The Rizal Memorial Library is an intriguing structure along Osmena Blvd., in midtown Cebu City. It is intriguing, because it is not very imposing like the Capitol building, but the library is a beautiful structure by itself. I remembered that the library was renovated, but I’m glad it is now back and running.
A visit to the Rizal Memorial Library to research on its origins proved futile. The librarian said the library has no material on the building’s history. The only material she gave me — rather, pointed me to — was the marker engraved at the bottom of Rizal’s statue at the front. The marker reads as follows:
“Conscious of the importance of education, the people of Cebu voluntarily contributed to the construction of this memorial. The contribution came from the net proceeds of the Literary-Musical programs and carnival expositions periodically held since 1919 in celebration of Rizal Days. A committee composed of municipal president Fructuouso Ramos, councilor Jose P. Nolasco and municipal treasurer Tomas Cerilles, invested the money realized from said activities in the Cebu Mutual Loan Association where forgotten in later years it was earning dividends. In 1935, Gov. Sotero Cabahug looked for the money and took the necessary steps leading to the creation of this structure which on December 30, 1939, was inaugurated and christened Rizal Memorial Library.”
When I reviewed what the marker said, I picture the old Cebu as lively — with the presence of literary-musical programs and carnival expositions. I accidentally chanced upon a friend Facebook post on a coffee table book by Lucy Urgello Miller, titled Glimpses of Old Cebu. That friend had her wedding reception at the hall in the 3rd floor of the building, and we were lucky to be there to witness that romantic night. Ms. Miller, in her book, pointed out that the Rizal Memorial Library was probably designed by architect Juan Arellano, who also designed the Cebu Provincial Capitol in 1937 and the Bank of the Philippine Islands – Cebu Branch in 1940. (Source: Arkitekturang Filipino – http://www.arkitektura.ph/)
Ms. Miller went on to say that the library used to occupy both floors, but after the war years, a museum was added in the second floor. In the late 1940s, the building temporarily housed the Perpetual Succour Hospital and during the war, the building served as headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Administration in Cebu, according to Ms. Miller.
The Rizal Memorial Library also houses a museum on the second floor and offices of different tourism and culture divisions of the Cebu City Hall. The toilets are clean and seemed well-kept. The third floor may be rented for gatherings and events.
Photos and art by Joel Lopez.