Saturday, June 18, 2011

Visit Cebu

The island of Cebu, in the centre of the Visayas, forms a province on its own. Its capital, Cebu City, with an airport which is a major traffic junction on the domestic services of the Philippines, is an almost obligatory port of call for visitors.

Geography and Resources
Cebu extends for a distance of some 250 km from North to South, a long slender island which is less than 40 km wide at its narrowest point. It has a total area of 4865 sq. km. It has a range of hills running along its spine, reaching an altitude of 870 m at the south end, with small areas of plain on either side. Cebu City, the capital, occupies the most favoured site on the island, on the east coast facing the little island of Mactan.

The climate is moderate, little influenced by the typhoons which pass farther to the northeast; and Cebu is also sheltered from the southwest monsoon by the neighbouring island of Negros. It thus escapes the tyrannical rainy season; its wettest months are June and July, its hottest ones April and June. The mean annual temperature is 27°C, but the thermometer rarely falls below 17 or rises above 34.

Cebu is the leading producer of maize in the Philippines. Large quantities of vegetables and fruit (bananas, mangoes) are produced, supplying the markets of Manila; the mangoes of Guadalupe district of Cebu City, are reputed to be the sweetest in Asia. Vines have recently been introduced round Cebu City; and there is a considerable export trade in flowers, particularly roses. Other important crops are copra and sugarcane.

The island's mineral resources consist of coal, copper in the central area, a little iron and limestone, which supplies cement works. Fishing is an important activity on the coast.

Population and Industry
As of 2000, the province has a population of 3,356,137. It has its own dialect, Cebuano. Administratively the island is divided into 44 municipalities and 6 component cities and 3 highly urbanized cities -Cebu City (the capital, has a population of more than 718,000), Mandaue and Lapulapu. Greater Cebu, Metro Cebu, has a total population of more than 2 million, more than half of the total population of the island.

The large Ludo-Luym factory (run by two Chinese, an immigrant from Amoy who came here in 1896 and his son, who succeeded him) processes 600 tons of copra a day, and exports to the United States bring in valuable foreign currency. In the town centre is a 15-storey block, 60 m high, erected by the firm, this building was then the tallest building in the City during 1970s.

At Mandaue, the highly urbanized city in the province of Cebu is a huge industrial complex extending over 25 hectares established by the San Miguel Corporation 1968. It includes a brewery, a fruit juice factory, a modern glass-works, a factory producing plastics, etc. The corporation, the fourth largest in the Philippines, has a wide range of interests, including not only cattle feed and ice-cream, coke and instant coffee, but also copper mining, printing, cardboard manufacture, metalworking, chemicals, textiles and cement. Other industries include sugar refineries, cement works, canning, the manufacture of cane furniture and ceramics. Toledo City also known as Pueblo Hinulawan is situated on the West coast. It has a factory producing chemical fertilizers. There are also active craft industries, often on a family basis the weaving of sinamay (banana and pineapple fibers), the making of guitars and other musical instruments (on the island of Mactan) as well as the making of articles from shells, etc.

History of Cebu City
Cebu claims the glory of being the oldest town in the Philippines, founded by Magellan himself. Having left Spain in 1519 with five ships, Magellan landed at Cebu on 7 April 1521 with his three remaining vessels, set up a cross on the shore at a place called Zubu and, having received a friendly reception from the natives, baptised their chief, Humabon, his wife Juana and 800 of their followers. Cebu thus became the first centre of the Christian faith in the Philippines. Pigafetta, a Spanish chronicler, recorded the effect produced on the Europeans by the sight of the natives with their tattooing and their silk turbans, the handsome native women who painted their lips and nails and wore flowers in their hair, and the Arab, Siamese and Chinese vessels in the harbour.

Unfortunately for Magellan he did not receive the same friendly welcome on the small neighbouring island of Mactan. When the Spaniards attempted to land they were greeted by a hail of arrows, and in the subsequent battle Magellan was killed (27 April 1521). His body was never recovered. His opponent, the native chief Lapu Lapu, has become the Philippine national hero, the incarnation of resistance to invaders. Nevertheless the Filipinos honour the two opposing leaders jointly, and there are monuments to both of them which are erected at Punta Engaño, Lapu-lapu City. The name lapu-lapu has been given to a species of fish commonly found in the waters of the Philippines and frequently seen on restaurant menus.

After Magellan's death the Spaniards fled only one ship with 26 survivors, returned to Spain and Humabon abandoned his Christian faith. When a further Spanish expedition led by Miguel de Legazpi and Fray Andres de Urdaneta arrived on 27 April 1565 it was received with hostile demonstrations by chieftain Rajah Tupas. After the battle which followed a soldier named Juan de Camus found in the ruins of a burned down hut a statuette of the Infant Jesus, which was presumed to be Magellan's baptismal gift to queen Juana: this was the origin of the cult of the Santo Niño de Cebu.

The Spanish post established at this period bore the name of San Miguel, later changed to Villa Santissimo Nombre de Jesus (Village of the Holy Name of Jesus). The fort built on the coast was named after Legazpi's flagship, San Pedro. It is not known when the town reverted to the name of Cebu. After being abandoned for a time in the face of Portuguese activity in the area, Cebu became active again in the 17th century as the trading centre of the Visayas. On 3 April 1898 rebels seized the town and laid siege to the fort, which was saved only by the arrival of Spanish warships. The leader of the rising, Leon Kilat, withdrew into the interior to wage guerrilla war against the Spaniards. Guerrilla activity continued against the American forces that landed in February 1899, and only came to an end after three years of fighting. It was resumed, under very different circumstances, during the Japanese occupation. The Japanese forces who landed on Cebu on 10 April 1942 after a bombing which caused heavy damage in the town were never able to suppress the guerrillas who had taken to the mountains and from time to time were able to carry out actions in the town itself. Cebu was liberated on 26 March 1945 after the American landing.

Mt. Manunggal trek, honours the death anniversary of President Ramon Magsaysay who was tragically killed in an air crash on Mt. Manunggal Balamban, Cebu.

Cebu City
This large and active town, the second largest in the Philippines after Manila, has been called the “Queen of the South” and the “Capital of the South”. Much of the town's business is in the hands of families of Chinese origin who live in sumptuous residences on the hills above the town. The historic centre of the town contains a number of interesting buildings surrounded by modern streets. Recently 160 hectares of land have been reclaimed from the sea to the North of the harbour, and it is planned to carry out a similar operation on the South side.

Traffic in the town and in the wider built-up area (called Metro Cebu, on the model of Metro Manila) is extremely dense. The ancient horse-drawn tartanillas still survive in the centre of the town for the benefit of tourists, but elsewhere taxis and jeepneys dominate the streets, building up into an awe-inspiring maelstrom of traffic at rush hours.

There are air services to Cebu from Manila (an hour flight) and all the larger towns in the archipelago (Davao, Zamboanga, Iloilo, Bacalod, Legazpi, etc.), and boat services from Manila (24 hours) and the other islands.

On the coast, looking on to the strait which separates Cebu from the island of Mactan, is Fort San Pedro, built by Legazpi as a base for dealing with Muslim raids or attacks by the natives. It housed the Department of Tourism and Philippine Tourism Authority from 1978-1993. At present, it is under the care and administration of the National Museum.

The fort is the smallest, oldest tri-bastion fort in the country. It has a triangular in plan, with three bastions (La Concepcion, San Ignacio de Loyola and San Miguel) defended by bronze cannon. The sentry walk is a now favourite resort of young lovers. The building as we see it today dates from 1735-1738. In the past it was used as a prison. In one of the rooms is a small historical museum. The interior of the fort is attractively laid out with lawns and flower-beds.

To the West is the Plaza Independencia (formerly Plaza Libertad), with an obelisk commemorating Legazpi and a monument erected by Japan in 1977 to mark the post-war reconciliation between the Filipinos and the Japanese.

Farther West still is the old town. In the middle of the street is a small octagonal building with a tiled roof which contains Magellan's Cross, erected by the great navigator in April 1521. This marks the spot where the fist Christian Filipinos were baptized; on the ceiling are paintings depicting episodes in his voyage. To the South are the public park and the City Hall.

On the North is the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño formerly known as Basilica of San Agustin, the oldest religious building in the Philippines built to house the much venerated image of the Infant Jesus, the Santo Niño. The first church on the site, a wooden structure erected by Legazpi in 1565, was burned down in 1568, and a second church, in stone, was also destroyed in 1628. The present building dates from the 17th and 18th century, and in 1965 the Pope granted it the status of a minor basilica during the Fourth Centennial celebration of the Christianization of Cebu.

Beautiful facade with Baroque features. Interior: painted ceiling, carved woodwork (choir screen), statues, beautiful retablo on high altar. The adjoining convent, an Augustinian house, has rich archives.

In a small chapel entered from the side of the church is the wonder-working image of the Santo Niño, a statuette 30 cm high, richly clad and wearing a golden crown, which is the object of great veneration by the people of Cebu, who come to kiss the image and offer up their prayers. They come in large numbers on Fridays, and on the third Sunday in January there is a great fiesta during which the sinulog is danced a very ancient dance accompanied by hymns and incantations Pit Señor (Holy Infant Lord). The Santo Niño has a large wardrobe of rich garments and a collection of jewellery, some of which dates from the 16th century.

Colon Street also known as Parian District was laid out in 1565, and claimed to be the oldest street in the Philippines. It is considered to be the heart of downtown Cebu, lined with shops, cinemas, restaurants, etc., it is bustling with activity all day long. To the southwest is the Carbon Market, famous for its big and colourful market, crammed with stalls of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and handicrafts while in the North is the Lopez Jaena Street,here can find a well preserved 19th century Spanish house.

The San Carlos University, formerly called Colegio de San Idelfonso was founded in 1595 by the Jesuits. It is the oldest school in the Philippines. It has an interesting museum: archaeology, religious art, Asian ceramics, botany, zoology (lepidoptera), etc.

The Avenue of Flags leads to the Fuenta Osmeña a lovely circular park with beautiful fountain, named after the late President Osmeña, a native of Cebu. Beyond this is Osmeña Boulevard, which ends at the Capitol Building (erected 1938, restored after the war); this majestic and imposing building is a replica of the United States' White House. It houses the provincial government offices.

Beyond the modern and brilliantly white Iglesia ni Kristo the road runs up to Beverly Hills, with the luxurious mansions of Chinese businessmen and a Taoist temple (built 1972) at the top of a flight of 99 steps a striking structure with its vivid red and green colouring, its pagoda roof, its dragons and lions. Other Chinese temples have been built in recent years, including the Temple of Charity for Catholics, dedicated to St. Rose, it is built on top of a sacred hill. This temple is located in Peace Valley in the district of Lahug. The highest point is Victoria Peak, named after the hill of the same name in Hong Kong, from which there are wide views of bustling harbour and the city's skyscrapers. There are also panoramic view of Cebu and neighboring islands from the monumental Cebu Plaza Hotel.

To the North of Cebu City, near the Montebello Villa Hotel, the only garden hotel at the heart of the oldest city in the Philippines. There are the vineyards and winery of St. Mary (free tasting: the wines have a well marked character, sometimes reminiscent of Greek wines).

Visitors who have sufficient time may likely to visit one or two cultural attractions. Arrangements can be made through the Tourism Office.

The following are the cultural attractions:

a. Jumalon Museum, located at Basak district. This private museum showcases unusual collection of mosaics, built up from butterflies’ wings.

b. Binamira collection, Gorordo Avenue showcases Spanish furniture, statuettes, religious pictures, prehistoric material, and coins.

c. Arcenas collection, in the Banawa district displays collections of Spanish colonial art, ceramics, furniture, and santoses, etc.

d. Aznar-Alfonso collection is owned by Dr. Lydia Aznar-Alfonso. Here can find pieces of lovely period furniture, wide collection of old jewellery, various archaeological diggings, etc.

e. Sala Piano Museum located at Lahug district. It showcases a unique collection of hundreds of pianos of varying size and shapes. It also serves as a venue to classical concerts and houses a music foundation.

f. Pres. Sergio Osmeña Memorabilia and Cap Art Gallery, located at Osmeña Boulevard. It contains an estimated 500 personal belongings and documents worthy of remembrance of the Grand Old Man of Cebu.

g. Rose Ong Orchid Collection is the biggest orchid collection in the province.

Surroundings of Cebu City

1. Mandaue, an industrial city to the North of the Cebu city. It is the connected to Mactan Island via two bridges, the Mactan-Cebu Bridge and the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. There are conducted tours of the San Miguel Brewery, ending with a sampling session in the reception room at the top of the building, from which there are fine views.

As of 2000 census, Mandaue has a population of 259,728. The city was founded by Jesuits at the beginning of the 17th century. The church of San Jose has a painting of the Last Supper with life-size figures, a work unique of its kind in the Philippines. During Holy Week a Passion play is performed in Mandaue.

2. Mactan Island is reached from Mandaue by a toll bridge opened in 1973 from which there is an attractive view of the harbour. The bridge is 864 m long, with a central span of 112 m; the roadway is 23 m above water level, allowing large vessels to pass under the bridge. Mactan Island is also known for its scuba diving and beach site.

A road on the right beyond the toll-booth leads in a few minutes to Lapu-lapu, a town of more than 217,000 inhabitants, was founded by Augustinians, under the name of Opon, in 1730. In the market square is a statue (erected in 1933) of the famous native chief who defeated Magellan. In Lapu-lapu and the surrounding area are many workshops, both industrial and family-run, making guitars and other musical instruments, using wood from Mindanao; visitors are welcome to look round the workshops (and of course to buy the products).

The island has beautiful beaches (Hadsan Beach, Santa Rosa). To the North is an airport, one of the most modern in the Philippines. On the northern coast, reached by picturesque roads shaded by coconut palms, is the spot where Magellan was killed in 1521, with a commemorative monument erected in 1866; the distance from the bridge is 9 km.

3. North of Cebu. 33 km from Cebu City is Danao City, as 2000 census its population reached at 98,781 founded in 1844. The name comes from the native word danawan (shallow lagoon). Danao is said to have been the first town in the Philippines to have asphalted streets. Its Plaza and City Hall are claimed to be the finest group of buildings in the Philippines. Danao City is well-known for its gun industry.

Beyond Danao the road continues, passing beautiful beaches, to Sogod (60 km) and the Cebu Club Pacific, bathing beach famous for its sub-aqua diving site and nude beach.

4. The south and west. On the West coast, 50 km from Cebu, is Toledo City as of 2000 census, it has a population of 141,174. Here can find the headquarters of the Atlas Consolidated Mining Co. Visitors can be shown round the mines. The town was founded in 1853. Located 89 km south southwest of Cebu is the Moalboal which offers white sandy beaches, and popular site for diving.

A road runs South across the island via Naga. At Carcar, 40 km from Cebu, turn right on the road to Tangil, which passes the beautiful Mantayupan Falls. Mantayupan Falls in Barili is one of the tallest waterfalls in Cebu.

Cebu Tourist Attraction

Basilica Minore del Santo Niño: The church is found in the heart of Cebu City. It enshrines the image of the Christ Child that Ferdinand Magellan gave to Rajah Humabon.

Magellan's Cross: Is one of the Cebu landmark. It encase the original cross which was planted by Ferdinand Magellan on the Philippine shores.

Fort San Pedro is the oldest fort in the country. It was built in the 16th century. Colon Street is the oldest street in the country. Fuente Osmeña is a favorite city promenade, while the Taoist Temple at Beverly Hills and Tops Lookout at Busay offers the spectacular views of the city. Known Museums that include Casa Gorordo, University of San Carlos and the Jumalon Butterfly Museum, which features artworks made entirely from butterfly wings. The booming metropolis is also home to several modern shopping malls and a sprawling business park.

Mactan Island is home to the Lapu-Lapu Monument and the much older Magellan Monument at Punta Engano, both near the traditional battle site between the two historical figures. The island's famed beach resorts are located at the island's eastern coast, just half an hour away from Mactan International Airport.

Carcar has many colonial houses (especially its restored Bahay na Tisa) and the Moorish-style Church of St. Catherine. Notable beaches can be found in Argao and Dalaguete, the former also has a splendid 18th-century church.

Mantalongon is the Little Baguio of Cebu with its upland vegetable and flower farms. Boljoon's well-preserved Church of St. William is now a national cultural treasure. At the southern tip is Sumilon Island, site of the country's first marine reserve with its coral reefs; adjoining Tanon Strait is a whale and dolphin habitat.

On the west coast is Moalboal, one of the country's most popular dive sites; its top sites are Panagsama Beach and Pescador Island. Badian Island has white sand beaches. In Matutinao is Kawasan Falls with its natural pools. Samboan has Escala de Jacob, an impressive hilltop watchtower. Balamban is the site of a national park.

The road north leads to Danao, famous for its paltik or gun industry. Sogod has attractive beaches and a world-class resort. At the northern tip are the Islands of Bantayan, with its sandy beaches, and Malapascua Island, which has powder-fine sand. Olango Island across Mactan is becoming popular as a bird-watching site due to its status as a sanctuary of migratory birds coming from as far as China and Siberia.


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