ECONOMIC UPDATE: CEBU, CEBOOM!

Map of Cebu.

Map of Cebu.

Cebu is a long-narrow province in the Philippines located in the Visayas Islands. Its capital, Cebu City, has many historical facts. It is the oldest city in the Philippines, the Philippines second most significant metropolitan center, it is the oldest settlement established by the Spaniards in the country, it is the birthplace of Christianity in the Philippines, and the home to historic and miraculous Sto. Niño de Cebu.

Cebu is one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines. Figures from Department of Tourism show that Cebu was visited by 1.77M tourists, mostly foreigners who opted to stay for a longer time, and since 2006, their average growth is 14.5% while local tourists averages at 7.32%. Both tourist arrivals have been progressively growing at an average of 9.5%.

Cebu’s narrow coastline and beautiful beaches and scenery plus its good image, friendliness and warmth of the people, clean lodging, and restaurants serving scrumptious dishes make foreigners and locals keep coming back to this Visayan island.

Our trip brought us to the northernmost and southernmost part of the province. For the north of Cebu, we stayed in the municipality of Daanbantayan, a first class municipality.

Views from Malapascua Island.

Views from Malapascua Island.

Commerce and tourism in Daanbantayan is livelier due to its strategic location being in the point of convergence of 3 major routes: northern (Luzon), western (Western Visayas), and eastern (Eastern Visayas) nautical highways and these are originating from. These three major routes converge in roll-on/roll-off (RORO) Port in Maya, Daanbantayan to be its shortest and fastest access in delivering goods and services to the Cebu metropolis.

Commercial activity is widely located in the poblacion.

For tourism, Daanbantayan is globally known for its powder-like white sandy beaches and the famous one is its own barangay, Malapascua Island. During our boat road to Malapascua, there were several foreigners in the boat and they were amazed at the hospitality of the people in Cebu.

Malapascua Island is being frequented by diving enthusiast because of its unique marine life and beauty. According to a local fisherman, it is only in Malapascua where divers can find big Manta Rays and the Thresher Shark, which is the only kind in the world. He also said that tourism and fishing are the source of livelihood of the residents there.

Whale shark watching at Oslob, Cebu.

Whale shark watching at Oslob, Cebu.

The next day, we went to Southern part of Cebu and visited the town, Oslob, a 4th class municipality. During the trip, it was hilly and rolling with rolling plateaus.  Seaside view is also beautiful during the trip. The purpose for this trip is to experience whale shark watching for the very first time.

The whale shark watching in this town only started last 2011 but gained wide popularity around the world. True indeed because when we arrived at a resort, there were hundreds of foreigners and local folks expected that it will increase in the later part of the day.

Like Malapascua, Oslob’s source of livelihood is fishing and tourism.

Our close encounter with a whale shark was very entertaining. Our guide told us that the first whale shark we encountered is named, Christopher, and it is frequent in the sea. He jokingly said that Christopher is like a regular employee like them.

Local fishermen interact with this beautiful sea creatures to make them stay in the area while visitors either see them through the boat or dive underwater, which is more amazing because one can see the whole body of the whale shark and have a close encounter with this friendly sea creatures.

STO NINO, MAGELLANS CROSS, CEBU CATHEDRAL

Religious places in Cebu City (Clockwise from top): Interior of Basilica of Sto. Nino, the holy image of Sto. Nino, the chapel of Magellan’s cross, the Magellan’s cross, the Cebu Cathedral, and the Basilica of Sto. Nino.

The iconic “Queen City of the South”, Cebu City is next and the first place we visited is the Basilica of Sto. Niño to pay homage to the miraculous, Sto. Niño de Cebu, the oldest Christian image in the Philippines.

The basilica is a majestic building that was founded in the 16th century. It is the oldest Catholic church in the Philippines and it was built in the same spot where the statue of Sto. Niño was discovered in 1565 by the voyagers led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi as based on the paintings I saw inside the basilica.

Beside the Basilica complex is the Magellan’s Cross, housed on a chapel and the spot where the cross stood is the same spot where Magellan placed the cross upon his arrival in the Philippines. There are several theories about the cross. A sign below the cross said that the original cross is encased in the wooden cross to protect it from people who will chip away some part of the original cross. While other theory, according to some people, is that the original cross was destroyed or disappeared upon Magellan’s death.

Images of Cebu City, Port of Cebu, and Cebu-Mactan International Airport.

Images of Cebu City, Port of Cebu, and Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Cebu is one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, with Cebu City as the main center of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas. The province has transformed into a global hub for furniture making, tourism, business processing services, and heavy industry.

Being a main center for commerce, industry, and trade, the province’s Cebu International Port is the country’s main shipping port and home to about 80% of the shipping companies. It is also the second largest international flights arrivals in the Philippines with Mactan-Cebu International Airport as the second busiest international airport in the country.

The province is also becoming as the second largest hub for Business Process Outsourcing in the country, next only to Manila. Based on my experience at Cebu IT Park, many BPO buildings have been mushrooming in the city. The Mactan Economic Processing Zone 1 and 2 are also home to some local and foreign companies.

Analysts said Cebu is now becoming a major tourism and ICT destination and the real estate industry in Cebu is also in a boom as many developers have been taking advantage of the province’s growth to build BPO buildings, shopping malls, hotels, condominiums, and residential areas. One example is the beautiful SM Seaside Mall.

Upon stepping for the first time in Cebu’s soil and seeing its beauty and progress, I can say that I fell in love with the city. Cebu is beautiful and in boom, so it’s Ceboom!

The architect design of soon-to-be-launched, SM Seaside City.

The architect design of soon-to-be-launched, SM Seaside City.

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