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sundry-thumbBy JES B. TIROL


Last 19-21 March 2015 a training workshop was held at Bohol Tropics Resort.  The workshop was about culture and cultural mapping for Tagbilaran City.

It was conducted by the Tagbilaran City government in coordination with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


The aim was to make Tagbilaran City a premier tourism destination and help make strategic plans to make the tourist stay longer and spend more.

Cultural Heritage

The cultural heritage of a place is usually divided into the tangible and intangible components.  The tangible components consist of the built-up structures and other features that can be seen.  The intangible components consist of language, traits, habits, cuisine, and other practices that are not built-up.

If we want to know where and what are our cultural heritage we will conduct the so called cultural mapping.  After we obtain the cultural map, it is very important for tourism purposes that we should know the why and how we possess such culture and cultural heritage.  Unfortunately this component of our cultural heritage was not part of the training.

Speakers and Participants

The speakers were mostly architects.  The participants or “trainees” were mostly students of the tourism course.  Even though there was an attempt to map the intangible heritage of Tagbilaran, it was obvious that architect-speakers only knew the built-up heritage.  I don’t know why Mrs. Agnes Bustrillos of Holy Name University, who has an experience in cultural mapping, was not among the speakers.  Her Masters Degree Thesis is about cultural mapping, especially of the intangible kind.  I know this because I was a consultant of her thesis.


Cultural Mapping


To conduct a cultural map of a place is not an easy job.  You need to conduct plenty of in-depth interviews and historical research.  You also need that “x-factor” to know which will be attractive to tourists.  Between the tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the tangible or built-up heritage is supposed to be easier.  However, our penchant of destroying or renovating heritage structures without regard to its historical value makes it difficult.

Built-up Structures

There are many tangible cultural heritages in Tagbilaran City.  However, I am not in a position to know which of these are good tourist attractions.


Some of the pre-Spanish water wells still exist.  The water well at Sitio Ubos is still exists.  That at Peñaflor Street, Booy still exists.  The water well called “Kang-agbo” at Basak, Taloto still exists together with that at the IHM Seminary.  The underground spring at Cabawan District still exists.

The “Paga-pága” at the shoreline cliff in Bo-oy District still contains ancient human bones.  The Spanish time cemetery at Taloto District still exists.  It is unlike the Roman Catholic Cemetery that has transferred many times already.


The oldest public building in Tagbilaran City is the St. Joseph Cathedral.  I don’t know if the graves of important people in Tagbilaran buried underneath the altar will be tourist attractions.  The Capitol Building was constructed in 1855 by Esteban Butalid.  Its primary purpose was for a provincial jail.  The plans are still available.

The Provincial High School Building was started in 1908.  At its inner court were held the important political and social activities in Tagbilaran during the American era.

The house of Andres Peñaflor at Talotô District still exists.  Dr. Jose Rizal slept in this house in 1895 when he came to Bohol in search of a place for an agricultural colony.

The Kiosk at Plaza Rizal is still in use.  I have a 1923 picture showing Municipal President Timoteo Butalid (father of Gov. Rolando Butalid) taking a pose.

The house of Fernando Reyes still exists at V. Inting St. near the “Kulodrom”, First Dist., Tagbilaran.  It was at this house where the Boholanos made plans how to fight the invading Americans.

The oldest existing hotel in Tagbilaran is the Tagbilaran Hotel (now: Meridian Hotel).  The water tank tower build in 1934 is still in use.

The Governor’s Mansion was built by Gov. Carlos P. Garcia in 1934 as a dormitory for girls to compete with the nearby Student Center built by the Protestant Americans.  The dormitory was converted into a brothel by the Japanese and made the Governor’s Mansion after the World War II.  There are still many other historic buildings and sites in Tagbilaran City.


Nowadays, if you will observe, the younger generation from 20 years and under will call you “Kuya” or “Ate”.  Gone are the “Manong/Manang”, “Manoy/Mánay”, “Ingko/Insi”, etc.  Our intangible cultural heritage of address of respect for the elderly is fading away.

There are no equivalents in the English language and therefore our words of endearment are not taught in school.  Our school children are taught Tagalog but not Binisaya.  However, the teachers do not know that kúya and ate are not Tagalog but Chinese.

While the Muslims still pray individually five (5) times a day, the Roman Catholic practice of praying the 6:00 P.M. angelus is fading away.  It is now replaced by the 3 o’clock prayer broadcast in radios and the 6 o’clock prayer at Malls and Department stores.

The “Amin” or putting the hand of the elders to one’s forehead is now seldom practiced.  Those who practice it call it now as “bless”.  “Amin” comes from the Arabic word “amin”, which means yield.  Amin is a manifestation of fealty or an admission that you are loyal and loved your elders.  It is not a blessing.  Why would the young bless the older ones? In all likehood, it is the older that bless the younger.

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