Getting To Know Cebu again...

I am not from Cebu, but my father was from Dalaguete Cebu. This weekend we might visit the town again and I might blog about it. So I decided to research on Cebu's history and rich culture first.

Cebu (Cebuano: Sugbo, Spanish: Cebú), is one of the provinces of the Philippines. It is located to the east of Negros island; to the west of Leyte, and Bohol islands. It is located on both sides by the straits of Bohol (between Cebu, and Bohol), and Tañon (between Cebu, and Negros). Cebu is located between 9°25'N and 11°15'N latitude, and between 123°13'E, and 124°5'E longitude in the center of the Philippine Islands.
Cebu is a long narrow island stretching 225 kilometers (140 miles) from north to south, surrounded by 167 neighboring smaller islands, that includes Mactan Island, Bantayan, Malapascua, Olango, and the Camotes Islands. Of the hundreds of small islands some are uninhabited which make them popular with tourists.
Cebu is known for its narrow coastlines, limestone plateaus, and coastal plains, all characteristics of a tropical island. Cebu also has predominant rolling hills, and rugged mountain ranges traversing the northern, and southern lengths of the island. Cebu's steep mountains reach over 1,000 meters. Flat tracts of land can be found in the city of Bogo and in the towns of San Remigio, Medellin, and Daanbantayan at the northern region of the province.
Its capital is Cebu City, the oldest city in the Philippine Islands, which forms part of the Cebu Metropolitan Area together with six neighboring cities Carcar City, Danao City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Bogo, and Talisay, and six other municipalities. Cebu is served by Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Mactan Island, thirty minutes drive from Cebu City.
Cebu is one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, and the main center of commerce, trade, education, and industry in the central, and southern parts of the islands. It has five-star hotels, casinos, white sand beaches, world-class golf courses, convention centers, shopping malls. -wikipedia

THE history of Cebu goes way beyond 439 years ago when the island became a province at the start of the Spanish colonization.

Long before that, Cebu was already the center of trade of what is now the southern Philippines, dealing with traders from China, Malaysia, Japan, India, Burma and other parts of Asia.

Cebu already had an organized social structure before the Spaniards came--- with small groups headed by a datu who served as leader. A datu governed his community, settled disputes, made decisions, protected his village from enemies, led them into battle, and received labor and tributes from his people. The position being both a political office and a social class, his authority was taken from his lineage, although his power depended on his wealth, the number of subjects and his reputation for physical prowess.

A community ranged from 30 to 100 households grouped as a barangay and was one based mostly on kinship. Aside from the datu, there were free men called timawa and then the olipon. Spanish reports called the role of an olipon as dependent rather than a slave, because of the absence of violence and harshness notable in European slavery.

People in Cebu then were called pintados because men were heavily tattooed. Lavish ornaments such as gold jewelry were used not only by women but also men.

Prior to Spanish colonization there were already permanent townhouse-looking wooden structures where the datus lived. Ordinary people lived in field cottages or balay-balay that were on stilts: hagdan (house ladder) was a common sight, with floors (salog) made of bamboo or wood and roof (atop) made of palm tree shingles.

In 1521 Ferdinand Magellan and his troops arrived in Cebu, were warmly welcomed by Rajah Humabon’s community which converted to Christianity.

But Magellan was not received well at the island of Mactan, where he was slain by the local chieftain, Lapulapu. Cebu remained free until Manuel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in 1566.

It was then the start of the transformation of Cebu’s civilization under the Spanish regime: Catholic churches were built, priests ruled communities alongside civil leaders, watchtowers were scattered along the island to guard against Moro raids.

On the economic and cultural side, fiesta celebrations were embraced, new agricultural products were introduced, royal decrees led to commercial and agricultural expansion and the establishment of elementary schools in every municipality.

From 1872 to 1896, however, extensive propaganda against abuses of Spaniards was done, a sugar crisis ended the agricultural prosperity Cebu province enjoyed and in 1892, sugar barons or hacienderos were forced to declare bankruptcy.

Philippine Revolution began against Spain in 1898, but before the fruits of independence could bloom, the Americans troops arrived, United States sovereignty over the Philippines was declared and in February 7, 1900 , the Filipino-American war broke.

The rest of Cebu ’s history was then tied to events in the country and the rest of the world: World War 11, Japanese occupation, postwar reconstruction, Philippine independence, then the declaration of Martial Law, and so forth.

But amid all these events, history has witnessed the valiant spirit of the Cebuanos--- principled and resilient, exercising hard work and high standards of morality and professionalism that have since made Cebu a cut above the rest. -Cebu Province Official Website


Cebu Province has a total population of more than 3 million. Cebuano is the native tongue. While Filipino is commonly understood and spoken, the English language is widely used in business transactions and educations.


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 seasons begins in July bringing torrential downpours that would sometimes inhibit movements.

Philippine Time

Philippine Standard Time is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime.

Dress/What to Bring

Wear natural-fiber, lightweight clothing. You'll feel more comfortable. Bring shorts, hat, sunglasses, bathing suits, insect repellent, flashlight, sun block cream, tough shoes for walking, rubber slippers for the beach.

The Barong Tagalog is the acceptable formal wear for men. Shorts or sleeveless shirts should never be worn when visiting churches, mosques or temples.


Most areas in Cebu are supplied with 220 volts, 60 cycles. A plug with 2 flat parallel prongs is the norm.


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 establishments in Cebu. Major foreign credit cards may be accepted only at mjor hotels, resorts, shops and restaurants. Visitors are advised to bring sufficient amount of change is small bills or coins.

Business Hours

Banks - 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday; Government agencies and offices - 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday; Private firms - 9am to 7pm Monday to Saturday. Most department stores stay open on Sundays and holidays.


Bellhops expect a tip, as do waiters, taxi drivers, haidressers, beauticians, and porters. Most hotels and restaurants add 10% service charge on top of the government tax. Tipping 5-15% of the bill appropriate if no service charge is included.

Public Transport

Getting around Cebu, one may take a colorful jeepney or a bus at a minimal fare. Tricycles (motorcycles with sidecars) are popular in outlaying areas and in the suburbs, quiet notably within Mactan Island. Taxicabs are widely available.


For more information about Cebu, visit’s Cebu Destination Guide. -CPOW


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