About Cebu Province
Cebu is one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, with Cebu City as the main center of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas. In a decade it has transformed into a global hub for shipping, furniture-making, tourism, business processing services, and heavy industry.
Cebuano is the native tongue. While Filipino is commonly understood and spoken, the English language and Tagalog are widely used in business transactions and education.
Traditions and Beliefs
Cebu is a kaleidoscope of varying cultures and lifestyles, a meeting of east and west, a fusion of things traditional and modern. This is influenced by the various phases of Cebu: being the spot where Philippine history began, becoming the cradle of Christianity, experiencing American and Japanese occupation, and later on transforming itself into a regional hub of everything — from arts and craftsmanship, to business and information technology. All these, plus the convergence of personalities and groups from varying backgrounds give the island a culture and lifestyle that is uniquely Cebu. Traditions remain unchanged over the years, while every taste of things that are modern is embraced.
The most celebrated patron saint in Cebu is the Señor Sto Niño de Cebu, the Holy Child Jesus. The original statue is housed in the Basilica Minore del Sto Niño, near the famous cross erected by the Spaniards. Historical accounts say the image was given by the Portuguese Captain Ferdinand Magellan to the wife of Cebu Chieftain Raja Humabon for their pledge of allegiance to the King of Spain. This event is depicted in the Sinulog Festival. Majority of the population in Cebu are Roman Catholics. Spanish-era churches are dotting the coasts of Cebu province. One of the oldest churches in Central Visayas is the one in Boljoon, Cebu, which is more than 400 years old and is currently undergoing renovation.
Famous among a myriad of festivities in the province are the Siloy Festival of Alcoy, Mantawi Festival of Mandaue City, Kadaugan sa Mactan of Mactan Island, Palawod Festival of Bantayan Island, Haladaya Festival of Daanbantayan.
A must see also is the Sinulog Festival in honor of Señor Sto Niño de Cebu, which is celebrated every third Sunday of January.
Siloy Festival, celebrated every last Saturday of August, pays tribute to Patron Saint Rose of Lima. It promotes the Mag-abo Forest that shelters the renowned but endangered black shama (siloy).
Mantawi of Mandaue City illustrates the city’s heritage and identity as industrial center through floats, food festival, and trade fairs. The Kadaugan sa Mactan, meanwhile, commemorates the historic battle between the Spanish leader Ferdinand Magellan and Mactan Chieftain Lapu-lapu.
Of the many islets in Cebu, perhaps the most well-known is the Bantayan Island. During their Palawod Festival every last week of June, locals and guests alike participate in street dancing, which captures the traditional fishing, a livelihood inherent in the island.
The more than 40 festivals in Cebu province are highlighted in one grand event dubbed the Festival of Festivals, which is organized by the Cebu Provincial Government during its annual founding anniversary celebration every August.
As the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines, it has some of the country’s most iconic heritage spots. As a major trading port and site for some of the nation’s fastest-growing industries, it reinforces its multiculturalism with progression. This heady mix of urban vibes and casual provincial airs makes it a favorite destination of those seeking a showcase of the harmonious co-existence of history, culture and modernity.
Magellan’s Cross commemorates the moment Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted a wooden cross on Cebu’s soil to mark converting its locals to Christianity. The Basilica del Santo Niño houses one of the country’s oldest religious relics: a statue of the Child Jesus that dates back to 1521. Fort San Pedro is the smallest Spanish outpost in the Philippines, while the Casa Gorordo and Yap-San Diego Ancestral House give a glimpse into residential life in Cebu during the Spanish era.
The Museo Sugbo showcases the province’s history. And if you can brave the cacophony, walk down Colon Street, the oldest street in the Philippines.
Cebu is known for its lechon (roast pig), which popular American TV personality Anthony Bourdain called “the best pig ever” on an episode of his hit television show No Reservations. Other traditional and no less yummy Filipino dishes are best enjoyed at Café Laguna, the Golden Cowrie Native Restaurant and Abuhan.
The history of Cebu goes way beyond 439 years ago when the island became a province at the start of the Spanish colonization. Long before that, Cebu was already the center of trade of what is now the southern Philippines, dealing with traders from China, Malaysia, Japan, India, Burma and other parts of Asia. Cebu had an organized social structure before the Spaniards came — with small groups headed by a datu who served as leader. A datu governed his community, settled disputes, made decisions, protected his village from enemies, led them into battle, and received labor and tributes from his people. The position being both a political office and a social class, his authority was taken from his lineage. A community ranged from 30 to 100 households grouped as a barangay and based mostly on kinship. Aside from the datu, there were free men called timawa and olipon. Spanish reports called the role of an olipon as dependent rather than a slave because of the absence of violence and harshness notable in European slavery.
People in Cebu then were called pintados because men were heavily tattooed. Lavish ornaments such as gold jewelry were used not only by women but also men.
Prior to Spanish colonization, there were already permanent townhouse-looking wooden structures where the datus lived. Ordinary people lived in field cottages or balay-balay that were on stilts. Hagdan (house ladder) was a common sight, with floors (salog) made of bamboo or wood and roof (atop) made of palm tree shingles.
In the summer of 1521, Ferdinand Magellan and his troops on board five ships arrived in Cebu. They were warmly welcomed by Rajah Humabon’s community. Magellan’s group was sailing from Sanlucar de Barrameda in Spain. But Magellan was not received well at the island of Mactan, where he was slain by the local chieftain, Lapulapu. Cebu remained free until Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in 1566.
It was then the start of the transformation of Cebu’s civilization under the Spanish regime: Catholic churches were built, priests ruled communities alongside civil leaders, watchtowers were scattered along the island to guard against Moro raids.
On the economic and cultural side, fiesta celebrations were embraced, new agricultural products were introduced, royal decrees led to commercial and agricultural expansion and the establishment of elementary schools in every municipality.
From 1872 to 1896 however, there were extensive propaganda against abuses of Spaniards. A sugar crisis ended the agricultural prosperity Cebu province enjoyed and in 1892, sugar barons or hacienderos were forced to declare bankruptcy.
Philippine Revolution began against Spain in 1898, but before the fruits of independence could bloom, the American troops arrived. United States sovereignty over the Philippines was declared and in February 7, 1900, the Filipino-American war broke.
The rest of Cebu’s history was tied to events in the country and the rest of the world — World War II, Japanese occupation, postwar reconstruction, Philippine independence, then the declaration of Martial Law, and so forth.
Seaports and Airports
Cebu’s only airport is the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), located in Mactan Island, province of Cebu in Central Philippines and connected to Cebu City, the provincial capital 20 kilometers due southwest, through the Mactan-Mandaue bridge and Marcelo Fernan bridge.
The Cebu Port System is composed of the Cebu Baseport and its subports which are strategically located in different points of Cebu. The Cebu Baseport is composed of the Cebu International Port and the Baseport - Domestic Zone. There are five subports within the jurisdiction of Cebu Port Authority, namely: Mandaue, Danao, Sta. Fe, Toledo and Argao. Each of the subports are smaller ports that are essential to flow of domestic inter-island commerce.
There is also a port at San Remigio’s Brgy. Hagnaya called Hagnaya Wharf for RORO vessels going to Bantayan Island.
Cebu was devastated by the two natural disasters that struck in 2013: the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on October 15, 2013 and Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) on November 8, 2013.
There was also a deadly ship collision on August 16, 2013 when the MV St. Thomas Aquinas vessel collided with a cargo ship named MV Sulpicio Express Siete of Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation (formerly Sulpicio Lines) causing it to sink. As of 21 August 2013, the Coast Guard reported there were 61 dead and 59 missing with 750 rescued as a result of the accident.
Due to a water shortage, the entire province of Cebu declared a state of calamity.
A PNP report places Cebu City as one of the five cities in the country with the highest number of index crimes from 2010 to 2015. The PNP report showed that Cebu City had a total of 38,797 index crimes in the last six years, making it third all over the country following Quezon City (first with 65,514) and Manila City (second with 54,689).