The ISLAND of CEBU
Cebu (Cebuano: Sugbo, Spanish: Cebú), 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, and Bohol), and Tañon (between Cebu, and Negros). Cebu is located between 9°25’N and 11°15’N latitude, and between 123°13’E, and 124°5’E longitude in the center of the Philippine Islands.
Cebu is a long narrow island stretching 225 kilometers (140 miles) from north to south, surrounded by 167 neighboring smaller islands, that includes Mactan Island, Bantayan, Malapascua, Olango, and the Camotes Islands. Of the hundreds of small islands some are uninhabited which make them popular with tourists.
Cebu is known for its narrow coastlines, limestone plateaus, and coastal plains, all characteristics of a tropical island. Cebu also has predominant rolling hills, and rugged mountain ranges traversing the northern, and southern lengths of the island. Cebu’s steep mountains reach over 1,000 meters. Flat tracts of land can be found in the city of Bogo and in the towns of San Remigio, Medellin, and Daanbantayan at the northern region of the province.
Its capital is Cebu City, the oldest city in the Philippine Islands, which forms part of the Cebu Metropolitan Area together with six neighboring cities Carcar City, Danao City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Bogo, and Talisay, and six other municipalities. Cebu is served by Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Mactan Island, thirty minutes drive from Cebu City.
Cebu is one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, and the main center of commerce, trade, education, and industry in the central, and southern parts of the islands. It has five-star hotels, casinos, white sand beaches, world-class golf courses, convention centers, shopping malls and an aquarium attraction Mactan Island Aquarium.
The UK-based Condé Nast Traveler Magazine named Cebu the seventh best island destination in the Indian Ocean-Asia region in 2007, eighth best Asian-Pacific island destination in 2005, and seventh in 2004.
Cebuano is the native language of Cebu. It is spoken in most parts of the Central Philippine Islands, including Bohol, western Leyte, Negros; some parts of the Southern Philippine Islands including Bukidnon, Agusan, Surigao, Davao, Cotabato, and Zamboanga del Sur. Differences exist but in many of these places the variations are slight. There are about 20 million speakers of Cebuano. Cebuanos are conversant in other native Philippine languages including Tagalog; as well as other Visayan languages such Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray; and other languages.
In the Camotes Islands, a native language related to Waray-Waray called Porohanon is spoken. What distinguishes it from Cebuano is that what is normally “y” in Cebuano is “j” in Porohanon. So in Camotes, “maajo kaajo” (very good) is said instead of “maayo kaayo”.
In Santa Rosa, Bantayan Visayan is also spoken.
Spanish is spoken by its mestizo, and Spanish communities. Cebu was the first province that was influenced by the Spaniards until the capital of the Philippine Islands were moved to Manila. English is also used on education, media, commerce and the government; and Chinese is spoken mainly by its Chinese community.
According to Philippine historical accounts, the Santo Niño was given by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to the wife of the native chieftain of Cebu. The friendship are depicted in Cebu’s cultural event, the Sinulog where street parades, and loud drum beats preceded by a Holy Mass is celebrated.
Cebu has a Roman Catholic Archdiocese, and has several major churches, including the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the San Carlos Church, the Santo Rosario Parish Church, San José-Recoletos Church, Sacred Heart Church, and among others; as well as several other non-Catholic churches, mosque, and temples.
In the Census of Population and Housing (Census 2000), Cebu City recorded a total population of 718,821 persons, 56,522 more compared to the 1995 Census of Population (POPCEN) results. Metro Cebu (5 cities) and Cebu Province is estimated to have over 2.5 million inhabitants.
According to the latest census conducted by the government, as of August 2007, there were 798,000 people living in Cebu City, with over 3.5 million in the entire province.
Before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century, Cebu then known as Zubu (or Sugbo) was an island inhabited by pagan, and islamic people who traded with other Asian civilizations.
Losing favor for his plan of reaching the Spice Islands by sailing westward from King Manuel I of Portugal, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan offered his services to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V of Spain. On September 20, 1519, Magellan led five ships with a crew of 250 people out of the Spanish fort of San Lucar de Barrameda enroute to the Spice Islands via the Americas, and Pacific Ocean.
They reached the Philippine Islands on March 16, 1521. Rajah Kolambu the chieftain of Mazaua told them to sail for Cebu, where they could trade, and have provisions.
Arriving in Cebu City, Magellan, with Enrique of Malacca as translator, befriended Rajah Humabon of Cebu, and persuaded the Rajah of allegiance to Emperor Charles V of Spain. Later Rajah Humabon, and his wife were baptized as King Carlos, and Queen Juana. The Santo Niño was presented to Cebu’s Queen as a symbol of peace, and friendship between the Spaniards, and the Cebuanos. On April 14, Magellan erected a large wooden cross on the shores of Cebu. Afterwards, some 700 native Cebuanos were baptized.
Hoping to make the new Christian King Carlos (Humabon) supreme in the region, Magellan be-friended Rajah Humabon, and alliances developed between the two people. Magellan soon heard of a tribal ruler named, Rajah Lapu-Lapu, in nearby Mactan Island. It was thought that Rajah Humabon, and Rajah Lapu-Lapu have been fighting for control of the flourishing trade in the area.
On April 27, the historic Battle of Mactan occurred where the Spaniards were defeated, and Magellan killed by native warriors. According to historian, and chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan’s body was never recovered despite efforts to trade for it with spice, and jewels.
Magellan’s second-in-command, Juan Sebastián Elcano took his place, and sailed the remainder of the fleet back to Spain, circumnavigating the world.
Spanish conquest and colonial period
Survivors of the Magellan expedition brought tales of a savage island in the East Indies with them when they returned to Spain. Consequently, several follow-up expeditions were sent but all ended in failure.
Forty-four years after Magellan first set foot in Cebu; Spanish conquistadors led by Miguel López de Legazpi sailing from the western coast of Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico arrived in 1565, and established a colony. The Spaniards marched through the island, bombarded the palisades of chieftain Rajah Tupas, and destroyed the native villages. The Spaniards established settlements, trade flourished, and renamed the island to “Villa del Santíssimo Nombre de Jesús” (Town of the Most Holy Name of Jesus). Cebu became the first European settlement established by the Spanish Cortés in the Philippine Islands.
In 1860, Cebu opened its forts to foreign trade. The first printing house (“Imprenta de Escondrillas y Cia”) was established in 1873. In 1880, Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion was established. The first periodical The Bulletin of Cebu (“El Boletin de Cebú”) began publishing in 1886.
On June 12, 1898 marked the end of the Spanish period. In 1901, Cebu became a municipality, and on February 24, 1937, the island became a chartered province during the American period.
World War II
Cebu, being the most densely populated island in the Philippines, served as a Japanese base during the Japanese occupation in World War II which began with the landing of Japanese soldiers in April 1942. Almost three years later in March 1945, Philippine, and American forces landed, and reoccupied the island during the liberation of the Philippines.
Cebuano rebel soldiers led by an American, James Cushing, is credited for the capture of the Koga Papers which is said to have changed the American plans to retake the Philippine Islands from Japanese occupation in 1944, by helping the United States, and the Philippine Commonwealth troops enter Cebu in 1945.
Industrial Estates / Economic Zones
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in Mactan Island has regular direct flights to Hong Kong (China), Singapore, Taipei (Taiwan), Busan (South Korea), Koror (Palau), Tokyo-Narita (Japan), Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Seoul-Incheon (South Korea), Shanghai (China), and Doha (Qatar). There are also direct transfer flights via the capital’s NAIA that readily connects the city to other destinations in the world.
With the number of weekly international flights to and from MCIA increasing, a new international terminal will be constructed starting 2006 and will be completed in four years.
By then, the current terminal complex, which has an annual capacity for 3.5 – 4.0 million air passengers will purely be devoted for domestic use.
The Cebu International Port is the biggest and the main port of entry in the province of Cebu and of the Region of Central Visayas. The port covers an area of roughly 10 hectares.
Cebu has several business districts attracting different industries. Among them is the Cebu Business Park, a prime business and financial center in Cebu City. Nearby is the Asiatown Information Technology (IT) Park, built on what was once the location of the Lahug Airport (Cebu’s old airport prior to Mactan International), another business district that caters mostly to businesses related to the information technology (IT) industry such as software development, telecommunications, engineering research and development centers, business process outsourcing (BPO), including a number of call centers, among others.
South of the city is the South Road Properties (SRP) Special Economic Zone, a 300-hectare reclaimed property. It is a prime real estate zone that will house a business district, a tourism zone, and an industrial area patterned after the Mactan Export Processing Zone on nearby Mactan Island. The new South Coastal Highway, which stretches from downtown Cebu City to Talisay passes through the property. A 1.2-kilometer tunnel, which passes under the historic Plaza Independencia is currently being constructed at the highway’s entrance in Cebu City to connect it with Sergio Osmeña Avenue which traverses the North Reclamation Area.
The city mostly gets its power from an interconnection grid with the Leyte Geothermal Power Plant which also powers majority of the Visayas Islands. There are also coal-fired power plants. Distribution of electricity is provided by the Visayas Electric Company (VECO).
Telecommunication facilities in the city are abundant provided by some of the country’s largest telecommunication companies. Connections to the internet are also readily available (e.g. DSL/Broadband Connection).
- Investments: US$ 4,983.60 million
- Total Exports: US$ 2,846.88 million
- Total Imports: US$ 3,127.16 million
- Electronics / electrical equipment manufacturing, computers, metals and precision instruments, chemicals, industrial parts assembly, food processing, furniture, fashion accessories, gifts, toys and housewares (GTH), garments, stonecraft, shipbuilding, and mining.
- Semi-conductor devices, electronic timepieces, electronic components, wire harness, floppy disk drives, photographic equipment, garments, furniture, camera paraphernalia, car stereos, audio/video equipment, carageenan, fashion accessories, coconut oil, frozen shrimps, vehicle / machinery parts.
- 50 Commercial Banks;
- 27 Rural Banks;
- 9 Savings Banks;
- 5 Gov’t. Banks;
- 2 Off-shore Banks
More than 80% domestic shipping are located in Cebu. The island has the most domestic air, and shipping and cargo vessels in the Philippines. The island also has a major industrial, commercial, trade, and educational system.
Its extensive international port facilities, its accessibility to Asia and the rest of the world has led more than a hundred firms, with multinational companies like Mitsumi, Pentax Corp., Marine Colloids, Fairchild Semiconductor, Tsuneishi Heavy Industries, Muramoto Audio-Visual, Lexmark International, Asahi Optical, Teradyne, NEC Technologies, Timex, Olympus Optical, United Technologies, Maithland-Smith, Taiyo Yuden, and others to set up manufacturing plants on the most successful industrial estates, leading the whole country in exports with growth rates for the past 5 years averaged close to 20% higher than that of the entire nation. Government support and incentives provide a major impetus for its growth.
Cebu’s labor force is oriented towards non-agricultural lines and is rated one of the most productive. High domestic, and foreign tourist arrivals, strategic central geographic location, and accessibility, man, and natural resources – all have fueled the robust growth of Cebu with an excellent economic track record and now the fastest growing economy in their country.
Cebu is home to some national, and international corporations like AAA Commercial Broker & Consultancy Inc, Ayala Corporation, Gaisano Group of Companies, Aboitiz Group of Companies, WG&A, Norkis Group of Companies, Bigfoot International, Lexmark Philippines Inc., Lhuillier Jewellers, among others. Its international port (cargo and container) is currently one of the busiest in the country. Homegrown brands in the city have expanded throughout the past years finding a niche in the national and even in the international market like Penshoppe, Oxygen, Loalde, and Island Souvenirs. Other homegrown brands that have expanded outside the city and province include BO’s Coffee Club, Julie’s Bakeshop, Orange Brutus, Mother’s Fried Chicken, among others.
Due to its burgeoning furniture-making industry, Cebu has been hailed as the furniture capital of the Philippine Islands. The Department of Trade and Industry in Cebu is aiming to develop this aspect of Cebu economy by specifically targeting small to medium enterprises or SMEs whose products are considered export-quality.
Cebu is also fast becoming an IT hub as many companies, either local or outsourced, are establishing their headquarters in Cebu. The city has become a site for various U.S. call centers, and BPOs. The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an organization of Cebu’s businesses, are hedging the city’s growth and economy on information and communications technology, with the aim of making it a premier ICT investment, software, and e-services hub in Southeast Asia.
Shipbuilding companies in Cebu have manufactured bulk carriers of up to 70,000 metric tons deadweight (DWT), and double hulled fastcrafts as well.
Cebu International Convention Center
The Cebu International Convention Center serves as monument of this historical landmark, in recognition of Mandaue City’s involvement in the international stage since the beginning of Philippine history.
As venue of the 12th ASEAN summit, the city continues to play an important role in international relations, becoming the core of development, and strengthening its role as the growth engine of the province of Cebu.
- Over 1,000 private and public elementary schools
- 200 secondary (high) schools
- 9 universities
- 29 colleges
- 10 manpower training centers
- Average annual population of 130,000 college students.
The Philippine elementary school is from grade 1 to grade 6. The high school program takes four years to finish; commonly taken after graduating from elementary school.
Cebu is the main educational hub in the central region of the country. It has nine large universities each with a number of campus branches throughout the metro, and more than a dozen other schools and colleges specializing in various courses such as Medicine, Engineering, Nautical courses, Nursing, Law, Computer and IT, and among others.
The most prominent of these universities are the University of San Carlos (USC),Cebu Doctors’ University (CDU), University of the Philippines Cebu College (UP Cebu), Cebu Normal University (CNU, University of San José-Recoletos (USJ-R), Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT), University of Cebu (UC), Southwestern University (SWU), University of the Visayas (UV), and Velez College/Cebu Institute of Medicine (CIM).
Its newest university, Cebu Doctors’ University (formerly Cebu Doctors’ College) was elevated to university status on November 2004. It is located in the Cebu Boardwalk in nearby Mandaue City.
Cebu’s first film school, The International Academy of Film and Television was founded on Mactan island in 2004.
Iranians, and Koreans have the two largest foreign ethnic groups who study in Metro Cebu.
- 7 local television channels
- 3 cable TV stations
- 20 FM & 13 AM radio stations
- A variety of local, national and international papers
Cebu has 3 local stations namely: Cebu! Television Channel 28, Real Cebu Television (RCTV – 36), and the Cebu Catholic Television Network (CCTN 47) (a religious station partly owned and endorsed by the Archdiocese of Cebu). Cebu! Television Channel 28 and the Real Cebu Television (RCTV – 36) are only seen on cable television and CCTN operates an UHF frequency on channel 47 on free TV. It can also be accessed through Skycable’s channel 56.
Despite having these local stations, Cebuanos still prefer to watch the Philippines’ two dominant television networks namely: ABS-CBN Broadcasting, and GMA Network.
While national newspapers have presence in the island, Cebu has three English-language local newspapers: The Freeman, Sun-Star – Cebu, and Cebu Daily News whilst there are also Cebuano-language newspapers, SunStar SuperBalita owned by Sun Star, and Banat News owned by the Freeman. As of 2005, each of the local newspapers sell for about 10 peso a copy, which is much cheaper than their national counterparts.
Cebu is currently subdivided into 9 cities and 49 municipalities.
Highly-Urbanized Cities (administratively independent of Cebu Province)
- Mactan Island Aquarium
- Basilica Minore del Santo Niño
- Cebu International Convention Center
- Cebu Provincial Capitol
- Fort San Pedro
- Lapu Lapu shrine
- Magellan’s Cross
- Magellan shrine
- Marcelo Fernan Bridge
- Taoist Temple
- Sinulog. The Sinulog festival is 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.
- Mantawi Festival. Unique and exotic, dance steps are accompanied by a different beat, played by a brass instead of the usual drum and bugle. This makes up a one-of-a-kind festivity that entices and seduces the crowd to gather, and witness one of the most anticipated celebration in the City of Mandaue, the Mantawi Festival. In April 7, 1521, Magellan first sighted the island of Cebu in search for food, and supplies for his vessels’ voyage back to Spain. Mandaue at that period was called “Mantawi” derived from a vine that grew abundantly in the coves of the area. This community with abundant vines has even been mentioned by historian Antonio Pigafetta as a flourishing settlement nearest to Cebu under the leadership of Datu Lambuzzan, the native chieftain in the region.
- Paskuhan. A Christmas celebration of songs and lantern making held during the month of December spread good cheers to local residents, and tourist.
- Kadaugan sa Mactan. A one day re-enactment – held at the Mactan shrine – celebrated with colorful festivities every April 27 to commemorate the historic Battle of Mactan between the soldiers of Lapu-Lapu, and Magellan.
- Virgin of the Rule Fiesta Held to honor the patron of Opon on November 20 to November 21, this religious and social event reveals the deep religious faith of the people and the penchant for merry making. A food fair, a procession and a coronation of the Fiesta Queen highlight the festivity.
- Semana Santa sa Bantayan. A unique mixture of solemn religious rites, and local celebration highlights the Holy Week activities in Bantayan Island. The normally quiet island is visited by relatives, and friends of the residents, as well as tourists to experience the scenic rites and to cool off the summer heat in the white sandy beaches, and clear tropical waters.
- Fiesta sa Carcar Is celebrated on November 24 to November 25 in honor of the town’s patron, Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Carcar town is noted for its old Spanish style houses in the quiet countryside setting. During fiestas, the residents would invite friends, relatives, and town visitors into their homes to taste popular local delicacies. A lively, and enjoyable event.
- Nuestra Señora de Regla Fiesta Lapulapu City – Held to honor the patron of Opon on November 20 to November 21, this religious and social event reveals faith of the people and the penchant for merry making. A food fair, carnival, procession, and a coronation of the Fiesta Queen highlight the festivity.
- Tagbo Poro, Cebu – Celebrated every January in honor of Patron Santo Niño de Poro. Beloved memoir of a living past, Tagbo is the cornerstone from which this great municipality has sprung. Rich in cultural heritage and deep in spiritual values, Tagbo is a very significant event preluding the birth of a town every dear to the hearts of her sons and daughters.
- Sanayon Agro-tourism festival in the southern towns of the second district about 100 km from the city. A month-long activity to spread out tourism to the coutryside.
- Tres de Abril Celebration Celebrated every April 3 in commemoration of the colonial resistance in the south. This historic battle under León Kilat’s leadership gave Cebu the glory of being the first major island outside Luzon to oppose colonial rule.
- Siloy Festival Celebrated every August 26 in the town of Alcoy.
- Haladaya Festival Celebrated during the summer in the town of Daanbatayan (see Datu Daya).
- Bakasi-Dinagat Festival Celebrated in the town of Cordova.
- Pastores de Naga A Christmas celebration held in the municipality of Naga. Its origins is traced back to the 16th century as a way for the Spanish friars to convert the native communities of southern Cebu.
- Hinulawan Festival A festival to be launched on June 12, 2008 in Toledo, Cebu.
- Lapyahan Festival Lapyahan is a festival celebrated in cognizance with the municipality of San Remigio’s Fiesta. It is named after the “lapyahan” meaning “shoreline”. The theme of this festival is a combination of Town’s History and God’s gift of natural beautiful shoreline.. The Municipality of San Remigio boasts in having the longest shoreline in Cebu Province.
- Kinsan Festival Kinsan festival is held in the town of Aloguinsan every June 17. It is a festival held to promote the fish, “Kinsan”, a fish abundant in the town in April through June.
- Kabanhawan Festival A festival in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This festival is held in Minglanilla.
- Pasigarbo sa Sugbo Festival First celebrated in 2007. It features all the festivals of the cities, and municipalities of Cebu.
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