Cebu has amazing tourist spots, but for beginners, the basics would be Magellan’s Cross, Basilica del Santo Nino, Fort San Pedro, and Mactan Shrine.
My friends and I went to all those places after a three-day convention, which limited us within the confines of SM Cebu.
First stop was Magellan’s Cross, where we got to see the mighty cross that made Roman Catholics out of almost all Filipinos. The cross can be found within a small chapel.
Up the ceiling were paintings depicting the story of this cross. Some believe that the cross was not the original cross brought by the renowned Portuguese explorer, and that the real one was either hidden somewhere else or had already been destroyed. Nevertheless, we took pictures for souvenir.
Outside the church were old women who offered to pray for our well-being, but first, we needed to buy candles from them. So I purchased some. No big deal. It’s for culture’s sake, and there’s nothing bad about getting some good farewell from a stranger. And yes, I did try to feel if there were positive vibes from the prayers the old lady performed.
We visited Basilica del Santo Nino right after. There was a mass going on at that time, so we didn’t get a chance to take pictures, or even get close to the altar to look at the shrine closely.
Our next stop, Fort of San Pedro, was only a block away, but since we didn’t know that it was just a few steps away, we hailed a taxi to get there. You can imagine the taxi driver all too happy about his luck.
Fort San Pedro gave us a glimpse of Philippine history, back when the Philippines was still under Spanish rule. Inside were museums and shops of bric-a-bracs as well as other hand-made and native products perfect for gifts and souvenirs. We moved around to admire the architecture and to relax on some benches underneath a trellis.
There were stairways leading to the rooftop where the fort canyons can be found. The fort served many wars, from the time it was built in 1736 up to the time of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.
Mactan Shrine, a park dedicated to the heroics of Lapu-Lapu against the Spanish soldiers who landed on that part of the island, is on the same island where Cebu International Airport is located. Inside the park is a statue of the Mactan chieftain and a huge painting depicting the Lapu-Lapu in a duel with Portuguese Captain Ferdinand Magellan.
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The Mactan Shrine painting shows a battle along the shoreline, although a professor in one of my Environmental Science classes suggested another story. He said that Lapu-Lapu and his men defeated Magellan’s group because of the mangroves. The shoreline back then was covered with mangroves and the Spanish soldiers had difficulty moving in the sticky mud and forest-covered battleground. Curiously enough, you can still see traces of mangroves along the shoreline, so the popular story that’s even shown in paintings could be false after all.
There’s nothing really grand or extraordinary about the park. But nearby are nice humble restos where visitors get to select the seafood they want cooked for them. We got to eat at a veranda with a view of the mangrove areas. That’s just perfect prior to us catching the flight out back to Manila.
Overall, the trip was a blast! I’ll visit the place anytime for the fresh seafood, the beautiful beaches and historic sites, and the friendly people all around.