The Queen City of the South, Cebu City, has been getting a lot of attention as of late because of the magnitude 7.2 quake that hit the Central Visayas region October 15, 2013. While the cause of the attention is heartbreaking, we’d like to lighten things up a bit by taking you through some of the top attractions in Cebu City which, fortunately, can still be enjoyed by the traveling public.
We’ve come up with some of the best attractions in Cebu City which, we dare say, must not be missed when visiting. They are posted in no particular order and if you feel like you need to add something, please do not hesitate to leave a comment in the box below.
The original cross (encased in a wooden cross) is on display inside a marble chapel just outside the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. The chapel itself is an attraction, featuring a painted ceiling with depictions of the conquistadores’ arrival in Philippine shores. The marble inscription says “This Cross of Tindalo wood encases the original cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan on this very site April 21, 1521.” Whether or not the original cross is still there remains a mystery and only adds to the allure of the said attraction.
Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu
Enter the stone archway a few steps from Magellan’s Cross and you will behold the grand Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu. The basilica is the oldest Catholic Church in the Philippines, built on what is believed to be the very site where the Santo Niño de Cebu image was found during the Spanish era. That very image still exists to this day, displayed in a separate chamber at the left side of the main church where devotees line up pay homage to it.
Masses during some days are celebrated at the Pilgrim Center right in front of the Basilica; this is also where devotees converge during the religious festival Sinulog held every January. The recent earthquake caused the belfry and the church façade to collapse but plans to restore them are already in place. Aside from the centuries-old building, altar and images, another main attraction in the basilica complex are the women clothed in red, carrying colored candles and dancing “Sinulog”. They are supposed to offer a prayer to Santo Niño on your behalf and the color of the candle to be used depends on your intentions. The Basilica is a perhaps #1 of the top attractions in Cebu for religious travelers.
Cebu City may be the seat of Catholicism in the Philippines but it has opened its doors to different cultures and religions. So it comes as no surprise that one of the top attractions in Cebu is the Taoist Temple located in Beverly Hills Subdivision, an upscale neighborhood in Lahug. While the temple is considered sacred ground by followers of the Taoist tradition, most of the places in the complex are accessible to everyone, with the exception of the main temple which one can only enter when in proper clothing.
Most visitors enter and ascend 81 steps to the main temple from which, on a clear day, you can see the stunning cityscape. To the right is a replica of a dragon, the Great Wall of China and all over the place are a good number of pagodas adorned by the same Chinese mythical creature. There is also a wishing well, a souvenir shop and plenty of interesting corners that make for good “selfie” backgrounds.
Crown Regency Sky Adventures
If you came to Cebu for some adventure, this attraction would certainly fit the bill. Ask your guide or cab driver to take you to Crown Regency Hotel and Towers, the tallest skyscraper in the city. There you can participate in a wide array of adrenaline rush-inducing adventures like the Sky Walk Extreme (37th floor), Edge Coaster (38th floor) and the Drop Zone (40th-45th floors).
People with cases of vertigo are strongly advised not to proceed as this experience might have you on your knees in no time. Even just the view from the Sky Observatory on the 38th floor will blow your mind, or make you sick in the stomach (if you have fear of heights). Tip: time your tour around dusk so you can fully appreciate the beauty of the Cebu City skyline. Don’t forget to bring a camera!
Colon Street and Taboan Market
Colon is the oldest street in the Philippines and it is still functional to this day. Colon is located at the heart of downtown Cebu, surrounded by shopping centers of different scales and age. If you’re coming from the Capitol area going to the Basilica, you would most likely have to pass by Colon. There’s nothing much to do on this street except to shop, eat street food and take interesting photos of the locals but of course, the history is enough.
Just a short distance from Colon is Taboan, the fish market famous for its nasty odor and abundance of danggit, pusit and all sorts of dried sea food for sale. If you can get past the smell and venture into the market, you would find that it is a great place for buying pasalubong (take-home goodies). Just don’t forget to ask the vendor to vacuum seal your “buwad” for it to be admitted at the airport.
At this point it would be safe to conclude that most of the OLDEST things in the Philippines can be found in Cebu. Sugbo, as it is lovingly called by the locals, is a melting pot of historical sites that have amazingly blended in with modern architecture. The city is a great base for exploring the entire island province, too. See you around!