7,000 TIMES MORE
Cebuanos celebrate life like no other. They strum their guitars
and sing the "balitaw" when they’re happy. They strum the guitar
and sing the "harana" when they’re sad. And when they pray, they
dance! It therefore comes as no surprise that the guitar is a
prime product in Cebu which, quite naturally, has also produced
a large share of the country’s best musicians and master
showmen. The Cebuano’s flair for showmanship and love for
celebrations is manifested in the Sinulog, a colorful festival
of pageant proportion observed every third Sunday of January.
Cebu is an anchor tourist destination and one of the 7,000 times
more islands that make up the Philippine archipelago.
THE ISLE OF YOUR TROPICAL DREAMS
Cebu is the traveler’s fantasy of a tropical island come true -
balmy weather, pristine beaches, crystalline waters, and
luxurious resorts with all the frills of modern living. The
island-province of Cebu was where the Portuguese navigator
Ferdinand Magellan planted the Cross of Christianity in the name
of Spain in 1521. But even before Cebu became the Occidental
gateway to the Orient, it was already a popular entry point
among Asian merchants.
Cebu has since blossomed into a choice tourist destination, with
many leisure establishments taking full advantage of its
sea-valley-and-mountain location. Metropolitan Cebu, the
country’s second biggest metropolis, is the political, economic,
educational and cultural center of the Visayas. Hotels, shopping
malls, entertainment halls, casinos and golf fairways are ever
present in the metro to cater to every tourist’s whim. The
rest of Cebu’s 166 islands and islets are fringed with sandy
beaches and sapphire-clear waters teeming with marine life,
perfect for divers.
The fiesta is when life in these islands is celebrated in full
pageantry, complete with a brilliant display of sights and
sounds, scents and tastes. Cebu shows us how. The Sinulog is
Cebu’s biggest and showiest fiesta in honor of the Infant Jesus
or Se๑or Santo Ni๑o. In a choreographed movement, "tribes" clad
in dazzling costumes hold aloft images of their tiny patron even
as they simulate the natural rhythm of sea waves which brought
the Holy Child to their shores. The prayer-dance is synchronized
to the beat of drums and shouts of "Pit Se๑or! Viva Santo Ni๑o!"
The tribes wend through the city’s major streets, starting early
in the morning and stretching into early evening. A big
entertainment roadshow and grand fireworks display bring to a
close the celebration. The Kadaugan sa Mactan is a one-day
pageant re-enacting the historic battle between the Magellan-led
Spanish colonizers and the resisting natives led by Rajah
Lapu-lapu. The festival is celebrated every April 27 in
Lapu-lapu City at the beach area where the Portuguese voyager
met his death.
While the rest of Christendom observes Holy Week with somber
rituals, fasting and abstinence, Bantayan Island makes an
exception. The townspeople display their brand of folk
Catholicism by feasting on roasted pig and then swimming at its
white sand beaches after a religious procession. The Semana
Santa is a movable feast between the months of March and April.
The rustic town of Opon honors its patroness, Our Lady of Rule,
with a fiesta from November 20 to 21.
Guests take the occasion of the Feast of St. Catherine of
Alexandria to visit the beautiful old town of Carcar which,
aside from its splendid colonial architecture, also produces a
number of Cebu’s popular delicacies. In December, Cebu
culminates its fiesta celebrations with the month-long Paskuhan,
a festival of Christmas songs and lantern displays.
Cebu takes pride in being the country’s oldest colonial city.
Many landmarks attest to the richness of its history. On April
14, 1521, Magellan planted a cross to mark the spot where some
800 natives - led by Rajah Humabon and his wife, Queen Juana -
were baptized into the Catholic faith. The original cross is now
encased in a hallow hardwood cross and can be found in a roofed
kiosk along Magallanes Street.
As a baptismal gift to Queen Juana, Magellan gave a black image
of the Infant Child which, on April 27, 1565, managed to remain
unscathed after a fire razed Cebu to the ground. The Basilica
Minor del Santo Ni๑o was built by Captain Miguel Lopez de
Legaspi and Fr. Andres Urdaneta on the spot where the miraculous
icon was found. The religious statue has since been enthroned in
the basilica, with the original kept inside the convent and a
replica enshrined at the church’s side altar. From mainland
Cebu, Magellan crossed the channel to the island of Mactan in an
effort to spread Christianity. The chieftain Lapu-lapu, together
with his warriors, resisted the attempt and killed Magellan as
he reached the shore. A monument now marks the site.
Fort San Pedro, located at Cebu City’s wharf area, was the
nucleus of the first Spanish settlement in the country. The fort
has been turned into a museum-park. Colon, the country’s oldest
street, was built at the Parian or Chinese District. Located at
the heart of downtown, it is a busy commercial center by day and
a lively entertainment belt by night. The seat of the provincial
government is an imposing building of pre-Pacific War vintage
rising majestically along Osme๑a Boulevard.
Located at the center of the boulevard is Fuente Osme๑a, named
after Cebu’s Grand Old Man, the late Commonwealth President
Sergio Osme๑a, Sr. A favorite strolling park among locals, the
circular Fuente becomes even more alive in the evenings. Within
the park is a skating rink. The University of San Carlos was
established by the Dominican fathers on the site of the former
Jesuit-run Colegio de San Ildefonso, originally founded in 1595.
Its museum on P. del Rosario Street has an extensive collection
of anthropological and biological artifacts.
The Southwestern University Museum located on the Urgello
Private Road, takes pride in its large collection of
pre-colonial and colonial artifacts as well as its Filipiniana
Research Center. Casa Gorordo, along Lopez Jaena Street, is the
ancestral house of the first Bishop of Cebu and affords one a
glimpse of affluent Cebuano lifestyle, circa 1800. The Jumalon
Museum, Butterfly Sanctuary and Art Gallery in the Basak
district was the private museum of the late lepidopterist
Professor Julian Jumalon. His garden continues to be a haven to
thousands of butterflies and his salon features mosaics made of
The Cebuano’s Chinese heritage is very visible and one of the
more popular destinations in the city is the Taoist Temple,
located at the highest elevation of the Beverly Hills
Subdivision. Devotees, meanwhile, go to the Heavenly Temple of
Charity at the Peace Valley in the Lahug district. Yet another
pilgrimage spot is the Celestial Garden where life-size replicas
of the 14 Stations of the Cross are spread in a 12-hectare
property within Banawa Hills.
Evenings are hot in cool Cebu. From downtown to uptown,
Metropolitan Cebu comes even more alive as dusk sets in, with
queues leading to music bars, discos and the casinos. Cebu is a
premier entertainment center. Electric high tension fills the
nightlife and patrons can’t help but "shake those bodies" as
they swing into the groove.
For the island-hopper, Cebu is one exciting playground for
daring expeditions. Aqua sports top the list of what to do. For
scuba diving, the best dives are found in the islands of Mactan,
Moalboal and Camotes. The calm waters surrounding Argao, Badian
and Malapascua islands are ideal for kayaking. Because of its
hilly terrain, mountain sports has created a following in Cebu.
Rock climbing is excellent in Cantabaco and Malubog. For
trekkers, the 908-meter high Mount Manunggal is a steady climb
in the heat.
Mountainbike your way up and down scenic Talamban. It takes less
than a full day on the road, with plenty of stops along the way.
The ecotourist will find Olango an ideal place for communing
with nature. A wildlife sanctuary, the island supports the
largest concentration of migratory birds in the country. For the
golfer, the Cebu Country Club and the Alta Vista Golf and County
Club are conveniently located in the metro, in Banilad and Pardo.
There is also the Club Filipino Golf Course in Danao City, some
33 kilometers drive from Cebu City.
Cosmopolitan Cebu is noted for its inexpensive gastronomy of
many cuisines. Island flavors are fairly simple with meats and
seafoods cooked three ways - marinated in vinegar, charbroiled
or boiled - and then seasoned with condiments. Chinese and
Spanish cookery are the strongest foreign influences in local