Monday, June 9, 2014

Cebu's History in Paintings

Standing proud along Osmeña Boulevard is this pre–World War II building, known as Rizal Memorial Library and Museum.

Its ground floor houses Cebu City's public library. I love books, but unfortunately for me, it refuses to open its doors when I'm off work (the library is open from 8AM to 5PM, Mondays to Fridays). And even if I find myself free during office hours on weekdays, I still would not be allowed to borrow anything from the library as I am not a resident of Cebu City. :(

On the second floor is the Cebu City Museum. It is just a small gallery of modern paintings made by Cebuano artists. Most of the paintings in the museum depict Cebu's history. Other paintings are abstract art and portraits of important men of Cebu (Vicente Sotto and Sergio Osmeña Sr., to name two). Some black and white photographs of the city back when motor vehicles were nonexistent are also on display.

The building also has a third floor, called the Sinulog Hall, which serves as a function hall.

I have lived in Cebu more than I can count on my fingers and toes, but, I am ashamed to say, have only been to the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum twice. Both times during the Gabii sa Kabilin (an annual event that happens every last Friday of May and is organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc.) when the museum was open til 12 midnight.

Neil, the guide (on the left), explains to guests what each painting in the hall signifies

This year's visit, I was grateful to have been guided through each painting by a very knowledgeable guide, Neil, who answered every question thrown his way.

The guided tour started with a painting of Rajah Humabon or Hamabar (paintings of Humabon in the museum were all based on the writings of Antonio Pigafetta), down to when Magellan found his way to Cebu, to the construction (and even destruction) of churches in Cebu, the railway (we had a railway from Danao to Argao!), revolutions, and to the last painting, which is of Sergio Osmeña Jr., the first Mandaue–Mactan Bridge, a PAL airplane, the North Reclamation Area, and Gaisano Country Mall, with more paintings of important events in Cebu's history in between.

You have to find out how all this ties together because I refuse to write everything Neil shared (but really, it's just that I can't remember everything). There were many "Ahhh" moments during this visit and the guided tour made me appreciate each piece in the museum. I am glad to have learned so much about Cebu's history in just 45 minutes, even if those pieces of knowledge refuse to stay more than twice that long in my brain.

Rizal Memorial Library and Museum
Osmeña Blvd. Cebu City
(032) 255 4997

Mondays to Fridays 8AM–5PM

Mondays to Fridays 8AM–12NN and 1PM–5PM
Free admission
Tour guide available, but book in advance.

From me to you: Although there is a short description beside each painting, I highly recommend getting a guide. And to bombard the guide with questions.


  1. Hi me again (L) - just want to asked was this the former Osmena Museum????? the photo looks similar to Osmena M which is also located on the same Road.

    1. Ahhh, I think you're referring to the Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. Memorabilia and CAP Art Gallery, which is farther down Osmeña Blvd, near Robinson's. This one, Rizal Memorial Library and Museum, is near Cebu Doctor's Hospital.