TRAVEL SPOTS IN CENTRAL VISAYAS

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(The Fookien Times Philippines Yearbook 1998)

 

    Cebu and the Central Visayas boast of a rich historical and cultural heritage that can be traced to the sixteenth century and earlier.  This link to the past has been strengthened by continuing efforts to preserve and restore sites, relics, and other artifacts that evoke the region's history.

  The region abounds with sites that celebrate not only history and culture but also the ingenuity of the Visayans in adapting themselves to their environment.  Today, the region bustles with commerce and industry with a special ambience that invites the leisure traveler as well as the businessman.

    Cebu was where Magellan and his men planted the cross, a symbol of the Christian faith that would change the course of Philippine history.  Other major historical events that took place in the region were the killing of Magellan by the native warriors of Lapulapu, the blood compact between Rajah Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the short-lived Tamblot revolt, and the eighty-five-year Dagohoy revolt.  The chronic rebellion led to the construction of many forts, watchtowers, garrisons, and churches.  The earliest area in the country to be hispanized, the region is particularly rich in Spanish colonial architecture.  Some of the old structures still stand today and serve as the region's visible link to the past.

    For nature lovers, Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor offer stretches of shoreline with varied, breathtaking sceneries.  The shorelines of the islands are dotted with fine beaches. The region's waters are a haven for deep-sea divers, swimmers, wind surfers, and boat racers.   In the hills and mountains are countless caves waiting to be explored by the adventurous traveler.  In the town of Carmen in Bohol, the famed Chocolate Hills never fail to inspire awe and wonder among nature seekers. (Source: Folk Culture of the Central Visayas [Kalinangan Series 2], 1986, Instructional Materials Corporation, Philippines; 194pp.)

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Magellan's Cross, a primary symbol of the Christianization of the Philippines and Cebu's most important historical landmark, is housed in an octagonal kiosk on Magallanes Street.  It marks the spot where Ferdinand Magellan landed on April 24, 1521. 

stacruz_cebu_natbook.jpg (36555 bytes) That it is exactly the same cross left by Magellan cannot be proven.  It is, however, a very old cross made of narra but now encased in tindalo wood to protect it from chipping by devotees and by souvenir hunters.  The tile-roofed kiosk was constructed in 1834. Paintings on its ceiling depict the events of Magellan's visit.

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Fort San Pedro in Cebu City, is one of the oldest Spanish forts in the Philippines.  This triangular bastion was built in 1565 by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.  Originally a wooden palisade, it was rebuilt in 1835 into the stone structure seen today.  The name San Pedro was taken from Legazpi's flagship.

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Bookmark Inc., 1997

As a Spanish garrison defended by cannons, Fort San Pedro guarded against Moro marauders and later served as a prison for Cebuano rebels.  It became an American barracks early in this century and then a school during the Commonwealth years.  It was occupied by Japanese troops during World War II, and used as an emergency hospital during the Battle for Liberation in 1945.  The fort has been preserved well and now serves as the office of the Cebu City branch of the ministry of tourism.

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Bookmark Inc., 1997

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Ayala Foundation Inc., 1997

 

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The Dagohoy Marker was installed by the National Historical Commission at the spot where Dagohoy and his men set up their headquarters and declared their independence from Spanish rule.   This memorial to the eighty-five year Dagohoy revolt, the longest in Philippine history, is located in Magtangtang, Danao, some ninety kilometers from Tagbilaran City.

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The Magellan Monument, located in Mactan, was erected in 1866 to mark the spot where the famous explorer was killed by Lapulapu on April 27, 1521.  It is a simple obelisk-type monument.  Nearby, the Lapulapu Monument has been recently built. 

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The first Filipino leader to resist Spanish colonial ambitions, Lapulapu is venerated by the entire nation as a hero for Philippine independence.  A reenactment of the Battle of Mactan is held annually on the beach near the two monuments.

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The Blood Compact Marker stands at the spot in barangay Bool in Tagbilaran City where the native chieftain Sikatuna and the Spanish expedition leader Miguel Lopez de Legazpi forged a blood compact in March of 1565 as a sign of friendship between their two peoples.  Sikatuna and Legazpi drank blood from a cup to seal their friendship treaty.

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Filipinas Foundation Inc., 1978

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warmosaic_6army.jpg (9249 bytes) The Filipino-Japanese Amity Memorial Shrine in Valencia, Negros Oriental stands at the foot of Mount Talinis and marks the spot where the combined forces of American and Filipino soldiers fought the Japanese Imperial Army toward the end of World War II.

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The Basilica Minore de Santo Niņo in Cebu has its origin in 1565 with the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Father Andres Urdaneta.  It was set up as a provisional nipa chapel, the first Catholic chapel to be built in the Philippines.  Bigger buildings were later erected, but these were subsequently destroyed.  The present buildings, which were started in 1735 and finished in 1740, are fine examples of the soft baroque style of architecture.

The church houses the image of the Santo Niņo, a gift of Magellan to Queen Juana of Cebu upon her conversion to Christianity together with five hundred of her subjects.  During Legazpi's assault on the settlement of Cebu in 1565, one of his soldiers, Juan Camus, found this wooden image while searching the houses.  The image was enthroned in the church under the care of the Augustinians.   In 1965, during the fourth centennial celebration of the Christianization of the Philippines, the San Agustin Church was conferred the title of Basilica Minore by Hildebrando Antoniutti, papal legate to the Philippines.

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Ayala Foundation Inc., 1997

Baclayon Church stands close to the seashore of Baclayon, Bohol.  With its massive buttresses and splayed three-story bell tower, it looks like a medieval fortress.  The early natives used it as a lookout and citadel against invading forces.  Said to be the oldest stone church in the region, it was built when Baclayon was established in 1596 by the Jesuits on their first mission in Bohol.

For an enlarged view, click on the picture.

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Bookmark Inc., 1997

   The church has withstood  numerous earthquakes and typhoons and now houses a collection of seventeenth-century ecclesiastical items such as vestments, librettos of church music printed on animal skin and written in Latin, and other relics.

 Loon Church is in the western coast of Bohol, twenty-seven kilometers from the capital city of Tagbilaran. Built in 1855, it is the biggest church in Bohol.  It has three naves and is reputed to be one of the best designed and elegant structures in the Visayas.  One of its attractions is a nineteenth-century mural depicting in tableaux the seven sacraments.  The church complex, including a long flight of  stairs (174 steps), is reminiscent of the compulsory community labor required by the Spaniards during their rule.

Dauis Church is in one of the oldest towns of Bohol, on the island of Panglao, three kilometers from Tagbilaran.  A fine example of Spanish colonial architecture, the church was erected in 1863 to replace one built earlier in 1774.  The points of interest in the church include a life-size mural painted on the ceilings and an image of the Virgin of the Assumption, the town's patron saint.

Boljoon Church is one of the finest churches in Cebu.  Situated in the town of Boljoon, 103 kilometers south of Cebu City, the church complex includes a large convent with murals, rich carvings and antiques, a watchtower, and a church belfry erected separately from the main church.

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Bookmark Inc., 1997
For an enlarged view, click on the picture.

 

carcarchurch_pcvc92.jpg (19722 bytes) Carcar Church, located in the southern Cebu town of Carcar, was constructed from 1860 to 1876 by the Augustinians.  A masonry structure in Greco-Roman style, the church has three naves.  It exemplifies a bold adaptation of Muslim architecture.  The church is part of a complex that includes a large convent, a plaza, and other Spanish colonial structures.

Mandaue Church in Mandaue City, six kilometers north of Cebu City, is well known for its life-size wood carvings of Jesus and the twelve apostles seated at a long table for the Last Supper.  This tableau is said to be very old, except for two figures which were destroyed during World War II and were restored recently.

Bacong Church in the town of Bacong, some eight kilometers from Dumaguete City, is one of the finest churches in Negros Oriental.  Its attractions include a tall tower and an antique organ.  The regional folk hero Leon Kilat served as an acolyte in this church.

Lazi Church in the town of Lazi, Siquijor, has the distinction of having a convent reputed to be the biggest in the Philippines.  Built in the last decade of the eighteenth century, the church is a massive stone testament to the dominance of the church in Philippine life during the Spanish period.

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    The Chocolate Hills are the pride of Bohol.   They are hemispherical mounds that resemble chocolate drops, about a thousand altogether.  Each is about a hundred meters high, covered with grass, and lined with coconut trees around its base.  These fascinating hills can best be viewed in the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan.

 

How these mounds came to be is not known.  Geologists have not as yet come up with a satisfactory explanation of their origin.  According to legend, however, these hills are the teardrops of the giant Arugo, a demigod whose unrequited love for the mortal Aluya caused him to weep.  The Boholanos named them "chocolate hills" because they resemble the chocolate cakes made by Boholano housewives.

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