The Colon Obelisk, Overlooked or Out-of-Placed Landmark?

We all know that Colon Street is the oldest street in the Philippines but not everyone knows about the obelisk that marks the beginning of the street.


We all know by now that Colon Street is the oldest street in the Philippines. However, there is something missing in this supposed heritage area of Cebu that doesn’t scream heritage or historic. Sure, there’s always the old buildings we see along the way even though many are already in a state of disrepair. If you’re going to compare it with Crisologo Street in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, you will think that it’s even older than that of Colon. Yet, Nueva Segovia (old name of Vigan) was founded in 1572 so that was 7 years after Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived in Cebu in 1565.

It was during Legaspi’s time when the grid-patterned road networks were established and from there, Calle Colon was established. Although named after Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon in Spanish), there is no documentation that provides information about the development of the area. Previously, it was known as Calle del Parian to delineate the separation of the Chinese quarters from the main Spanish residential and commercial areas.

Known as the “Pearl of the Orient Seas,” Cebu boasts of having Fort San Pedro (28 years older than Fort San Pedro, built in 1593) and the Basilica del Santo Niño (though technically not the oldest church as the present church was completed in 1739 while the original church was destroyed by fire in 1566 and the second one suffered the same fate in 1628). Nowadays, a huge layer of its old Spanish heritage buildings was already lost for good or completely gobbled up by urban decay, grime, and blight. However, there is one landmark that everyone passes by every day yet no one seems to know about its historical significance.

Overlooked Landmark

Even the designation as a national road, Colon Street is clinging to its past even though everything is no longer the same as the old black and white photographs that we see in the museum or nostalgia sites we see online. Even with all the heritage markers that dotted along the road, many Cebuanos don’t even know the significance of these places anyway. Who knows about Teatro Junquera or Teatro Empira? What about Dante Guidetti and his impressive bas reliefs on the top of Vision Theatre? What about Southern Institute, a school that no longer exists? Or the spacious stately homes of Don Jaime Vaño, Don Guillermo Tamayo, and Don Gavino Sepulveda?


Although not as old as these structures, there is one intriguing landmark most people overlook – the Colon Obelisk. Yes, Cebu has an obelisk!


Having an obelisk is not something out of the ordinary since a lot of cities over the world have obelisks of different sizes from ancient Egypt to the modern cities of Paris and Washington D.C. Even the Rizal Monument in Luneta is an obelisk as well. Yet the Colon Obelisk doesn’t have a clear story as far as the historical context behind its erection is concerned. Although there are some Columbus monuments in the United States, Cuba, and Panama that featured similar obelisks, there is no direct connection to that was placed on Colon Street. It seems that it’s not really made from solid granite but more covered by tiles and some of it has already fallen off.


There seems to be no upkeep or maintenance of the obelisk as it’s littered with plastic packaging and cigarette butts. It’s not an area that Cebuanos can proudly show off to tourists.

Out of Place?

We probably realize by now that the obelisk may have been overlooked by most of us. But do you think that it could be out of place? If you come to think of it, there is not a lot going on in the area where it is located. It should deserve an important part of the city where people can pay more attention to it. We already have Fuente Osmeña with its roundabout at the heart of the city while the Cebu Provincial Capitol is at the northern end of the boulevard. Why not having the obelisk in the middle of the intersections of Colon Street, Borromeo Street, and Leon Kilat Street and make that a roundabout just like in Fuente?

Have you ever thought about having the obelisk at a very important intersection of Colon Street?

Only time will tell if the future generations would think about giving this landmark the proper care and attention it truly deserves.

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Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger: The Colon Obelisk, Overlooked or Out-of-Placed Landmark?
The Colon Obelisk, Overlooked or Out-of-Placed Landmark?
We all know that Colon Street is the oldest street in the Philippines but not everyone knows about the obelisk that marks the beginning of the street.
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