Two anniversaries always mark the Christmas break, one with special meaning to Cebuanos, the other, to the nation. On his way to his eventual death at Bagumbayan on Dec. 30, 1896, our national hero, Jose Rizal, stayed for some eight hours in Cebu when the steamship he took (I think it was the SS Panay) dropped anchor off Fort San Pedro to take in coal and some passengers.
Plaza Independencia, in fact, merits a few lines of praise from Rizal in his diary. He writes of how expansive and beautiful the plaza was with all the government structures across it as well as Fort San Pedro. In the afternoon he visited leaders of San Nicolas ? the same ones who would lead the revolution in Cebu two years later ? before boarding the ship on his date with destiny, as it were.
Fast forward 60 years later and we note the passing of Sen. Vicente ?Nyor Inting? Rama, who died from complications of diabetes on Dec. 24, 1956. Nyor Inting is best remembered for having won every election that he ran for in a long pre-war political career marked largely by an active and searing opposition to Don Sergio Osmeña. (As I once wrote in another article, Don Sergio finally conceded to Nyor Inting?s political prowess and invited him to the Nacionalista senate slate of 1941, which the latter won handily).
It is quite interesting how this brewing confrontation now between their grandchildren, Mayor Mike Rama and Rep. Tomas Osmeña, will play out and who will eventually concede. But that is not what I wish to concern myself with here. Instead, it is best to ponder on many documents that he left behind that have been painstakingly kept by his family and are now displayed at Museo Sugbo, the Cebu Provincial Museum.
One of these is a circular signed by Vicente Logarta, secretary to the new city mayor, Nyor Inting, dated Dec. 7, 1938. Cebu had just been inaugurated as a city on Feb. 24 the year before, following the passage of a bill authored by then Rep. Vicente Rama, who earned the enduring title ?Father of Cebu City.? The circular is precious as much for the event it speaks of as for the city officials named in that circular (with corresponding signatures). At four o?clock that afternoon, Plaza Rizal (now Plaza Sugbu) was to be the venue for the planting of the Rama Tree and a committee comprising city officials was to lead it.
Many of the children and grandchildren of these officials now long gone are still quite well-known if not active in local politics today. These officials were led by the earlier mentioned secretary, Vicente Logarta; Felipe Pacaña (city treasurer); Dominador Abella (chief of police); Leandro Tojong (city fiscal); Jose Solon (city auditor); Jose Nolasco (city health officer) and Juanito Zamora (municipal judge).
The Plaza Independencia of Rizal?s brief visit used to be called Plaza Ma. Cristina and became Plaza Libertad during the American period. Except for the acacia trees, it has changed little and has survived the times. I cannot say the same of the Rama Tree. Every time I see this document at the Rama Memorabilia Gallery of Museo Sugbo, I cannot help but wonder if, like those family names typed in that piece of paper, the tree survived the war and still shades those cars now parked across the City Hall.