On July 28, 2023, the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) inaugurated its 16th component museum—the NMP-Cebu in Cebu City.

Located in the heart of Cebu City in the historic Plaza Independencia, near Fort San Pedro, the “Aduana” building was designed by William Parsons and was constructed in 1910. It served as the customs house of the Port of Cebu for 94 years and even survived the bombings during World War II relatively intact. In 2004, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo decided to convert the structure into the Malacañang sa Sugbo, which aimed to bring the national government closer to the Visayas. However, in 2013, the building was damaged by a 7.1-magnitude quake, prompting its closure.

Former NMP Chairperson Evangelina Lourdes-Arroyo Bernas stated that she saw it as her priority to “rectify the absence of a National Museum in the International Gateway and Educational, Cultural and Tourism Hub in the Central Philippines.” So in 2019, the Cebu Port Authority and the National Museum of the Philippines signed a usufruct agreement, giving the NMP the right to use the structure to house the NMP-Cebu  for 25 years. 

The inauguration ceremony formally began with the arrival of the President of the Philippines Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. Shortly after the ribbon-cutting was the unveiling of the inauguration plaque, and a presidential tour of the exhibitions. 

A short program followed, starting with welcoming remarks from National Museum Board of Trustees Chairman Andoni Aboitiz.

“The historical building we see in front of us is meant to serve as a temple for not just Cebuanos but Filipinos from all over the country and visitors from all over the world to come and learn about a significant slice of our nation,” Aboitiz said.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco then introduced President Marcos who in his speech highlighted the importance of this institution and called the museum a “milestone for the entire country”.

“[The opening of this museum] is in line with our national agenda to promote tourism [and] nurture our national identity… It is a milestone, not only for the Queen City of the South and the whole Province of Cebu, but for the entire country, as the opening of this museum brings to the fore our rich natural, cultural, and artistic treasures”, Marcos said.

NMP-Cebu features exhibitions that capture the Cebuano spirit and heritage, including the island’s rich and diverse biodiversity, geology, archaeological treasures, art, and ethnographic and maritime traditions. The new museum also hosts a special exhibition featuring artworks from the Philippine Center in New York and will soon feature artworks by Cebu master Martino Abellana. Aside from the five galleries, NM Cebu also boasts a lobby and reception hall featuring additional art by Cebuanos and featuring Cebuano culture and history, a terrace, a courtyard, and the NM’s first-ever museum shop.

The National Museum of the Philippines – Cebu will be partially opened to the public from Tuesdays to Sundays, 9AM to 5PM, beginning on August 1. Admission will be FREE!