Your Filipino elementary school self will thank you. Because touring Cebu City will bring your history books back to life.
The history nut in jumped in sleepy joy to have finally set foot on Cebu, the port capital that is the Queen City of the South. Our arrival at its throne was a quiet celebration. We came off our 2-hour ferry ride all from Tubigon Port in Bohol.
When Elementary School Books Came to Life
Doing a Cebu City tour is mostly easy. Spare for confusing multicab destinations, navigating is manageable in half a day. We ventured to explore beauty of the city before sunrise, starting off at Plaza Independencia, where Sunday health buffs are beginning to do their morning stretches and jogs. Statues and monuments blended in with the tree-lined park, but the Fort San Pedro attraction does not open until 8AM.
With the city slowly waking up by 6 in the morning, we made our way to the destination of my dreams — the Magellan’s Cross. I remember only seeing it my grade school history books. Now it’s right in front of me, greeting me good morning.
Cebu City’s Affinity for the Sto. Nino
Walking up the busy streets to Basilica del Santo Nino, which is under construction due to damages from the 2013 earthquake, we found images of the child Jesus in all shapes and sizes. Plain to see what this figure means to the Cebuano culture. Just imagine the colorful street party that is Sinulog Festival happening every January of the year. I wish I could experience that!
Vendors of fresh flowers surround the church perimeters, as well as graveyards of maroon, melted candles lighted by the devout. At waking distance from the Basilico, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral stood prominently in spotless white, this one seemingly unscathed.
A long walk from that churches is the Cebu Heritage Monument. An epitome of Cebuano pride, the sculpture of various media depicts, in 360 degree “rotonda” fashion, their oldest churches, significant events in its 16th century Spanish colonial past and notable Cebu-born personalities.
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Capturing the Cebu City Urban Life
Commuting via multicab is tricky in Cebu City. We got lost frequently that we abandoned plans of visiting the Cebu Taoist Temple. Asking directions from locals is not much help, as most suggested we take a cab and didn’t know what to recommend. Even the barkers.
Somehow, we found our way to Cebu Provincial Capitol Building, where flags and coat of arms of every province in Cebu are raised. Gearing up for APEC 2015 happening on November, banners of “Welcome Delegates!” peppered the notable landmarks.
To get a taste of the local malling scene, we also included the Ayala Center Cebu on our IT. Needless to say, it could rival QC’S Trinoma. In front of the mall is the terminal to Mactan-Cebu International Airport — our route home after our trip.
Learning of the City’s Past
Because the afternoon was sweltering hot, we spent the remaining daylight hours geeking out at Museo Sugbo. Since Museo de Casa Gorordo was closed then. Missing from most listicles of “things to do in Cebu”, Museo Sugbo a wonderfully curated museum, containing the famous Manunggul Jar. Once a provincial jail, exploring it felt like sauntering within Intramuros.
Trying Out Cebu City’s Famous Lechon
Finally, it is impossible that we leave Cebu City without devouring their famous lechon. Crispy roasted pig skin and its juicy meat from CNT Lechon filled our stomachs just before we left for the early morning bus for Oslob. The servings, in particular, did not disappoint.
Typically, I don’t enjoy city tours because it’s mostly a tokensitic “post card experience” where you take pictures of this and move on to the next. I like experiences.
Cebu has a lot to offer, and I’d say a day for the city is enough — Southern Cebu is another story.
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