THE Museo sa Sugbo is inside a structure that is in itself a museum piece. That thought flashed in my mind as I walked inside the museum and stood at the center of its courtyard.

Renovation hasn’t touched the rusty barbed wires and corner sentry boxes that topped the old walls and these are visible if one takes time to look up. For a moment, I imagined seeing images of shadowy M-16 toting jail guards watching eagle-eyed at the cells bursting with prisoners below them.

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I went to the Museo sa Sugbo last Sunday not only to witness the opening of three galleries—one on the Cebu media, another on Cebu fine arts and another on Spanish colonial bridges and plants—-but also to note the changes in the former Cebu provincial jail and how Jobers (University of San Carlos professor Jojo Bersales) fared as Capitol consultant on heritage and museum affairs.

In the process, I got to see in person for the first time the Imeldific herself, former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

I have to give it to Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia for striving to preserve Cebuano heritage not only through the Museo sa Sugbo but through other Capitol projects as well. The Provincial Government, for example, has funded efforts to document in book form the history of Cebu province and its towns and cities with the help of USC’s Cebuano Studies Center. The impact of that project will be felt by many generations after.

Jobers has done a good job so far on the Museo sa Sugbo. The number of artifacts and articles on display is growing as more and more Cebuanos are dusting off their heirlooms and donating these to the museum. In Sunday’s affair, Prosecutor Bienvenido Mabanto donated a World War II-vintage submachinegun while a World War II veteran is turning over his memorabilia.

“I won’t pass up the chance to pay homage to the beautiful,” I heard Rep. Marcos say to the governor, Provincial Board Member Agnes Magpale and the others who welcomed her at the Museo. That was her answer to queries on why she chose to cancel her flight home just to attend that day’s museum activities.

The years are slow in catching up with the Imeldific. She’s 81 years old but she is still able to go around the country preaching the gospel on “the true, the good and the beautiful.” In a way, the Marcos family is fortunate that Ferdinand, not Imelda, died first. I think Filipinos are more forgiving to women---or is it because we do have short memories? In the old days, portions of the Imeldific’s speech would have received boos and jeers.

Her view on the 1986 Edsa people power uprising, for example, was pathetic. She said that her husband’s greatest moment was during Edsa 1 when Ferdinand supposedly exercised restraint and refused to forcibly disperse the people that massed at the historic avenue, thereby averting bloodshed. That’s not totally true, of course, but then what can one expect from her?

Rep. Marcos was guest of honor at the Museo activities not for her political views but for her “reputation” as patroness of the arts. And she tried not to disappoint, although she did fail when she attempted to go philosophical in discussing our culture and heritage. It was when she reminisced about her years in Malacañang that her speech became interesting. It gave me a glimpse of the mindset of the surviving half of the infamous Conjugal Dictatorship.

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