Friday, March 27, 2009
According to stories passed on from generation to generation, the name of the town was derived from an abundantly-growing plant in the area, known locally as “Sali-argaw”. Extant records pertaining to the establishment of Argao as a town go only as far as the middle eighteenth century, when the Augustinians started building the church in Argao, later named after St. Michael the Archangel. According to church records, the church of Argao was founded on October 16, 1733. Another source says that Argao began as an encomienda and that the Argao parish was founded on May 17, 1734. The first town executive during the American regime was Capitan Juan Lucero.
The main poblacion of Argao remains one of the reminders of Spanish influence in Cebu. The old municipal building is also made of the same structure as this old house, and indeed this structure is perhaps one of the remaining old municipal buildings in the province of Cebu. The following buildings and structures are places one can visit if doing a tour around the pueblo:
San Miguel Archangel Parish Church and Convent. Argao became a parish in 1703, which prompted the construction of a beautiful rococo-baroque church structure in 1734 and was completed in 1788. A good number of religious artifacts have remained in the church. The altar (retablo) of the church is still the original. The church was renovated for its bicentennial celebration in 1988, and its outer walls were scraped. Despite some renovations and modernizations done to it, the San Miguél Archangel Parish still remains one of the richly furnished churches in the South. The unique ceiling of the Church. Its church is with unusual ceilings of canvass painted all over with religious motifs.
The Pipe Organ of Argao. The Church of Argao is possessed of one of the remaining 14 Spanish era pipe organs, and is one of the three towns in the whole Cebu province to still have this instrument. The pipe organ of Argao, though today no longer useable, is estimated by many historians to have been built between the 17th to the 19th century. Organs built in this period were of typical Spanish Baroque style except for the ones built during the last part of the 19th century which are Neo Gothic in style. It is a great possibility that Argawanons took a great part in building their pipe organ along with Spanish or Mexican Organ-builders. Professional organ makers describe Argao’s organ as having “windchests constructed from a massive solid wood. Three towers are separated with flat field of pipes. Unfortunately, no records in the church exist to show who played the organ, though according to some residents, after the 2nd World War Mr. Juan Calledo played the instrument and a certain Noy Ino was tasked to pump the organ.
The Argao Museum. Through the initiative of one of Argao’s most loved residents, Monsignor Elias Matarlo, the Argao Museum was constructed in 1999 in order to house what was left of the church’s priceless antiques, and also to showcase the religious artifacts and icons of families who have decided to let the museum safe-guard their family heirlooms. Church Plaza,
The Site of the Former Palacio, Morgue/Chapel. Visible also in this area is the former “Palacio”, the temporary residence of church dignitaries from Manila or Cebu City who came to Argao to visit. Also, sadly located at the back of the Kintanar Memorial Hospital, is the Church morgue, a very old structure that was build around the early 1800’s.