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Make it Cebu
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Lynda B. Valencia
Date: 2003-10-31
CEBU CITY – A city in the midst of overwhelming growth, Cebu blends its ancestral heritage and modern business savvy with flair. Crowned as the “Queen City of the South,” Cebu stands as the country’s top business and tourist destination.

It is where business and leisure breathe together with office buildings and beach resorts finding its own place under Cebu’s friendly skies.

With the invitation of Bobby Lim Joseph, president of Coltrans and chairman of NAITAS, off we went to Cebu over the weekend to explore the beauty of Cebu. With us were Sammy Evangelista and Danny Piedad of ABS-CBN; Pete Dacuycuy of Manila Bulletin; and this writer.

The country’s oldest city, Cebu is necessarily the place where relics of the past are a-plenty. Colon Streets, for instance, has the distinction of being the oldest street in the Philippines.

Paved late in the 16th century by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, Colon now houses malls, offices, theaters as well as museums and monuments. A bustling trade port since pre-Historic times, Cebu was named the country’s capital by the Spaniards in 1565. Since then, Cebu has maintained its stature as the center of trade and commerce in Southern Philippines.

Cebu also features miles and miles of forest greens – haven to wildlife and the place for a perfect picnic. There is the 15,393-hectare Central Cebu National Park, the 696-hectare Sudlon National Park, the Cawasan Falls, and the Bolok-Bolok Mineral Springs. Nearby Mactan Island boasts of world-class beach resorts.

In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted a cross on the very spot where the first Filipinos were baptized. Said to possess supernatural powers, people started chipping off parts of the cross until the city government encased it in tindalo and housed it in a monument.

The oldest religious relic in the country, the Santo Niño de Cebu, is housed at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. A token of friendship by Magellan to Queen Juana in 1521, the Santo Niño has survived fiery and other catastrophes throughout the years.

Also known as the San Agustin Church, the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño is a grand, impressive structure, built by Fr. Urdaneta on the site of the house where the image was found.

Other religious institutions worth seeing are the Chapel of the Last Supper in Mandaue, the Naga Church and Argao Church. Also within the city is Beverly Hills, one of Cebu’s finest subdivisions with a breathtaking view of the entire city and Mactan Island across the narrow channel.

Adjacent to Beverly Hills is the Taoist Temple housing the teachings of Lao-Tze, the 600 B.C. Chinese philosopher. The Temple is popular among tourists who climb its numerous steps to light joss sticks and have their fortune read. Located near the Taoist Temple is the PhuSian Temple.

Plaza Independencia, located at the center of the city, is a favorite of promenaders and tourists. Found at the plaza are the monuments of Legazpi and Ramon Magsaysay, Sr. erected in honor of the country’s former president who died in a plane crash at Mt. Manungal.

For history buffs, Fort San Pedro is a typical Spanish fort built during the early Spanish settlement in 1565 to protect the city from pirates and marauders.

Formerly a wooden palisade named San Miguel, it is now a stone fort for containing a mini-museum with artifacts that provide links between pre-Spanish era and modern era. The Cebu City Zoo is also located within Fort San Pedro.

The city is never without a museum. One can see the University of San Carlos Museum which is founded by the Jesuits in 1595. It is the country’s oldest university. Its museum houses various archaeological artifacts and religious relics from all over the Philippines.

Once the residence of the first Filipino Bishop of Cebu, Casa Gorordo has been restored to its former glory. It houses various religious articles from the 18th to the 19th century and is a showcase of contemporary Cebuano art.

The house of Cebu’s grand old man, the late Sergio Osmeña Sr., containing his personal mementos, relics and memorabilia is another wellknown historical landmark in Cebu City.

Lapu-lapu’s bronze form stands proudly at Punta Engano in Mactan. The first Filipino leader to resist Spanish attempts of colonization, Lapu-lapu is revered in this city. Its statue stands across the street from that of his rival Magellan.

But the most famous of its celebrations is the Sinulog celebrated every third Sunday of January. It would be like letting the month pass without the feast of Señor Sto. Niño. For the Sinulog has become a part of the city.

The Sinulog project has enabled Cebu to reach out to neighboring communities in the Visayas and Mindanao. Bringing with them images of their own culture, which are akin to Cebu’s cultural groups from the Visayas and Mindanao have joined Cebuanos in the celebration.

The project has given a chance to hundreds of people an occasion to perform and express their prayers, discover their God-given creative talents and display their understanding of their own heritage in a dramatic week once a year.

Apart from these, Cebu is also popular among foreign and domestic tourists because of its fantastic diving grounds. Among them are the Argao and Tambuli which are 15 to 20 minutes away by land transport from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Aside from the two dive sites, is the drop-off of Buyong and Marigodon. For the more experienced and adventurous divers, Kansamtic and underwater peak at the southwest end of Olango island will prove to be a diver’s paradise.

Sta. Rosa resort will delight scuba-diving enthusiasts and snorkelers with its beautiful natural rock formations, built on rugged coral rocks that grew out of the ocean floor. It also boasts of fantastically landscaped gardens closely following the natural contour of the terrain.

Blessed with an inherent entrepreneurial spirit and creativity, the Cebuanos have managed to produce all sorts of things – capiz lampshades, abaca bags, coral jewelry boxes and hand-woven cloth, guitars, food stuffs like dried mango preserves, otap (crunchy sugar-coated biscuits), turrones (grilled wafers with peanut/cashew filling), danggit (dried fish), dried pusit (squid), and fresh fruits.

Apart from Carbon market, visit Guillas market and Tabuan market for the best food buys.

[ Fort San Pedro Wiki | Taoist Temple Wiki | Plaza Independencia Wiki ]

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