Cebu is being constantly brought in the limelight when it comes to its beaches, delicacies, tourist spots, and its culture in general. A lot of tourists and locals spend their vacation in the province doing most common activities you can easily find in the Internet (i.e. island hopping, sightseeing, and food trip). But, if you are looking for other ways to experience Cebu, then setting foot in its literary space might be one of the unique directions to take.
Paying a visit to Cebu’s libraries
From learning one’s history to reading just any book that sparks your interest, there are a variety of libraries Cebu has to offer.
Just like any other place, the province has a dwelling for archives, books, journals and other publications that trace back from the early ages to the modern times. The Cebuano Studies Center, for example, is a special library that houses source materials, research, and other literary works covering Cebu and its culture. The center is located inside Josef Baumgartner Learning Resource Center of the University of San Carlos, Talamban Campus, which is the largest library in the Philippines by size. As soon as you walk right inside the Cebuano Studies Center, the hinting scent of antiquity will almost lure you to read every record of history stored in the shelves.
Another notable library in the province you might also want to check out is the Cebu City Public Library or also known as Rizal Memorial Library and Museum, which is widely recognized as the first public library in the country that opens 24/7 (read more about it here). The building has a neoclassical structure which makes it feel nostalgic especially for older generations. The ride of history and culture will not only come from the shelf route, but will also drift you to a room of ancient artifacts, sculptures, painting, and other archaeological finds in the museum that dates back to the old-fashioned lifestyle Cebuanos used to have before and during the colonization period in the Philippines.
If you’re the type that wants a more intimate or comfortable area to enjoy your nooks and books instead, you can check out Books and Brews Cafè located at G/F Mango Square Mall, Juana Osmeña Street, Cebu City. The place is a cafè with an extensive library perfect for bibliophiles who enjoy a scent of coffee while being taken deep into their reading experiences. This might just be your modern mini-library of choice that you’re hoping to have around the corner. [Visit Facebook]
Attending literary events and exhibitions
Cebuanos love marking their calendars for special occasions like annual literary festivals or events in Cebu, which usually happens between the 1st to the 3rd quarter of the year. The Big Bad Wolf, known as the world’s largest book sale, recently came to town and had their sale at the IEC Convention Center Cebu from August 16 to 26. What makes this event stand out among the rest every year is that majority of the bookworms in Cebu never dare to miss this as it’s the perfect opportunity for them to hoard a vast number of books that have the biggest discounts you could not imagine! Quite unfair if we leave some people out of this once in a lifetime opportunity right? So, whether you are a tourist or a local, make sure to include this in your plans soon. [See updates here]
Aside from smart shopping, stopping by at literary and art exhibitions is also a different kind of “sightseeing” experience. Cebu Zine Fest, for example, runs in a showcase room at 856 G Gallery that includes displays of art, illustrations, comics, books, poetry, photography, and self-produced merchandises set up by diverse artists from different parts of the country. The artists themselves also have their own booths and tables placed in the same area of their displays, so it’s the perfect setting for a curious mind to explore another’s. What makes this exhibition different from what people usually expect in a local exhibition is that the works showcased here are unique, uncensored, peculiar, and interesting—a manifestation of young yet sophisticated minds.
[See also future literary events and activities here]
Literature and art entice the heart of many Cebuanos. These two disciplines altogether is about expressing an idea, concept, or message in an artistic, intellectual, and creative way. The beauty and impact of its nature is the reason why many are driven to involve and contribute to its growth and recognition.
Because the people in the province are constantly putting life into their literary activities and celebrations, it has become part of Cebu’s beautiful culture that is worth to experience and appreciate.
Be it a huge event or spoken word juncture, the creative scene becomes a whole different experience if it’s in Cebu. Trying something new is also one adventure to take that is worth telling.
So, what’s not to like?
The Queen City of The South, Cebu, is truly a wonderful island, with wonderful people, rich culture, and of course, scrumptuos food. Cebu also happens to be the land of many talented artists and musicians. Check them out with this list!
- Sepia Times
Sepia Time is composed of lovers — Elisha Ang, popularly known as Icy, and Luigi Balazo. These artists have produced and written songs ever since 2016. Their music is widely influenced by international artists like Paramore and Oh Wonder. Listeners would definitley feel the chill vibe Sepia Times gives off through their songs. Despite being described as sad, their songs are the type of songs that you listen to on a chilly Saturday or when you just want to hang around the park and contemplate. Their songs “Kofi”, “The Art of”, “Let Me Let Go”, “1238” are some of the songs they released.
The pop folk group, Wonggoys, is composed of a band of brothers — Gabe, Bill, and Kyle Wong. The Wonggoys drew enthusiastic applause with their pop rock with a little bit of jazz and blues compositions. They first began with singing cover songs in harmony and eventually progressed to a trip to the recording studio, and after months of writing and recording, their efforts eventually paid off and produced an album. Several live performances and one more album later, they garnered a considerable following. Their song “Wa’y Blema”, is light-hearted and focuses on enjoying the good things.
3. Mandaue Nights
Mandaue Nights is an 80’s synth-pop group based in Cebu composed of — filmmaker and singer-songwriter Karl Lucente, and music producer and arranger Gino Rosales. What makes them different from the other Cebuano acts is their 80’s vibe , this group will totally leave you feeling nostalgic. Their first single, You and I, was selected as the original soundtrack for a locally produced film, Magbuwag Ta Kay, which was shown in cinemas nationwide.
4. Three Legged Men PH
Three Legged Men PH started off when Micmic Kindica, the band’s vocalist, got invited to play for UP Cookout. Amazed by the opportunity to perform again, he formed a temporary band, composed of high school and college friends, to go on stage with him in the said event, and since then every member just kind of stuck to each other to play more music. Their music is mainly pop with hints of jazz, blues, R&B, and funk. “Spur of the Moment”, “Keep”, and “Tibok” are some of the songs everyone needs to listen to!
5. Thinking Chair
Thinking Chair first started off in church, eventually took a break from that scene, and started a band. The band’s lineup is actually new — they wanted to revive the old Thinking Chair, but some of them already moved to Canada. Their music is described as indie, soul, revolutionary, and “raw”, and is widely influenced by a lot, most especially by The 1975, Coldplay, and Private Island. “Mirage”, a song they’ve written, is said to be the most memorable song they’ve written since they have so many renditions of it and is fun to play.
Talisay City: Tracing Its Colorful Roots
Another bit of history bound to the Augustinians lies twelve kilometers south of Cebu City. The religious order founded an estate in Talisay in 1648, and after 200 years, the friar-owned property became a municipality. Its name is said to be taken from the magtalisay tree that grew in abundance although the area was a big producer of sugar.
Part of Metropolitan Cebu, Talisay became a chartered city in 2000. It is linked to downtown Cebu and the town of Minglanilla by the South Coastal Road. This six-lane highway with exits to several areas in Talisay has greatly eased traffic for the dwellers of this primarily residential city.
Talisay served as the center of guerrilla intelligence operations of the Philippine resistance movement in Cebu during World War II. Returning American troops landed on its beach on March 26, 1945 and freed the province from the Japanese, aided by Philippine Commonwealth forces and the local guerrillas. That significant day in history is marked by the National Historic Shrine Liberation Monument.
The original bells of the old Sta. Teresa de Avila church built in 1836 no longer ring today but its parishioners remain devoted and congregate at what has now been declared an archdiocesan shrine. The feast day of the city’s patron saint is a red-letter occasion celebrated with much gaiety including a colorful parade and the unique Halad Inasal Festival.
Famous for its inasal, the Cebuano term for lechon (whole roasted pig), the city makes a spectacle of its succulent pork offering by parading the skewered pigs around its streets, some are garbed in creative outfits. Talisay’s flavorful inasal is generously seasoned with a blend of lemongrass, garlic and spices then slow roasted to juicy perfection. Its skin is always the exact golden brown and ever crispy, making it the centerpiece of many tables during special celebrations and fiestas.
Much progress has been seen in terms of infrastructure projects and public service since Talisay gained its cityhood. Having earned numerous national and local accolades, it is working towards becoming an even more progressive and peaceful city that is committed to look after the welfare of its local community.
Check out the other things you can do in Talisay:
HALAD INASAL FESTIVAL. Two men carry a skewered lechon on their shoulders to a nearby barbecue stall, a common sight on Sunday mornings in Talisay. The city holds an annual Halad Inasal Festival in celebration of its famous inasal, the Cebuano term for roasted suckling pig.
BARBECUE STANDS. Fish and Cebu-style chorizo (small rounded pork sausages) are grilled at a barbecue stand; Women prepare puso (hanging rice) by weaving coconut leaves into small diamond-shaped pouches which are filled with rice grains.
MUSEUM. The National Historic Shrine Liberation Monument marks the landing of liberation troops in Talisay in 1945.
CHURCH. Made of coral stone like most old churches in Cebu, the Sta. Teresa de Avila Church stands out for its uniquely designed recessed main entrance and pediment. Tucked away from the commercial side of the city, the church was declared an Archdiocesan Shrine in 2007.
Originally published in Postcards from Cebu.
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