Museo Sugbo

(This article was provided by Museo Sugbo)

Museo Sugbo is housed at what was once called Cárcel de Cebú, the provincial jail of Cebu.

Designed in 1869 by Domingo de Escondrillas, the lone architect in Cebu at the time, the Cárcel de Cebú was originally proposed as the Carcel del Distrito, the main prison for the Visayas District. This accounts for its relatively large size at the time it was built.

Carcel de Cebu circa 1901. During the early years of the American period, the Carcel served as a stable for horses competing in the Hipódromo nearby. But it was eventually used once again as a prison, both for the city and the province. (Photo provided by Museo Sugbo)
Carcel de Cebu circa 1901. During the early years of the American period, the Carcel served as a stable for horses competing in the Hipódromo nearby. But it was eventually used once again as a prison, both for the city and the province. (Photo provided by Museo Sugbo)

 

After a flurry of endorsements and independent review in Manila, the project was approved and construction probably commenced around 1871. It is believed that most of the coral stone blocks from the Parian Church–which was demolished in 1878 after the Bishop of Cebu won a long-drawn court case against its parishioners in the 1850s–were used to build parts of the Cárcel. After twenty years of use, a renovation was ordered in 1892, which added more buildings behind the main structure that now serves as the first six galleries of the museum.

Records are not clear as to when the second story of the main building was added. But the architectural design suggests this to be during the American colonial period.

The Cárcel de Cebú housed not only criminals in its 135-year history. During the Revolution, many of the Katipuneros were incarcerated here without trial and many of them were eventually executed in nearby Carreta Cemetery. During the early years of the American period, the Carcel served as a stable for horses competing in the Hipódromo nearby. But it was eventually used once again as a prison, both for the city and the province. During the Japanese Occupation, guerrillas were imprisoned here after enduring torture under the hands of the Kempei-Tei, the Japanese secret police. After the war, many of the collaborators in Cebu were also imprisoned here. From the 1950s to 1976, the front section of the Cárcel served as the city jail, while the three structures behind were used as the provincial jail.

DON'T STEP ON THE GRASS. This photo from the Lucy Urgello-Miller Collection and provided by Museo Sugbo shows the then Cebu Provincial Jail between 1918 to 1930. The sign on the grass says "Pahibalo. Ayao pagtunub sa balili" or don't step on the grass.
DON’T STEP ON THE GRASS. This photo from the Lucy Urgello-Miller Collection and provided by Museo Sugbo shows the then Cebu Provincial Jail between 1918 to 1930. The sign on the grass says “Pahibalo. Ayao pagtunub sa balili” or don’t step on the grass.

 

The Cárcel changed names twice, first during the American to the post-War periods when it was called the Cebu Provincial Jail. In the 1980s, the name was changed to Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center.

Museo Sugbo has several galleries including:

The Pre-Colonial Gallery

The Pre-Colonial Gallery traces over two thousand years of the pre-history of Cebu. Among its highlights include a collection of stone tools dating to the Neolithic (3,000 BCE-500 BCE), decorated earthenware dating to the Philippine Metal Age (500 BCE-900 CE) and Chinese, Vietnamese as well as Thai ceramics dating to the Age of Foreign Trading (900 CE-1500 CE).

The Spanish Colonial Gallery

The gallery traces the roots of Spanish colonization, beginning with the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and the conquest of Cebu by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565. Among the highlights of this section include letters of Legazpi to King Philip II (the first letter ever sent out of the Philippines) dated 27 May 1565 and other documents of the Spanish period like Encomienda papers of various pioneer towns in Cebu dating to the early 1600s.

The Katipunan Revolution and the American Colonial Gallery

Located at the second floor of the main museum building, this gallery houses a collection of the memorabilia of the Katipunan in Cebu; a fine collection of a Thomasite teacher’s mementos; newspapers in Cebuano and Spanish languages; and the memorabilia of Gov. Sotero Cabahug, builder of the Cebu Capitol.

The War Memorial Gallery

This gallery houses medals, armaments and vintage bombs as well as documents related to the brutal years of the Japanese Occupation in Cebu up to the Liberation in 1945.

Gregorio & Jovito Abellana Special Exhibition

Gregorio Abellana served as a lieutenant in the Revolution against Spain (1898) as well as the subsequent war against the Americans in Cebu (1899-1901). His son, Jovito, followed his footsteps and served the guerrilla resistance to the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945), playing the price with his eventual incarceration and torture under the dreaded Kempei-tai. The gallery showcases both their lives as patriots in between two wars.

Sen. Vicente Rama Special Exhibition

Housed in what was once the old prison infirmary are the memorabilia of Sen. Vicente Rama, father of the Cebu City Charter, publisher of three newspapers and the undefeated opposition Democrata Party legislator. The gallery traces the senator’s long and illustrious career both as a pre-war lawmaker and journalist, showcasing a long life devoted to public service.

The National Museum – Cebu Regional Branch

Two large galleries in another building across the MPHH and the museum quadrangle provide rare artifacts from excavations conducted in Cebu as well as a changing exhibition of objects and artifacts that are part of Cebu’s history.

Cebu Journalism and Journalists Gallery

This is the first community media museum gallery in the country. The gallery contains photo frames with captions of pre-war and post-war journalists of Cebu with captions on their contributions to Cebu journalism. It also contains equipment like a Minerva letterpress, an ink knife, radio microphones and a Royal Quick Deluxe typewriter. The gallery contains several QR Code markers that make the exhibits interactive.

IN THE 1950s. This photo from the Enrico Rubio Collection shows Carcel de Cebu in the 1950s. (Photo provided by Museo Sugbo)
IN THE 1950s. This photo from the Enrico Rubio Collection shows Carcel de Cebu in the 1950s. (Photo provided by Museo Sugbo)

This article is part of a project on tourism and heritage supported by Smart Communications, Inc., the country’s telecommunications leader.