New museum showcases Chinese-Cebuano culture

THE Gotiaoco building, a 105-year-old neo-classical structure used for shipping and trade businesses in the port area of Cebu City, has been turned into the Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum (SCHM).

Built by Manuel Gotianuy in 1914, the Gotiaoco building is a tangible testament to the rise of Cebu as an important shipping and business center outside Manila. It was declared a heritage site by the Cebu City Council on December 12, 2012.

Established by the Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum Foundation Inc. (SCHMFI), the museum was built to showcase the history, heritage and contributions of the Cebuano-Chinese community to Cebu in various fields.

The museum, located at M.C. Briones and P. Burgos Sts., across Cebu City Hall, welcomed guests during its soft opening on Feb. 20, 2020.

Through exhibits, the museum would allow visitors to journey with the Chinese-Cebuano people, starting from 10th century pre-colonial Cebu to the present.

The museum aims to stimulate dialogue among people of diverse cultural backgrounds, and bring to the fore over 500 years of Chinese presence in Cebu history, through vivid life narratives in innovative exhibitions.

The museum also highlights success stories of Chinese-Cebuano families and promotes advocacies of influential Chinese entrepreneurs in the country in the fields of education, trade and commerce, medicine, culture and heritage, religion, cuisine, sciences, arts, and politics.

Dr. Jocelyn Gerra, SCHM consultant, said the museum is now open to the public but since they have yet to finish the building’s second, third and fourth floors, visitors are advised to call ahead and book an appointment. The museum is expected to be fully operational next year.

The SCHMFI, based in Cebu City, was created to build the museum to showcase centuries of collaboration between the Chinese and Filipino people.

The foundation was established on Sept. 10, 2010 and inspired by reflections during a Jesuit Chinese-Filipino Lay Apostolates’ conference.

SCHMFI chairman Bob Gothong said they plan to create a heritage walk, starting at Malacañang in the South to the museum, going to Magellan’s Cross then to Parian.

“The big picture here is that we want to join other communities that are into heritage and culture so we can create a heritage walk in Cebu,” said Gothong. University of Cebu president Augusto Go, whose father Manuel built the Gotiaoco building, said his contribution to the project is to have the museum in the building itself.

“My contribution is to have a museum here because this was built by laborers from China. And they want to have a museum of Chinese heritage,” Go said.

“I hope they will come and see the museum. It’s wonderful even if it is not yet finished,” he said.

Ma. Elena Lim, museum executive director, said they will charge an introductory entrance fee of not less than P100 per guest.

Among the guests during the soft opening were Cebu City officials led by Mayor Edgardo Labella, Vice Mayor Michael Rama and Councilor Joel Garganera. (USJ-R intern Mae Fhel Gom-os)


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