Cebu: A charming getaway

February 24, 2012 Edited by He Shan

Often called the " Queen City of the South" and the Seat of Christianity in the Philippines , Cebu is the country's oldest city. Exploring Cebu City , one encounters a rich historic past. Cebuanos are extremely proud of their cultural and historical heritage, a legacy which has endured through the centuries from the time the great explorer Ferdinand Magellan first planted the cross on Cebu 's shore. Time has been kind to Cebu . From Zubu, the busy trading port in 1521, it has evolved into a highly urbanized metropolitan center which now serves as focal point of growth and development in Southern Philippines .

With its 6 cities; Cebu , Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Toledo and Talisay; and its 47 smaller towns, Cebu has more than kept pace with the nation's progress. Today the island province leads in traditional and non-traditional exports and has the highest economic growth rate anywhere in the country. Likewise, recent indications pointed out that Cebu has become the country's favorite tourist destination. In contrast to the bustling metropolis, the rest of Cebu 's 167 islets and islands are lined with idyllic white sandy beaches and pristine clear waters. Cebu has gained wide popularity for fantastic diving grounds evidenced by the proliferation of resorts which offer luxurious accommodations, excellent dive facilities and the services of competent dive masters and dive guides. Cebu 's strategic location makes it ideal for those who wish to travel to the other islands and provinces by plan, boat or bus. No place could be too far from Cebu.

Quick Facts


Cebu Province has a total population of more than 3 million. Cebuano is the native tongue. While Filipino is commonly understood and spoken, the English language is widely used in business transactions and education.


Cebu is best from December to May when the weather turns dry. It is coolest from December to February, hottest from March to May. Temperature can rise as high as 37°C in the summer. The rainy season begins in July bringing torrential downpours that would sometimes inhibit movement.

Dress/What to Bring

Wear natural-fiber, lightweight clothing. Bring bathing suit, insect repellent, flashlight, sun block cream, comfortable shoes for walking, rubber slippers for the beach.

Electrical Appliances

Most areas in Cebu are supplied with 220 volts, 60 cycles. A plug with 2 flat parallel prongs is the norm.


The Philippine currency is peso, divided into 100 centavos. Most foreign currencies can easily be changed at banks, hotels and authorized dealers. Major foreign credit cards may be accepted only at major hotels, resorts, shops and restaurants. Visitors are advised to bring sufficient amount of change in small bills or coins.

Business Hours

Banks-9am to 3pm Monday to Friday; Government agencies and offices-8am to 5pm Monday to Friday; Department stores-10am to 8pm Monday to Sunday.

Tipping Bellhops expect a tip, as do waiters, taxi drivers, hairdressers, beauticians and porters. Tipping 5-15% of the bill is appropriate if no service charge is included.

Public Transport

Getting around Cebu , one may take a colorful jeepney or a bus at a minimal fare. Taxicabs are widely available.

Some DO'S AND DON'T'S in Philippine Society

The most important initial step in gaining insights about the local resident is to understand him in his own setting. The following are just some general statements intended to help you in your behavior in the local community:

Avoid wearing sandals when attending special occasions in the local community-wearing shoes is a sign that the event is important to you. Do invite people at least three times. Local residents are taught that it is proper to refuse the first time or two. To them, insistence is a clear sign that the offer or invitation is genuine. Do give the local residents a way out of the situation so he can save face, thus avoiding embarrassment, Embarrassment him will cause "hiya" or loss of face. Don't use the common sign of OK-in the local community, its means money. You may use the new sign OK. This is the thumbs-up sign which has been commonly seen on television. Don't use your forefinger upward to call a local resident. It is considered somewhat degrading. One way of calling is to beckon with the hand in gentle downward motion. "Pssst" is another popular way to get someone's attention. As a rule however, it is even better to use nicknames, because these are reserved for close friends. Smiling is a form of friendship and a form of greeting.