SEEING youngsters in a heritage site, let alone on a Friday night, is as rare as the excavated artifacts preserved in glass cases inside galleries.
But uncommon as it is, the museums in the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue were filled last May 26 with thousands of “millennials” who traded their weekend routines for a night filled with Cebuano heritage.
Among these youngsters were 16-year-old childhood friends Bea Mahusay and Lauren Cinco, who both described their first Gabii sa Kabilin experience as “life-changing.”
“We’ve always had a passion for art, but seeing all these artifacts has fueled that passion,” Cinco told SunStar Cebu.
Gabii sa Kabilin is an initiative of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. to promote Cebuano heritage and is an annual activity held every last Friday of May, which is National Heritage Month.
In Cebu City, the participating sites were the Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu, Archdiocesan Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Basilica del Sto. Niño Museum, Casa Gorordo Museum, Cebu City Museum, Democrito T. Mendoza Museum, Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. Memorabilia, and the CAP Art Gallery.
Also included were the Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple, Fort San Pedro and Plaza Independencia, Iglesia Filipina Independiente Cathedral of Sto. Niño, Jose R. Gullas Halad Museum, Museo Parian, Museo Sugbo, Museum of Bicycling (Elicon House), Museum of Heritage and Folk Art, and Museum of Naive Art in West Gorordo Hotel.
Among the featured sites were Plaza Parian, San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church, St. Theresa’s College-Folklife Museum, Sugbo Chinese Heritage Museum, Bradford Memorial Chapel, and the University of the Philippines-Cebu.
Other participating sites outside Cebu City were the Mactan Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue Presidencia in Mandaue City, Talisay City Museum, Talisay Beach Landing, and Collegium Societa Tis Angeli Pacis Museum in Talisay City.
The Cebu City Museum was Mahusay and Cinco’s first stop for the night.
A painter, Mahusay said she takes inspiration in everyday life scenarios and the cultural heritage of various ethnicities.
Her visit to the museum where dozens of masterpieces of local artists were on display left the young painter in awe.
“I’ve seen art in many forms. But what truly amazes me is seeing the works of my fellow Cebuanos. I feel grateful and inspired because of that,” said Mahusay.
Cinco shared her friend’s sentiment, saying that they would soon frequent the heritage sites in the city to “get closer to our roots.”
“It saddens me that many kids our age would rather party or chill in front of the computer when there’s so much out there to learn from. It’s okay to like other cultures, but let’s not forget to appreciate our own first,” she said.
With this discovery, the duo said they won’t be waiting for the 12th Gabii sa Kabilin to learn more of Cebuano heritage as they will be touring more sites by themselves.
Unlike the two girls, Jen Jurell Manatad has been to all the heritage sites and museums in the city more than once.
The 20-year-old has been joining the activity for the past three years. He said what keeps him participating is that while he has been to the museums many times, he gets a different kind of vibe every time he visits.
“It’s the same place, but it becomes more magical each time I visit. These little sneak peeks of our history never fail to amaze me,” said Manatad.
A tourism graduate, Manatad said that while he has been immersed in various heritages and cultures, nothing beats that of the Cebuanos.
His personal favorite is the Museo Parian, and touring around the place is probably the closest he can get to “time travelling.”
Manatad said that the activity has become an annual rendezvous for him and his friends, and that their circle seems to grow in number the more they meet young individuals with the same appreciation for local art.
Ryan Jay Abrahan, a 25-year-old college instructor, said he has been encouraging his students to not only join the Gabii sa Kabilin, but also spare time to learn about Cebuano heritage.
“It is only when they learn that they will value our heritage. As a young teacher, seeing these many teenagers and kids with eyes wide due to amazement really tugs at my heart,” he said.