Compañia Maritima: A Neglected Piece of History

There is this abandoned building at the north end of the Cebu South Coastal Road at the South Road Properties. It's an old structure. The building is more than a century old actually. It's abandoned. And for a building of such historical value, I should say neglected. I'm talking about the Compania Maritima Building. It is probably among the most prominent buildings at the Cebu City waterfront during the American colonial era.

History of Compañia Maritima Building 

Compañia Maritima was built on reclaimed land in 1910. Back then, it was known as the Fernandez Building. It was then owned by the company Fernandez Hermanos, Inc. And was originally built to house the offices of the Manila Steamship Company. The building was occupied by the Shamrock Hotel owned by Mike Ryan in the 1930's. It was also the location of the first store of the Shamrock Bakery and Restaurant Corporation in the pre-war era. Shamrock is now a household name in Cebu when it comes to pasalubong items. The building was destroyed by the bombing of World War II. After the war, it was repaired and occupied by one of the biggest shipping companies in Cebu, Compañia Maritima. The ground floor occupant since the 1930's, Compañia Maritima filed for bankruptcy in the late 1980's. And the building have been abandoned since.

Compania Maritima
Compañia Maritima Building


The Compañia Maritima Building is a rare example of an American colonial era ornate commercial building. It features arched windows, balustrades, and ornate beams and piers. The edifice is made of concrete. One can still see this features today. But the interior has been poorly preserved.

The interior of the Compania Maritima
Interior of  the building

Current Status

The building and the property around it is subject to a legal battle between the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA), representing the national government of the Philippines through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the City of Cebu. In November 2015, Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras has denied a plea by the CPA to issue a temporary restraining order to stop Cebu City from claiming ownership of the property. Cebu City plans to transform the building into an art or maritime museum.

Currently, Compañia Maritima Building sits idly. A few homeless folks sleep in the building at night. The area around it is utilized as a parking area for the Cebu City Hall and as a public utility vehicle terminal for passenger vans plying routes to towns and cities outside Cebu City. It is also the site of the Devotee City for the Sinulog Festival 2015, a temporary facility where transients from outside Metro Cebu can stay for free during the weekend of the Sinulog Festival.

Passenger vans outside the Compania Maritima
Passenger vans outside the building

Do you have anything to add about this historical building? Let us know in the comments section below.


FilipiknowAccessed 3 January 2016.

RAFI. Accessed 3 January 2016.

Shamrock Otap. Accessed 3 January 2016.

SunStar CebuAccessed 3 January 2016.

Urban Ghosts Media. Accessed 3 January 2016.