Cebu Bisdak History & Culture

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Cebu is one of the oldest known islands in the Philippines, which is just a plane ride from the Manila. It is one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, with the Cebu City as the main center of commerce, trade, education, and industry including fun and entertainment.


The Conde Nast Traveler Magazine recognized Cebu as the 7th Best Island Destination in the Indian Ocean – Asia region in 2007, as the 8th Best Asian – Pacific Island Destination in 2005, as the 7th Best Asian – Pacific Island Destination in 2004, and as the 7th Best Asian – Pacific Island Destination in 2009.


Official language

The official language of Cebu is Cebuano or Bisaya. The Bisayan dialect is widely spoken in most areas of the Visayas, including some parts of the Mindanao Island.

bisaya dialect


The majority of the residents here In Cebu are Roman Catholic. The minority party is comprised of the Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other Christian sects. The oldest Christian image in the Philippines is the image of the Santo Nino de Cebu, which is being enshrined and venerated in the Basilica del Santo Nino church. The statue was given by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to the wife of the Rajah of Cebu.

Santo Nino Cebu

History – the discovery of Cebu by Ferdinand Magellan

Cebu was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. The 5 ships and its total of 237 boat crew sailed from the Sanlucar de Barrameda in Spain for 1 1/2 half years. The group first arrived on the island of Limasawa, which is now a part of Leyte.


Leyte is a neighboring island of Cebu. Unimpressed by the tiny island, they sailed further and reached Sugbo in April 7, 1521. The first transcription of Pigafetta, Magellan’s Italian scribe, of the Cebu’s name is Zubuth, then corrected it to Zugbu, and then finally got the name fully edited as Zubu.

Cebu Beach Cebu Cebu Philippines

Today, the island is known as Cebu. On that same day, Magellan won the trust and friendship of the Rajah and the Rajah Humabon decided to have a blood compact with Magellan.


The local chieftain, Rajah Humabon, and his wife, Lisabeta, received the group with the hospitality accorded to traders. The natives were already used to the incoming and outgoing trends of traders engaging in business.


The couple offered their best wines, best foods, and demonstrated a true Filipino native hospitality sharing some of their best ethnic music.


Rajah Humabon was the wisest and the bravest man on the island. He was the king and lord of 8 chieftains (tribes) and of the 2,000 lancers. His jurisdiction was highly respected and extends over the whole island. He was regarded as the supreme ruler and the chieftain of the confederation of barangays.


At that time, Cebu was the port of entry of traders coming from Siam, China, Borneo, and other neighboring countries. The high trading activity of the island was strongly portrayed by the ornaments that adorned the bodies of the natives, including the fine china used in its royal court.


Christianity – the conversion of Humabon and his people

The first mass was celebrated by Father Pedro Valderrama, Magellan’s chieflain, in April 14, 1521. The Rajah Humabon along with almost the entire populace of Cebu was baptized as Christian by Father Valderrama. He was named Carlos, in honor of the King Charles I of Spain, while Lisabeta was named Queen Juana, in honor of the mother of King Charles.


Rajah Humabon was appointed by Magellan as the king’s representative in Cebu with a promise to unite the local chieftains under his authority. The symbol of Christianity, a crucifix, was fashioned and planted on the site to mark the baptismal. Magellan gave Juana an image of the child Jesus, now known as the Santo Nino de Cebu as a gift of their conversion and willingness to embrace Christianity.

magellan's cross cebu magellan'scross

Centuries later, the cross is still there in a spot where it was first planted near the Santo Nino Basilica. It is called by the locals as the Magellan’s cross. It is being housed by a Spanish kiosk, octagonal in shape with lime plastered walls in an ondiola tiled roofing. The kiosk was built in 1834 with an outer casing of tindalo wood, built around the original bonglas, a tree species of narra.


Chief Lapulapu and the battle of Mactan

Magellan tried to impose the Spanish sovereignty in the island and on the local chieftains. Lapulapu, the chieftain of Mactan, with real name as Cali Pulacu, refused to accept the new political system. He did not want to pay tribute to the king of Spain and decided to break away from Rajah Humabon.


On April 27, 1521, Magellan decided to teach him a lesson and invaded Mactan along with his army of 60 steel clad Spaniards in 3 vessels and about a thousand of Cebuano warriors in 30 boats. A poisoned arrow hit the right leg of Magellan, the unshielded legs of the Europeans, and a bamboo spear struck his face.


A man of action, and fresh from his victories in Africa, the Moluccas, and seven years in India, Lapulapu killed Magellan. The Spaniards retreated and left the body of their captain behind. Lapulapu lived on to be regarded as the first Filipino hero to resist foreign rule.

lapulapu killed magellan

The battle of Mactan is being remembered and honored with the statue of the warrior chieftain on the island of Mactan, where the battle happened, and at the Cebu Provincial Capitol.

lapulapu shrine in cebu

Geography & Topography

Located between 9925′ and 11915′ latitude and between 123913′ longitude in the center of the Philippine archipelago, Cebu is 365 miles south of Manila and can be reached in an hour through air travel.


Cebu is located to the east of Negros, to the west of Leyte and Bohol islands. Cebu is a long narrow island stretching 225 kilometres (140 mi) from north to south and 45 kilometers across at its widest point, surrounded by 167 neighboring, smaller islands, which include Mactan, Bantayan, Malapascua, Olango and the Camotes Islands.

Cebu topography

Cebu has narrow coastlines, limestone plateaus and coastal plains. It also has rolling hills and rugged mountain ranges traversing the northern and southern lengths of the island.

Cebu beach 1 Cebu beach 2

Cebu’s highest mountains are over 1,000 meters (3,300 ft) high. Flat tracts of land can be found in the city of Bogo and in the towns of San Remigio, Medellin and Daanbantayan at the northern region of the province.

mountains in cebuMedellin Cebu Medellin Cebu1

The island’s area of 4,468 square kilometers supports over 3.6 million people, of which 2.3 million live in Metro Cebu. The province’s land area is 494,372 hectares (1,221,620 acres), or 534,200 hectares (1,320,000 acres) including the independent cities.


Cebu is located between 9 degrees 25 minutes North and 11 degrees 15 minutes North latitude, and between 123 degrees 13 minutes East, and 124 degrees 5 minutes East longitude in the center of the Philippine Islands.


The total land area of Cebu is about 5,000 square kilometers. Cebu has narrow coastlines, limestone plateaus, and coastal plains, which are characteristics of a tropical island. It has predominantly rolling hills and rugged mountain ranges traversing the northern and southern lengths of the island.


Cebu has steep mountains that reach over 1,000 meters. In the northern region of Cebu, flat tracts of land can be found in the city of Bogo and in the towns of San Remigio, Medellin, and Daanbantayan.


The highest peak in Cebu is Mount Manunggal, which is about 1,000 meters above sea level. Cebu has a land area of about 508,440 hectares. From the central mountains to the coral sands, the island is a natural wonder.

Mount Manunggal CebuMount Manunggal Cebu2

Most of the archipelago’s 8,120 species of flowering plants can be found in Cebu. 5,832 are unique to the country. Birds migrating from Russia stop enroute to Australia at the Olanggo Bird Sanctuary.



Cebu’s weather is relatively moderate, having no distinct wet and dry season, the perfect vacation spot for all seasons. Humidity is 78%, warmest is at 1890C usually expected during the months of December to February.

Cebu raining raining in Cebucebu rain

The rainy or wet season time of the year occurs during November. The weather turns dry from December to May while it is coolest from December to February. The hottest is from March to May, during the summer. Temperature can rise as high as 370C in the summer.


The rainy season begins in June and usually lasts until September. During the rainy season, torrential rains occasionally occur and would sometimes cause flooding that inhibit movements. The typhoons usually come from October to December.


Average Annual Rainfall – 1,638.20 mm

Minimum Monthly Rainfall – 50.4 mm

Maximum Monthly Rainfall – 206.50 mm

Mean Temperature Range – 26.49 C – 28.790C

Minimum Temperature Range – 22.690C

Maximum Temperature Range – 33.190C

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