drums when basakanon starts. Ah the museum is still the same, though I never heard a guide annotating any tour while in my previous visit, there was such a knowledgeable lady who shared every information about every display. Ah aside from the too many Sto Nino costumes, I still like the toys! There are teletubbies, there are spidermen, a lot of toy cars and balls and dolls – even scooters! Out of the museum, I went out and up the bleachers ready to watch basakanon but alas, there was another mass service in progress (responsorial psalm was being read).

Aside from the performance not yet ensuing soon, I got excited with the tartanilla ride from near Magellan’s cross to Fort San Pedro. When I saw some folks heading for it, I followed. Hey the route of the tartanillas were especially monitored and we were given extra assistance by CITOM. And the click-clack-click-clock of the horses’ feet on the pavement was a different kind of feel… mesmerizing! And there were three tartanillas trailing each other during our ride so the click-clock was even more pronounced!

Oh on arrival at the Fort, we were like royalty. Guys in native uniforms welcomed and guided us inside. The rondalla playing Cebuano folk songs by the entrance was a real treat. Inside however, they were just still preparing for a folkloric show. We have rounded the fort and it was not yet on. But others were riding the buses to Museo Sugbo so I went with the flow! By the way, these other guests with me, most of them have leis or garlands, why didn’t we have them?!

The buses dedicated to this event were those owned or used by the various barangays of the city – all with the markings and pictures of Cutie and Raul del Mar. The ride to Museo Sugbo was amidst Friday evening traffic but it never took too long.

Oh on arrival at the Museo Sugbo, there were kids in Filipiniana costumes too. But there were more. The capitol’s tourism and other staff seemed to be in full force. The performances have just finished and pictorials were everywhere. And many of them kept asking us if we’ve eaten and showing us the way to the food. Teka lang, were those eatables really for the touring guests or the capitol folks were just too eager to serve everyone? At the USPF, we all felt like were paid to become nuisance visitors. They kept glancing at us as if we’d grab their food away. While at the museo sugbo, anywhere you move to, everyone asks if everyone has eaten!

By the way, earnest photographers listen to this… as we all know the Museo Sugbo does not allow photo or video taking at their displays – and the signs are prominent at entry. But on this night, everyone was clicking away at everything. Yes, everything. I observed and no one was apprehended! But for some reason, I did not want to follow suit. Fact is, the only pic I took inside any of the rooms was a poster that describe “Kabog, Ang Bugas Sa Sugbo” as I really wanted to remember that cuz it probably have relations to what I like eating in Dumaguete, the “bugbug kabog”!

Out of Museo Sugbo, I hopped into another bus destined for Sacred Heart Parish. I was wondering what could be seen there. This is the participating institution that is farthest from all others. Oh, a church as it is, Sacred Heart’s was the most “enterprising display” I have seen. There were displays of paintings, sculptures and mix media artworks – all for sale! Many of them were really good. I particularly like the series of one artists that seem to dwell on shiny colored tin foils as main medium in his/her works. Very unique and beautiful.

After the Sacred Heart Church, buses were all going back to Museo Sugbo, though one driver told me he passes by Casa Gorodo – which I know is just across the Yap-San Diego House and a walk away to the Heritage Monument and/or the Jesuit House. But my stomach was grumbling, I felt weak from the hot summer day. So I reflected what else would I see in those three other places listed since I’ve already seen them before. Probably another scene where the show has either ended or not about to start yet, plus more things for sale and probably another set of people eating who will also keep glancing at me.

Ah I went home!

Don’t get me wrong folks… I love the idea of the Gabii Sa Kabilin but there were some things not properly placed so they either disturbed, distracted or disappointed me.

Example: each place had a performance that you never know when. Why even bother to have them if the museums are the ones being pushed? They just distracted me. If indeed the performances were needed, they should have been spaced away from each other and properly announced via the advertisements so that we the visitors would have a chance to see them. Or we could have chosen our trail to take and performances to watch or miss, for us to say we enjoyed all the 9 institutions.

And if the organizers must eat, must they do it in front of the visitors? Why not do it before or after and AWAY from the walking paths of the visitors. Aside from I felt embarrassed looking at people having cocktails or dinner (since they were along my path) that I looked like an intruder, remember this was 6PM passing by 7PM and 8PM – which means a normal stomach would grumble at the sight of many of you having a feast. Add to that, in all nine institutions there are no nearby respectable places to eat. Where do you buy food at USPF, Plaza Hamabar or Metropolitan Cathedral? The manang selling fishballs? At Sto Nino there is a canteen (only a spoonful of menudo was left at 730PM). We all know that AA Restaurant is far from Fort San Pedro, then go imagine for the rest of the other museums and church!

I hope next year, RAFI can probably add in their announcements that visitors should eat their dinner first before going to any of the participating museums. Or they can probably make it “Adlaw Sa Kabilin” to start at 8AM so we have more time to eat and have our own cocktails in between. Plus, if one museum must give a pamphlet of event information, all should also do so. And if one museum hangs flowers on the necks of those who pay P150, then all should also do so. Those of us who started and bought our tickets at USPF were always questioned by the tartanilla, bus, sto nino museum, etc if we had tickets while those who had leis were not. And we all paid exactly P150 each right?

I actually thought RAFI, having been years with experience on this thing have already mustered the little irritating kinks and little cracks and crevices that could ruin the memory of the event. As of now, I declare, they should get a quick lecture from whoever organized the Mormon Temple open house!


Post a Comment