Gabii sa Kabilin 2024 raises awareness on Bisaya culture, heritage

Jacqueline Hernandez

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Gabii sa Kabilin 2024 raises awareness on Bisaya culture, heritage

Cutural dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the Gabii sa Kabilin 2024 at Plaza Sugbo in Cebu City.

Jacqueline Hernandez

Started in 2007 by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation and now on its 17th year, Gabii sa Kabilin continues to bring pride and a sense of belonging among Cebuanos

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Music, the rhythmic sound of horse hooves on the streets, as well as laughter, conversations, and spoken word poetry filled the air as people celebrated Gabii sa Kabilin (Night of Heritage) 2024 in Cebu City on Friday, May 10.

Thousands of attendees gather in front of the Kabilin Center and Casa Gorordo Museum to participate in various activities. Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

“Here in Cebu, Gabii sa Kabilin, the first and only event of its kind in the country, was created to help foster appreciation for Cebuano’s Culture and Heritage. For one night, from dusk until midnight, museums and heritage sites come together to offer special tours and performances,” said Amaya Cristina Aboitiz-Fansler, president and CEO of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI).

“Most importantly, the event also brings people from different walks of life together to enjoy the spaces of our city and celebrate the ties that bind us to each other,” she added.

Cultural dancers perform in front of the Yap-San Diego Ancestral House, recognized as one of the oldest houses in the Philippines and believed to be the first-ever Chinese house constructed outside of China.

This year’s theme, “Beloved Bisaya,” commemorates Father Francisco Ignacio Alcina’s 350th death anniversary, honoring his contributions to Visayan history. Alcina, a Jesuit missionary, historian, and ethnographer of 17th-century Visayas, is celebrated for his profound insights into Bisaya heritage.

The loud beats of the kagul, a traditional Philippine bamboo slit drum played by officials and dignitaries, marked the official start of the annual festivities. This took place in front of the historic Magellan’s Cross Pavilion at Plaza Sugbo on Friday.

Following the opening ceremony, thousands of participants and visitors from across the country began their journey. Some rode tartanillas or horse-drawn carriages, while others embarked on walking tours around the city’s heritage sites and museums.

Tartanillas or horse-drawn carriages transport attendees to various museums and heritage sites around Cebu City. Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Trisha Baterna, a student from the University of San Carlos, noted the event’s importance for Bisaya students.

“Our education mostly focuses on Tagalog-based stuff, so we don’t learn much about Visayan culture. Events like Gabii sa Kabilin help us reconnect with our roots,” Baterna said. 

“Having a museum visit like this leaves me less ignorant of our history and culture because our education is usually more focused on American, more Western compared to local. I think going to museums like this helps me reconnect with my culture and makes me feel more immersed in our social, political realities here,” she added.

Gracel Jane Banico, a student from the University of Cebu, highlighted the value of firsthand experiences when dealing with history.

“In museums, you see real artifacts, unlike online, where you’re not sure what’s true or not. So visiting museums is important for understanding our history,” Banico said.

Visitors explore “Saulog: An Exhibit of Faith, Art, and Fashion” by Steve De Leon at the Kabilin Center.

The event features 22 museums and heritage sites across Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, and Talisay City, offering a glimpse into Bisaya heritage. Tartanilla rides, cultural performances, exhibits, food stalls, games, and kids’ art activities addd to the festive atmosphere.e

The participating museums and sites are the following:

Cebu City
  • Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu
  • Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino Museum
  • BPI Museum
  • Casa Gorordo Museum
  • Cebu City Museum
  • Cebu Normal University
  • Palm Grass The Cebu Heritage Hotel
  • Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple
  • Fort San Pedro
  • Museo Parian sa Sugbo – 1730 Jesuit House
  • National Museum of The Philippines – Cebu
  • St. Theresa’s College – Sr. Ma. Delia Coronel Folklife Museum
  • Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum
  • The Kabilin Center
  • University of San Carlos Museum
  • University of San Jose – Recoletos
  • University of Southern Philippines Foundation- Jose Rizal Museum
  • University of The Philippines – Cebu
Mandaue City
  • Mandaue City Presidencia
Talisay City
  • Museo de Talisay
  • The Heritage of Faith Museum
Lapu-Lapu City
  • Liberty Shrine

Started in 2007 by RAFI and now on its 17th year, Gabii sa Kabilin continues to bring pride and a sense of belonging among Cebuanos, establishing itself as a well-loved tradition for many. –

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