Cebu was discovered by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. He was received by the native chieftain, Humabon, who shortly after converted to Christianity along with his queen, Juana, and about 400 followers through baptism by Fr. Pedro Valderama. Magellan planted a cross to signify this important event and the propagation of the Catholic faith.To commemorate the conversion, Magellan gave the queen a statue of the child Jesus (Santo Niño).
Today, a shrine for the remains of the cross still stands where the first Filipino Christians converted. Called the Magellan’s cross, it is now a major landmark and symbol of Christianity in the country.
Filipinos flock to Cebu in January to celebrate the annual feast of the Santo Niño. This inspired the creation of the biggest religious and cultural festival in the Philippines called the Sinulog, a pageantry of faith to honor the Sto. Niño.
Cebu is often called the “Queen City of the South” and the “Seat of Christianity in Asia”, it is the Philippine’s oldest city.
Cebuanos are proud of their cultural and historical heritage, a legacy which has endured through centuries from the time the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first planted the cross on Cebu’s shores. Owing to this historical past and the preservation of its cultural heritage, Cebu was conferred by ASEAN as the “City of Culture” in 2011.
Time has been kind to Cebu. From Zubu, the fishing village and busy port in 1521, it has evolved into a highly urbanized and vibrant metropolis and a trading gateway to Asia. Cebu has the highest economic growth rate anywhere in the Philippines and the center of the creative industry in the country owing to its flourishing furniture, fashion accessories, gifts, toys and houseware sectors. Cebu is also a shopping paradise and the Philippine’s premier tourist attraction.
In contrast to the bustling city, the rest of Cebu’s 167 islets and islands are lined with idyllic white sand beaches and pristine clear waters. Cebu has gained wide popularity for its fantastic dive grounds where resorts offer world-class accommodations and excellent diving facilities. Moreover, Conde Nast Traveler, an international magazine that specializes in luxury travel has ranked Cebu as the 8th best island destination in Asia in 2011 and with other Visayan Islandsin the top 5 rank as best island destination in Asia for 2012, it cited that Cebu and the Visayan Islands as “having it all with the friendliest people anywhere in the world.”