CEBU. The Barrio Fiesta buffet added to the homey feel of the Christmas festivities at Cebu Palm Grass hotel. (Photo contributed from Palm Grass The Cebu Heritage Hotel)

DID you know that 118 years ago today, Cebu tasted its first Christmas without Spain dictating over them?

After 333 years of being under the Spanish colonial rule and subjugation, Cebu Katipuneros celebrated a thanksgiving mass at the Cebu Cathedral to celebrate its victory against Spain on December 29, 1898.

Palm Grass The Cebu Heritage Hotel held the “Kasadya sa Palm Grass”, a 3-in-1 celebration of Christmas, New Year, and Cebu’s independence at a function room named after the Tres de Abril Cebu uprising and a restaurant named after Lumaya, who is believed to be the founder of the Rajahnate of Cebu, for its barrio fiesta buffet.

Balbino “Ka Bino” Guerrero of the Cebu City Cultural and Historical Affairs, who represented Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, narrated that on December 24, 1898, Cebuano Katipuneros entered the city while Spanish forces retreated aboard their gunboats.

“On December 24, the last flag retreat was held at Fort San Pedro. The flag of Spain was hoisted down for the last time and as it reached the hands of the Katipuneros, a soldier tore the flag out of pure anger and hatred,” Guerrero said in the Cebuano vernacular.

The day was a glorious day for Cebuanos who gave their lives for Cebu’s independence.

“It was really a New Year in the lives of Cebuanos,” Serafin Guivelondo, Palm Grass Hotel corporate representative, said.

This day (December 29) gives more significance to the celebration of Christmas, which he said, the hotel would like to share to its patrons, customers and the Cebuanos here and abroad.

“Our heroes did not fight in vain. It is our hope that all of us Cebuanos and Filipinos will remember year after year the Christmas in 1898 — when light triumphed over darkness; good over evil; selflessness over greed,” he said.

He said the hotel would like to honor Cebu’s ancestors and its heroism “by retelling our history and living the values our heroes had, in our journey as a community towards a better society for all of us.”

Katipunero descendants

Lawyer Rex Fernandez, a descendant of General Potenciano Aliño, one of the revolutionary leaders of Cebu, reminded the public that on 2021, the Philippines will be commemorating the 500 years of the coming of Spain in the country.

He said the National Government has yet to prepare on this historical event.

Other Katipunero descendants who attended the event were local artist Radel Paredes, who is a descendant of Florencio Gonzalez, a Katipunero martyr; and Mae Kabahar, descendant of Katipunero Justo Kabahar. (Vanessa L. Almeda/Sunnex)