A heritage hotel in Junquera

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Thursday, May 22, 2014


I DIDN'T know that there is a 1730 Jesuit House Museo sa Parian until I was invited to a press con by the people behind Palm Grass (The Heritage Hotel) project—or until I got lost going to the place Tuesday.

I actually thought the 1730 Jesuit House was the Casa Gorordo Museum along Lopez Jaena St. When I set foot there, my journalist’s instinct told me I was in the wrong place.

“Naay press con dinhi?” I asked a man sitting near the stair of the old Casa. “Wa man,” he answered. “Aw naay meeting sa mga barangay tanod.” The “barangay tanods” were obviously the people going down the stairs of a nearby old building. Their meeting had adjourned.

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“Basig kadtong museum sa Zulueta imong gipasabot,” the man said. “Naa diay?” I asked. “Naa, uy,” he said.

It was already 3:30 p.m. and the invite said the press con would start at 3 p.m. That had me rushing to Zulueta St. where I didn’t find a structure that looked like a museum. I asked a man standing near the door of a bodega where the museum was.

He looked at the notebook and ball pen I was carrying. “Unsay imong gipangita, Palm Grass?” he asked. “O, press con. Asa diay?” I shot back. “Sud lang,” he told me. So the museum is in a bodega, I muttered to myself. But a museum it was, and an impressive one—-inside.

***

Junquera St. is near the Sun.Star Cebu office. Part of it connects P. del Rosario St. to Colon St. I got to walk that stretch often recently when going to the mall that opened at the corner of Colon and Junquera streets months ago.

The look of the area near the corner of Colon and Junquera streets is changing fast.

That was what I noted in one of my walks. Across the mall is a hotel. Near the mall, along Junquera, a Korean café is set to open. Near the café is the construction site of Palm Grass hotel.

When I was covering the City Hall beat, then Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña was once asked about the problems of prostitution and illegal drugs in Kamagayan, the barangay where Junquera is located. He answered that economic growth can result in the lessening of the said menaces.

Today, economic growth is starting to spread along Junquera St. New structures have been sprouting there the past years, with pension houses, a hotel and a mall leading the way. The rising of Palm Grass Hotel soon will contribute to this economic growth.

***

The idea that Palm Grass should be a heritage hotel was not plucked from thin air. The people behind the project are descendants of Caridad Tan Guivelondo and Mamerto Arcilla Blanco, a member of a clan that was active in the Cebu branch of the Katipunan.

Indeed, the press con was held on the 116th anniversary of the plotting of the second phase of the revolution in Cebu. The second phase was the war against the American colonial forces.

Palm Grass will be a seven-story hotel with a total of 82 rooms. Each floor will be named after Cebu’s illustrious leaders like Inocencio Junquera, Leon Kilat (Pantaleon Villegas), Luis Flores, Candido Padilla, Toribio Padilla, Arcadio Maxilom, Lapulapu and Dagami.

What I find interesting is the plan to have a historical gallery, a mini library, and a mini bookstore on Cebu heritage inside the hotel. For this, Palm Grass is partnering with people that have knowledge of Cebu’s history like Emil Justimbaste, a journalist who wrote the book, “Leon Kilat and Cebu’s Revolution.” This would be a first in Cebu.

Even now, Palm Grass is in the midst of a heritage awareness campaign, posting information about the Cebu revolution and trivia on Cebu’s heritage in its website.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 23, 2014.

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