I recently discovered Museo Sugbu – The Cebu Provincial Museum. At first glance, it resembled a Spanish-era fort or watchtower. But upon entering and listening to the tour guide, I learned it used to be a jail. It was the home of Youtube-sensation Cebu Dancing Inmates (CPDRC Inmates) until Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia transferred them to more spacious grounds. Before it became a museum, it was known as Carcel de Cebu – Provincial Jail of Cebu.
To get there, my sister and I took a cab (since we’re not very good with downtown jeepney routes) and even the cab driver was not familiar. So to all of you who may never have heard of Museo Sugbu or do not know where it is, it is in M.J. Cuenco Avenue in the old Spanish-era area of Cebu named Tejero. So we told the cab driver it used to be a city jail (this he was familiar with) and we sped off to our destination.
When we got there I marveled at the beautiful architecture and how the coral-stoned walls were still intact and strong. Inside, it was clear that the design was really meant for a jail. Even the barbed wire was still around the high walls and the guard towers were still in each corner. In order to maintain the museum, entrance fees were collected.
ADULTS: P30 (Filipinos), P75 (Foreigners)
STUDENTS (w/ ID): P10 (Filipinos), P50 (Foreigners)
SENIOR CITIZENS: P10
The galleries are housed in four separate buildings and are in chronological order. It’s as if you are time-traveling or stepping into a different era every time you walk in a gallery. All the galleries are well-lit and fully-air conditioned. Yes folks, fully-air conditioned. So expect touring in total comfort.
The first gallery (my favorite!) features artifacts, silverware, and bones of Filipinos all dated long before the Spaniards came to the islands; a set of teeth with gold metal plates engrained, wooden coffins that were used to send the dead off to sea, and a mysterious skull with little holes on the forehead. You get a glimpse of our pagan ancestors’ lifestyles.
The museum had plenty of rare items and interests; documents signed by Cebu’s first Spanish governor, pictures and letters of a Thomasite, stacks of illegal money made by Guerillas during World War II, bayonets used by Japanese soldiers, vintage Hi Fi stereos and cameras, old newspaper printing machines, a whole gallery of past presidents and the highlights of their administration and plenty more. I’m sure there’s at least one artifact in each gallery that would catch your fancy.
After going in all the galleries and seeing all there was to see, my sister and I got thirsty (and maybe a little hungry). The museum also houses souvenir shops and a quaint little coffee shop. Of course we decided to take a look and see what they had to offer. Their menu offered the usual Pinoy merienda staples. Surprisingly it wasn’t sold at “tourist-y prices” considering that this was a place most tourists would visit.
So to all you locals and non-locals alike, I highly recommend that you take the time to stop by Museo Sugbu and learn more about the island’s history and get a glimpse of the country’s rich culture. The
museum is open from 9:00am – 5:30pm. If you’re lucky, one of the tour guides might come out of hiding and give you a tour. Nevertheless, it’s still fun to walk around the museum and snag some “illegal” pictures (since picture or video taking inside the galleries is prohibited). Or take the time to look at each artifact and appreciate how it’s still there for us to marvel at. I assure you, your visit would be worth your while. And maybe, just maybe, one of the men in the black and white pictures might have been your great-great-great-great-great-grandfather! Hey, It’s possible!