Cebu is one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines primarily due to its pristine beaches, shopping districts and top notch resorts. As one of the most highly developed city in the country, The Queen City of the South is the main hub of Education, Trade, Business Process Outsourcing, Commerce, and Industry in the Visayas region.
With a goal of offering a seamless and organized heritage tour to local and foreign tourists, the Cebu City Tourism Commission designed the Pasiyo sa Kabilin or heritage walk that wanders through the remaining ruins of the old city now surrounded by the urban development of Cebu. Fortunately, Cebu still retains some of its Spanish character within its old settlements, places of worship and plaza’s.
On our second day in Cebu, we got the chance to visit some of the heritage sites of Cebu. From Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort, we went straight to Fort San Pedro – the Philippines oldest and smallest port area to start our tour. It was constructed by the Spaniards in order to fight off attacks from natives as well as pirates of the Philippine seas. Construction was completed in 1738, over 200 years after it started.
From Fort San Pedro, we headed to Magellans Cross by riding a “Tartanilla” following the heritage map of Cebu. Tartanilla for the unfamiliar is a horse drawn carriage that has been part of Cebu’s colorful past. A version of Manila’s Kalesa, Tartanilla is a four seater carriage that is still a popular mode of transportation in Cebu.
Magellan’s Cross is a Christian cross that was planted by the Portuguese and Spanish explorers under direct orders from Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. The cross can now be visited in a chapel located next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino just in front of the Cebu City Hall.
The Basilica del Santo Niño is a church built in the 16th century which exists on the same spot where the image of the Santo Nino was found preserved in a burned wooden box that had been left behind after the Magellan expedition.
The city of Cebu was established as a diocese in 1595 and became an archdiocese in 1934 and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is now the current ecclesiastic seat of the Archdiocese of Cebu. A mausoleum was added towards the back of the sacristy in 1982 which now serves as a final resting place for many of Cebu’s bishops and clergy. From the Cathedral, we visited the Cathedral Museum of Cebu – an ecclesiastical museum of Roman Catholic Archdiocese located few steps from the Cathedral.
A must see stop in Cebu is Colon Street. This street was also built by the Spaniards and was named after Cistobal Colon or you may know him as Christopher Columbus. Colon Street is the womb, center and heart of Cebu, located downtown and known for its glittering nightlife consisting of movie houses, restaurants, stores, hotels and other local businesses.
Once a residential district in the center of Cebu, the Parian of Cebu has survived many identity transformations. It began as a ghetto but as long since evolved into a marketplace and active center of trade. These days it is more of an inner-city blue collar neighborhood, its oldest residents having moved into other parts of their country, although you can still see the Gorordo family home which has been transformed into a museum.
From colon street, we visited the Jesuit house of 1730 which can be found on the heritage walk as well although it is hidden behind very high walls of Ho Tong Hardware warehouse and can only be scene from a very specific location on Colon Street near the Obelisk. It is said to be the oldest dated house in the country and today to view the home you need specific permission from the home’s current owners.
The Yap Sandiego Ancestral home is a well maintained museum located in the Parian neighborhood just a few steps north of the Cebu Heritage monument. Built in the 1600’s by Chinese merchants, it is recognized as the oldest existing residential structures in the Philippines and one of the oldest in Asia.
Our Cebu Heritage Walk ended with a visit to the Casa Gorordo. This house was built in the 19th century as was bought by Juan Isidro de Gorordo in 1863. The house has been restored and it showcases the elegant lifestyle at the turn of the century.
After the heritage tour, we had our lunch in one of my favorite restaurants in Cebu – CNT Lechon. We were all 12 in the group, we had 3 kilos of freshly roasted lechon, Tuna Sinigang, Chicharon Bulaklak and Kinilaw as appetizer, Countless bottles of Coke Litro and the best of all – new Cebuano friends.
Before we head back to Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort – our official residence in Cebu, we visited Tabuan Market for some pasalubong shopping. Tabuan Market is a popular tourist stop in Cebu where you can buy variety of dried fish, dried mangoes, otap and other Cebu delicacies.
On your next Cebu Trip, make sure to book for a guided “Cebu Heritage Walk” for fun, easy, organized and educational tour of Cebu’s Heritage sites.