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Cebu City - A Must-Visit Place in the Philippines Known as the “Queen City of the South”

Filipinos are among of the bravest races in the world and the proof to that is the fact that Philippines was once ruled by mighty and intelligent Datu, Rajah, Lakan, and Sultan – brave warriors of our times. During the 16th century, a warrior named Lapu-Lapu defended his town Mactan against the colonizers Spaniards. It was the “Battle of Mactan” that made Cebu famous up to these days.

A portrait depicting the lives of the Filipinos during the coming of Spaniards

But what do we know more about Cebu? How did the Cebuanos live their life in the past? What makes them different from the rest of the Filipino people? While it is easy to dig deeper the history and culture of the island thru the internet, the pictures I am about to share in this post will help you appreciate more the content of this old city.

Catholic devotees in Cebu City churches

Ready to talk about Cebu City? Let’s go.

Museo Sugbo shares the rich history of Cebu during the pre-Spanish, Spanish, and American period. In these photos, you will see the Cebuano community before the Spaniards came and then the transformation when the Spaniards became rulers of the country.

During the Spanish occupation of entire country, Catholic churches were built in many towns across the land. The Galleon trade better known as the Manila-Acapulco trade between Spain and the Philippines introduced different products to the Filipinos.

When the Americans took over in the 20th century, newer technologies were brought here. The Filipino-American war happening in Visayas during that time reveals us that advanced communication equipment and weaponry owned by the Westerners really brought the Filipinos huge disadvantages over winning wars.

At Casa Gorordo is where you will see the significant impact of trades between the early Filipinos and people from Asia, Europe, and America. Formerly owned by a Spanish clan, the life of the rich in the Philippines during the old times is quite unbelievable as observed inside this historical house. Paintings, furniture, sculptures, books, utensils, artworks, and religious symbols can all be found inside the Gorordo’s house.

At the heart of Cebu City lies the symbolic monuments, churches, plazas, and parks built during the 1800s. The 300 years of Spanish occupation of the country resulted into these now popular landmarks in Cebu City.

What else can we know about Cebu centuries ago, during the Spanish and Americans settlement in the island?

Let’s open our eyes this time.

It is well recorded in history books that the Spanish rulers forced many Filipinos to work harder with low wages under the heat of the sun and coldness of the rain. The system is called “Polo” and the laborers are called “Polistas”. Those were the darkest days in the Philippine history where Filipinos were violently commanded to build those basilicas, bridges, stonewalls, roads, and ships for the benefit of the colonizers. To inject their culture and religion, millions of Filipinos suffered from this labor system. There could be something nice or appreciative in what these infrastructures have in them in these modern days, the reason they are popular, but behind those every old symbol of Filipino artisanship are blood, tears, sweat, and even lives.

During the American occupation, eventhough education system was introduced, still many of our Filipino bothers and sisters were denied of freedom and liberty. Remember the “Death March” and the endless wars against the Moros? We were treated unfairly on huge sugarcane plantations and large-scale mining and constructions too.

It would be inappropriate to include in this post the sad and terrifying stories of the Filipinos who fought the Spaniards and the Americans in search of freedom and democracy. But to pay tribute to their sacrifices and acts of heroism, I would like to speak on their behalf with this statement:

We build a country not our own, that’s the truth. Those heavy stones and gigantic timbers, high ceilings and bells, wide plazas and spacious churches, we built them out of our own innocent lives. We sacrificed our personal desires as a freeman, we left behind our families for days, weeks, months, and years just to serve those gobernador-heneral, emperador, queens, kings and highnesses while latigoes are hitting our bare backs over and over again. We were dead when a construction fails, when the transport of curved boulders from far forests and rivers to the town became tragedies. Please remember that our footprints, fingerprints, bones, and souls are part of those thick walls. Our memory of sacrifices remains for as long as these infrastructures stood still. We encourage you to continue fighting for our country against foreign oppressors and never such tragic moments in our history repeat again.

Cebu, like any other city or town in the Philippines, is a survivor of the cruelest colonization of a nation of the past. Let us not forget that.

On the lighter side, why Cebu is also known as the “Queen City of the South”?

Well, the simple answer is because it’s a progressive city situated in the Southern part of the Philippines. Cebu is a province in the Visayas region and in terms of economy, it is one of the most promising cities in the country. Many shipping and ship building companies are based here. Cebu City is also home to many furniture makers, the reason it has also got its name as the “Furniture Capital of the Philippines”. Mactan Export Processing Zone which is home to hundreds of multinational and local companies are giving the Cebuanos great jobs for many years already. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is also flourishing in this oldest city in the Philippines. Cebu City truly is a queen city in a lot of ways.

Still, it’s about our connection with Spain. History will tell that Cebu and Iloilo were once honored by the Queen of Spain for their people’s loyalty to the conqueror’s leadership. The title was first given to Iloilo and then as time goes on, to Cebu City, when the city earned the better reputation in terms of economic progress.

Nice local foods, perfect travel spots, and progressive economy, the city is truly worth the time and money to explore these days. Surrounded by seas, dried fish has been a common product sold in Cebu markets. Perhaps, the most interesting part of visiting this place is when you get acquainted with the local people. They have the more interesting stories to tell, captivating experience to share, and truthful memories to divulge. Learn a bit of the Cebuano dialect, book a flight, and go explore the amazing culture of the Cebuanos.

Credits: Photos of Cebu City I shared in this post are courtesy of my friends Wennie and Edward. The couple traveled to Cebu City on October 2017.

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About this Post
Perhaps, some of you might know only a little about the Philippines, even if you’re a local. From North to South, there is history buried underneath the grounds, inside secluded houses, locked in a treasure boxes, unnoticed in public places, shipwrecks hundred feet under the sea, and stocked in the minds of the native people. This post and plenty of other posts in this site is a primer on to how you are going to discover those histories that will reveal who the Filipinos really are, today and in the past. We are lucky enough to have these pictures from Cebu for they obviously tell a portion about the Cebuano’s rich history.

Bookmark this blog site and share our posts if you want to learn more about the Filipinos and our beautiful country the Philippines. You can also get in touch with the blogger, Noriel Panganiban, by leaving a comment below.

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