Tuesday, March 24, 2009

RetroTravel: Cebu

Destinations for Summer 2009 is endless. One of the worthy destinations to see, feel, taste and experience is Cebu! The "Queen City of the South" offers numerous sights and places to discover for a perfect summer retreat. My visits to Cebu was so limited. It was a one day short visit. I mean, we hop on the plane on the first dawn flight to Cebu and returns on the same day on the last evening flight. So one day is not enough. I didn't get to see much of the places of interest in Cebu so I wish to go back soon and explore it again.

Cebu is one of the provinces of the Philippines. It is located to the east of Negros island; to the west of Leyte, and Bohol islands. It is located on both sides by the straits of Bohol (between Cebu, anlong narrow island stretching 225 kilometers (140 miles) from north to south, surrounded by 167 neighboring smaller islands, that includes Mactan Island, Bantayd Bohol), and Tañon (between Cebu, and Negros). Cebu is a an, Malapascua, Olango, and the Camotes Islands. Of the hundreds of small islands some are uninhabited which make them popular with tourists.

Cebu City is the capital city of Cebu in the Philippines, and is the second most significant metropolitan center in the Philippine Islands. The city is located on the eastern shore of Cebu, and is the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. Cebu is the Philippines' main domestic shipping port, and is home to more than 80% of the country's domestic shipping companies. Cebu also holds the second largest international flights in the Philippine Islands, and is a significant center of commerce, trade, and industry in the Visayas, and Mindanao region. According to the 2007 Philippine census, the city has a population of 798,809 people. Cebu City is the center of a metropolitan area called Metro Cebu, which includes the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Talisay, Naga. Metro Cebu has a total population of about 2 million people.

Honestly, because of the very short trip in Cebu we even don't have souvenir photos of visitng the place. The places we have been were the Taoist Chinese Temple, SM Mall (where we bought boxes and boxes of Dried Mangoes), Marcelo Fernan Bridge and Mandaue City Public Market for danggits! ^^

Here are the other places to visit within the Cebu City area:
The Basilica of Santo Niño, also called Basilica del Santo Niño, Basílica Minore del Santo Niño and formerly known as the San Agustin Church prior to its elevation as a Basilica Minore, is a 16th century church in the heart of Cebu City, Philippines. It is purportedly built on the exact spot where the image of the Santo Niño, a sculpture depicting Jesus as a black Holy Child, was found by Spanish conquistadors in 1565 preserved in a burned wooden box which was left behind during the 1521 Magellan expedition.

Fort San Pedro (Fuerza de San Pedro) - a military defence structure, built by Spanish and indigenous Cebuano labourers under the command of Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi and the Spanish Government in Cebu. It is located in the area now called Plaza Indepedencia, in the Pier Area of Cebu City, Philippines.

The Lapu-Lapu shrine - a 20-meter bronze statue in Punta Engaño, Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines, erected in honor of Rajah Lapu-Lapu, a native chieftain who defeated Spanish soldiers, and Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the Battle of Mactan on 1521.

Magellan's Cross - a Christian cross planted by Portuguese and Spanish explorers as ordered by Ferdinand Magellan upon arriving in Cebu in the Philippines on April 21, 1521. This cross is housed in a small chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño on Magallanes Street (Magallanes being the Spanish name of Magellan), just in front of the city hall of Cebu City. Magellan's Cross is a symbol of Cebu City and the chapel's image can be found in its city seal. It is also seen as the symbol of Roman Catholicism and a tourist attraction in the Philippines.

The Magellan shrine - a large memorial tower erected in honor of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. The spot is believed to be the area were Magellan was killed in the Battle of Mactan on 1521, Philippines. The monument measures 30 metres high and it is located in the place of Punta Engaño, Mactan Island, Cebu.

Marcelo Fernan Bridge - an extradosed cable-stayed bridge located in Metro Cebu, Cebu in the Philippines. It spans across Mactan Channel connecting Cebu Island to Mactan Island.

Built in 1972, the Cebu Taoist Temple is located in Beverly Hills Subdivision in Cebu City. The temple was built by Cebu's substantial Chinese community. With an elevation of 300 meters above sea level, the temple is a towering, multi-tiered, multi-hued attraction accessible by three separate winding routes. There is nothing much to do in the temple. One could enjoy moving around the temple in an hour. The entrance to the temple is a replica of the Great Wall of China. The temple includes a chapel, a library, a souvenir shop and a wishing well. The spacious balconies offer a scenic view of the downtown Cebu. Also noteworthy is the giant dragon statue.

One of the best memories I had in Cebu is strolling down the Mandaue Public Market for "Danggit" - Cebu's famous dried fish delicacy. It is a salted dried fish and can be pricey as it is one of the most sought-after products in Cebu both by locals and tourists. It is best enjoyed eating it in breakfast with vinegar as the best condiment. I also like the one they call "Tapa", it is also from dried fishes but dried marinated in tapa syrup that's why is gives a sweet taste. Going to Cebu is not complete without bringing home another most sought-after Cebuano product - Dried Mangoes! I never miss to buy those. And we buy in boxes not in pieces! I love its sweet chewy taste. It is good for snacks, dessert or even for a merienda! Various mango-made products also comes in various variety products in Cebu. There are also Mango sticks (which I also like), Mango Nectar (for juices), Mango balls (soft ball-shaped candies), and Mangorind (combines with Tamarind). Dried fruit products in Cebu also comes in jackfruit, pineapple and papaya. But mango is the famous dried fruit being sold. On the brand which I can recommend... Philippine Brand and 7D are the best!

Cebu's best treats... Danggit.
...and Dried Mangoes.
I just recently read from various travel guide books and websites that Cebu boasts a number of white sand beaches. If I am given a chance to visit the province again, I am targeting to see its white beaches which I had never seen during my short trip. I want to see particularly the most photographed beaches in the islands of Bantayan, Camotes and Malapascua. Mactan Island itself where the airport is located boast a number of resorts with white sand beaches like Maribago Beach Resort (on the picture). It also offers diving sites for lovers of diving activity. Mactan, the "diving mecca of the south" and a coral island where deluxe beach resorts are located. Mactan island lies a few kilometers to the southeast of Cebu Island, Cebu Philippines. Mactan island is part of the Cebu Province and divided into Lapu-Lapu City and the municipality of Cordova. The island is connected to Cebu by the two bridges one of which is the Marcelo Fernan Bridge (Mactan II Bridge).

The three islands of Bantayan, Camotes and Malapascua are located of the main island of Cebu province. It can be reach via sea transportation from town ports nearest to these islands. Bantayan Island is located just north of Cebu islands. It is one of Cebu's best-kept secrets. The island has three municipalities, namely: Santa Fe, Bantayan (proper), and Madridejos. It is in Santa Fe town where you can find most of the beautiful beaches in the island. One popular beach there is the Kota Beach. The beach main attraction is it's white sands. From Cebu City you need to take a bus to Hagnaya wharf. It is about 110 kilometers from Cebu City. It will take two to three hours travel time to get to Hagnaya wharf depending on the traffic situation. From Hagnaya, take a ferry to cross the 18 km to Bantayan. You arrive in Santa Fe, from where you can walk to the beach.

Kota Beach, Santa Fe, Bantayan Island.
Kota Beach in Bantayan Island.
Camotes Islands is located east of Cebu and west of Leyte . Camotes Island is made up of three main sub-islands and divided into four municipalities. This four capital towns are Pilar, Poro, San Francisco and Tudela. Camotes Island's photography is hilly. The highest point of the island is 386 meters above sea level. It's climate is characterized by distinct dry season. Access to the island is by boat. There are daily boats from mainland Cebu to Camotes Island. A number of tourist resorts have been established, catering to both domestic and international visitors. These include Santiago Bay Garden & Resort, Mangodlong Rock Resort and Greenlake Park.

Malapascua is a tiny island, only about 2.5 kilometers long and 1km wide, located across a shallow strait from the northernmost tip of mainland Cebu island. The island is covered by the insular barangay of Logon (part of the Daanbantayan municipality), with eight hamlets. The island was first known for its wide white sand beach, known as Bounty Beach; it has become known for its beautiful coral gardens and excellent dive spots nearby, including Monad Shoal, an underwater plateau where thresher sharks and manta rays can be sighted on a regular basis. To date, this is the only place in the world where divers can reliably sight thresher sharks.The first image Malapascua offers will stay with you for a long time: an exceedingly beautiful pristine stretch of white sand, crystal clear waters bordered by coconut trees and a dozen of scattered native style resorts. Malapascua is known to the locals as Logon and this vision of secret beach is whimsically named Bounty beach. It lays 8km off the north of Cebu, has a community of about 4000 inhabitants. A walk or a tour unto the whole Island will take you about 3 hours. Malapascua, a term that literally means "Unfortunate Christmas," is a paradise where time stands still. The island is blessed with white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. The west coast is especially ideal for swimming and snorkeling. It takes about three hours by land from Cebu City to reach the island, which lies at the northern tip of Cebu and west of Leyte.

sland hopping is also ideal when visiting Cebu. Aside from exploring its white sand beaches one can also enjoy its eco-tourism destinations like Olango Island Wildlife Santuary (features the largest concentration of migratory birds found so far in the country and serves as a refueling station as well as wintering ground for the birds ) and Nalusuan Island and Marine Santuary (famous for astounding presence of marine life and is a superb area for different Olango Reef, Cordova, Cebu aqua sports activities).

Cebu is also famous because of Sinulog Festival (Cebu's largest, and most popular festival). It is celebrated every third Sunday of January. The feast is in honor of the holy image Señor Santo Niño de Cebú (Mister Holy Child of Cebu). Fiesta Señor (Festival Mister), as it widely known in Cebu, is the most celebrated among Cebu's festivities where people converge along the route of a grand solemn procession and partake in the gaiety amidst a mardigras parade immersed in vibrant colors, and the constant drums of the festival. Recently, the festival has been promoted as a tourist attraction, with a contest featuring contingents from various parts of the country. The Sinulog Contest is usually held in the Cebu City Sports Complex.

ebu has been progressively growing in the last five years. It is has been home of the different industries and economies. It gained worldwide attention not only because of its tourist desinations, class A hotel amenities, commerce and product exports but also of capability of hosting various international conferences. Cebu has been in the limelight recently for hosting the 12th ASEAN Summit with Cebu International Convention Center built specifically for it. It also boast various shopping malls to shop not only luxury goods but also unique Cebuano products that are truly world-class. It has numerous business centers and economic zone for companies both local and foreign, both outsourcing and manufacturing. With all these features, Cebu has truly become a metropolitan but still ingrained with culture, beauty and vision.

wish to return there soon and explore those beautiful places I have never been to. And I also can't wait to taste those sweet dried mangoes again! 

RetroTravel: Cebu is part of my RetroTravel series in which I recall all my past travel experiences in the past during the pre-digital picture era of my travels. My recalls in this Cebu trips happened last January 30 and March 13, 1999.  

All information are credited to Tours Cebu, Wikitravel: Malapascua and Wikipedia: Cebu City. All photos are from flickr.com and credited to the following: ian ong, cynee, edgar ediza, robbie diongzon, roro fernandez, che romero, black lobo, edward tang, storm crypt, sonic07 and wanderlusting muse.


  1. i always fancied going to one of those islands in cebu but never had a chance..

  2. This is just great. Amazing, I really love your blog.


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