Cebu city, the Far East’s "Cradle of Christianity," is the oldest city in the Philippines and the economic hub of Cebu Island. Settled forcibly by Spaniards in the mid-1500s as a silk route trading hub, the city today boasts a strong Spanish heritage, notably in its architecture and religious persuasion.
The "Queen City" is the second-most important metropolitan area of the Philippine Islands and boasts the largest port in the Visayas (one of the three principal regions of the Philippines, which include the islands of Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar). The Cebu International Port is home to no less than 80% of the Philippines’ domestic shipping companies.
Cebu’s long stretches of white sandy beaches fringed with coconut palms bestow a paradise island feel to the city. Out of work hours, the city has plenty to offer in the way of activities such as golf, water sports, or dining in Cebu’s gratifying array of restaurants.
If you are moving here, be prepared to shift down several gears. Cebuans are never in a hurry, whether they be walking in the street or managing supermarket supply chains. While you can find most of what you need in Cebu’s wide range of supermarkets, you’ll find that even locally produced items are regularly out of stock. While this may prove frustrating at times, you’ll be hard pressed to find a friendlier, more generous host city.
As with any foreign country, having a handle on the local language is always desirable from a cultural integration perspective. The most widely spoken language in Cebu is Cebuano (also referred to as Binisaya or Visayan), which, alongside English, is the non-official lingua franca of the region.
Cebu is readily accessible by air via the Mactan-Cebu International Airport located in Lapu-Lapu City, which has direct flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China, Palau, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Qatar, South Korea; and other destinations. There are also direct transfer flights via the capital’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport that readily connects the city to other destinations in the world.
What is special or unique about your city?
Cebu is one of the most developed islands in the Philippines, with Cebu City as the main centre of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas. Condé Nast Traveler Magazine named Cebu the seventh-best island destination in the Indian Ocean-Asia region in 2007, eighth-best Asian-Pacific island destination in 2005, seventh in 2004 and in 2009.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Filipinos are very warm and welcoming. A newcomer is quickly drawn into society and it is very easy to make friends.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Fortunately, these positive impressions will be reinforced.
What is the local language?
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
English is a second language among Cebuanos. One may find it very easy to engage in a conversation with the locals.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Filipinos are sensitive people. Avoid loud, aggressive behaviour and offensive language when dealing with them.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
The Philippines is a tropical country with two pronounced seasons: dry and wet. During the dry season (January to May), it is very hot and probably wise to not spend too much time in the sun without protection. During the wet season (June to December), it is advisable to carry an umbrella and raincoat. Identified areas downtown usually get flooded during heavy downpours.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Metro Cebu is a sprawling city. Often, modern high-rise building and malls exist right next to huge squatter colonies. This takes some getting used to. As in any large city, avoid going to dimly-lit and unfamiliar areas at night.