What you need to know
Map of Cebu City- Philippines
Cebu City, officially the City of Cebu, is the capital city of the province of Cebu and is the “second city” of the Philippines being the center of Metro Cebu, the second most populous metropolitan area in the Philippines after Metro Manila. Cebu is a 1st city income class highly urbanized city where political governance is independent and separate from the province of Cebu, and according to the 2015 census, it has a population of 922,611, making it the fifth most populated city in the country. In the 2016 election, it had 631,003 registered voters. Cebu City is a significant center of commerce, trade and education in the Visayas region.
The city is located on the mid-eastern side of Cebu island. It is the first Spanish settlement, the country’s oldest city, and the first capital of the Philippines. It is considered as the Fount of Christianity in the Far East.
Cebu is the Philippines’ main domestic shipping port and is home to about 80% of the country’s domestic shipping companies. Cebu City is bordered to the northeast by Mandaue and the town of Consolacion, to the west are Toledo City, and 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.
It is the center of a metropolitan area called Metro Cebu, which includes the cities of Carcar, Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Naga and Talisay; and the municipalities (towns) of Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla and San Fernando. Metro Cebu has a total population of 2,849,213 (2015 census).
Cebuano is the native tongue. While Filipino is commonly understood and spoken, the English language is widely used in business transactions and education.
The Philippine currency is peso, divided into 100 centavos. Next to the peso, the US dollar enjoys wide acceptance. Most foreign currencies can easily be changed at banks, hotels, and authorized dealers. Foreign currency is not readily taken by the establishments in Cebu. Major foreign credit cards may be accepted only at major hotels, resorts, shops and restaurants. Visitors are advised to bring sufficient amount of change in small bills or coins.
Cebu City has a land area of 315 square kilometres (122 sq mi). To the northeast of the city is Mandaue City and the town of Consolacion; to the west is Toledo City and the towns of Balamban and Asturias; to the south is Talisay City and the town of Minglanilla.
Across Mactan Strait to the east is Mactan Island where Lapu-Lapu is located. Further east across the Cebu Strait is the Island of Bohol.
Cebu is best from December to May when the weather turns dry. It is coolest from December to February, hottest from March to May. Temperature can rise as high as 37°C in the summer. The rainy season begins in July bringing torrential downpours that would sometimes inhibit movement.
Cebu City is a significant cultural center in the Philippines. The imprint of Spanish and Roman Catholic culture is evident. The city’s most famous landmark is Magellan’s Cross. This cross, now housed in a chapel, is reputed to have been erected by Ferdinand Magellan (Fernão Magalhães) when he arrived in the Philippines 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 Magallanes Street between the City Hall and Colegio del Santo Niño. Revered by Filipinos, the Magellan’s Cross is a symbol of Christianity in the Philippines.
A few steps away from Magellan’s Cross is the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño (Church of the Holy Child). This is an Augustinian church elevated to the rank of basilica in 1965 during the 400th anniversary celebrations of Christianity in the Philippines, held in Cebu. The church, which was the first to be established in the islands, is built of hewn stone and features the country’s oldest relic, the figure of the Santo Niño de Cebú (Holy Child of Cebu).
This religious and cultural event is celebrated during the island’s cultural festivities known as the Sinulog festival. Held every third Sunday of January, it celebrates the festival of the Santo Niño, who was formerly considered to be the patron saint of Cebu. (This patronage was later changed to that of Our Lady of Guadalupe after it was realised that the St. Niño could not be a patron saint because he was an image of Christ and not a saint.) 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.
When the Spaniards arrived in Cebu, the Italian chronicler Antonio Pigafetta, sailing under convoy with the Magellan expedition, offered a baptismal gift to Hara Amihan, wife of Rajah Humabon. She was later named Juana, the figure of the Santo Niño. The natives also honored the Santo Niño de Cebú in their indigenous sinulog ritual. This ritual was preserved but limited to honoring the Santo Niño. Once the Santo Niño church was built in the 16th century, the Christianized-Austronesian natives started performing the sinulog ritual in front of the church, the devotees offering candles and indigenous dancers shouting “Viva Pit Señor!”
In the 1980s and 2000s, the city authorities of Cebu added the religious feast of Santo Niño de Cebú during the Sinulog Festival to its cultural event.
Tourism is a thriving industry in Cebu. It hosted the 1998 ASEAN Tourism Forum. The city also hosted the East Asian Tourism Forum on August 2002, in which the province of Cebu is a member and signatory.
There are significant number of Filipino-Spanish heritage buildings in Cebu City which includes the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Fort San Pedro, Casa Gorordo Museum and Magellan’s Cross, among others.
The Cebu Reggae Festival is a popular Filipino Reggae and Roots music festival, it now has become one of the Philippines’ largest annual Reggae Festivals. On Cebuano musical heritage, the Jose R. Gullas Halad Museum in V. Gullas St. (former Manalili) corner D. Jakosalem St. in Cebu City, holds musical memorabilia of Cebuano composers in the early 20th century, the likes of Ben Zubiri (composer of Matud Nila), Inting Rubi (Kasadya Ning Taknaa) and Minggoy Lopez (Rosas Pandan). The Cebu City Sports Complex exhibits sporting and festival events.
Views of Cebu City and its skyline can be seen from villages and numerous gated communities located on its mountainsides.
Ayala Center Cebu is a shopping mall at the Cebu Business Park, and is currently undergoing a massive expansion. On average, more than 85,000 people visit this mall every day, with the figure increasing to 135,000 on weekends.
The city is readily accessible by air via the Mactan-Cebu International Airport located in Lapu-Lapu City which has direct international flights to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, China, Taiwan, Los Angeles, Dubai and South Korea, Charter flights to Russia and domestic destinations. Many international and cargo airlines fly to Cebu. There are also direct transfer flights via the capital’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport that readily connect the city to other destinations in the world.
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 kilometres (2.2 mi) of berthing space. The city is home to more than 80% of the country’s island vessels traveling on domestic routes mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Mass transportation throughout the city and the metropolitan itself is provided by jeepneys, buses and taxis. The Cebu City Government conducted a 2012 feasibility study on implementing bus rapid transit (BRT) system that will ease the transportation of the residents in the city and throughout the entire Metro Cebu area. Aimed to serve an estimated 330,000 passengers per day, the project would have a capacity of 176 buses running through 33 stations along Bulacao until Talamban with a link to South Road Properties.The project is currently branded as TransCebu and is expected to be fully operational by 2017.