Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum: Re-telling 500 years of history between Cebu and China

Even before the arrival of Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565, Cebu has already established active trading relations with the Chinese and other Southeast Asian countries. At the time, Maritime trading was the main link between Cebu and China.

Archaeological excavations which yielded Chinese trade pottery such as porcelain from the Sung and Tang dynasty are all proofs that attest to the early relationship that China had with Cebu.

Photo by Alvine Dre
Photo by Von Ivy Uy

All of these proofs and stories of the past are now being displayed in the Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum. The recovered artifacts showing proof of trading of the early Cebuanos are kept in the equally important heritage building of Gotiaoco Building which also stands as a tangible reminder of the rise of Cebu as a shipping and business center outside of Manila.

It will showcase centuries of collaboration between the Chinese and Filipino people through exhibits of various artifacts, heritage pieces, and items of trade. These artifacts will serve as a carefully woven historical narrative to tell the story of the past to visitors of the museum which in turn will help promote and preserve the Sugbu-Chinese culture, tradition and legacy.

Photo from Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum Facebook Page
Photo from Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum Facebook Page


The first thing that greets guests on the first floor is a lobby where the story of the Gotiaoco Building is displayed and how it changed and evolved through time. Following the lobby are displays which show the story of how Cebu transformed into the city that it is today through time.

The stories are played through a video presentation played in monitors innovatively placed inside picture frames that give the illusion of moving pictures. The other half of the lobby is used up by a replica of a Chinese boat which was used by the Chinese to come to the island and perform trading. Various props and mannequins are placed around the ship replica, depicting a scene from long ago as the Chinese traded with the Cebuanos.

Photo by Kjell Edgard Nerland
Photo by Kjell Edgard Nerland
Photo by Kjell Edgard Nerland
Photo by Kjell Edgard Nerland
Photo by Bambie Paolo
Photo by Bambie Paolo
Photo by Bambie Paolo
Photo by Bambie Paolo

Barrels of numerous trading goods such as tea, anise, and other spices can be seen behind the boat. To the side is presumably an alley representing a busy Chinese street where Chinese traders found their way to Cebu and eventually stayed there. The mezzanine is presented as a Chinese immigration office, with matching Chinese workers in their native attires, where passports and other documentations are showcased.


The second and third floors will contain artifacts and displays that show “the history, heritage, and contributions” of the Sugbu Chinese to Cebu in the various fields.

Photo by Bambie Paolo
Photo by Kjell Edgard Nerland
Photo by Bambie Paolo
Photo by Bambie Paolo

Through the exhibits, both permanent and temporary, the museum will take visitors in a trip to the past and journey through the 10th Century pre-colonial Cebu, the Sung and Ming dynasties, the Spanish and American colonization periods, up to the contemporary period. It shall bring to the present around 500 years of Sugbu-Chinese history through vivid narratives in innovative exhibitions, educational, and cultural programs.



Note: As of March 2021, the museum is temporarily closed due to the government mandate.

  • Foreign visitors: P120 per head
  • Local visitors: P75 per head
  • Senior Citizens, PWD, Students: P60 per head
  • Opening hours: 10AM to 5PM, Tuesday to Sunday



Exact location: Gotiaoco Bldg., M.C. Briones St. corner P. Burgos St., Cebu City (across Magellan’s Cross)

BY JEEPNEY: You may ride any jeepney passing by the Cebu City Hall or Magellan’s Cross. Many jeepneys with the “Colon” sign usually pass by the place. Just ask the jeepney driver if they’re passing by these places before riding the Jeepney.

BY GRAB/TAXI: Ride a taxi  or book a grab taxi anywhere from Cebu and ask the driver to take you to Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum which is just across Cebu City Hall.

BY CAR: Navigate with Waze or Google Maps and set your destination to “Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum” in Cebu City. The closest parking lot is just right next to the Senior Citizen park beside the museum, but is outside of the museum’s jurisdiction.

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