It wasn’t called the Queen City of the South for no reason. Cebu is a hub for business, a modern fashion and lifestyle center which mirrors that of Metro Manila, a convincingly authentic metropolis but with a provincial feel, a great bucket of food and treats, of historical and political significance, a local and international tourism destination and so much more.
This royal visage is quite interestingly interspersed with a rich array of a common man’s routine, equally enjoyable. For one, instead of taking the cab, one can take the jeepneys parading with a variety of numbers supposedly to denote route, probably a unique feature of public transportation in Cebu. The cab and the jeepneys travel the same road anyway.
Instead of checking-in at Raddison or any hotel at the heart of Cebu, one may opt to live a little outside its busy streets. Pier Cuatro is a budget accommodation, but will provide all the necessities from buffet breakfast, good wifi connection for this social media generation, clean rooms and very polite staff.
Cebu City is the oldest city in the country, Christianized by the Spaniards in 1521. To this day, the Magellan’s cross erected near the Basilica of Sto. Nino is a symbol of that conversion, and pins down old and contemporary rituals of candles and chants. It may perhaps be called the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines.
But tourists are equally attracted to the fact that that cradle of Christianity is also the abode of Taoism. The Taoist temple of Beverly hills is open to the public, not necessarily to convert people to the faith, but most probably to share that rich culture of Lao Zi of long ago. The 81 steps, for example, is a symbol of the 81 chapters of the Tao scriptures.
When dining, one always have a choice. A royal luncheon at Kuya Jay’s at SM Cebu or a, personally, much enjoyable dinner of Cebu’s famous Lechon at a local bazaar at the outskirts of Ayala Center can both deliver that gastronomic dynamite in your mouth and drill itself into your memory. Besides, any food becomes surprisingly bland without great companion to devour them.
After a while, proceed to either the high-end French bakery La Vie Parisienne to splurge into the aroma of pastries, cheeses and wine, or to the quiet Dolce Cafe of Nivel Hills to chill and relax with milktea in your hands.
One thing I find so interesting about the people is that they speak good English. I think the Filipino accent can either be the normal English which the rest of the country knows of, and then there’s Cebuano English, the two perhaps analogous to American and British English, respectively.
Whether it’s for vacation or for a long-term residence, visit Cebu and be amazed by the rich culture and allow it to ricochet back to our being Filipinos. This third visit of mine to this city is memorable, for a good number of reasons. A bunch of friends plus a true spirit of a traveler will take you to both the lavish and the thrift lanes of the city. It’s up to you, really, which to call royal and which is common.