NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES – CEBU, A TOURISM CATALYST FOR THE VISAYAS REGION
Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco is optimistic about the positive impact of the newly inaugurated National Museum of the Philippines – Cebu (NMP-Cebu) on tourism development, not only in Cebu but across the entire Visayas region. The grand inauguration took place on July 28, with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and First Lady Liza A. Marcos joining Secretary Frasco, NMP Chairperson Andoni M. Aboitiz, NMP Director General Jeremy Barnes, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
The four-year journey leading to the present state of the NMP-Cebu was made possible with the support of the Department of Tourism (DOT) through its infrastructure arm, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). The restoration and conversion efforts transformed the historic landmark into the largest museum in the Visayas region.
Secretary Frasco emphasized the cultural and historical significance of the NMP-Cebu, stating, “With the newly-inaugurated National Museum of the Philippines in Cebu, the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines, we open the doors to a temple of history and culture, inviting tourists – local and international alike to witness the archaeological and natural wonders and rich culture and artistry of this side of the country.”
President Marcos highlighted the national government’s commitment to promoting tourism and nurturing the Philippines’ national identity. He stated, “Museums are considered valuable cultural assets to a nation as they build a sense of community, document history, inspire creativity, promote tourism, and unite people through shared heritage.”
The NMP-Cebu, situated at the heart of Cebu City’s shipping capital, has a storied history, serving as the Cebu Customs House in 1910 and later converted into “Malacañang sa Sugbo” in 2004. Despite surviving the Second World War, the landmark faced challenges, including extensive damage from the October 15, 2013 earthquake.
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s daughter, Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas, proposed the restoration and conversion of the landmark into the biggest regional museum of the NMP in Cebu in 2019. Supported by the Cebu Port Authority, the Office of the President, and local chief executives, the Cebu Port Authority and the NMP signed a usufruct agreement in December of the same year, granting NMP the use of the landmark for 25 years.
The NMP-Cebu features five key art galleries for its inaugural event, showcasing the rich artistic, cultural, and historical heritage of Cebu:
- Gallery 1: “Kinaiyahan: Cebu’s Natural Wonders” – Highlights unique geological features and endemic plant and animal species.
- Gallery 2: “Ang Karaang Sugbo ug ang mga Kabiling Bahandi” – Displays significant archaeological finds related to the history of Cebu and the Philippines.
- Gallery 3: “Paglawig: Cultural Movement Across the Seas” – Features sustained ethnographic traditions in maritime history and industry.
- Gallery 4: “The Philippine Center New York Core Collection of 1974” – A special exhibit displaying artworks of leading Filipino artists from the early 1970s.
- Gallery 5: “Ang Kamamugnaon ug Kinaadman ni Maestro Tinong” – Highlights the work of famed Cebuano artist Martino “Tinong” Abellana.
The NMP-Cebu will be open to the general public for free starting August 1, 2023, from Tuesdays to Sundays (except on religious holidays), from 9 AM to 5 PM.