Friday, February 6, 2015

Colon by Night: Reminiscent of Cebu's Colorful Past

I gripped the camera while my backpack securely hung on my shoulder as Ka Bino led us from alley to alley of what's known to be one of the most perilous areas of Cebu -- downtown, Colon.

Ka Bino, although a very interesting name, is someone I didn't know. If it wasn't for my female friend's adamant request, I would have settled for a random tour guide. Nonetheless, it didn't take me long to understand why. He is famous for being a heritage interpreter and was once Lapu-Lapu City's Tourism Development Consultant.

Still wary about what could go wrong in a place known for robbers and pickpockets, I summoned my courage to keep a straight face and alert senses. My friends paid keen attention while Ka Bino told the stories behind the facade Colon St. is at present. At one point he motioned to direct our stare to a former house of Philippine President Sergio Osmena's wife, Estefania Rosales Chiong Veloso. A turn to the right set our glances to a long street stretch he said used to be occupied by Cinemas and theaters. He recalls how owners come up with various schemes to survive the business against other aggressive competitors. Usually, the tickets with free popcorn sell out. Others got even more ambitious and wanted to be the first air-conditioned movie house, a respite from the cardboard cutouts used then to fan self while watching a movie. Vision Theater is aesthetically a standout in terms of structural design. The building look sturdy, emphasized by tall pillar foundations and artistically decorated at the top with sculptures of naked women by Italian artist, Dante Guidetti, in the 1930’s.
Teatro Junquera (now Oriente Cinema)

Vision Theater

The stories went on, transporting us to the past and painting Colon Street as the then and even until today a very progressive district in Cebu. One building was said to be the go-to place for food lovers as it used to be the pioneer of rooftop restaurants. It was said to contain the largest revolving table which could very well be their version of our Tsim Tsa Tsui's conveyor display (too bad we didn't get near the building to take a photo and I only have my unreliable memory to depend on). A few minutes more of walking took us to a crossroad. At one corner stood an old building that still bore its original name. Although unknown of what it could've been then, we all best assumed it as a photo shop as the name suggested.


Finally, Carbon market. I was  always fascinated by the idea of shooting pictures in this part of Cebu at night but I often hesitated for fear that I could lose grip of my camera any time and find myself running after crafty robbers. Needless to say, Ka Bino's carefree demeanor said a lot about his intention to change the notion. I was hoping he'd warn us to be mindful of our belongings, on the contrary, he was mindless about it. He kept talking and taking us to the most crowded of intersections passing by mom-and-pop shops and streetside vendors. One will never run out of interesting things to do in Carbon market. You'll find yourself haggling prices with vegetable vendors, or be captivated by the colorful surroundings of just about anything sold. It's beautiful chaos. Stand at one corner and you'll find yourself dazed and smiling while you smell the stinky but delightful mounds of shrimp paste, ginamos or bagoong, and then mixed with the smell of fish tinola, lansiao, and bakasi while people walk past you from all sides laughing, shouting, and talking just about anything under the moonlight. If you feel emotionally low, go to Carbon Market. It'll keep you awake.

Immediately after our friend paid for a bag of broccoli, Ka Bino took us through a narrow road walled with inexpensive ready-to-wear clothes. Surprisingly, it led us straight into the shopping center that stood right in front of our meeting place. To this day, I am confused like as if I haven't been there a couple of times. The corners, intersections, alleys, and wormholes dizzy me. Mapping our footsteps is beyond my capacity. Perhaps I will leisurely visit the same places again one more time by myself in daylight glory.

I want the same tour! See researched contacts below. Information may have changed.

Galleon San Pedro Tours
Coordinator: Tryscha Bautista
Tel. (032)412-2422 / 0917 716 9830

Ka Bino's website:

Wallet Watch:
A few hundreds for the tour and a bag with snacks and drinking water.


  1. I used to think this was a scary place to visit. I took a German friend walking around here last year so she can feel the vibe; she found it fascinating. So do I. But people have to be careful with their possessions as we should in any congested area in the world.

    1. I agree. Even though nothing bad happened during our tour it is always better to be careful than end up sorry. :)

  2. Nicely written. Keep the posts coming Mike! :)

    1. Hahaha. Thanks. It sat in my Draft for months and i thought I gotta get it out. Finally!

    2. Finally :) Nice work, Mike!

  3. Mike, cool ra mga taw sa Carbon. Went on a photowalk before thrice.
    Bsta group lang or buddy2x system carry ra man.
    Yey! Iya na jud giukay pra ma-post. Keep it up, Mike.

    Laagholic Buyog

    1. Thanks Bee. I finally thought of a good closing. It's fun walking around a progressive town and be taught about what the buildings and today's popular places were like down history lane.


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