Chinatown on the Agenda

Colon Street in Barangay Sto. Niño is at the heart of downtown Cebu City, which will be
transformed into a city’s Chinatown if the proposed ordinance authored by Councilor Jerry Guardo is approved. CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA

IT’S BEEN a while since the Cebu City Cultural and Historical Commission (CHAC) has had a meeteing, so I called the office and was told that there could well be on Monday, May 7, or next Monday, May 14.

On the agenda would be China Town in Cebu. The idea has been well received by most eveeryone, particularly by those who see it as a tourist attraction.

A China Town in Cebu would involve a large segment of Magallanes, a good past of Juan Luna, all of Plaridel, quite a length of Manalili and even on to
Borromeo street.

When we were kids, and often accompanying our mothers, we’d start out from the august steps of Bank of P. I., assuming we had been there to withdraw the pocket money for the morning’s purchases.

The walk led us to the corner of Magallanes and D. Jakosalem street where at the Leyson building was Metro Drug. Here we bought the White Cross cologne.

We’d be impatient to go across to the Liberty Grocery, a haven for chocolate, candies, marshmallows and other delights from the USA,. Grapes came in cases of sawdust.

Next we went down Magallanes on the left side to the corner of Plaridel where stood Southern Light.

They sold lamps, alright, and being a regular department store they had everything you could think of.

Traffic was slow and not heavy at all, so some braved crossing diagonally to the corner where stood Chekito Bazaar, The Spanish endearment had been given by his many cliants who knew where to obtain the best taxtiles.

A few paces from Chekito was Society Bazaar, At about 10:30am it was the rendezvous of the lady shoppers who could not resist the array of what must have been a hundred crystal flasks filled with fragrant perfumes.

No eau de cologne here; it was toilet water!

You’d follow further along Magallanes and reach the corner of Manalili to hurriedly cross on to Sen Hiap Hing, another department store that had
everything you imagined.

Magallanes forked out here at the Filomelia building which at that time boasted of the first elevator in Cebu.

The road that continued being Magallanes led to San Nicolas, past the Recoletos church and before that, Cebu bazaar, also famous for its textiles.

The other road that forked out was Borromeo street, where stood La Estrella del Sur which sold many gift items.

To backtrack a little, let’s return to the Plaridel corner where Chekito Bazaar was. We’d go across to take Plaridel toward Carbon market. The idea was to say Hello to the Velez family that ran a pawn shop and a jewelry store.

Going in the opposite direction Plaridel led you past Chinese jewelry stores to the White Gold building,
its facade was right out of China Town with typical architecture. The store was the quintessential Oriental bazaar.

An elevator took you to the top floor where there was a restaurant serving the best Chinese cuisine of its time in setting of splendor, or al fresco.

Any chance of restoring the old White Gold?

What a rush of memories! We’ve just begun!

TAGS: agenda, Chinatown
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