CEBU CITY—The Visayas region is set to witness a significant uplift in its tourism landscape following the inauguration of the largest branch of the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP), located in Cebu. The museum is poised to stimulate tourism growth in Cebu and throughout the region, according to Christina Garcia Frasco, the Tourism Secretary.
The NMP-Cebu was inaugurated on Friday (July 28) by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., First Lady Liza A. Marcos, Secretary Frasco, NMP Chairperson Andoni M. Aboitiz, NMP Director General Jeremy Barnes, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the infrastructure wing of the Department of Tourism, played a crucial role in supporting the NMP-Cebu’s four-year restoration and conversion process.
The newly opened museum, situated in the heartland of Filipino Christianity, “opens the doors to a temple of history and culture, inviting local and international tourists to explore the archaeological, natural, and cultural wonders of this part of the country,” said Secretary Frasco.
Frasco added that the new addition to Cebu’s array of attractions provides a fresh incentive for people to visit and appreciate Cebu and the Central Visayas.
President Marcos, in his address, highlighted that the new museum aligns with the government’s initiative to nurture the national identity and promote tourism. He stressed the cultural value of museums and their capacity to unite people through a shared heritage, helping visitors understand the past, present, and future.
NMP-Cebu: The Revival of a Cultural Landmark
The building, formerly the Cebu Customs House, was constructed in 1910 as part of a grand design for Cebu by American architect William Edward Parsons. Despite experiencing the ravages of the Second World War and a destructive earthquake in 2013, the building has retained its significance.
In 2019, the proposal to transform the landmark into the region’s biggest NMP was made by former President Arroyo’s daughter, Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas. This initiative recognized Cebu’s rich history and cultural assets and received support from the Cebu Port Authority, the Office of the President, and local leaders.
Following the signing of a usufruct agreement between the Cebu Port Authority and the NMP, the building was handed over to the NMP for a 25-year term.
Five Art Galleries Showcase Rich Cultural Heritage
The NMP-Cebu has launched five art galleries:
- “Kinaiyahan: Cebu’s Natural Wonders” in Gallery 1 showcases unique geological features and indigenous flora and fauna.
- “Ang Karaang Sugbo ug ang mga Kabiling Bahandi” in Gallery 2 displays significant archaeological finds.
- “Paglawig: Cultural Movement Across the Seas” in Gallery 3 focuses on the maritime history and industry.
- Gallery 4 hosts a special exhibition: “The Philippine Center New York Core Collection of 1974”.
- Gallery 5, “Ang Kamamugnaon ug Kinaadman ni Maestro Tinong”, highlights the works of renowned Cebuano artist Martino “Tinong” Abellana.
The NMP-Cebu will open to the public for free from August 1, 2023, operating from Tuesdays to Sundays (except religious holidays), from 9 AM to 5 PM.