This mobile guide is part of the Digital Tourism program of Smart Communications Inc., InnoPub Media and the Carcar City Government.Close Menu
Carcar is a city sandwiched between the fading glory of the past and the bustling action of the present. In simple terms, two things would best distinguish it — period houses and delectable delicacies.
Its historical landmarks are witnesses to both told and untold stories of yesteryears while its innately talented people ensure the city’s growth through cottage businesses that are unique to the city.
Not so much endowed with attractive beaches, Carcar is able to give any other destination a run for its money with its 19th century homes.
Other structures conveniently located near each other also hark back at history, showing the poignant role that Carcar played during the Spanish and American eras.
It therefore comes as no wonder that Carcar has earned the title of being the Heritage City of Cebu.
Apart from its rich heritage, Carcar also takes pride in its various products: durable shoes and baskets, sweet ampao and bucarillo, crunchy chicharon and the mouth-watering lechon.
The church complex sits on a little hill in Barangay Poblacion 1 and consists of St. Catherine’s Church, Carcar City Museum and several other vintage buildings.
Built from 1860 to 1875, the church holds the record of being the second oldest in Cebu, after the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. (Read more)
To the left of the church is another vintage structure, the two-storey convent. The rectory, sprawled at the back portion of the complex just beside the church, is among Cebu’s oldest. It is mostly painted white.
Spanish-American influences are palpable in the convent’s architecture. A statue of St. Catherine rests on the convent’s pocket yard.
This used to be the Carcar Dispensary. Entrance to the museum is free. (Read more)
Jose Rizal, perched high atop a pedestal, guards the entrance to the church complex. (Read more)
This was built as a shrine of revolutionary hero Pantaleon “Leon Kilat” Villegas, who was killed here. (Read more)
Constructed in 1905, the Upland Elementary School is said to be the oldest public school in Cebu.
The school is situated south of the church complex and directly facing the Carcar City Hall. During World War II, the school building served as a prison.
The school opened on June 15, 1923, through the efforts of Father Anastacio del Corro with the help of Belgian sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (Read more)
Getting to the church complex
If you're taking the bus from the South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Ave. in Cebu City, tell the driver to drop you off at the stop nearest City Hall. The uphil turnoff leading to the church complex from the national road is to your right if you're facing south. The area is located a few hundred meters onwards from Gaisano mall but before the rotunda.
Carcar’s heritage houses are not only well-preserved, they are suitably found in a particular place, along a street called Sta. Catalina.
Walking along Sta. Catalina, tourists get a magical glimpse of old Carcar through ancestral houses that have lasted for around a century.
Once owned by Carcar's first mayor, Mariano Mercado, the Mercado Mansion was declared a heritage house by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines on September 4, 2009.
The mansion, completed in 1906, is said to have hosted the visit of US Foreign Relations chair Key Pittman. Mayor Mercado appealed in 1931 for Pittman's intervention in the granting of Philippine Independence.
Its exteriors today are painted a refreshing mint green.
Another heritage house is what is known as Ang Dakong Balay (The Big House). Don Florencio Noel, yet another town leader, did expansion and improvement works on the house when he acquired it in 1873.
Also declared a heritage house by NHI, Ang Dakong Balay played host to Governor General William Cameron Forbes and his party in 1911.
If you walk further down Sta. Catalina, you will come across the Balay na Tisa of the Sarmientos and Osmeñas. (Read more)
Right in the heart of Carcar City is a circular plaza where vehicles bound for other areas make their turn. This is the Carcar City Rotunda, perhaps Cebu's second most iconic circular park after Fuente Osmeña in Cebu City. (Read more)
This shrine in Barangay Valladolid honors the well-loved Teofilo Bastida Camomot, a Roman Catholic archbishop from Cogon, Carcar. (Read more)
Nature lovers have a reason to visit Carcar, too, as it is home to a protected area located in Barangay Guadalupe.
Guadalupe Mabugnao Mainit Hot Spring National Park covers an area of 57.50 hectares and occupies an important watershed forest reserve in the central Mantalongon mountain range. It was declared a national park in 1972 by virtue of Republic Act No. 6429.
The park, which now has cottages and pools, is frequented by visitors daily for its hot springs.
Life-size statues of Christ and the saints, including that of the Santo Niño de Cebu, placed throughout the park are additional attractions.
A trail up a hill leads to at least three caves, the most explored being Cave Lorett and Cave Moymoy. Near Cave Lorett is another spring and four rivers.
The park also contains a dam that supplies Carcar's water.
The fastest way to get there from the national highway is through a habal-habal (motorcycle for hire) or tricycle.
In the mountainous barangay of Can-asujan can be found a symmetrical hardfill dam measuring 25 meters in height and 136 in crest length.
With a reservoir capacity of 3.45 million cubic meters, the dam services 369 hectares of Carcar’s rice farms and 403 hectares of vegetable areas.
Near the dam is a picnic site where visitors can spend time for recreation.
Once a year, the dam is also drained prompting locals to storm the site to catch wild tilapias which are then sold to visitors at relatively cheaper prices.
Century-old acacia trees that create a tree tunnel along the highway of Barangay Perrelos, Carcar City have become an attraction to many tourists over the years.
The canopy of trees in Perrelos is said to be the lushest part of Cebu’s southern highway. Magazine and travel guides have often photographed the scenery as a landmark of the rural south.
The oldest trees were planted in the 1920s during the term of then Cebu Governor Dionisio Jakosalem.
In 2013, several tree trunks were painted green and marked with numbers by government surveyors.
Art has found another unique canvas in Tupas Memorial Services, a funeral parlor in Carcar City that uses caskets with different designs to capture the market.
The fun part is, one does not really have to die to try the beautifully-crafted caskets.
At the reception area of the seven-year-old funeral house, tourists are welcome to sit on white or gold casket-couches or drive in place a bike that drags a casket (with no cadaver inside, of course).
In a corner, a light blue casket stands where practically anybody could get his way through the back of it, stand there for a minute or two with eyes closed and have his photo taken, giving the viewer the impression that he’s a dead person inside a coffin.
Think it's too creepy? Maybe a bit, but for the company’s owner, the business they are engaged in is actually another manifestation of the artistic abilities of Carcaranons.
That Carcar is all history is absolutely untrue.
Proof to the city’s forward look is the establishment of the proposed P2 billion, 35-hectare Carcar New City Center situated between the barangays of Valladolid and Poblacion 3.
The New City Center will house a new City Hall building, public market, a public transportation terminal, an Olympic-size sports oval and a gym with a swimming pool.
A new rotunda will be introduced at the intersection of the provincial road and the roads leading to Dapdap and Liburon.
From this rotunda will be an axial highway extending the reach of the Dapdap road to a public plaza.
Across the city center will traverse an alternate road that will connect the provincial highway with Sitio Lamakan.