A lot of travelers have fallen in love with Cebu. It is one of the places in the Philippines where locals and foreigners would like to crash for a while if there is a need to get away from the stresses of life.
The world-renowned waters of Sumilon in the South, the fine sands with its long stretch of white sand beaches of Bantayan in the North. The mountains around the island of Cebu compliments its rivers and freshwater adventures. The list goes on. But Cebu is not just all about its adventures and beaches. It has more than that.
Oldest City in the Country
Cebu City is the second-largest city after Manila and it is one of the most developed cities in the whole country. However, before Manila became the capital of the Philippines, it was Cebu. It was also the first settlement of the Spaniards who stayed in the country for more than 300 years. Colon Street or Dalan Colon is the shortest and oldest national road in the Philippines. It was privately owned by the Frontreras family before it was part of the national road.
Before the introduction of motorized vehicles in 1901, Tartanilla or Calesa in Spanish was the main mode of transportation in Cebu during the Spanish era. The tartanilla is an inclined two-wheeled cart drawn by a horse. Kutsero is the name of the person who takes charge and sits in front of the kalesa as a driver. It was supposed to be reserved for nobles and high-ranking officials before it became available to the public. Aside from being the main mode of transportation of the locals, it was also used to transport merchant’s goods and other transportation needs.. The streets of Cebu were filled with tartanillas until World War 2 destroyed most of them. Today, tartanillas can be found in the streets of Colon and a few streets in Cebu. But the number of active tartanillas has tremendously declined since having motorized vehicles are obviously more convenient. Also, some animal welfare organizations filed complaints against animal cruelty to ban horse-drawn tartanillas from the streets of Cebu. A ride would cost 8 – 10 pesos per trip.
Best Tasting Lechon
Aside from the strong Catholic belief, the Spaniards taught the Cebuano, that the tasty lechon or litson baboy in the local dialect. Letchon is a roasted suckling pig slowly cooked for 4-5 hours with lemongrass, onions, bay leaves, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper to taste. The ingredients are stuck inside the pig’s belly, cooking it slowly until its skin turns golden brown as the juices of the ingredients soak the meat creating a unique taste and aroma. Anthony Bourdain the famous lifestyle celebrity chef, travel documentarian, and television personality describes Cebu’s letchon as the best tasting roasted pig ever. The price of the whole lechon varies from 2500 – 4500 which is dependent on its size. Per kilo, usually from 300 – 450.
If you think that balot (duck egg embryo) is the weirdest food you could taste in Cebu, not anymore. Tuslob Buwa literally means tus.lob dip, bu.wa, bubbles top the weird food chart. Tublob Buwa is composed of pig’s brain, liver spread or pig’s liver, garlic, onion, water, oil, and salt or salted shrimp paste to taste. Usually, vendors offering this meal provide a set of ingredients including the wok and stove. Unfortunately, you need to cook it yourself before you dig in. It costs around 50 -100 pesos excluding the hanging rice costs around 2-5 pesos each.
Some Tuslob Buwa vendors serve it differently. The cooked pig’s brain is placed in one oversized wok ready to eat. You can then ask from the tindera (store attendant) for hanging rice and using your hands with or without plastic, dip your rice inside the wok until you get your fill while sharing it with other hungry customers. Not quite hygienic but well… 😀 It costs more or less 20 pesos including hanging rice.
Grandest Festival of the Country
Festivals are part of the Filipino culture. Unnumbered festivals from the tiniest barangays (suburbs) to the largest cities all over the country celebrate it. There are 8 major festivals and the grandest can be experienced in Cebu. Sinulog is a religious prayer dance honoring the Sto. Nino or the Child Jesus is annually celebrated every 3rd Sunday of January. After the 9-day novena, a parade of thousands of devotees chants and praise the child, Jesus. Aside from its religious aspect, the festival is known for street parties. However, these past few years, the street parties were lessening.