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Monday, February 11, 2013

Museo Sugbo - must-see museum in Cebu

Museo Sugbo ("Sugbo" is Cebu in Cebuano) was once called "Carcel de Cebu" which means "jail" as it used to be the district jail of the Visayas in the 1870s.

During the American occupation,  it served as a stable for horses competing in Cebu's hippodrome. After liberation, it was here where the spies and collaborators for the Japanese were incarcerated.


Here's the view of the grounds from the second level.  The jail warden must have watched over the prisoners from here.


The museum has a lot of interesting artifacts about the Philippine history and culture - some of which we've probably never learned from our social studies class.  

For example, did you know that around 16th century, native Cebuanos tied pieces of flat wood behind and at the front of their heads to deform their skulls as it was their concept of beauty?  Here's a Cebuano skull on display at the Museo Sugbo.


I've seen a lot of these vintage bottles in museums and exhibits before but it's the first time that I paid attention. They are called Torpedo bottles and they were really designed not to stand upright so that the soda would be in constant contact with the cork.  Because if the soda doesn't touch the cork, the cork will dry up and it would shrink.  Merchants in the early days loved these bottles since consumers had to drink all of the soda quickly since you can't put down the bottle once opened.




There are also stoneware jars like these that date back to the 14th to 15th century.


And a vast collection of antique religious items.   This collection was titled "Quita y Pone" (meaning "remove and insert").   Religious wooden statues were deliberately designed to have detachable heads and parts as a cost-saving measure.  Owners will assemble the statue depending on whose feast day is it.



The section where I spent the most time was looking at original documents signed by historical figures like Spanish explorer, Miguel Lopez the Legazpi.  This is the letter of Legazpi to King Philip II of Spain dated May 27, 1565. It's officially the first letter sent out of the Philippines.


Check out Legazpi's beautiful handwriting.


Here is Miguel Lopez de Legazpi's signature.



And just in case you're looking for some inspiration for a new signature, check out these compilation of signatures in Legazpi's letter.  I'm guessing these are some of Legazpi's crew members.



Other documents signed by historical figures are that of President Manuel Quezon -


And this letter signed by Emilio Aguinaldo -


It was also interesting to know that once upon a time, there was a Bisaya-Spanish dictionary. Check this out -


Here's a page from the Bisaya-Spanish Dictionary -


Did you know that during the Japanese occupation, Filipino guerrillas came up with their  own currency?  Stacks and stacks of guerrilla money are preserved at the Museo Sugbo.  But beware - if you get caught by the Japanese in possession of guerrilla currency, you either get extreme torture or instant death.  On the other hand if you refuse to accept from fellow Filipinos, it'll be taken as a sign of collaboration with the Japanese.  A pretty bad Catch 22 situation. 



 It is said that after the war, the notes were changed to dollars by the American government and in most cases, dollar for dollar. Wow.



Here's an old lotto/sweepstakes ticket during the Spanish era for the February 1898 draw. (Didn't know that there was already lotto then!)  An interesting trivia is Jose Rizal once won half of the 3rd prize of a lotto ticket while he was in exile in Dapitan!



Here's the Manila Chronicle newspaper that came out noon of August 15, 1945 declaring the end of World War II.


Ever wondered how movies were marketed during the Liberation period?  Check out these antique movie posters.


Read the posters closely - movie ticket prices were Php0.15, Php0.50, Php.80 and Php1.00!


Fascinating stuff, right?  If you're interested to visit the museum, Museo Sugbo is located at M. J. Cuenco Ave, Cebu City.  Entrance fee is Php30 for Filipinos and I think Php75 for foreigners. The museum is open Mondays to Saturdays from 9am to 6pm.  You may call 032 239 5626 for queries.

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