Cebu’s heritage night started in 2007 when the Culture & Heritage Unit of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. proposed the idea of a night patterned after Germany’s “Long Night of Museums”. The idea of a heritage night in Cebu was vouched by Msgr. Carlito Pono, then-president of the Visayas Association of Museums and Galleries Inc. (VAMGI).
To make this possible, RAFI and VAMGI organized Gabii sa Kabilin and drew up three goals: 1) to draw and encourage people to visit museums as avenue for cultural understanding, 2) to make partners and participants realize the need for heritage conservation, and 3) to encourage more people to visit museums.
They agreed that the heritage night would run from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight with visitors only needing one ticket to gain access to the participating museums and heritage sites, which would also feature live cultural performances, native food and delicacies, and Cebuano arts and crafts.
After many meetings and discussions, the very first Gabii sa Kabilin was launched at Casa Gorordo Museum on May 25, 2007, with then Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal giving the opening remarks. The event had three participating museums and one heritage structure, namely, Casa Gorordo Museum, Basilica del Sto. Nino Museum, Cathedral Museum of Cebu and Fort San Pedro, respectively, all located within Cebu’s downtown district. 200 participants joined the pioneering Gabii sa Kabilin including the graduating class of the Heritage Conservation course of the University of San Carlos.
After the success of the first heritage night, the organizing committee agreed that the event would be held annually every last Friday of May to culminate International Museum Day and Philippine National Heritage Month. To encourage families to join the event, children aged 7 years old and below can join the event for free.
Back then, the participants of the pioneering Gabii sa Kabilin had no idea what was to come for the event—how it would grow and change over time, and how big of an impact it would have to Cebuanos in the succeeding years.