Cebu may be known abroad as haven for divers and dried fish. But beyond that, it will always be recognized in Philippine history not only as the country's cradle of Christianity but of Asia.
When I mentioned to my family that we will meet them in Cebu, everyone especially our two little kiddos (RM and LJ) got very excited. Based on our city tour itinerary, RM did an online search on early Philippine history. He also researched on things that we will see on our tour. The two kids also sang a popular novelty song about Lapu-Lapu and Magellan to their Ninong Christian.
Cebu and the Early Spanish Expedition in the Philippines
For those who are not familiar to Philippine history, Lapu-Lapu is a chieftain of Mactan. He best known as the first Filipino hero who fought against Spanish inquisition. Ferdinand Magellan lead the first group of Spanish expedition in the country. He is a Portuguese navigator who pledged allegiance to the King of Spain. In March 1521, his group accidentally found the island of Homonhon in search of the Spice Islands. Their first attempt to forge friendship with the locals was a success. They were able to convince Rajah Siaui and his brother Rajah Kulambu to embrace Christianity. Hence as a celebration, the first mass was held in Limasawa on March 31, 1521. After that he also forged friendship with Rajah Humabon of Cebu. But he was unsuccessful in conquering Mactan and was even killed by Lapu-Lapu.
Historic Cebu Day Tour
On our second day in Cebu, my friend Bernadette arranged for us a twin city tour. This package includes a guided tour to main tourist spots in the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Cebu. Around 9:00 in the morning, we met our guide at the lobby of Crimson. Thannya, our guide, first gave a brief intro of our day's activities as we head to our first destination.
Alegre Guitar Factory
Cebu is also popular for its handmade guitars. We visited the Alegre Guitar Factory which one of the pioneer makers of guitars in the country. Despite having the "factory" word in its name, the place was very homey. For me it is more like visiting a craftsman's studio rather than an industrial facility.
A staff from the guitar factory welcomed us and toured us around. He showed us the different types of wood they use from the local mango to imported Canadian Spruce. He also toured us inside the display room/shop and even played a song for us. On our way out, we bought a small guitar for RM to practice with.
Next stop, we paid homage to Lapu-Lapu at Mactan Shrine. The adults in our group were as excited as the two kids when Thannya mentioned our next destination. The lush green inside the shrine helped us feel refreshed from the burning sun. Walking around was great especially when we saw the place (or part of it) where the Battle of Mactan happened in 1521.
Our historic tour continued as we headed to Cebu City. Like Manila, the city's infrastructures have great Spanish and American influences. Similarly, influx of modern buildings start to sprout everywhere due to rapid development. Luckily it was a Sunday. The traffic was smooth. Maybe it was also because of the Mayweather fight.
We first went to Taoist Temple. It is a Chinese temple located inside a gated community. Thannya gave us some informative background and history as we tour around the temple compounds. We also had an opportunity to learn a simple ritual before praying for a wish. The temple has also a great view of Cebu skyscrapers from afar.
Parian Heritage Monument
After our hearty and "putok-batok" buffet lunch, we continued driving around the city. As an urban planner, it is very interesting to see how the city was built and how it develops over time.
We then headed to Parian, a small town near Mactan coast. Compared to Mactan Shrine, the Parian Heritage Monument is a little away from the limelight. Maybe for some, they would not even bother to stop and look at it as it is very similar to a usual small plaza.
The Parian Monument is a 360-degree sculpture conceptualized by multi-awarded sculptor Eduardo Castrillo. It features the different facets of Cebu history from pre-Hispanic up to the present. I greatly admire the artist put every part of it. Each fragment is very detailed while the whole work is in harmony. As you look at one fragment, your focus is not destructed by other fragments. And as we walked around it, Thannya facilitated a Q&A game.
Yap-San Diego Ancestral House
After a brief yet very fun time at the monument, we walked across to the Yap-San Diego Ancestral House. It is a 350-year old house which is habitable up to now. According to our guide, the current owner still sleep there.
Magellan's Cross and Basilica Del Sto. Niño
As we reached the Basilica Del Sto. Niño, it reminded me that we are indeed in a tourist spot as big groups of people from different countries crowd the place. Same with a number of buses full of Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese tourists.
In front of the Basilica is a small gazebo that houses the Magellan's Cross. According to Thannya, it is the original cross brought by Magellan's crusade. Local authorities covered it with hard wood for protection and safety.
A few steps away is the entrance to the Basilica compounds. And because it is a Sunday, thee were a lot of people waiting for the mass to start.
Feasting on Fish and Other Seafood
After our day's tour, we met our friend Kathleen for dinner. We went to Isla Sugbo, a seafood restaurant similar to the Paluto restaurants in Manila. Paluto means you will "market" or choose the fish or seafood you want and then they will cook it for you based on your preference. We had a huge dinner because it is an unlimited buffet. We even missed our shuttle going back to the resort because we really enjoyed our time feasting on shrimps, crabs, and different types of fish.
As we head back to our hotel, everyone was quiet and almost sleeping. Indeed it was a great day of fun learning, meeting new friends, and catching up.