Cebu is generally considered the most important province in the Visayas. Its capital, Cebu City, dubbed the Queen City of the South, is a highly urbanized international hub. As the most populated and developed territory in the region, Cebu holds great importance in Philippine economy and tourism, and is noted for its historical, cultural, and natural wealth.
Cebu has played a significant role in Philippine history as it is the recognized birthplace of Christianity and Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. Hispanic churches and institutions in Cebu, such as the Basilica del Minore Sto. Niņo and San Carlos University, all stand as living reminders of Spain's former power. The image of the miraculous Santo Niņo that Magellan gave to local Queen Juana continues to draw flocks of pilgrims to the island.
Cebu is also home to breathtaking natural wonders such as white sand beaches and animal sanctuaries. Diving, snorkeling, bird watching, and other ecotourism activities await those who visit the islands of Bantayan, Moalboal, Malapascua, and Olangon.
Cebu was witness to some of the main highlights of the Philippines' colonial history:
- According to some sources, the name Cebu came from the word "sebu," which means animal fat. Others suggest that the name comes from the word "sugbu," which means "to wade ashore," a reference to Cebu's shoreline.
- Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the fishing village of Cebu was under the rule of Rajah Humabon.
- Ferdinand Magellan arrived on the port of Cebu on April 7, 1521.
- In 1575, Cebu was named Villa del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus, being the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.
- In February 24, 1937, Cebu was declared a chartered city; Cebu is considered to be the oldest city in the Philippines.
Foodies, history buffs, beach bums, and ecotourists can all find something to enjoy in Cebu.
- For foodies, nothing beats the famous Cebu lechon (roast pig). Their fresh mangoes, dried mango, otap, and danggit are also must-try-and-buy Cebu treats.
- For history buffs, Cebu houses an array of notable historical sites that date back to the Spanish colonial times. The San Carlos University, Basilica del Minore Sto. Niņo, Fort San Pedro, and Magellan's Cross are must-see structures and landmarks.
- For those who want to unwind and enjoy nature's splendour, the islands of Bantayan, Malapascua, Moalboal, and Olangon have a lot in store for you. These islands are also ideal for divers, birdwatchers, and curious ecotourists.
Getting there and away
Cebu is accessible both by air and sea.
- Local air carriers Cebu Pacific, Zest Air, and Philippine Airlines offer regular flights from Manila to Cebu.
- It takes about 20 hours to reach Cebu from Manila by sea. SuperFerry offers regular ferry trips to Cebu.