Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cebu: the Cross and the Basilica

After visiting Bantayan Island in northern Cebu province, we made sure we also visited some of the more touristy sites of Cebu City proper. Hey, it has to be done. My goal was to find as much old Spanish Cebu as I can get. It is a very historical city this one. In fact, Cebu was for a time the capital of the Spanish colony here. Luckily, it did not disappoint.

Basilica de Santo Niño, Cebu

First on our list, is, of course, Magellan's Cross. The first time I saw this landmark was in grade school, in a history textbook. So, walking into the small stone kiosk that houses it was actually the first time I was beholding it. Well, I expected something taller, but hey, it's tall enough.

Magellan's Cross, Cebu

The cross can be found in the heart of downtown Cebu City, along Magallanes Street, right in front of the city hall. As I discovered, though, no one will actually ever lay eyes on the original Magellan's cross. The original one has been encased inside this hollow wooden cross, reportedly done to prevent devotees from chipping off its wood, believing it to have healing powers.

Magellan's Cross, Cebu

Right beside the cross is the back entrance of one very big Catholic church. The Basilica Minore de Sto. Niño is said to be standing on the spot where a sculpture of a black Holy Child was found. Spaniards stumbled upon this Sto. Niño preserved in a burned wooden box left behind by Magellan's 1521 expedition.

Basilica de Santo Niño, Cebu

Today, the black Sto. Niño is still there. We saw it inside the church, in a special room beside the altar, along with other things inside the basilica. Again, I could not shoot inside the church out of respect to the many devotees praying there. So, I contented myself on other interesting things I found. Trust me. There are many.

Basilica de Santo Niño, Cebu

We found a well-maintained patio inside, which had this beautifully crafted wishing fountain. Walking inside the church again, I found this staircase whose intricate design amazed me. The balusters and the steps themselves were all beautifully sculpted from wood. I guess this is why I never actually fully resented religion. If it could inspire beautiful works of art like this one, why should I?

Basilica de Santo Niño, Cebu

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