OR WILL soon be. The Presidential Palace has not yet officially announced its decision to allow the National Museum to take over the 107-year old Aduana or Cebu Customs House even as the regional Bureau of Customs (BOC) office continues to assert its claim to occupy their old building. The odds are stacked, however, in favor of the erstwhile Malacañang of the South becoming the National Museum’s showcase for Cebu and the region.
Albeit, the news surprised officials of the regional BOC, who said they didn’t know about the plans for a museum until they read about the reports. They had planned to transfer most of the Customs offices there from their current office at the passenger terminal building owned by the Cebu Port Authority beside the Cebu International Port after renovating the Aduana, which was heavily damaged during the 2013 earthquake. Shirley Abarintos, OIC-deputy district collector for administration, said they have on record a letter from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea that was sent last year, informing the BOC that the Palace had returned to the BOC the building that used to be Malacañang sa Sugbo.
Still, a National Museum extension in the heart of the city is all welcome news for Cebuanos, heritage buff or not. The facility will be a significant addition to the local tourism infrastructure and being housed in the Aduana puts it within spitting distance of Fort San Pedro and Plaza Independencia. Its location will also ensure its inclusion in the tours covering the Basilica del Sto. Niño and the Magellan’s Cross.
Driven by the island’s heritage sites and natural attractions, Cebu’s tourism industry has grown to be a major contributor to the local economy. The National Museum’s entry into the scene can only be anything but beneficial. Similar initiatives to develop other heritage structures should be encouraged. Cebu has several American colonial-era buildings that may be turned into tourist inns and restaurants.
The National Museum in the Aduana will reportedly exhibit artifacts and other items drawn from Cebu’s history. Locals, being the diehard Cebuanos that they are, will be celebrating yet another reason to express pride of place.