Cebu City Tour: Sto. Nino Church, Magellan's Cross, and the Capitol

We all have different reasons for travelling. For most people, it’s to see the popular landmarks: heritage sites, theme parks, churches, beaches, and other attractions. For foodies like me, it’s to experience the culture of a new place by delving into its local cuisine—or plainly, to pig out. Still for others, it’s a way to seek all things new: restaurants, nightclubs, places, experiences, people. Oftentimes, it’s a mix of all these.

While I tend to gravitate towards the foodie inclination, I have learned to love Cebu so much in the few times that I went there—a fondness that told me I shouldn’t be eating my way around Cebu without seeing its historical sites. If you read my old post about our Cebu-Bohol trip in 2012, you would know that it contained an itinerary I myself didn’t even follow. That was my first time in Cebu and I was aiming for a complete city tour—it turned out to be four days of drunkenness. As I kept saying, I have a weird way of discovering a new place: I learn where the good restaurants and bars are, haha! So when I came back this year to Cebu, I felt like I owed it to the place to actually accomplish this city expedition.

I love Cebu so much that I was willing to walk around and learn its past, even if history tremendously bores me. OK, the definition of “learn” in the previous sentence is up for a debate.

Anyway, after a fabulous lunch in Lantaw Floating Native Restaurant in far-flung Cordova in Mactan, my mom, my sister, and I went to Sto. Nino Church to attend mass (we’re holy like that). Sto. Nino Church, or the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu, is the oldest church in the Philippines. The mass was conducted in the outdoor area, same venue of the Feast during Sinulog.

My concern before getting there was, “what if the mass is in Cebuano?” Fortunately, it was carried out in English.

After the mass, I saw people waving their hands towards the direction of the altar. It turns out that the gesture is a symbol of faith, an act performed by devotees to express their call and submission to the Lord. I mimicked the gesture with an added message: “Til we see each other again!”

The interior of Sto. Nino looked so much like the church we have in Meycauayan, Bulacan, aptly called … the Sto. Nino Church. HAHAHA! Looks like our version at home is patterned from the original one, which is in Cebu of course.

Since it was already night-time, the gates to the Magellan’s Cross were already closed. Imagine my disappointment when I realized I could only take pictures of the beautiful ceiling by extending my arms through the grilles, haha!

If you want to know the history behind Magellan’s Cross, I’m not the person you should ask, haha! All I know is that it’s a symbol of how Magellan brought Catholicism in the Philippines.

The Cebu Provincial Capitol is another landmark I put an effort into seeing. It’s not that far from the hotel where I stayed, and near Zubuchon in Escario, so when I went there for lunch I made sure to drop by the Capitol. It shows off an elegant architecture—multi-featured, as is evident from its façade: a concave wall, topped by a dome, flanked by wings, with a rectangular base serving as the entryway.

I have always been fascinated with photographing structures, and it looks majestic, if you ask me. I could almost imagine President Snow of the Hunger Games emerging anytime, sentencing me to a lifetime of starvation just because he feels like doing so. Haha!

I visited the Capitol a few hours before I left for Manila, and needless to say, I didn’t complete my city tour goal again. I have listed down all the places I want to see in Cebu City below, and ticked off the sites I have been to:

Sto. Nino Church
Cebu Cathedral
Taoist Temple
Colon Street (known as the oldest street in Cebu. Was able to drive by on my first time in Cebu)
Magellan’s Cross
Cebu Provincial Capitol
La Independencia
Fort San Pedro
Taboan Market

Six out of ten. Not bad. Four more reasons to go back to Cebu.

I have a feeling my brain deliberately forgets something so that I have a reason to come back.

If you’re a stick-to-the-plan traveler, you can finish this city tour in one day—maybe even half day. But then, if you’re in a rush, you won’t be able to enjoy and fully appreciate each one of them. I hate it when people just pass by a certain place and take pictures just so that they could shout out to the world by posting in Facebook that they have been there. Be a bit more spontaneous. Talk to a stranger, sit down and get awed by architecture, maybe even grab a drink (like we did in TOPS). Traveling is about seeing places for what they really are, and not about collecting thousands of pictures.

I hope people see Cebu for what it really is, and why it’s called the Queen City of the South.

pepe samson

About Pepe Samson

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