About an hour’s flight away from Manila is Cebu. It is an island in central Philippines with Cebu City as its capital. The island is long and thin with a few smaller islands off-shore. The airport is located on the flat island of Mactan which is separated from the main island by the narrow Mactan Channel. Cebu City is one of the main centres of commerce, trade and industry in the Visayas and Mindanao region of the country. Because of this and other important aspects that Cebu City was given the moniker Queen City of the South.For local and foreign tourist, there are many places of interest in Cebu. One is “Magellan's Cross” which was named after Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer who came to Cebu in the early 1500s. Pieces of the original cross are believed to be encased in the present cross. The monument is just across the street from the Sto. Niño Basilica in downtown Cebu City. It used to be the only Catholic Basilica in East Asia. The basilica houses the famous “Santo Niño” the patron saint of the Cebuanos.
Another place to see is the Spanish “Fort San Pedro” which is where the Lapu-lapu shrine is (Punta Engaño) it is also where the Battle of Mactan took place.
The “Taoist Temple” is also a good place to drop by. One can see the entire city on top of the hill. Then rent a cab to “The Top” a small park on top of a mountain where one can spend a few hours while having a drink or two. During sunset and at night you can see glowing lights from the buildings and houses below the mountain.
If one likes to try the local produce, go to Carbon Market, which carried a variety of fresh vegetables and delicious fruits.
If you happened to be in Cebu City in January, don’t miss the “Sinulog Festival” – held every third week of January, it is the fiesta of Sto. Niño (Child Christ). The celebrations consist of a fabulous procession of the image of the Child Jesus followed by devotees of Sto. Niño. After which, a fluvial procession takes place. There is also a parade of magnificent floats along the main roads of Cebu City followed by local groups in colorful costumes, dancing and chanting along the route. Sinulog Festival is marked by street dancing by tourist and locals alike under the constant beating of drums. This festival is the Philippine version of Mardi gras. During Sinulog week, all hotels in Cebu City are fully booked. So if you plan to attend the festival, book way ahead of time.
The year long attraction to many tourist to Cebu are its beaches. One can find many beaches throughout the island; north and south of Cebu City. And just across the city on Mactan Island (where the airport is located), are several beach side resorts, hotels, bars and restaurants. Mactan Island boast of world class diving spots to please the diving enthusiast.
To get to Cebu City, one can take the many ferry boats that ply the Manila-Cebu route (about 23 hours) at the Port of Manila -if you are on a leisurely vacation. But to get there fast, catch any of the airlines that fly almost hourly to Cebu at the Manila Domestic Airport (all airlines except PAL) or the Centennial Terminal (for Philippine Airlines only).