Cebu City is the second most significant metropolitan center in the Philippines and known as the oldest city established by the Spaniards in the country. It is located on the eastern shore of Cebu and was the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. Cebu is the Philippines’ main domestic shipping port and is home to about 80% of the country’s domestic shipping companies. Cebu also holds the second largest international flights in the Philippines and is a significant centre of commerce, trade and industry in the Visayas and Mindanao region. According to the 2007 Philippine census, the city has a population of about 798,809 people. Cebu City is the centre of a metropolitan area called Metro Cebu, which includes the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay. Metro Cebu has a total population of about 2 million people. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport, located in Lapu-Lapu City is only a twenty-minute drive away from Cebu City. To the northeast of the city are Mandaue City and the town of Consolacion, to the west are Toledo City, the towns of Balamban and Asturias, to the south are Talisay City and the town of Minglanilla. Across Mactan Strait to the east is Mactan Island where Lapu-Lapu City and an aquarium attraction are located.
Tourism continues to contribute much to the city’s economy, not just of the city itself, but to the entire province. Because of this, the city hosted the 1998 ASEAN Tourism Forum. The city also hosted the East Asian Tourism Forum on August 2002, in which the province of Cebu is a member and signatory.
On early 2007, Cebu Plaza hotel was formally reopened under a new name, Marco Polo Plaza, after more than two years of closure. The hotel complex was formerly occupied by Cebu Plaza which was the first deluxe hotel in the province. It opened in the early 1980s and was viewed by some as a symbol of the province’s economic growth.
There are a number of significant Spanish colonial buildings in Cebu City, including the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, Fort San Pedro, Casa Gorordo Museum and Magellan’s Cross.
There are a number of shopping centres in the city, the most popular of which are the SM City Cebu, Ayala Center Cebu, Robinsons Place and Gaisano Malls. There are also other smaller shopping centres and stand-alone department stores. Throughout the years however, the establishment of large shopping centres offers some sort of a town centre environment which have become popular. Recent development and expansion of existing shopping centres have also given the shoppers a new variety of choices in the city such as SM Cebu’s “Northwing”, a multi-level annex building with multilevel parking and Ayala Center Cebu’s “Leisure Oasis”, a development that consists of redefining Cebu’s shopping experience through the newly re-designed Ayala Shopping complex. There is also the Carbon Market, a farmer’s market in the city and the famous “Dried Mango” food.
Cebu City is considered as one of the most progressive cities in the Philippines. About 80 percent of the island vessels operating in the country are also based there. Recently, the entry of business process outsourcing (BPO) firms such as call centres have contributed much to the growth of the local economy. BPO sites are scattered throughout the city. During the last years of the 1980s, growth has been spread to the countryside. Thus the name Queen City of the south, which was formerly held by Ilo-ilo City, is being used by Cebu City now. Aside from shellcrafts, rattan furnitures and stonecraft, tourism may well rake in dollars.
The Cebu Metropolitan Area has all the necessary infrastructures sufficient enough for its pace of urbanization. The city is readily accessible by air via the Mactan-Cebu International Airport located in Lapu-Lapu City which has direct international flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China, Qatar, South Korea and other domestic destinations. There are many international and cargo airlines flying to Cebu, such as Cathay Pacific, Silk Air, Qatar Airways, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and FedEx Express, 2GO, and Pacific East Asia Cargo Airlines respectively. There are also direct transfer flights via the capital’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport that readily connects the city to other destinations in the world.
The city is served by a domestic and international port which are handled by the Cebu Port Authority. Much of the city’s waterfront is actually occupied by the port with around 3.5 kilometers of berthing space. The domestic port readily gives access to nearby islands and provinces. The city’s central location makes it an ideal shipping hub. It is also home to more than 80% of the country’s island vessels traveling in domestic routes mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao.
The South Road Properties (SRP) is a 300-hectare prime property development project on a reclaimed land located a few metres off the coast of Cebu’s central business district. It is registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and is funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation(JBIC). Traversing the property is a 12 kilometres, four-lane highway known as the Cebu Coastal Road that provides the motorists with a good view of Cebu’s south coast and the nearby island of Bohol.
The Philippines has always been known for its very warm and friendly people. Once you go to a hotel or even visit a nearby province, you will always be greeted with smiles and hospitability. What better way to accentuate and feel this warmth given to a tourist by joining or visiting one of the Philippines numerous festivals.
The Philippines all throughout the year will always have different festivities to show you their people’s hospitability. One of the famous festivals in the Philippines is the Sinulog festival which is held every Jan 13 to the 19th. Sinulog is actually a dance festival or ritual that is done in honor of the holy Child or Sto. Nino. The dance ritual is actually based from the sounds of the drum where one would need to move one step backward and two steps forward. The dance movement resembles the current of Cebu’s Pahina River, thus having the name Sinulog in Cebuano.
The Sinulog festival is abundant in color, sound, pageantry, and movement. The roots of this festival can be traced to the emotional attachment to the Sto. Nino by a lot of Cebu’s inhabitants. The dance’s evolution started out from the rhythmic movement of the elders while praying to the image’s sanctuary. The sanctuary is beautiful church that has an elaborate structure located near the waterfront of Cebu.
Believers and unbelievers are all drawn to the festival to be merry and just have fun. There is something for everyone during this celebration. For the faithful, they can be having their pilgrimage, homage and prayer. To those who are just visiting, the entertainment is great.
As stated earlier, the Sinulog festival is one of the most attended in the Philippines. This is because of the great street drama dancing performances. The dancing performances are all about the battle of Saint Miguel and Lucifer that is based on the catechetical legend.
In the Philippines, the tiger city most compared to these four (Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea) is Cebu. Cebu is the hub of such export-oriented industries as electronics and semiconductor devices, garments, furniture, and fashion accessories. One would have expected to see Cebu follow the same fate as our industrialized neighbors. But Cebu is defying the negative trends and is managing to grow even at above the national average of 4 percent. The explanation is that Cebu has diversified its economy over the last five years to include a great deal of tourism, especially domestic tourism, that actually is increasing during the crisis. It also has become, together with Mumbai in India, as the leading center for business process outsourcing in the world today. Because of the tens of thousands who are being employed in BPO enterprises, the demand for office space has just exploded. Cebu stands out among the industrialized cities of Asia as enjoying a real estate boom while the rest of the world is experiencing the biggest real state bubble in more than two decades. All around Cebu, there is construction going on at a frenetic rate.
Cebu’s defying the global trends is not some thing new. In previous downturns, like the one that occurred just before the end of the Marcos regime in the early 1980s (a recession that a recent visiting economist from IESE Business School considers even worse than the ongoing global crisis), Cebu was being hailed as the Island in the Pacific, decoupled from the rest of the Philippines. A major factor for this resilience of Cebu is its above-average pool of entrepreneurs, especially among the Filipino-Chinese population. For centuries, Cebu has been used to the very essence of capitalism, which as economist Joseph Schumpeter said was subject to the process of creative destruction. Industries come and go. The sunrise industries of today will become the sunset industries of tomorrow. It is the role of the entrepreneurs to start new industries as the old one disappear. The people of Cebu know how to roll with the punches. They never stand still.
The most notable example is what is happening to work force in Cebu. As many of the export-oriented manufactures like electronics, car parts, and semiconductor devices move to China, Vietnam and other countries with lower costs of labor and more efficient infrastructures, the share of labor force in such services as BPOs, tourism, and logistics, has been increasing. Abirger service-oriented sector that is bound to expand in Cebu is education. It will become even more an education center of the South. Also expected to boom in the next few years is the retirement village industry. Because of its accessibility to the major cities of Asia, Cebu will be very attractive to the retired citizens of such aging populations as the Japanese, South Koreans, Taiwanese, Europeans and the returning balikbayans. Its transformation will be emulated by similar regions such as Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
The leaders of Cebu – both in the public and private sectors – must be congratulated for shaping a truly market-oriented economy where private enterprise leads and the government supplies the much needed infrastructures, peace and order, and other basic social services that helped to make Cebu as one of the competitive cities in the whole Philippines. I am positive that Cebu will continue to outpace the national average in the GDP growth.
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