The province of Cebu is an elongated island with a mountain chain crossing from north to south; long and narrow – it stretches 200 kilometers and is only 40 kilometers at its widest points – but it is the center of commerce, industry and education in the region. It is, in fact, the international gateway to the Visayas. Being a domestic hub for the Visayas and Mindanao, it is the focal point of growth and development in the South.
Situated at 562 kilometers south of Manila, the province of Cebu is composed of the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapulapu, Danao, Toledo and Talisay and 47 towns or municipalities. With nine universities, 21 colleges and 13 technical institutes, the province is the seat of learning in the South.
Its capital, Cebu City, is the country’s oldest city, having been established in the early 1700s. Often called the “Queen City of the South” and the Seat of Christianity in the Philippines, Cebu City is a unique blend of tropical paradise and business haven. In a survey of the cities of Asia, Asiaweek (October 25, 1996) named Cebu City the “eighth most livable city in Asia” and was the only Philippine city in the survey’s Top Ten.
Livable and lively, yet Cebu is steeped in a rich historic past –from the pre-colonial times (there are archaeological evidence indicating it was already a settlement site as early as the tenth century) to the time the great explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted on April 14, 1521 the wooden cross to mark the beginning of the Christianization of the island and the rest of the archipelago. For the Cebuanos (and all Filipinos in general), the replica of the cross now housed in the kiosk built on the hallowed spot where Magellan first planted it, has remained the symbol of faith, along side with the Basilica del Santo Nino where the country’s oldest and most precious Christian relic, the Santo Nino, is enshrined.
The Cebuanos, who are extremely proud of this cultural and historical heritage that has endured through the centuries, also treasure the first Spanish fort established in the Philippines: Fort San Pedro which is a triangular area with a circumference of 1,248 feet enclosed by 20 feet high, 18 feet thick walls and with a gate marked with the seal of the Spanish King.
Aside from its historical attractions, Cebu is the traveler’s fantasy of a tropical island – balmy weather, crystalline waters, pristine beaches with palm trees, hibiscus and bougainvilleas on their fringes, mangoes and coconut drinks for the asking in luxurious resorts with all the frills of modern living.
Cebu is also a cosmopolitan city with all modern conveniences and amenities: excellent accommodations like city hotels and beach resorts, fine restaurants, exciting nightlife and special interest activities like golf and water sports, most specially diving and snorkeling in exceptional sites.
Cebu is a shopper’s paradise with its thriving arts and crafts industries (notably shell craft, guitar-making, weaving, leather craft, and bamboo and rattan furniture crafts now getting world renowned) and various department stores that offer the best bargains.
How to get there
The Province of Cebu is accessible by land, sea or air transport and once in Cebu, varied modes of transportation take one around the different tourist and commercial attractions.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport serves various international destinations of Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific, Asiana Airlines, Silk Air, Malaysia Airlines, and domestic destinations of PAL, Cebu Pacific, SEAIR, Asian Spirit and Air Philippines.By Sea
The Cebu Port, one of the busiest ports in the country, receives several passenger and cargo ships daily servicing the Cebu-Manila and vice-versa route and daily trips to the different major cities in the Visayan and Mindanao such as Tagbilaran, Dumaguete, Ormoc, Cagayan de Oro, Ozamis, General Santos and Surigao.
There are also fast crafts operating in Cebu that service the Cebu-Tagbilaran, Cebu-Dumaguete and Cebu-Ormoc and vice-versa routes. It usually takes at least two hours to reach said destinations.
Various native motorized outrigger canoes called banca are popularly used for inter-island travel adventure or locally called ‘island hopping’. These boats can be rented from various resorts offering island tour packages or from any boat operators around Cebu’s premium island resorts like Mactan, Malapascua, Bantayan and Camotes. Most diving operators usually have their own bancas for diving tours to some of the best dive sites in the island. Locals also ride the banca in traveling to the neighboring islands.
Various modes of land transport abound in Cebu province, ranging from colorful jeepneys and buses to taxis, tricycles, multicabs, trisikads (pedicabs) and habal-habals (motorcycle taxis).
Taxis and jeepneys are the most popular modes of transport within the Metro Cebu area. Metered taxis, as well as jeepneys, are generally available in the downtown areas and in the vicinity of hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and entertainment centers within the metro. In fact, the telephone numbers of taxi companies are listed in the local telephone directory so that one can just call if ever taxi services are needed. Jeepneys, too, can be found almost anywhere within the metro area. At present, the minimum jeepney fare is P7 for the first five kilometers.
To reach the cities and municipalities outside Metro Cebu, there are buses and vehicles-forhire available round the clock at the North Bus Terminal for areas in the north and the South Bus Terminal for areas in the south. Travelers can choose between airconditioned and nonairconditioned buses while vehicles-for-hire are usually airconditioned vans.
Located in the northwestern tip of Cebu, serene and tranquil and bestowed with white sandy beaches, Bantayan Island is a favorite holiday haven, especially during the Lenten season. Here, the observance of Holy Week is highlighted by grand processions of about 20 well-decorated and brightly lit carriages bearing life-size statues depicting the passion and death of Christ. The town’s principalia, or leading families own these centuries-old statues and carriages. Bantayanons participate in the Holy Week celebration with great fervor for to them, it is a custom of offering and devotion handed down from their forefathers. They also enjoy the rare Holy Week Privilege of the Catholic Church – exemption from fasting from a 200- year old Papal Bull edict.
BASILICA DEL STO. NINO
Magallanes St., Cebu City
Built in 1565 by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Fr. Andres de Urdaneta, the Basilica houses the oldest and most precious Christian relic in the country – the image of Senor Sto. Nino de Cebu (Infant Jesus). The foot-high image, given by Ferdinand Magellan as a gift to Queen Juana during her baptism on April 21, 1521, is the central figure in the celebrated Sinulog Festival held every third week of January.
FORT SAN PEDRO
Plaza Independencia, Port Area, Cebu City
Fort San Pedro is the smallest and oldest triangular bastion, the first Spanish fort established in the country. It was built in 1565 primarily to protect the Spanish settlers from marauding pirates in the area. Completed in 1835, it has stood witness to the changes in the history of Cebu until much of it was destroyed during WW II when it served as a Japanese prison camp.
JULIAN JUMALON BUTTERFLY SANCTUARY AND ART GALLERY
20.-D Macopa St., Basak Pardo, Cebu City
This is the country’s oldest butterfly collection and butterfly sanctuary with live immature and adult stages of local butterflies in their natural settings. It also houses the Lepido Mosaic Art Collection of Dr. Julian Jumalon who utilizes butterfly wings in making his beautiful and intricate artworks.
One can feel the coolness of the surrounding lush greenery of this panoramic waterfalls. Accommodation from cheap to moderate rates are available in the area.
Magallanes St, Cebu City
The Magellan’s Cross now seen at the kiosk is but a replica of the original wooden cross Ferdinand Magellan planted on April 14, 1521 in the spot where the first Christian Filipinos, Rajah Humabon, Queen Juana and their followers were baptized by Fr. Pedro Valderama. The octagonal kiosk was first built in 1835.
OLANGO WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
located in the southernmost part of Olango Island
lango Island, east of Mactan, is where the largest concentration of migratory birds can be found in the country. The island actually forms part of the East Asian Migratory Flyway and is visited twice a year by 10,000 migratory water birds of 48 species out of the world’s 77. Usually referred to as the Southward Migration, birds start migrating from their breeding places in Siberia, Northern China and Japan. Anticipating the scarcity of food and winter cold, they fly as far as Australia and New Zealand from late July until late November. By late February until May, they return to their breeding grounds in the reverse Northward Migration.
Beverly Hills, Cebu City
Taoist Temple is a concrete reminder of the well-established Chinese Community in Cebu City, which has greatly contributed to the industrialization of Cebu. Built in 1964, the temple houses the teachings of Lao-Tse, the 600 B.C. Chinese Philosopher. People climb the temple’s 99 steps to light joss sticks, meditate or have their fortunes told.
Situated 2,000 feet above sea level on the cool hills of Busay, it is an excellent sightseeing spot for a breathtaking view of Metro Cebu and the islands of Mactan and Olango. Open kiosks are available for daytime picnics and instant evening parties.