Make it Cebu! GUIDED TOUR

elcome to Cebu - the leisure and business paradise in the Pacific.

Cebu in history

Cebu is said to be a trading center of Southeast Asia in the 13th century. But generally little has been known about Cebu's pre-hispanic and pre-historic past. Thanks however to the recently opened Southwestern University Museum which made available to the public Dra. Lydia Aznar-Alfonso's vast collection of prehistoric relics, antiques and artifacts that have been found in different parts of the island.

On April 8, 1521 Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Cebu and discovered the island for the Europeans thus opening a route that would be followed by sea traders until today. Magellan planted a cross in the island that would become Cebu's most famous landmark. While in the island, Magellan picked a fight with Cebu's local chieftain Lapu-lapu that led to the now legendary Battle of Mactan. Magellan was killed in the battle and most of his men were annihilated by the locals that marked one of histories most stunning war reversals. Spain was a world power at that time, dividing the world with Portugal, while Cebu was an unknown remote island in the Pacific.

Fourty-four years later, in February 1565, Spain sent another expedition to Cebu headed by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi which eventually succeeded in colonizing Cebu and the central islands of the Visayas as well as the northern islands of Luzon. The whole archipelago was named "Las Islas Filipinas" in honor of the then Spanish king Philip II.

Spain ruled the Philippines with an iron fist for 400 years that produced several rebellions and many Philippine heroes foremost among them was Dr. Jose Rizal who was recently been accorded as a hero of the Malayan race.

In May 1898 the Americans defeated the Spaniards in the Battle of Manila Bay and took control of the Philippines. The US Government awarded the Philippines independence in 1946 but retained favored trade pacts and several U.S. military bases within the country. In 1991 the Philippine Senate voted against the continuation of of US Military bases that effectively ended America's presence in the Philippines.

Cebu Today

Trying to recapture its old glory, Cebu now leads the Philippines in an economic upswing unprecedented in its history. It has the fastest growing economy in the region with an average 19.5% export growth for the past 5 years. Cebu comprises 4% of the country's total population yet accounts for 10% of the country's total exports in 1994. Vist Make it Cebu's business page for more relevant information.

Cebu is the gateway in central and southern Philippines and is the country's favorite tourist destination. It is also a jumped-off point for tourists whose iterinary includes the neighboring islands of the Visayas and Mindanao.

Cebu's Mactan International Airport stands as the best in the country today, having just completed its P2.6B expansion and modernization program. Cebu boosts of many world-class hotels and beach resorts and many more are on the drawing board. In the last 5 years, Golf courses were mushrooming all over the place.

City Tour

A quick visit to the office of the Department of Tourism isn't a bad idea as you can get there reference materials about Cebu like city maps, etc. You may want to start your day by visiting some of the city's most important landmarks. A three-hour tour within a radius of 20 kms. will transport you back down Cebu's memory lane where houses, churches and municipal buildings date back to the first settlements established by the Spaniards in the 16th century.

You may start your trip at Fort San Pedro, the first Spanish fort built on Philippine soil, which now houses the Philippine National Museum regional office. Currently on exhibit is a miniature replica of the San Diego, a 16th century 300-ton spanish galleon built in Cebu, which sunk 20 miles south of Manila de Bay on December 14, 1600 and was only recovered 5 years ago. The sunken galleon yielded one of the richest finds in history with vast amount of gold and silverware, ivories, stoneware, erthenware, porcelains and many other artifacts.

The recovered artifacts are now currently going the rounds in the world's major capitals.

From Fort San Pedro, you may walk over to Magallanes (another name of Magellan) St., where you will find Magellan's cross and just across the street is the only Catholic Basilica in East Asia -- the Sto. Niño Basilica. It is the center of devotion and religious pilgrimage throughout the Visayas for it houses the original deity of the Sto. Niño or the infant Jesus. The deity was given by Magellan to Queen Juana, the wife of Cebu's King Jumabon.

You may proceed your walk towards Colon St., passing over the shadows of the old buildings along Osmeña Blvd. Colon St. is the oldest street in the Philippines and is now a subject of a major restoration effort by the Women's International League.

A side trip at the famed Carbon Market is highly suggested. The Philippines being a tropical country, fruits in all shapes and flavors abound the year over and it is at Carbon Market where most of these fruits first land, so to speak, after being harvested from Cebu and neighboring islands.

You may then proceed to view the city's different museums and a trek to the hilly Beverly Hills is suggested where the Taoist Temple rises to a commanding view of the city.

Another 2-3 hour route brings you to significant historical spots in Lapulapu City and Mactan. From the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge, turn right towards the market, plaza and Opon Church, the center of local commerce in Mactan Island. From there you may proceed towards Abuno, Mactan, where many of Cebu's famed guitar factories are located. You may continue East towards the resort areas for beachside fun and sightseeing and then end your trek northwest at the Lapu-lapu shrine at Punta Engaño, the spot where the Battle of Mactan took place.

Splashing Around
Reprinted from MABUHAY! inflight magazine of the Philippine Airlines

Go footloose in CEBU! In the Philippine map, Cebu is a thin sliver of an island buffeted all around by clear, unspoiled waters. It's no surprise, then, that all over the island there are dozens of international-standard beach resorts where you can swim, snorkel, windsurf or dive. And the best thing about Cebu is that many of the beaches and resorts are only about an hour's drive from downtown -- so you can snorkel by day and dress for cocktails at night.

Mactan island offers to resort facilities and some of the best diving spots in the country. Mactan is a huge coral island that's only a short distance from the mainland and is equally famous for rope and guitar making. But the eastern coast is virtual paradise for residents and tourists as well: here you will find some of the best white beaches in the country, many of which have been developed as top-rate resorts. Best bets: Shangri-la's Mactan Island Resort, Coral Reef, Tambuli, Maribago Bluewaters, etc. All of these offer adequate facilities for tourists.

Tucked away in Sogod in the north is the Cebu Club Pacific, a resort far from the madding crowd and already famous for its nude beach. Down south, try the Tourist Seaside Hotel in Talisay, which is a short 15-km drive from the city. Badian Island Resort off the town of Badian is a must-see, as well as Pescador Island Resort off the town of Moalboal, a famous coastal town along the southwest end of the island. Argao Beach Club on the southeastern coast is popular among divers and windsurfers.

For those who want to rough it up, there are other beach resorts near the city, including Duawon, Tongo, Aquarius, Beachline, etc., all on the Mactan east coast. Good beaches can also be found in the coastal towns of Liloan, Consolacion, Compostela, Danao and Carmen in the north, and in the Talisay towns of Tanke, Pook and Dumlog.

Already famous as the diving center of the Philippines, Cebu offers excellent dive sites of up to 150 feet deep, where the spectacular underwater scenery never dails to leave divers enchanted. Sogod, near the northern tip of the island, is excellent for cliff diving. So are Buyong in Mactan island, where night diving is the latest craze, and Sta. Rosa by the Sea. Moalboal is the diving capital, and Pescador island the place to be. For breathtaking sights of coral formations and marine life, the coral reefs there, as well as in nearby Danajon and Caohaga, are a must.

More adventurous divers will proceed further south where Cebu juts out towards Bohol island. Here the underwater precipices of Panglao and Balicasag and the Sumilon island marine sanctuary, off the town of Oslob on the southern tip of the island, offer great views. Farther on, Pamilican island offers a rare sight of huge manta rays during mating rituals.

And the best news of all: Cebu has fine weather all year long!    

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