Tag Archives: tourist-destination

Cebu’s north reclamation area transformed for Asean summit

The stretch of road at the north reclamation area in Mandaue City used to be dark and deserted, a place you do not pass, if you can help it. It was ablaze at 1 a.m. today, 3 days before the opening ceremonies for the Asean Leaders' Summit in Cebu, with light from the huge illuminated Cebu City sign, new streetlights that dot the Mandaue North Reclamation highway, and star-shaped lanterns hanging from posts along Ouano Avenue. The lantern decors go all to the way to the Marcelo B. Fernan bridge in the Mandaue City side.
cebu city sign CEBU CITY SIGN welcomes commuters as they enter the city at the north reclamation area, a few meters away from popular SM City Cebu mall. Click on photo to enlarge.
Along the islands in the reclamation highway are sculptures put up just last month and a profusion of flowers and ornamental palms planted at about the same time. There used to be only trees there. Right smack in the middle of this beautified stretch is the Cebu International Convention Center, where most of the meetings during the Asean summit from December 10 to 15 will be held. The City Government of Mandaue is sparing to expense to liven up the stretch since it is part of the ceremonial route where delegates will pass when going from their hotels in Cebu City to the CICC and to the Shangri-la in Mactan, where the heads of state will have their conferences. The stretch will be closed for a few hours everyday starting this Sunday and until the closing ceremonies on Friday.
cebu international convention center CEBU INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTER. The P515-million building, a joint project of the Cebu Provincial and Mandaue City governments, was built in eight months. Click on photo to enlarge.
Finished at last save for a few finishing touches, the CICC was still lighted from top to bottom when we passed it at 1 a.m. today. Last night was the lighting rites for the convention center and cultural dances were performed as well as a display of flags of countries participating in the Asean summit. Asean groups Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. The P515-million edifice, a joint project of the Cebu Provincial and Mandaue City governments, was built in eight months. The transformation of the reclamation area mirrors improvements in other parts of Metro Cebu: roads have been paved with asphalt, major tourism spots restored and buildings getting new coats of paint. The Asean has been described as Cebu’s "coming-out party" and its officials and residents have been hard at work making it a great one. More photos click on images to enlarge: reclamation area cebu sm city cebu road mandaue city road metro cebu road galleon mandaue city sign christmas lantern

5 things to do when in Cebu

If you ever find yourself in this paradise-island called Cebu in the Philippines, here are five things to do to get the most out of your stay. This post is part of the group writing project at Problogger. 1. Hit the beaches or go diving A narrow strip of land that is 200 kilometers long and 41 kilometers wide, the island province of Cebu—which is ringed by over a hundred other smaller islands—is home to several white sand beaches and spectacular dive spots. Worthy of mention are the beaches and dive spots of Bantayan, Malapascua, Alegre and Camotes in the north; Olango, Mactan, and Sulpa in the east; and Moalboal, Badian, and Sumilon in the south. Of Cebu’s over a hundred satellite islands, some are uninhabited and are favorite destinations of local and foreign tourists. Cebu beach Cebu is home to several white sand beaches and spectacular dive spots. 2. Dance the Sinulog Nothing defines Cebu as much as the Sinulog. It is a festival both religious and festive. A nine-day event that is both offering and thanksgiving. The festival culminates with the Sinulog mardi gras, which is held every third Sunday of January and is the island's biggest event. Everything stops in Cebu for the mardi gras as the city explodes into a sea of dancers and floats take over the street. The Sinulog has become bigger with every year of its staging, starting from its humble start as a parade for students. The Sinulog dance step of two-step forward, one-step back is inspired by the "sinug" (Bisaya word for burnt offering) dance prayers of candle vendors at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. The Sinulog SINULOG: Cebu's biggest festival and tourism draw. The festival culminates with the annual mardi gras, held every third Sunday of January. 3. Visit old churches Spaniards came to Cebu first before colonizing the Philippines. It is no surprise that the island hosts a lot of old churches, some dating back to the Spanish era. The Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, for example, is the country's oldest church. It was first built by the Spaniards in 1566 on the very spot where the image of the Santo Niño, left behind by Portuguese and Spanish explorers in 1521, was found preserved in a burned wooden box. There are also a lot of old churches in Carcar, a three-hour drive to the south. 4. Go downtown Colon St. is the oldest street in the Philippines. It was built when the Spaniards led by explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in the island in 1565. Colon is the center of Cebu's commerce and while it's no longer as glitzy as other commercial areas of Cebu, it still retains its old world charm--from 1920s building facades to historic markers. While Colon has become a safer place to visit in recent years, try not to bring anything valuable. Just bring the essentials with you: enough money for a meal in one of the restaurants in the stretch and some purchases in flea markets. When you're touring Colon, look for markers of historic spots. At the end of Colon St., just ahead the Gaisano Main department store, is the marker for the street. It's a small obelisk in the middle of the road. A few steps away is Parian, the old Chinese district in Cebu. Nothing much remains of the beautiful houses that used to define the district but there is a huge heritage monument in the area. The monument towers over the area and depicts key historical events of the island. Parian heritage monument PARIAN HERITAGE MONUMENT. The monument celebrates key historic events in the island. 5. Indulge in native cuisine Talisay lechon (roasted pig) It is said that the best-tasting inasal or roasted pig in the Philippines is the one cooked and prepared in Talisay City. You get varied answers as to why the Talisay inasal tastes best: some say it is the herbs they place inside the pig, others say it is the way they cook it, still others say it's the sauce they use for basting. Puso Puso is rice wrapped in coconut leaves and then cooked. Many establishments serve puso instead of rice to go with your meals. Puso rice pieces are strung together and servers just cut them off and slice them in half for serving, hence the term "hanging rice." Puso, according to a Cebu Normal University professor, had been once considered food for the gods, before Spain colonized the Philippines and introduced Christianity. The professor, however, said this ritualistic preparation of puso as divine offering is virtually non-existent today. Sutukil Eat fresh seafood by the shores of Mactan Island by visiting the sutukil diners of Lapu-Lapu City. The eateries are located near the Mactan monument, which houses the obelisk honoring Ferdinand Magellan and the statue of Lapu-Lapu. The monument is said to be the spot where Magellan was killed in 1521. In sutukil restaurants, you get to pick fresh seafood (fish, shrimps, crabs and lobsters) and these are then prepared into three dishes: grilled (for sugba), prepared into a soup (tuwa) or turned into a raw seafood salad (kilaw), hence the name. For more about Sutukil, you can read this article. If you're planning to go to Cebu, be sure to check our directories of hotels, resorts and pension houses.

Cebu’s historical Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño

Its towering facade blends Muslim, Romanesque, and neo-classical architecture, this church of the Señor Santo Niño de Cebu--which translates literally as "holy child of Cebu." Cebu's oldest Roman Catholic Church, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, also still retains the original stone texture and natural color it had in 1735. (Click on photos to view larger images.) The structure, located right in the heart of downtown Cebu City, is way, way older--it is the Philippines's oldest church, but it was made out of hard wood, mud, and nipa when it was first built by the Spaniards in 1566 on the very spot where the image of the Santo Niño, left behind by Portuguese and Spanish explorers in 1521, was found preserved in a burned wooden box. Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino Led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Augustinian priest Andres de Urdaneta, the Spaniards who discovered the image in 1565 called it miraculous, for it survived the fire that gutted the structure that housed it but had totally blackened it in the process. The image also survived the fire that hit the church on November 1, 1568. The church was rebuilt in 1602 and in 1735, then Cebu Governor Fernando Valdes y Tamon ordered that it be constructed out of hard stone-the materials were quarried from Capiz and Panay on wooden boats--on the same spot where the wooden one had stood. Work on the church was completed in 1739. Devotees light candles inside the basilicaToday, the church draws devotees, churchgoers, tourists, pilgrims, and candle and other vendors. As the church could not accommodate the growing number of people who come to hear mass in the basilica, a pilgrim center was built within the church compound and priests officiate mass in the open-air, theater-like structure. Candle vendors here are different in any other churches; in the basilica, they dance their prayers in that two-step-forward, one-step-backward rhythm called the "Sinug". This same rhythm is believed to have inspired the Sinulog dance, performed on Cebu City's streets by various groups in the Sinulog Grand Parade held every third Sunday of January. The parade is one of the highlights of the weeklong celebration of the feast of Cebu's patron saint. One other highlight is the Saturday religious procession of the images of the Santo Niño and Cebu patron saint Lady of Guadalupe. A candle vendor dances the Sinulog It is widely believed that the Santo Niño image is the same one given by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Queen Juana of Cebu in 1521, that same year when she, her husband Datu Humabon, and several of their followers where baptized into the Roman Catholic faith. When it was found, it was burnt so bad it was hardly recognizable and its survival was considered as nothing short of a miracle. The Santo Niño image’s reputation as miraculous is buoyed by reports of basilica helpers that it sometimes goes out of its glass case to take long walks at night. They point to grass stains on the hem of its dress as evidence. The stories are dismissed as superstition but they strengthened beliefs of devotees that the Santo Niño de Cebu, “Cebu’s holy child”, watches over Cebu. More photos Click on images to view larger photographs. Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino Sto. Nino devotees basilica minore del sto. nino basilica minore del sto nino in cebu city basilica minore del sto nino in cebu city basilica minore del sto nino in downtown cebu city sto. nino church in cebu city, philippines basilica minore del sto nino in cebu city, philippines basilica minore del sto nino in cebu city, philippines How to get there The easiest way to go to the church is by taking a taxi. If you come from the uptown area, the place is just a P70-taxi ride away. If you feel adventurous, you can take a jeepney with "Plaza" or "City Hall" printed on its route signboard. Below is a map to the place. You can zoom into the map by using its navigation buttons.

Historic church of Balangiga in Eastern Samar

At first look, the structure looks like the other thousands of churches that dot this predominantly Catholic country. With one big difference: it is missing its original three bells. The loss of the church's three bells is just a chapter in a story that started in 1901 with what is now known in Philippine history as the Balangiga massacre--an incident that triggered a response so overwhelming it turned this place in Eastern Samar into a "howling wilderness". It was a Sunday morning when we visited Balangiga and the church was closed so we were not able to come inside. A marker on the wall of the church explained its role in the massacre. The structure is a replacement to the old church that was burned down by American soldiers in retaliation for the death of their comrades. (Click on photos to view larger images) Balangiga In the town plaza, a monument immortalizes the Balangiga massacre of 1901 that started when native Filipinos, reportedly forced to do labor for American soldiers staying at a garrison in Balangiga, plotted against US troops belonging to Company C of Ninth US Infantry who sailed into the Eastern Samar town on August 11, 1901. The natives were among guerilla leader General Vicente Lukban's best bolomen. While the Philippine-American war, which started on February 4, 1899, was officially proclaimed to have ended on July 4, 1902, fighting went on in some parts of the country like Batangas, Pampanga, Tarlac, Ilocos, and the Visayas. The attack on the soldiers in Balangiga by bolo-wielding natives--who hid in the church near the American garrison in the Balangiga plaza the night before the attack--happened on the early morning of September 28, 1901. The night before, women carried small coffins to church and hid inside them the cane cutting bolo knives that were used in the attack. Balangiga monumentThe ringing of one of the Balangiga bells was the signal for the natives to attack the unprepared and clueless American soldiers who were having breakfast in the plaza where they set up their garrison. At the end of the day, 48 US troops were killed, 22 were wounded, and only four unharmed. Retribution from the Americans came soon and swift. US General "Jake" Smith ordered the transformation of Balangiga into a "howling wilderness," directing his men to kill anyone old enough to carry arms and to him they are old enough if they are over 10 years old. The Americans took with them as war booty the three Balangiga church bells, including the smaller one that was used to signal the attack, when they left the Philippines. Currently, there is an ongoing campaign led by Balangiga Mayor Catalina Camenforte for the return of the 104-year-old bells to the Balangiga church. She believes the return of the bells would complete the healing and end the conflict that has strained US-Philippine relations. Two of the bells are kept at the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming while the third one, the smaller bell, can be found in an American Army camp in South Korea. Our visit to Balangiga was a side trip to our Calicoan Island sojourn. For details on how to get to Balangiga and Calicoan, click here. Balangiga is three towns before Guiuan, where Calicoan Island is located. Any of the vans for hire or other modes of public transport bound for Guiuan pass by Balingaga.

Fort San Pedro

A monument to Cebu's turbulent past, the Fort San Pedro in Cebu City served different purposes at various times in the island's history. The fort began as a single triangular bastion when it was first built with logs and mud in 1565, with Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi breaking ground for the structure. It served as the nucleus of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. (Click on photos to view larger images) Fort San Pedro is the oldest and smallest fort in the Philippines. Built by the Spaniards to repel sieges by hostile natives and Muslim pirates, the fort was deemed finished in 1738, some 200 years after it started construction. Fort San Pedro The fort's name was taken from Legaspi's flagship "San Pedro" in which he sailed the Pacific Ocean in 1565. Little was known about the fort from its construction in 1565 until it was mentioned in 1739 in an official report to King Philip II of Spain. In the report, the fort--Fuerza San Pedro--was described as triangular in shape, made of stone and mortar, and with three bastions named La Concepcion, (southwest side), Ignacio de Loyola (southeast), and San Miguel (northeast). The report also told of a large building called the "Cuerpor de Guardia", where personnel that manned the fort lived; a "Vivende del Teniente", the sleeping quarters of the fort lieutenant; a well; and a powder magazine that served as storage for the fort's arms and gunpowder supply. The structure was also described as having a total area of 2,025 square meters, with walls that are 20 feet high and eight feet thick, and towers that rise 30 feet from the ground. Over the centuries, the fort had many uses. It became a prison for local rebels during the Philippine revolution from 1896 to 1898. Fort San Pedro in Cebu City, PhilippinesThe fort was turned over to Cebuanos by American Commodore George Dewey after the decisive Battle of Manila Bay, which happened on May 1, 1898 or a few days after war was declared between Spain and the United States. The fort at one time or another also became the American Warwick Barracks during the American Regime, got turned into classrooms where Cebuanos received formal education from 1937 to 1941, used as prison camp and fortification for Japanese soldiers during World War II or from 1941 to 1945, served as hospital when battle for liberation was fought, and became an army camp from 1946 to 1950. The Cebu Garden Club took over and turned the inner part of the fort into a miniature garden in 1950 while its upper deck served as offices for government agencies. The fort courtyard was used as a zoo in 1957. In ruins and with only its two towers recognizable in 1968, the fort underwent restoration. Coral stones from under the seas of Cebu's coastal towns were used to restore the fort to make it as close to the original as possible. Fort San Pedro is now a museum-park where Spanish artifacts, documents, paintings, sculptures, sword fragments, cannons, and helmets and Ming porcelain pieces of various sizes are displayed. Visitors pay a nominal 10-peso fee to enter the tourism landmark. The fort is located in Barangay San Roque in Cebu City. In front of the fort is another city landmark, the Plaza Independencia, and to its side is the Cebu Central Post Office, which is near Pier 1. How to get there The easiest way to get there if you're taking public transport is by riding a taxi. All cab drivers know where it is. From the uptown area, it's a 70 pesos taxi ride. If youu're taking the cab from Lapu-Lapu City, the ride may cost you 180 pesos. If you want to go there Pinoy style, take the Philippine icon of mass transportation, the jeepney. Several jeepneys have routes that pass the place. Look for jeepneys with Pier 2 or Plaza signboards in their windshields. More photos, click on images to enlarge: View from top of Fort San Pedro Fort San Pedro outpost Fort San Pedro museum marker Fort San Pedro entrance Fort San Pedro cannon