Dubbed the Queen City of the South, Cebu is a marvelous gem in the Central Visayas Region of the Philippines and certainly deserving of such a royal appellation. Comprising of six cities, forty seven smaller towns and several islands such as Sumilan, Mactan, Olango, Camotes, Malapascua and Bantayan Islands (some of the hundreds of islands around Cebu are uninhabited), Cebu has steadily kept abreast with the progress of the rest of the country and has gained wide popularity as a tourist destination for its white sandy beaches offering premium accommodations, idyllic fishing villages, coral-rich diving spots, as well as historic and religious sites. Cebu is also notable as the oldest city in the country, and as such, is veritably soaked in the rich history of the Spanish occupation of the country which can be seen through the numerous Catholic churches and shrines in the area such as Magellan’s Cross and the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino or Church of the Holy Child, both of which have never ceased to attract visitors for their ancestry and historic/religious significance.
MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION: Getting there: To reach Cebu, you can either take a plane or a ferry. There are available domestic flights coming from these cities: Manila, Davao, Puerto Princesa, Caticlan (Boracay) and Clark. If you prefer a leisurely way of getting to Cebu, there are ferries from Manila, Tagbilaran in Bohol, Leyte, Davao, Butuan, Dumaguete in Negros and Cagayan de Oro. Getting around the city: There are public jeepneys, tricycles (motorbikes with sidecars) and buses plying around the city and outside neighboring towns. Metered taxis are also available for a more convenient way of traveling.
ATTRACTIONS: BANTAYAN ISLAND. An absolute beach lover’s paradise, Bantayan Island is one of those peaceful and serene places full of panoramic vistas and warm & friendly people that you just can’t get enough of. The port town of Santa Fe, where the ferries from the Hagnaya Port dock and where the resorts are located, is a fishing village where one could get one’s fill of all sorts of seafood delights straight fresh from the ocean. The Parish Church of Saint Peter and Paul popularly called Bantayan Church is located also in the town proper. One can rent a motorcycle or a bicycle and just lazily tour the island, or go snorkeling or just walk around the beach and around town, or even rent a boat and go island-hopping to the nearby smaller islands for more fun. Whatever you fancy this is your sweet little island getaway.
MALAPASCUA. Literally named Bad Easter or Mala Pascua by Spaniards who were marooned on this island on Christmas Day of 1520, the locals refer to it as Logon. Don’t be fooled by its name though. This is one island you wouldn’t feel bad about spending any holiday in. It was only in the 1990s that Malapascua gained prominence as a diving destination for its many outstanding dive spots and wonderfully exotic coral gardens, including Monad Shoal which is an underwater plateau where manta rays can be seen quite regularly. It was primarily known before for its excellent white sand beach known as Bounty Beach.
OSMENA PEAK. Considered as Cebu’s highest point of elevation at 1013 meters above sea level, Osmena Peak boasts of an astonishing panoramic view of Cebu. Forming part of the Mantalongon Mountain Range and named after a political clan in the province, this peak has been given several titles of which include: the Vegetable Basket of Cebu, Summer Capital of Cebu or the Little Baguio. Its high altitude and suitable climate has enabled farmers to grow quality vegetables and has the coldest climate in all of Cebu.
KAWASAN FALLS. They say every waterfall has its own distinct characteristic and “voice”. If so, then you won’t go wrong listening to the voice of this majestic and spectacular natural wonder found in Matutinao, Badian which is around 100 kilometers from the city proper. Cebu is actually home to numerous waterfalls but this three-tier cascade of pure fresh spring water is certainly the one to visit. There are cottages and rest houses, souvenir gift shops and many restaurants and the entire area is just perfect for family bonding moments or romantic getaways.
OLANGO ISLAND WILDLIFE SANCTUARY. The different species of avian attractions here are simply a must-see for any bird enthusiast. Some of these feathered wonders use the area as a temporary shelter when they migrate to and fro Australia and different parts of Asia. Declared as a bird sanctuary, this 920 -hectare area protects the birds and also the environment around it. There are more than ninety species of birds sighted, both migratory and residential, of which many have not been properly identified. One can also go kayaking or visit the mangrove jungle here in Olango Island.
MAGELLAN’S CROSS. Arguably the city’s most known landmark is this venerated symbol of Christianity in the Philippines which is the cross that was reputedly planted by Ferdinand Magellan upon arrival in the archipelago in 1521. It was later encased in hollow tindalo wood to prevent devotees from literally chipping away at it. Even people of different faiths make sure to visit this cross for its historical significance.
CHURCH OF THE HOLY CHILD. Having the distinction of being the first church to be erected in the archipelago, the Basilica Minore Del Santo Nino or Church of the Holy Child was an Augustinian Church that was elevated to the status of Basilica in 1965 on its 400thyear anniversary. It has as its main attraction, aside from the church itself, the oldest and one of the most revered relics, the statue of the Santo Nino de Cebu or Holy Child of Cebu.
RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES: ATTEND OR VISIT DURING SINULOG FESTIVAL. Scheduled every third Sunday of January, the Sinulog is the largest and most prestigious festival in all of Cebu. Although the festival celebrates the Santo Nino or Baby Jesus, the Sinulog dance itself predates the coming of the Spaniards and was most likely to venerate ancestral deities by the indigenous natives of the island.
The Sinulog Festival itself last nine days and ends with the Sinulog Grand Parade at the Basilica Minore Del Santo Nino with hundreds of flowers and candles where a re-enactment of the “Christianization” of Cebu (and ultimately almost the entire archipelago) is enacted. They say that one cannot say they’ve visited Cebu unless one experiences the Sinulog Festival.
SHOP AT CARBON MARKET. The oldest and largest farmer’s market in Cebu, and quite possibly the entire archipelago, the Carbon Market has remained a major staple in tourist’s itinerary through the years. Located on MC Briones Street in downtown Cebu City, one can easily reach it via bus or those colorful Filipino street kings, the jeepney. Having a variety of handicraft items and gift shop souvenirs as well as the usual wet market wares such as fish, meat and poultry, this impressive agora is a recognizable landmark in Cebu where tourist never fail to visit every time they’re in the island.
TRY SKY RIDE AND SKY WALK EXPERIENCE. This heart-pumping attraction at the Crown Regency Hotel and Towers in Cebu City features the world’s first Edge Coaster and the country’s only Sky Walk. For those looking for thrills of the kind where one screams one’s lungs out, the Sky Ride, or Edge Coaster just can’t be beaten! Perfectly safe, the rider can even adjust the tilt or inclination of the chair so that the streets surrounding the hotel can be seen. The Sky Walk is a knee-wobbling but still exciting experience.