Do You Know of Cebu's Fascinating History?
I love the Philippines. In particular, I’m nuts about Cebu, one of the country’s amazing, most colorful cities. My memory of Cebu haunts me like the old romantic song of Dean Martin that beckons … “Return to me.” And I do. Every chance I get to travel to Southeast Asia, where my job periodically takes me, I sort of sneak-in at least a 2-day side trip to Cebu.
Like most countries colonized by the Spanish “conquistadores” dating back to the 16th century, the Philippine archipelago, made up of more than 7,000 islands, isles and islets teeming with lush greenery and long, meandering beaches covered by fine, beige-colored and some, by pure, powdery white sands, has become an Asian-Pacific melting pot. Among its residents and transients today, one will find the old-rich Spanish families, obviously from generations of the early Spanish “Peninsulares” , and World War II-scarred Americans, who, with an entrepreneurial mind had either set-up small to medium-sized businesses or married into middle class Filipino families. There are the British and other European nationals who had the foresight to appreciate the great potential the country’s resources held. During the latter years, other Asians like the Chinese, Japanese, South Koreans and Taiwanese began to feel so comfortable in this rich Philippine soil they started to pitch their own tents and transformed these eventually into what are now strongly, thriving communities contributing to the nation’s modern-day growth.
Through the years, inter-marriages among these nationalities and “the natives” (colloquially known as Pinoys) had brought forth a flurry of beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous Filipino girls, winning crowns in world-renown beauty and talent pageants… one of the top reasons I keep coming back to Cebu. But hey! That’s another story. For now, I’d like to take you on an intriguing look-see into the fascinating history of Cebu.
It was in 1521, that the first ever European to arrive in the Philippines, Ferdinand Magellan was recorded. He planted a giant black cross to symbolize the coming of the Roman Catholic Faith in a sacred spot, around which a small chapel was built on what is now known as Magallanes St. in Metropolitan Cebu. This marked the beginning of Christianization in Asia. Interestingly, much like the Sistine Chapel, The ceiling of this quaint little chapel had paintings depicting various eras and events of Cebu’s history. Magellan’s Cross remains in the very same spot where it was supposed to have been originally planted but its protective wooden overlay, said to have been chipped away by people, believing it had miraculous healing powers had been damaged and now has been encased in Tindalo wood and properly secured. Magellan’s Cross is located in front of the old Cebu City Hall building.
Known to be one of the most revered Filipino figures in history, Lapu-Lapu is considered Philippines’ earliest hero for resisting foreign domination. At the time, the chieftain of the area, Lapu-lapu and his men defeated Ferdinand Magellan, leader of the Spanish fleet and his troops in the famous Battle of Mactan. The Lapu-lapu monument stands within the Mactan Shrine facing Magellan Bay in Lapu-lapu City.
Basilica Minore Del Sto.Nino De Cebu
Built in 1565, by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Father Andres de Urdaneta, this basilica houses the oldest and most celebrated relic in Philippine Christian history: The image of Senor Santo Nino (Infant Jesus). This was actually a present given to the reigning Queen Juana by Ferdinand Magellan during her baptism in April of 1521. Sometime after, a fire destroyed the structure but was rebuilt in 1602 and restored in 1740. In a novena every Friday, thousands of devotees kneel and pray at the Basilica and every 3rd week of January a giant celebration known as The Sinulog Festival, much like a Mardi Gras is held throughout Cebu.
Other Historical Sites In Cebu
Several other historical spots from which may be gleaned facets of Cebu’s rich story are Fort San Pedro, the oldest triangular bastion in the country, Colon Street, built by the Spaniards and is known to be the oldest street in the Philippines, Casa Gorordo Museum, home of the first Filipino Bishop of Cebu, University of San Carlos, founded in 1565, by Spanish Jesuits, known to be the oldest university in the country and several other rustic, centuries-old churches standing in wait to be discovered by the curious tourist or history student.
I have seen and experienced practically all these sights and after all this time I still am in awe as I relive vicariously, so to speak, their fascinating behind-the-scene stories.