By JOHN LEGASPI
To be a queen is both an honor and a responsibility—that’s what we hear a lot from our Pinay queens. In history, queens are icons of beauty, prestige, and an ultimate symbol of women empowerment.
Queen Elizabeth II of the UK is known for her wit and stern leadership. France’s Marie Antoinette was among history’s many fashionable ladies. While in Egypt, where royalty is essentially a male domain, one queen, Hatshepsut, stood in power and became a pharaoh and ruled in her own name for years.
Apart from its long line Filipina beauty queens, Cebu still tops the list of queens in the country.
Dubbed as the Queen City of the South, Cebu City is the second city to be established in the Philippines after Manila. When Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Cebu City, he befriended Rajah Humabon and persuaded the natives to ally themselves with Charles I of Spain. In April 1521, the rajah and his wife, Hara Humamay, were baptized to Christianity and given new names—Carlos and Juana. As a gift the Santo Niño (the Child Jesus) was presented to the native queen of Cebu, as a symbol of peace and friendship between the Spaniards and the Cebuanos.
The Cebuanos today commemorate this event with a feast dedicated to the Child Jesus—the Sinulog Festival. Celebrated every third Sunday of January, Sinulog is the grandest and most colorful festival of the Queen City.
With its name hailing from the Cebuano word “sulog” that roughly means “like water current,” the festival features a ritual-prayer dance that resembles the water current of Cebu’s Pahina River in honor of the Sto. Niño
With its colorful parade of pompoms and pageants, ethnic hymns of its tribal percussions, and distinct tastes and flavors, the Sinulog Festival proves to be a party fit for a queen.
As we celebrate the festival again this coming Jan. 19, we’ve designed an itinerary merging the classic places to visits and new up-and-coming hotspots for the ultimate Cebu experience.
TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
Cebu is a city teeming with stories. Every stone building, ancient wall, and towering obelisk Is embedded with tales of valor, romance, and religion essential to the city’s history.
Yap Sandiego Ancestral House
The best place to start your journey back in time is at the Herie of Cebu Monument. Created by renowned Filipino sculptor Eduardo Castrillo in 1997, the monument depicts iconic events and symbols in Cebu, from the baptism of Rajah Humabon and the fight of Magellan and Lapu-lapu in Mactan to the beatification of the Cebuano martyr Pedro Calungsod. Across the road is another historical gem, the Yap Sandiego Ancestral House. Considered as one of the oldest houses in the city, it was the home of Don Juan Yap and Doña Maria Florido in the late 17th century.
Made of molave and coral stones, the two-story ancestral house gives a glimpse of Cebuanos’ way of living in the past and is a home to antiques arts and religious artifacts—a proof of their faith and devotion. Visiting Cebu will not be complete without seeing Magellan’s Cross. Under the Spanish-style pavilion is the tindalo wood-made cross believed to be planted by Magellan.
Ladies dressed in yellow and maroon roam around the area. They sell candles to tourists, who would then set them as offering at the foot of the cross, a gift to the Child Jesus. To cap the historical tour, head inside the Basilica del Sto. Niño and marvel at the glorious pillars, gilded altars, and figurine of saints and holy images.
Basilica del Sto. Niño
MODERN AND CLASSIC EAT
Cebu is also a place of culinary treasures, with designs and landscapes to match, giving everyone the ultimate dining experience.
Set at the top of a mountain in Brgy. Busay, Cebu Tops Road, is the Hispanic-influenced Balay sa Busay. Opened last September 2018, the restaurant features dishes such as Ang Paboritong Sisig ni Tatay and the deep-fried Adobo Bisaya, seafood favorites like the Cheesy Baked Scallops and Spiced Crablets, and for dessert, the Caramelized Banana Cue with vanilla ice cream. Apart from its food, the best part of dining in Balay sa Busay is its breathtaking view of city, with its twinkling lights and cool breeze.
What is Cebu without lechon, as the famed travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain describes it, “the best pig, ever!” One place to eat this epic pork dish is at the House of Lechon. Located in Don Jose Avila St. in the city, the restaurant is the home of the best Carcar lechon that is perfectly dipped in their special lechonsauce.
Let nostalgia fill you in for dessert with sweet and cool ice candies served hanging in s cartoony coconut tree. For modern-fusion, The Pig and Palm in Cebu Business District is the place to be.
Banana cue dessert at Balay sa Busay and Carcar lechon from House of Lechon
Headed by Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton, his Cebuana wife Irha, and chef Jamie Doe, the restaurant serves local produce with an English flair. Its innovative lineup of gastronomical delights includes succulent pork belly, seaweed crackers best dipped with tangy wasabi and calamansi mayo, cauliflower salad, and the shellfish liguine. Post-Sinulog parties can be held at the chic and cosmopolitan Maya Mexican Restaurant. This place is a quick trip to South America with its spiced drinks, Mexican treats, and a dancefloor for salsa nights.
BEAUTY BEYOND THE HORIZON
Cebu is famed for breathtaking horizons. Its panoramic views of where the heaven meets the lush greens or the city lights are among them many features of Cebu one shouldn’t miss.
Right at the outskirts of Cebu is the Temple of Leah, owned by the grandfather of actress Ellen Adarna, TeodoroSoriano Adarna.
Her grandfather dedicates this peach-hued, Roman-inspired temple to the love of his life, thus making it the Taj Mahal of Cebu. It’s like being transported to the ancient temples of Rome with its ivory-colored pillars erected in every corner, all glowing under the light of the sun. Inside the temple is a nine-foot bronze statue of Leah Albino Adarna, depicting a scene of when she was crowned the Matron Queen of her alma mater, the University of South Philippines.
For a botanical adventure, Sirao Peak is a land where magic lies not only in its paradise-like view but in its blooms and its quirky statues. Its rows of florals in multiple hues compels everyone to take a selfie as they breathe in the fresh and nature-scented air. Wooden fixtures and towering setup entice everyone to climb up and reach the sky.
SOMETHING TO BRING HOME
Bring a piece of Cebu to your home from these souvenir hotspots.
Alegere Guitars is not just a place to the best string instruments, it also hosts a quick tour of the factory, where there is a demonstration of how an instrument is made from a single wood to its finished glossy masterpuece. The employees’ free musical performance is a bonus. Shamrock Bakery and Restaurant and Titay’s Liloan Rosquillos and Delicacies are places to get fixes for your sweet tooth. Their take-home gifts such as the flaky otap, crisp galletas, and chewy piyaya can bring smiles (94 your loved ones at home.
danggit finds at Carbon Market
Woven goods, ethnic accessories, and other Cebuano knickknacks can be found in street walks near Dayon ta sa Prince City Hall, while the breakfast staple, the danggit, is at the Carbon Market. Make sure to dress casually going to the market as the smells of these dried seafood will definitely stick. Better bring your best haggling skills as well.
BE IN THE THICK OF IT ALL
What better way to spend your time in Cebu than to be literally be in the middle of the party? Citadines Cebu City is close to famous spots like the Magellan’s Cross and the Basilica del Sto. Nino, and is situated at a located where the Sinulog dance parade happens.
Citadines Cebu City roof deck pool
Citadines Cebu room
The hotel is founded with the Cebuano culture and tradition. Guests can marvel at the art pieces housed inside the hotel made by local craftsmen and renowned Cebuano artists such as Kenneth Cobonpue, BobbyLagdameo, and InkyLivie. Its food and beverage partner, Abaca Baking Company, brings classic Filipino and Cebuano flavors to the table. Citadines Cebu City is the first Citadines Apart’hotel in the city, which promises to bring that warm Cebuano hospitality with its personalized service, combining the best of home and hotel living.
For last minute Sinulog-related reservations call (032) 260 9588 or send an email to
Credit belongs to : Manila Bulletin