The City of Cebu (Cebuano: Dakbayan sa Sugbo; Filipino: Lungsod ng Cebu; Spanish: Ciudad de Cebú), 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. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport, located in Lapu-Lapu City is only a twenty-minute drive away from Cebu City. To the northeast of the city are Mandaue City, and the town of Consolacion, to the west are Toledo City, the towns of Balamban, and Asturias, to the south are Talisay City, and the town of Minglanilla. Across Mactan Strait to the east is Mactan Island where Lapu-Lapu City and an aquarium attraction are located.
On April 7, 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu. He was welcomed by Rajah Humabon, the native chieftain of Cebu, who together with his wife, and about 700 native islanders, were baptized by the Spaniards on April 14, 1521. Magellan, however, failed to successfully claim the Philippine Islands for the crown of Spain, having been slain in neighboring Mactan Island on April 27, 1521 in the Battle of Mactan.
On April 27, 1565, Spanish conquistadors led by Miguel López de Legazpi, together with Augustinian Friar Andrés de Urdaneta, sailing from Mexico, landed in Cebu. The Spaniards established settlements, trade flourished, and renamed the city on January 1, 1571, from San Miguel (Saint Michael) to Villa del Santissimo Nombre de Jesús (Village of the Most Holy Name of Jesus). During this six year period of exploration, and conquest by the Spaniards, Cebu City was the capital of the Spanish East Indies.
Cebu City became a charter city in 1936.
There are 80 barrios or barangays in Cebu City all in all.
Cebu City has a land area of 291.2 km². Of this, 55.9 km² is classified as urban, while 235.2 km² is classified as rural. Its geographic coordinates are. To the northeast of the city are Mandaue City and the town of Consolacion, to the west are Toledo City, the towns of Balamban, and Asturias, to the south are Talisay City and the town of Minglanilla. Across Mactan Strait to the east is Mactan Island where Lapu-Lapu City is located.
The city is politically subdivided into 80 barrios or barangays. These are grouped into two congressional districts, with 46 barrios or barangays in the northern district, and 34 barrios or barangays in the southern district.
Cebu city is an important cultural center in the Philippine Islands. The city’s most famous landmark is Magellan’s Cross. This cross, now housed in a chapel, was supposedly planted by Ferdinand Magellan when he arrived in the Philippine Islands in 1521. It was encased in hollow tindalo wood in 1835 upon the order of the Augustinian Bishop Santos Gómez Marañon to prevent devotees from taking it home chip by chip. The same bishop restored the present template, or kiosk, located at the present Magellan street between City Hall, and Colegio del Santo Niño. Revered by Filipinos, the Cross of Magellan is a symbol of the beginning of Christianity in the Philippines.
A few steps away from the Magellan’s Cross is the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño (Church of the Holy Child), an Augustinian church which was elevated to the rank of church in 1965 during the 400th year celebrations of Christianity in the Philippines, held in Cebu. The church, which was the first to be established in the islands. It is built of hewn stone, and features the country’s oldest relic, the image of the Santo Niño de Cebu (Holy Child of Cebu).
This religious event is celebrated on the islands cultural festivities known as the Sinulog festival, held every third Sunday of January which celebrates the festival of the Santo Niño, the patron saint of Cebu. The Sinulog is a dance ritual of pre-hispanic indigenous origin. The dancer moves two steps forward and one step backward to the rhythmic sound of drums. This movement resembles somewhat the current (sulog) of the river. Thus, the Cebuanos called it Sinulog.
In the 1980s and 2000s, the city authorities of Cebu made the Sinulog Festival part, and parcel of the religious feast of the Santo Niño de Cebú to its cultural event.
Cebu City is a chartered city, and thus is actually independent from Cebu. Registered voters of the city cannot vote for provincial candidates unlike its nearby counterparts (Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, and Talisay cities) that form part of Metro Cebu. It is the capital of the province mainly because the provincial capitol is located in it. There were proposals however during the time of Governor Lito Osmeña to create an “administrative district” that would be independent from Cebu City. This would literally mean carving out Cebu City’s Barangay Capitol where the provincial capitol and other provincial offices are located. The plan however didn’t push through and was even followed by other proposals like the transfer of the capital to nearby Balamban town.
Cebu City is governed mainly by city hall, composed of one mayor, one vice-mayor and sixteen councilors (eight representing the northern and eight representing the southern region). Each official is elected publicly to 3-year terms. The chief of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) also sits in the city council. The day to day administration of the city is handled by a city administrator.
Tomas Osmeña is the mayor of Cebu City. He was elected in 1988, and re-elected in the 2004 Philippine elections. Michael Rama is the vice mayor.
More than 80% of interisland vessels operating in the country are also based there. Recently, the entry of business process outsourcing (BPO) firms such as call centers have contributed much to the growth of the local economy. Such has made the city together with the nearby cities that form part of Metro Cebu as the country’s second important economic center.
It was built by the city government through a loan and is envisioned to play a driving role in the economy especially that congestion, given the fact that most of the city’s land area is mountainous, would definitely be an issue in the future.
Most businessmen have acknowledged that the city must work hard in attracting direct foreign investments
The Cebu Metropolitan Area has all the necessary infrastructures sufficient enough for its pace of urbanization. The city is readily accessible by air via the Mactan-Cebu International Airport located in Lapu-Lapu City which has direct flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China, Palau, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Qatar, South Korea; and other destinations. There are also direct transfer flights via the capital’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport that readily connects the city to other destinations in the world. The city mostly gets its power from an interconnection grid with the Leyte Geothermal Power Plant which also powers the majority of the Visayas Islands. There are also coal-fired power plants though these have been controversial due to its impact to the environment. Another coal-fired power plant is nearing completion and is envisioned to make the city independent from the interconnection grid once completed. Distribution of electricity is provided by the Visayas Electric Company (VECO).
The city is served by a domestic and international port which are handled by the Cebu Port Authority. Much of the city’s waterfront is actually occupied by the port with around 3.5 kilometers of berthing space. The domestic port readily gives access to nearby islands and provinces. The city’s central location makes it as an ideal transshipment hub. It is in fact home to more than 80% of the country’s interisland vessels plying domestic routes mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Telecommunication facilities, broadband and wireless internet connections are readily available and are provided by some of the country’s largest telecommunication companies.
In the mid 1990s the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill was constructed to ease garbage disposal within the city. It is however nearing its lifespan although the Provincial Government is planning to build two sanitary landfills to serve both the northern and southern parts of Metro Cebu including Cebu City. In June 2005, the city fully implemented the segregation of wastes as mandated by law.
Mass transportation throughout the city, and the metropolis itself is provided by jeepneys, buses, and taxis. There were previous plans of setting up a mass railway system but it was deemed not feasible as of the moment due to the high construction cost that it will entail, and the uncertainty of making the routes profitable.
Cebu City is one of two centers of education in the country, the other one being the Manila Metropolitan Area. It currently 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.
Among these schools is the University of the Philippines, Visayas – Cebu College (U.P. Cebu) – a satellite campus of the University of the Philippines, Visayas – Miag-ao, Iloilo (U.P. System – Visayas). It has currently 8 courses and has plans of expansion and development. It is located at Brgy. Camputhaw in the Lahug district of Cebu City.
The oldest educational institution in the Philippines is the University of San Carlos, and has four campuses around the metropolitan area. Before gaining university status, it was originally called Colegio de San Ildefonso and was established in 1595 by the Jesuits. It is currently headed by the SVD.
Another catholic university in Cebu City is the University of San Jose-Recoletos which was founded on 1947. According to its profile, it offers an academic environment equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and technologies conducive to the academic development in consonance with the Catholic faith. It is currently headed by the Augustinian Recollects and has 2 different campuses within the city excluding a 1 proposed campus outside the city.
The University of Cebu-Banilad opened in June 2002, first had a modern eight-storey building. With the projected increase in enrollment in SY 2004-2005, a nine-storey building was constructed in the same campus. This is one of the campuses that the University of Cebu (UC) have. The University of Cebu – Main Campus, offers more courses such as Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT), HRM, Computer Engineering, BSED, and others.
The newest university, Cebu Doctors’ University (formerly Cebu Doctors’ College) was granted university status on November 2004. It is the only medical university in the Philippines and has just recently relocated to a nine-storey main building at the Cebu Boardwalk in neighboring Mandaue City thus closing its old campus near the then Cebu Doctors’ Hospital (now Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital).
Cebu Normal University was established in 1915 as a provincial normal school, a branch of the Philippine Normal School. It became an independent institution in 1924, a chartered college in 1976, and a university in 1998. It is one of the oldest educational institutions in Cebu City.
The Asian College of Technology (ACT), first founded in 1988 as the Asian Institute of Technology, is known for its best computer training.
Also located in the city is the University of the Visayas, billed as the first university in Cebu City (but not the first school/institution which is the University of San Carlos).
Other noteworthy institutions in the city includes Velez College, the Cebu Institute of Technology and Southwestern University.
Many foreign students also come to Cebu City to study since education is relatively cheaper here. Most of them are Iranians and Nepalese who come to study dentistry and medicine. In recent years, many Koreans have come to Cebu to study English.
Cebu City has 68 public elementary schools, 23 national high schools and 28 night high schools. These night high schools are operated by the city government. The city has a literacy rate of 97%.
Tourism continues to contribute much to the local economy, not just of the city itself, but to the entire province. Because of this, the city hosted the 1998 ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF). The city also hosted the East Asian Tourism Forum (EATOF) on August 2002, in which the province of Cebu is a member, and signatory.
On early 2006, one of the island’s famous landmarks was formally reopened under a new name, Marco Polo Plaza, after more than two years of closure. The hotel complex was formerly occupied by Cebu Plaza which was the first deluxe hotel in the province. It opened in the early 1980s and was viewed by some as a symbol of the province’s economic growth.
There are a number of shopping establishments in the city, the most popular of which are the SM City Cebu, Ayala Center and Robinsons Plaza. There are also other smaller malls and stand-alone department stores. Throughout the years however, the establishment of “strip malls” which offers some sort of a town center environment have become the trend.
Away from the city, the Philippine Taoist Temple is a Daoist temple situated in Beverly Hills, a premier community within the city. The Philippine Taoist Temple gives a commanding view of Cebu City, and the nearby cities of Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu.
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