Sepia in Carcar

One Wednesday afternoon last summer, my sister and I boarded a bus at the Cebu South bus station to go to Carcar. Our goal was to meet up with our friend who was working there and have dinner. One good thing about Carcar is that all government offices, the church, and it’s major university are located within walking distance between each other. Although we arrived at the city past 5PM, which meant all government offices and museums were already closed, we had a satisfying 30-minute tour of the historic area.

Carcar is an important city in the south of Cebu. It is a junction city where all modes of transportation pass through in order to get to either the south-east of Cebu or the south-west of Cebu. In recent years, more roads from Carcar were built, and now one can cross the mountains of Carcar to get to Aloguinsan (the town where Bojo River is located). Carcar is called many things — “Shoe Capital of the South,” “Heritage City of the South,” “Gateway to the South,” etc. While I’ve been to many places in the south many times, I’ve only been to Carcar twice (before this trip) and those times were only for a few minutes/hours. When my sister and I arrived there that summer afternoon, I seemed to be frozen in time and thought I was transported to a different place. I thought the paint of the buildings were whiter and cleaner, the people moving and talking a little slower. If only the city could solve their traffic problem, it could be made a set for a period movie.

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This is the statue of Pantaleon Villegas (aka Leon Kilat), one of the first significant structure you’ll see when you go up the Carcar Plaza. Many would recognize Leon Kilat as a street in downtown Cebu City, but it’s actually a moniker given to Pantaleon Villegas, a revolutionary at during the Spanish time, who famously led the Tres de Abril revolution. He was called “Leon Kilat” (two Bisaya words that literally translate to “Lion Thunder”) because legend has it that he travels so fast that he is seen to be fighting in one place today, and in another place the next day, at a time when the modes of transportation were scant and slow. Legends also said he had a “sigbin” (a mythical animal popular in the Visayas region) that protects him from enemies (see Fernandez, R. (2013). Venancio’s Leon Kilat. Cebu Daily News.) As for the sculpture, it was made by Roman Sarmiento and erected sometime in the 1950s (see Carcar Families: A Genealogy Blog for Carcar).

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The Carcar City Municipal Hall is the seat of all important government offices in the City. I recalled making an ambush visit to then Vice Mayor Barcenas to talk about chicharon. I can’t remember what words we exchanged during the visit, but he invited us to his house to check out their small chicharon factory. Sadly, he didn’t invite us for chicharon. Carcar was named city in 2007, through RA 9436 (see Carcar City Web site). The city figured (figures?) in the famed Constitutional Law case League of Cities vs. COMELEC, which questioned the law converting the town into a city.

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The Carcar City Museum, which was then the Philippine Health Service Dispensary (as indicated below). The building was already closed to visitors when we arrived. Sorry, I don’t have much information about the building. This means, the city deserves another visit.

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Finally, St. Catherine de Alexandria Church. The parish was founded in 1599 (see Cebu Archdiocese) but I have no idea when the church was erected and under whose administration. Another reason to go back.

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