Metro Manila’s closest counterpart in the Visayas is the highly developed province of Cebu, a primary hub for commerce, industry, and education that has distinguished itself as a key island destination in Asia.
The oldest city in the Philippines
Its capital, Cebu City, claims the distinction of being the oldest city in the Philippines, and the people of Cebu have fiercely clung to their identity as a people, favoring their Cebuano dialect to the official Filipino language when they communicate. Cebu has emerged thus not just as a province aware of its heritage and culture, but one which also looks to the future and the impact of globalization on a local level.
Certainly, there is much to see and appreciate when traveling through this province, not the least of which is a sense of forwarding progression, something which is patently missing from many other regions in the Philippines, which seem to be stuck in time.
Cebu boasts its own high-end resorts, restaurants that serve cuisine from around the world, and most importantly, a highly productive air and sea trade and transport service, which has cemented Cebu as the chief alternative landing point in the Philippines to Metro Manila.
No longer do people have to take a detour to the Philippine capital to fly to nearby Asian countries. The benefits of this arrangement are clear Cebu possesses a variety of malls, high-rise buildings and other markers of urban development, and a bustling nightlife for both young and old.
In the midst of all of this infrastructure and fascination with the trappings of the new, Cebu has managed to preserve the rich historical roots that give it an identity apart from its economic success.
Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who was working on behalf of Spain when he landed in the Philippines and attempted to claim it for the Spaniards in 1521, met his death on the shores of Cebu when he was repelled by the native Filipino chieftain Lapu-Lapu.
Before his demise, Magellan installed a wooden cross on the shore where he had landed, as a gesture of peace and friendship between him and the then ruler of Cebu, Raja Humabon. The cross survives to this day, though it is installed within another, more modern cross to prevent its deterioration.
Basilica de Santo Nino
The Basilica de Santo Nino is a church built supposedly on the spot where Magellan landed, where a wooden chest was found by friars, which contained a black statue of an infant Jesus.
The Catholic faith is not the only religion to which Cebu pays homage, however, as you can find what is simply referred to as the Taoist Temple, a popular site for both tourists and Cebu residents. The entryway is fashioned to look like the Great Wall of China, and the temple is open to folks of any denomination.
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Cebu also has the distinction of being a province that has both mountainous areas and excellent beaches, making it perfect for sun worshippers and rock climber types alike. It is common for folks to bask in the sun in the daytime along the province’s beautiful shores, and then head up to areas of higher altitude to enjoy the cool winds and fresh mountain air.
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