Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cebu's Gabii sa Kabilin in Black and White

I recently had an awakening. I didn't realize that working in one industry and being surrounded by the same people sheltered me from the realities of living in Cebu. I felt I was in a cocoon all these years. And in the past few days, it felt like I've been through a metamorphosis that culminated on that extraordinary Friday night.

We have to look beyond our perception of things. Dig deep into our consciousness. Remove our biases and prejudices to have a clearer vision of what Gabii Sa Kabilin is all about.

Harry Potter at the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum

I have to admit that in the decade that I have been in Cebu, I didn't have the inclination to go out of my comfort zone. It would have been a totally different story if I was still living in Manila. I have my family there, my friends, people I've grown up with, and familiar places that I've been to.
These thoughts entered my mind as I counted the number of hours until I officially ended my workday that Friday evening. I couldn't help but wonder what kind of Kool-aid did I drink to be so mesmerized by Cebu's Gabii Sa Kabilin. 

Since the inception of Gabii Sa Kabilin in 2007, it was only last year that I became aware that there is such a thing as this historical and cultural event. It was embarrassing on my part since I consider myself a History-lover. I'm more of an armchair historian that at times I abhor going outside the house.

Antique church bells at the Archdiocesan

The month of May has been declared the Philippine National Heritage Month and isn't it appropriate to celebrate the importance of preserving our rich culture and history by making it a social experiment. 

Last year's experience was memorable and I wanted to do it again this year. And for 2017, I wanted to level up whatever achievement and emotions I went through last year. But, alas, due to my work schedule, I was only left with two hours to go around the heritage sites. I decided to choose certain landmarks to focus on.

Iglesia Filipina Independiente

As a fan of Jose Rizal, books, and reading I made sure to visit the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum first before anything else. It was also a surprise that there was a restored Autobus on display. I like vintage cars, it harkens to a bygone era when transportation and life were simple. 

With my favorite Harry Potter Funko Pop as my mascot, I took photos of the facade of the historic building and of the Autobus. 

Why take photos in black and white? For me, black and white link us to that connection to the past that we desperately need. It strips away that layer of distraction that color brings. And Gabii Sa Kabilin deserves that special attention. Black and white symbolizes neutrality and shows life's contrasts.

The Archdiocesan Museum

My next stop was the Parian area. Lately, I've noticed that I've been gravitating to this place quite frequently. It could have been that drop of Chinese blood that I have in my DNA. I could trace my matrilineal lineage to Domingo Jaucian who was born in 1801. And as you can guess, he was a Sangley Cristiano from a Merchant family. Cebu's Parian was just one of two Chinese communities that the Spanish Colonizers created outside of Manila.

People from all walks of life can be seen participating in this Night of Heritage. From the Baby Boomers to Generation X to the Millenials, you can feel the sense of camaraderie and pride. You can hear and see the older generation sharing their stories to the younger ones. 

Instead of a flashlight to light their way or pen and paper to write things down, participants were holding cameras and phones to document their observation and contact with culture and history. They would savor the moments once the photos have been uploaded to their social networking sites. Their memories forever etched in the digital world.

Fiesta at the Parian


There was a fiesta atmosphere when walking on the streets of downtown Cebu. A sense of community could be felt in the air. As I looked back and remember those exhilarating hours, I desperately hope that the experience of Cebu's Gabii Sa Kabilin would mean something to people. That it would be more than what they expected. We have to prepare for the future by bringing together the present with the past. Now is not the time for divisiveness. Let's bring back the "Bayanihan" Spirit that we, Filipinos, are known for. 

Philippine President Manuel Luis Quezon once said, "You do not live for yourselves and your families alone. You are a part of society to which you owe definite responsibilities." And almost 80 years later, that quote still resonates to the present condition of our society. 

It was truly a night of heritage, as we embarked on creating a new chapter to add to Sugbo's glorious history.

What will be your imprint in this world? What kind of footprint will you be leaving behind?

Me, Harry, and the Autobus




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