Trip to Cebu: Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary -- a must-see!

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Butterfly landing on a honey-soaked sponge.

This is looong overdue. I composed a draft weeks ago, then promptly forgot about it. -_-' This is the last from my trip to Cebu.

The Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary and Art Gallery is a cozy little treasure tucked away in the middle of Cebu City. (Even taxi drivers don't know where it is!) Built in 1974, it's actually a modest-looking house that has been converted into a museum/sanctuary/art gallery. It is the legacy of Professor Julian Jumalon, the late Cebuano artist-turned-lepidopterist (a person who studies butterflies and moths). He was a graduate of Fine Arts, but his passion was butterflies. He traveled wordwide, collecting butterflies and trading local Philippine species for foreign ones. The Sanctuary is filled with "food plants" planted by the Professor himself to attract butterflies. He also caught live specimens and released them in his garden.

Today, his children keep their father's tradition alive, maintaining the Sanctuary and Art Gallery through their own means (i.e., no support from government or private institutions).

The tour started with a fascinating talk encompassing entomology, art, conservation, and culture. Humaida Jumalon, Prof. Jumalon's daughter, is very articulate and enthusiastic about lepidoptera. She talked about breeding, collecting, and preserving butterflies; butterfly food plants; the butterfly life cycle; the millions of species found all over the world. You would think that such subjects wouldn't hold your attention for an hour, but the way they are presented is very engaging. The numerous visuals and specimens made tremendous visual aids. And Ms. Jumalon accepts any and all questions. I learned a lot! The talk alone is worth a visit to the Sanctuary.

The talk was held in a living room-turned-museum, filled with amazingly well-preserved butterfly and moth specimens. We were permitted to take photos without flash. The place was littered with homemade posters presenting little-known facts about the insects.

Gorgeous iridescent butterflies. From the Amazon, I believe.

Teehee. These things were HUGE by the way.

Every "leaf" in this photo is a butterfly. Amazing!

A beautiful display!

The butterflies look like flowers themselves, so pretty.

They also had a lot of moth specimens. This photo doesn't do justice to the size of these moths. The one at the top, in the middle? Is as big as MY FACE.

After the talk, we went to the garden/sanctuary to spot some butterflies. Unfortunately, we didn't see many because (1) it wasn't the right season, and (2) we got there near closing time, when most of them were asleep.

A lovely walkway leading to the garden.

Summer was ending so there weren't many flowers, but the few that were there were beautifully colored.

A wee caterpillar!

Butterflies everywhere! Even in stone!

And steel!

The best time of day for viewing is the morning, and the best time of year is from June to February, when the butterflies are breeding.

Butterflies are attracted to fragrances such as those found in perfumes and lotions. So spritz a bit of a scent when you visit the Sanctuary!

The tour ends with a visit of the art gallery containing the works of the Jumalon family. I particularly liked the lepido-mosaics, made entirely of butterly wings from damaged specimens. The wings were sourced from butterfly enthusiasts around the world. Prof. Jumalon would tell them to send him all their unusable insect wings, often in exchange for a whole butterfly specimen of the same kind. The mosaics depict several sites in Cebu City and national heroes, among others.

This entire "painting" is made of butterfly wings!

Brief as it was, the Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary was one of the highlights of our trip. The talk! The talk alone is worth the trip, I tell you. We were in a hurry so I know there was a lot more Ms. Jumalon wasn't able to tell us. Hopefully when I have the time to go back, the Sanctuary will still be operational and I'll be able to hear the lecture in full.

Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary
J.N. Jumalon (formerly Macopa) St., Basak, Pardo, Cebu City, 6000 Philippines
(63-32) 261-6884

(check out this guide to finding the sanctuary)

Standard rates:
Adult - Php 50
Children under 12 - Php 25

For groups of 20 children and above:
Prep, kinder, elementary, high school - Php 20
Parens, guardians - PhP 30
College students - Php 25

Teachers - one teacher free for every 10 students

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