Lost Landmarks of Cebu: Luzon Lumber's Odd Black Warehouse

Many Cebuanos who have grown up passing by Leon Kilat Street corner Sancianco Street may have seen the old Luzon Lumber Co." wooden warehouse.

The Lost Landmarks of Cebu is an article series that features prominent buildings and monuments in Cebu that no longer exist. If you have suggestions or want to contribute, please feel free to message us on our Facebook page.

Many Cebuanos who have grown up passing by Leon Kilat Street corner Sancianco Street may have seen an old and decrepit structure turned warehouse with a big fading sign that showed "Luzon Lumber Co. Lumber Dealer." Those old enough to have witnessed its heydays may have remembered where they got the finest piece of lumber used to build their homes. Some were lucky enough to have seen the odd-looking structure in the heart of the city. However, younger people have no idea that the modern hotel and shopping mall they passed by every day never existed then and it was this lumber warehouse where people go to.

It might have been bustling then so you might have seen the windows open with a lot of people going there getting their wood while workers busy cutting some lumbers into more manageable pieces. Way back when Cebu was not as crowded and populated as today, most houses were made of wood so that's why there were a lot of lumber companies then.

A 1915 ad from "Nueva Fuerza" has shown how lucrative the lumber industry was

According to the 1909 Directory and Chronicle, the Luzon Lumber was listed as Compania Maderera de Luzon with an office at Calle Anloague in Manila. A certain F.G. Vergara served as its general agent. Since the book listed prominent businesses not only in the Philippines but also from China, Hong Kong, Macao, Korea, Japan, Indochina, Borneo, Siam, Straits and the Malay States, the Netherlands Indies, and Eastern Siberia, Luzon Lumber is most likely one of the biggest players in the lumber industry in the region then.

In fact, a 1953 lawsuit filed against the City of Cebu has revealed that aside from Luzon Lumber, there was Santos Lumber, Lu Tai Lumber, Cebu Liberty Lumber, Royal Lumber, Cebu-Manila Sawmill, Katipunan Lumber, Cebu Victory Lumber, Visayan Lumber, Southern Lumber, City Lumber & Furniture Supply, Central Lumber, Oriental Saw Mill, Mabuhay Lumber, Malayan Lumber, and Continental Lumber.

During the time where old wooden houses were built with precise workmanship, custom-cut lumbers were made to ensure that some of the pieces they sell can interlock with each other. There were expert wood joiners then so that houses only need a central peg to keep the structure together. No need for nails at all! Known as "materiales fuertes," many of these quality lumbers used in building heritage houses have even lasted longer but sadly, many gave way to "new" and "modern buildings."

Our old family use used to have sliding windows that were cut so perfectly that when you open or close it, the windows fit snugly on its railings. Old intricate woodwork is difficult to come by nowadays. Many of the old-school carpenters weren't able to transfer their precious knowledge to today's carpenters who are now used to power tools while the worse ones even cut corners with substandard materials.

Once the erstwhile forests were cut down as the city expands, new development replaced it. By the time quality wood can no longer be sustained, many of these lumber houses have folded and only a few have remained in business till this day.


It was mention on the Karaang Cebu Facebook page in 2012 that the owners' relatives were contacted and there was even a reassurance that it won't be demolished. There was a promise that the iconic signage would have been turned over to Museo Sugbo for temporary safekeeping while an old carromata marked "Luzon Lumber" inside the building was also been said planned to be preserved.

It actually took a while before the structure was completely demolished even after the Elizabeth Mall was completed nearby. By October 2018, the lumber house was no more and One Central Hotel took its place.

As much as we all want for old structures to be preserved and restored, it is simply expensive and needs the assistance of experts to do things right. This is the reason why some people would cut corners in order to save funds. In fact, some of the old churches and heritage houses get bad makeovers because saving money is more important than preserving their cultural value.

If the Republic Act No. 10066 or "National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009" would have been implemented, the owners of heritage buildings should have received free restoration grants to a private structure declared as a national cultural property with an understanding that the owner opens it to public access. However, the lack of funding is probably the reason why this doesn't happen as much as we want to.

The only way to remember these forgotten landmarks would be on the collective memories of those who lived and remembered when these were still around. We don't have this on history books that everyone can read. We just hope that what remains of our cultural heritage would be preserved in any way possible. Let's not sacrifice what's left of our past in order to build the future.


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Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger: Lost Landmarks of Cebu: Luzon Lumber's Odd Black Warehouse
Lost Landmarks of Cebu: Luzon Lumber's Odd Black Warehouse
Many Cebuanos who have grown up passing by Leon Kilat Street corner Sancianco Street may have seen the old Luzon Lumber Co." wooden warehouse.
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