Would you believe that some foreign travelers have thought that Cebu, the country’s oldest city established since the arrival of Spanish colonizers in mid 16th century, is not part of the Philippines? This idea could probably be considered indirectly and outrageously disloyal in form to the Philippine Republic. But when you have been to Cebu, you begin to understand that in more ways than one, it behaves differently from much of the rest of the Philippines.
Why is this so? There are many varied reasons, but the main core behind the belief is that Cebu has grown to be best known for its more than unusual, active responsiveness to the needs of entrepreneurs, particularly the home grown sort. These entrepreneurs have continued to gain headway, have built pioneering ventures, and been taking lead in making Cebu among the most attractive travel destinations in this side of Asia, if not among the top 3 destinations in any reputable listing. They have helped transformed Cebu among the most investor-friendly local governments in the Philippines when it comes to collaboration in many fields in business. In Cebu can be found several business districts that offer the best facilities and technology to many industries, including international and domestic shipping, air traveling (it’s the home of “Cebu Pacific” – an airline that has successfully competed against the well-entrenched “Philippine Airlines”), furniture design and manufacturing, telecommunications, business process outsourcing, tourism, export, manufacturing, among others.
Cebu the city shares the same name as that of Cebu the province, which happens to be also the name of the island where both are sited. The location is a narrow-shaped elongated island, surrounded by other much tinier islands, that you can pinpoint in the map of the Philippine archipelago somewhere in the Visayas region, or somewhere almost in between Luzon (the biggest island) and Mindanao (the second biggest island), amidst all other islands that are much bigger than Cebu.
At the turn of 20th century, you will still see news records with claims by other nearby cities to the lovely moniker of “Queen City of the South” but ever since the worldwide plunge of the sugar commodity prices that gravely affected the local economies of these other cities, Cebu has since reached heights that made it the strongest city in terms of economic leadership and performance even next, and may perhaps set to overcome the National Capital Region which is Metro Manila (located in Luzon), in time.
Other than those covered above, what else makes Cebu a very attractive, must-see travel destination? A visitor can always check any available information online by doing a Google, but it is best to read from the works of those who have been actually to Cebu before, including this writer. The city (referring to Cebu, which forms part of the Cebu Metropolitan Area) is adjunct to other cities and municipalities. They include the cities of Danao, Lapu Lapu (where you will see a statue of the brave leader who fought Magellan and his crew who did not know any better, and that resulted to a tragic but now historical ending), Mandaue, Talisay plus 8 other municipalities currently.
Cebu hosts several strategic infrastructures found in central Philippines. As such, it hosts one of the Philippines’ busiest airports, as well as among the busiest domestic shipping ports of the country. Tourism has then evolved into one of Cebu’s major industries, such that direct air travel has been made available for visitors coming from places like Narita, Hong Kong, Inchon, Kota Kinabalu, Singapore, Pusan, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Doha, Kansai, and Pudong.
What would you be doing in Cebu as a traveler? Or what should consume your time as a first time visitor in Cebu? You can visit the nearby famed beach resorts, with white sand beaches and clear blue waters that dot the island, that are never more 45 minutes away. Depending on your budget, number of companions, as well as your available time, Cebu provides the best among housing facilities, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, casino, fun and entertainment establishments (probably) for all imaginable tastes and preferences, educational institutions (short term courses, plus those requiring longer stay to pursue degree courses), and other facilities that are at par or even better than what you may have back where you have started your trip.
For starters, you may follow the heritage tour usually pursued by regular tourists. This itinerary will bring you to locations including Magellan’s cross (where the then-leader Rajah Humabon and his followers were baptized as Christians when Magellan landed in Cebu’s shores in 1521), the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino (the Philippines’ oldest church, that contains the image of the infant Jesus given to the wife of Rajah Humabon), the Fort San Pedro (built on the earliest settlement of the Spanish colonizers), and Colon Street (the Philippines’ oldest street) that can be found in downtown Cebu.
As it were, a lot of materials are easily available online and on printed sources about Cebu. Your impression from these readings may perhaps make you seriously consider Cebu – a tropical island travel destination that promises to give you best value for your money for travel and leisure. What probably has made this author visit Cebu at least 15 times in the past, and join all the visitors and guests who have been to Cebu is that this travel destination continues to remain in the active radar on where to go to travel in this part of Asia. Its people have remained staunchly confident of its place in the consciousness of those who have heard of Cebu. As such, its populace would rather speak Cebuano (used by at least 20 million people) than any of the languages used in the Philippines (unless you would prefer to talk in English which is widely used and spoken here, too).
Cebu reminds the author of the pungent smell of a variety of dried fish (“dangit”) that sticks in his clothing whenever he shops for them in the public market (“tabuan” in Cebu). This fish when cooked crisp serves as great breakfast food, or something to be relished when it’s cold. Just like the smell of this dried fish, Cebu is easy to fall in love with, as “it sticks to your skin.” Cebu has constantly evolved to be among the top choices of an ideal place to go, play or stay, whenever the traveler has grown weary and disenchanted with what can be found in his / her point of origin, even for a short while. Remember, even Magellan and his crew got so enamored with what Cebu offered them, over 400 years ago, and the rest is now history.