What you need to know about Cebu City

·5 min read

IN CELEBRATION of the 84th Charter Day of Cebu City, SunStar Cebu collected some old and not so old facts about the Queen City of the South, which you may have already known or never heard of at all.

Did you know about these facts?

1. Cebu City is the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.

Historian William Henry Scott, in his book "Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino: and other essays in Philippine history," said that on June 4, 1565, Rajah Tupas, the last Rajah of Cebu, signed the Treaty of Cebu with Spanish navigator Miguel Lopez de Legazpi after being defeated by the colonizers. The treaty made Cebu the first and the oldest Spanish settlement in the Philippines.

2. The oldest street in the country is in Cebu City.

The National Historical Institute has recognized Colon Street as a historical landmark, being the oldest street in the country. On May 17, 1999, an obelisk was erected at the end of Colon, declaring the city's main thoroughfare as a national landmark.

Inscriptions on the obelisk say: "Colon St., known also as Parian, is the oldest street in the Philippines. It was built by the Spaniards who arrived in Cebu in 1565 on the fleet composed of the vessels San Pedro, San Pablo and San Juan under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi."

The street was named after Italian explorer Christopher Columbus whose Spanish name is Cristóbal Colón.

3. Cebu City is the home to the oldest surviving Catholic relic.

Rene R. Escalante, chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, in an online message on January 30, 2021, announced that the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu Church and the image of the Sto. Niño are to be declared as national cultural treasures by the National Museum on April 14, 2021.

The image of the Sto. Niño is considered the oldest surviving Catholic religious relic dating back to 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan gave it as a gift to Hara Humamay, the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño website said.

In 1565, it was found in a burning hut by Juan Camus, one of the soldiers of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. It was later entrusted to the Augustinian missionaries who until now are still the caretakers of the image.

4. The oldest fort in the country is found in Cebu City.

Dubbed by tourism officials as “The Grand Dame of Cebu City Heritage Sites,” Fort San Pedro, both a garrison and fort, was built by Spanish and native Cebuano workers under the command of Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.

Fort San Pedro, or the Fuerte de San Pedro, is considered the smallest but oldest triangular fort in the country. Two sides of the fort are facing the sea. When it was still an active fort, cannons protected the two sides while a strong wooden fence protected the front side of the fort.

Filipino revolutionaries took over the fort at the end of the 19th century. It was later used as an army camp by the Americans during World War II.

5. The biggest and grandest festival in the country is celebrated in Cebu City.

Cebu City is home to what is considered the biggest and grandest festival in the country, which is held every third week of January. Both religious and cultural activities highlight the monthlong celebration.

Sinulog dates back to the pre-Spanish period when Cebuano natives dance in honor of their wooden idols and anitos.

When Ferdinand Magellan gifted Rajah Humabon and Hara Humamay the image of the Sto. Niño, Cebu natives continue to dance the Sinulog in reverence to the image.

In 1981, David S. Odilao Jr., then regional director of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, organized the first-ever Sinulog parade.

6. Cebu had trains and Cebu City served as the central station.

Yes, Cebu had trains. It was operated and built by the Philippine Railway Construction Company. The railway spanned 90 kilometers, linking Danao in the north and Argao in the south of the province with Cebu City serving as the central station. The railway was heavily damaged during World War II and stopped operation.

7. The Philippines had a Cebuano president.

Born in Cebu City on Sept. 9, 1878, Sergio Osmeña Sr. was the first Cebuano president and the fourth President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.

Osmeña was instrumental in gaining commonwealth status in 1935 after heading missions to the United States to argue the country's independence.

A second placer in the Philippine Bar Examination, Osmeña founded the Nationalista Party.

He also founded El Nuevo Dia, a Cebu-based newspaper in the 1900s.

8. "Best pig, ever."

Cebu is almost synonymous with lechon, or roasted pig, which famous Chef Anthony Bourdain referred to as the "Best pig, ever."

Bourdain's description of Cebu lechon is just an affirmation of the Cebuanos' claim of having the best lechon in the archipelago, if not the world.

Bourdain flew to Cebu in October 2008 for his program "No Reservations, Philippines" and to have a taste of the famous Cebu lechon.

9. Cebuanos “hang” their rice (puso).

If you have lechon then it will never be complete without "puso" or hanging rice on the side.

Historians' documentation showed that puso was already used by the natives before the Spanish arrival.

A study made by Reynaldo Inocian of Cebu Normal University said puso was used as a ritual object among the village farmers in Taptap, a mountain barangay of Cebu City.

Here is how to make puso:

10. Cebu had a revolving restaurant.

The 15-storey-high LUDO and LUYM building on the corners of Osmena Boulevard and Plaridel Street was once the tallest building in southern Philippines.

Constructed in the early 60s and completed in the 70s, the building was LUDO and LUYM's office building.

It was not just the tallest building; it was also a Cebu landmark, which boasted of the only revolving restaurant in the country.

It was also once the home of television giant GMA and Shoemart (SM) before it was converted into Sundowner Hotel and later The Centrepoint Hotel. (MVG)

Sources: PSA, Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, NHI, Cebu Normal University, Philippines Railways, SunStar Archive, @SkyScraperCity-Cebu