Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cebu, Philippines

Cebu, Philippines, Welcome to Paradise

By Bernadette Salas

Cebu is a city that has a little bit of everything for everyone.

To the world, it is best known as a beautiful tropical paradise. Home to white sand beaches, for years its natural beauty has been an attraction for tourists who craved the allure of the sun and sea. In the Philippines, Cebu is best known as a historic and cultural landmark. It was where Christianity was first introduced to the country by the Spanish conquistadors 492 years ago. It is here that the epic battle between Magellan and Datu Lapu-lapu happened, which resulted in the tragic death of the former.

Cebu is also one of the most progressive cities in the Philippines. We have a thriving BPO, IT and furniture-making industry. And of course, tourism is one of our major economic drivers as well. We may be a small city but you can find all the necessary modern conveniences you’ll need here.

When coming to Cebu, enjoying the beach should be first on your list. For those wanting to relax, you can simply lounge and savor the slower pace of life. For those who are feeling more adventurous, we have excellent diving spots in Mactan Island. A small boat called a banca

can also take you to the smaller islands surrounding Mactan that can best showcase the colorful variety of sea creatures and marine life in the area. You can also do all sorts of watersports such as jet skiing and parasailing too.

In terms of accommodations, you can choose to stay at a seaside resort or you can choose to stay in the city and commute to the beach. It’s only 30-40 minutes away by jeepney or taxi. And if you’re taking the taxi, it’ll only cost just around $6 one way. There are accommodations for every budget. And you can choose to stay at a guest house, a five star resort or something in between.

Your next agenda should be the food. According to Anthony Bourdain, we have the “best pig ever” in our lechon (slow pit-roasted whole pig). And of course, we have amazing seafood. Prawns, squid, fish, shells, you name we got it. You can have it grilled, stuffed or fried. And just for kicks, try the lato (seaweed) salad. It’s delicious! Typical Cebuanos also eat a lot of pork barbecue and chicken. It’s our favorite street food.

Finally, try to visit some of the cultural sites in the city. We have the oldest basilica in the country – The Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. The Basilica houses the miraculous Santo Nino or Child Jesus. Viewing and devotion can be done daily. So for the religious, it will be an interesting pilgrimage. For the curious, the church gives an interesting glimpse of religious life in the older days.

Our love for the Santo Nino is commemorated by a yearly street festival called the Sinulog. The Sinulog has a catchy signature beat and dance. And it has the most vibrant costumes! It’s truly the best religious street festival in the country. While a competition is held for the best dance presentations, the dancing and festivity pours out to the streets until the wee hours. So if you can time your visit to January, this festival is worth the trip.

People in Cebu speak English as a second language. So asking directions or assistance won’t be a problem. And we’re a relatively happy and helpful bunch of people so expect a lot of smiles all around. Be wary, however, of overly-friendly locals who offer all sorts of deals for a fixed price. They are likely to overcharge.

See you in Cebu!

1 comment:

  1. If you want to go in the Philippines and history is what you want to experience then you should visit Cebu. The place where the history of the country started. The beaches are almost high class and everything was just so perfect because you can have everything in here.

    The best thing in this place is almost everyone can speak English so it won't be too hard for you to understand each other!