Sunday, January 1, 2017

Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary - Casting a Colorful Spell in Cebu City

He lived his life like one big adventure. Within the confines of his interest as a hobbyist, artist and lepidopterist, i.e. someone who studies and collects moths and butterflies, Mr. Julian Jumalon, a U.P. Fine Arts graduate, devoted his remaining years collecting species from all over the world. In fact, he has one from Madagascar, an island off the African coast that I visited 6 months ago. It felt like an island where flowers refuse to grow. About 90% of its forest cover has disappeared, and along with it, the once richly diverse ecosystem. Why am I insinuating my Malagasy trip in this post? Because I have seen a Madagascar butterfly in Cebu.   

In Jumalon's sanctuary and mini-museum, you'll find paintings using pigments from the decaying butterflies' lanceolate wings. He's gathered specimen with "numbers" and the alphabet written on their wings. There are several trivia we gathered during our visit, which was spur-of-the-moment.


Butterflies fly in the daytime. Moths, on the other hand, are nocturnal, thus they prefer to be active in the night. But there are day-flying moths too. Male butterflies are smaller than the females; they're also more beautiful. Which other zoological creature has males as the fairer species? 

The Kallima, aka dead leaf (orange oakleaf), is a nymphalid butterfly that resembles a dry leaf with dark veins (when their wings are closed). See below and find that hose aren't leaves, but kallimas. They're living examples of the concept of "camouflage",

 A visit is roughly divided into 3 places: a "Butterfly Collection" on display in the main house; an art gallery, featuring the paintings of Professor Jumalon; and a lush garden where a limited number of live butterflies are found. The sanctuary is housed in a residence, with non-descript facade. If you're not too observant, it's easy to miss. It's located at the back of a public school at the fringes of Cebu City.


Butterfly farms and sanctuaries, as I observed, are hard to maintain because of the short lifespan of these colorful creatures (2-3 weeks tops). In this sanctuary, a guide will try to explain about the displays, and you'll eventually learn about the life cycle of these creatures, involving caterpillars (larvae) and pupa (chrysalis). At the garden, an enclosure attracts butterflies by placing honey on hanging sponges. We know how they're partial to nectars, right? They play a role in the pollination of plants. 

If you're curious enough, it's easy to lose 1 to 2 hours in this sanctuary, tucked away in a quiet residential area in Cebu City.

The sanctuary is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, and located at the back of Don Vicente Rama Memorial National High School, along Jumalon Street. For more information, you may call them at (032-261-6884). No reservations needed unless you're with a large group. Entrance fee is PhP50 ($1) and PhP25 for children. I took a taxi from Fuente Osmena and paid about PhP100 for my fare, it's almost hard to believe because Fuente to SM Cebu usually costs between PhP 80-PhP 90. The sanctuary seemed "far" from the city center. 

If you've visited most of the city's major attractions, this sanctuary will fascinate you. Nothing earth-shattering here, but sure beats malling.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Kallima (dead leaf) displays camouflage.


Letters of the alphabet on the wings of the butterflies.

Jumalon's collection 

One of Professor Jumalon's paintings. Flash photography not allowed inside the collector's room. 

During the Japanese occupation  (1941-1944), Prof. Jumalon was asked to design the country's legal tender. Cebuano Jose P. Laurel was president of the so-called "puppet government". 

About a block from the sanctuary is this busy highway where it's easy to hail a taxi or a multicab.

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