Metro Cebu

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For the article on the Province of Cebu, see Cebu Province. For the article of its capital city, see Cebu City. For other uses, see Cebu (disambiguation)
Metro Cebu
Location of Metro Cebu in the Philippines
Region Central Visayas
(Region VII)
Province Cebu

     Cities      Municipalities      Barangays      Districts

Languages Cebuano
Filipino, English,
Chinese, Hiligaynon, Spanish, Waray
Coordinates 10°17' N 123°54' E
Area 998.0 km²

     Total (2000)      Density

Time Zone UTC +8
Area Code +6332

     Terminals      Name

Mactan Cebu International Airport

The Cebu Metropolitan Area or Metro Cebu is the main urban center of the island province of Cebu. The center is Cebu City, the oldest Spanish settlement in the Philippines. Metro Cebu is located along the central eastern portion of the island including the nearby island of Mactan. It accounts for 20 percent of the land area and 57.5 percent of the population (2000 census) of the entire province of Cebu.

Metro Cebu is a metropolitan area that is centered on Cebu City, the capital of Cebu and the regional capital of Central Visayas with twelve surrounding cities and municipalities. Metro Cebu is one of the officially defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines, the other being Metro Manila, the National Capital Region.


Cities and Municipalities

Map of Metro Cebu

It is comprised five cities and eight municipalities.

City Population¹ Area (km²) Pop. density (per km²)
Ph seal cebucity.gif Cebu City 718,821 279.45 2,572.3
Danao-City logo.png Danao City 98,781 107.30 920.6
Lapu-Lapu City 217,019 59.23 3,664.0
Ph seal cebu mandaue.png Mandaue City 259,728 28.88 8,993.4
Ph seal cebu talisay.png Talisay City 148,110 42.22 1,139.5
Municipality Population¹ Area (km²) Pop. density (per km²)
Ph Seal Cebu Carcar.png Carcar 89,199 96.10 928.2
Ph seal cebu compostela.png Compostela 31,446 68.90 456.4
Noimage.png Consolacion 62,298 42.05 1,481.5
Ph Cebu Cordova Seal.gif Cordova 34,032 8.46 4,022.7
Ph Cebu Liloan Seal.png Liloan 64,970 45.09 1,440.9
Noimage.png Minglanilla 77,268 48.97 1,577.9
Ph Cebu Naga Seal.png Naga 80,189 98.24 816.3
Noimage.png San Fernando 48,235 74.05 651.4

¹2000 Census
Note: In October 2005, development planners from Regional Development Council 7, Metropolitan Cebu Development Council headed by the Cebu Provincial Governor and Local Government Units of Cebu expanded the definition of Metro Cebu to include Danao City, and the municipalities of San Fernando and CarcarRDC enlarges Metro Cebu - Sun. Star Cebu, October 8, 2005[1]</ref>.Official Website of the Municipality of San Fernando Cebu[2]</ref>

The provincial capitol, the central business district, major educational institutions and the international port are all located in Cebu City while major industrial companies and factories are located in Mandaue City. The international airport and the export processing zone are located in Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island. Danao City is primarily a mining city while Talisay City is a residential city with its income generated by small and medium sized businesses.


Cebu was a prosperous fishing village and farming settlement. It had trade relations with China and other countries in Southeast Asia.

On April 7, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu. Magellan, however, failed to successfully claim the Philippines for the crown of Spain, having been slain in neighboring Mactan Island on April 27, 1521 by its chieftain Lapu-lapu.

On April 27, 1565, Miguel López de Legazpi landed in Cebu. Legazpi renamed the city on January 1, 1571, from San Miguel to Villa del Santissimo Nombre de Jesus. During this six year period, Cebu City was the capital of the newly established Spanish colony.

Mandaue City then was known as the "Cove of Cebu." It was formally constituted into a “pueblo” between 1580 to 1700 and was officially known as the town of Mandaue in the year 1899. It emerged into an industrial city of Mandaue. Mandaue became a chartered city on June 21, 1969 through Republic Act 5519. It was considered a highly-urbanized city in the year 1991.

The City of Talisay used to be an Agustinian estate in 1648 but only became a municipality in 1849. On December 30, 2000, Talisay became a component city by virtue of Republic Act 8979.

Lapu-Lapu City was originally referred to as "Mactan." It later became the town of Opon in 1730, the 7th town founded by the Augustinians in Cebu. "Opon" was the name of the place for centuries. The town of Opon became a city on June 17, 1961 and was named Lapu-Lapu City after its hero, Lapu-Lapu, the first Filipino to defy foreign aggression.


Metropolitan Cebu was conceptualized by government planners in the 1970's and was based on experiences of urban planning in Metro Manila. Metro Cebu represented the province's thriving urban centers that are physically proximate to Cebu City which is the leading commercial and financial hub in the Visayas and northern Mindanao areas with a population largely dependent on the economic opportunities prevailing in the area.



The people of Cebu are called Cebuanos and are of Austronesian, Chinese, and Spanish ancestries. Most of the Filipino-Chinese in Metro Cebu trace their ancestry from Fujian, China. Lately, the Koreans have become the largest non-Chinese minority group living and/or studying in Metro Cebu. The Korean consulate put their number at around 70,000 (within Metro Cebu).

Spanish and Chinese communities play an important economic and political role in Cebu. For some, Cebu is a big chinatown and there is no family in Cebu City without a trace of Chinese ancestry.Gavin Sanson Bagares, 'Why Cebu City is a Big Chinatown', Philippine Daily Inquirer, A16 (January 28, 2006)</ref> It is said to be the only city in the country having a large Chinese community living for centuries where there is no Chinatown.


Cebuano or Visayan is the most commonly-used conversational dialect in Metro Cebu. English is used as the mdeium of instruction in educational institutions and business transactions. Cebuanos also know how to speak Filipino/Tagalog, which is the national language taught in schools; and some can also speak other Visayan languages like Waray-Waray and Ilonggo. Many Cebuanos of Chinese ancestry speak Min Nan, the dialect of China's Fujian Province (from where many of the Filipino-Chinese came or descended from).


The majority of the Filipinos residing in Cebu are Christians, mostly Roman Catholics and Protestants. Islam is also professed, particularly of the Maranao Filipinos. The Chinese and the Indians practice Buddhism and Hinduism, respectively.


University of San Carlos in Cebu City is the oldest school in the Philippines

Many of the best and well known educational institutions in the country are located in Metro Cebu like the oldest school in the Philippines — University of San Carlos, University of the Philippines Cebu College, University of San Jose-Recoletos, University of Cebu, Southwestern University and the Cebu Normal University. Other noteworthy universities include University of Visayas, Cebu Doctors' University, Velez College, and Cebu Institute of Technology. Many students from nearby provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao go to Metro Cebu to study college.

There is also a large number of South Korean and Iranian students in the city. Most of the Koreans came here to study basic skills in English while most Iranians study Medicine and other medical-related courses.

Many of Metro Cebu's colleges and universities have multiple campuses. The University of San Jose - Recoletos, for example, established a campus in the southern area of Cebu City. The Universoty of Cebu put-up a massive 9-storey building in the northern 'baranggay' of Banilad.

The Cebu International School has a sprawling campus at Sitio Pit-os, Baranggay Talamban, Cebu City.



Cebu City

Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is the oldest church in the Philippines
Waterfront Hotel in Cebu

Cebu City, by far, has the highest concentration of interesting spots, such as the many historical relics and vestiges of the past. The city itself is the country's oldest, antedating Manila by more than 20 years when the Spanish administration decided to transfer the capital to Luzon. Colon in the downtown area is the country's oldest street.

The downtown area, the old commercial center of the city, has the highest concentration of historical relics from the colonial past. Parian district, in the eastern end of Colon, is the city's and country's oldest settlement. Casa Gorordo, nearby, along Lopez Jaena St., still retains most of its original form and structure. It houses a museum and an art gallery.

A few meters due south, stands a tableau of the past, called the Heritage. It is a bronze sculpture commemorating the historic events that unfolded since the arrival of Spanish conquistadors and the battle that ensued between Ferdinand Magellan and Lapu-Lapu.

The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is just two blocks due south of the tableau. The church may not be the oldest in Cebu but its facade and much of its walls and altar still retain the architectural splendor of the colonial period.

Another downtown landmark is the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. It is the second oldest in the Philippines after Bohol's Baclayon Church. It houses the country's oldest religious icon, the image of Señor Sto. Niño (Holy Child Jesus).

Standing at the south entrance of Basilica del Sto. Nino is Cebu's most famous landmark, the Magellan's Cross. The cross was planted by Ferdinand Magellan to mark the beginning of the Christianization of Cebu. It is now housed inside an octagonal kiosk and remains to be the most visited historic spot in Cebu.

A few steps from the basilica is the country's oldest and smallest fort, the Fort San Pedro. It is the only triangular-shaped fort found anywhere else in the Philippines. Adjacent to the fort is a public park, Plaza Independencia (Freedom Square).

Occupying one entire city block, the University of San Carlos, founded in 1595, is the country's oldest school. It is located near the downtown area flanked from four sides by P. del Rosario St. to the north, Junquera St. to the east, Pelaez St. to the west and Sanciangko St. to the south. The university museum holds some of the most extensive collections of pre-historic artifacts in the country which is worth a visit.

The imposing Cebu Provincial Capitol, a domed palatial government complex lies at the northern end of Osmena Boulevard. It is the seat of the Cebu provincial government where the provincial governor holds office. It is one of the most beautiful provincial capitol in the Philippines, it was built during the American period and was patterned after the U.S. Capitol Building. Seals of American Commonwealth of the Philippines can still be found around the capitol. Sharing the compound is a multi-storey structure called the Palace of Justice directly behind the Capitol which houses various services of the Justice Department, among which are: the Regional Trial Court offices, Provincial Fiscal's Office, Office of the Ombudsman, Parole and Probation Office.

Up the Beverly Hills, stands the postcard-perfect Taoist Temple, a proud symbol of Chinese influence on Cebuano cultural heritage. It houses the teachings of one of ancient China’s great philosophers, Lao-Tse. Its 81 steps represent the 81 chapters of his teachings. The temple is actually a cluster of three temples, the grandest of which is the topmost temple, commanding an awesome view of the city below.

Further up Busay Hills, passing through wealthy enclaves and lush mountains, is the city's highest point, the Tops. It commands a panoramic view of the city and its environs. The place is a favorite destination during hot summers where cool fresh air is a welcome treat.

Mandaue City

In Mandaue City one can find a life-size tableau of the Last Supper inside the St. Joseph Church. The sprawling complex of the famous San Miguel Brewery along Highway Seno is the largest of its kind in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. Mandaue City has the largest concentration of furniture and fashion jewelry factories anywhere in Cebu. A tour to any of the factories should have a prior arrangement with the management.

Hilton Cebu Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City

Lapu-Lapu City

Lapu-Lapu City is famous for its white sand beaches and world renowned diving and snorkeling spots. Many upscale hotels and resorts are located in this island such as the Shangri-La's Mactan Island Resort & Spa, Plantation Bay Resort & Spa, and Hilton Cebu Resort & Spa among others.

The Magellan Shrine and Lapu Lapu Shrine stand on Punta Engaño, site of the Battle of Mactan. Nearby, is the famous Sutukil, a row of eateries that specialize in three of Cebuanos' favorite seafood preparations — grilled (sugba), stewed (tuwa) and pickled (kilaw). Lapu-Lapu City is also famous for its thriving guitar making industry. Guitar factories, mostly backyard types, abound in Mactan Island.

Talisay City

Talisay, a newly chartered city is the old resort town. It was the landing site of the Japanese forces during the WWII, paving the way for the eventual occupation of Cebu. It was also the landing site of the American forces in March 1945 that marked the eventual surrender of the Japanese forces in Cebu.

The city is also home to the renowned Talisay lechon (roasted pig) --- arguably the best-tasting lechon in the Philippines.


Carcar is home to must-see places. Carcar is famous for its centuries old buildings such as the historical 17th century St. Catherine Church which is the second oldest church in Metro Cebu, the Carcar Rotunda, Villadolid Watchtower and several old houses that are being restored. One such house is those belonging to the Sanchez family, which is ten years older than the church in Carcar. The Balay na Tisa of the Sarmiento family, older by 17 years than the Sanchez’s house, is one of the best and painstakingly restored ancestral houses.

Another interesting place to go are the three caves in Barangay Mainit — four kilometers from the town proper going uphill through the Carcar-Barili road. Upon reaching the cave sites, one can see broken statues of Christ, of saints and of crosses dispersed all over the area. The presence of these statues was due to Imelda Marcos’ plan of transforming these caves into a shrine. The statues were brought by helicopters, but in the process of transporting, some of the icons fell, breaking some of its parts, while the others remained intact. These caves are said to be explored by local healers and mystics during Holy Week.

The town is also known for its renowned shoe manufacturing industry and its famous chicharon matmat (crispy pork skin).


SM City Cebu — The largest mall outside Metro Manila

Metro Cebu currently has the largest number of malls in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. Some of the country's biggest malls have branches in Metro Cebu, these are the Ayala Center Cebu and SM City Cebu, both in Cebu City.

Other shopping centers in Cebu City includes Robinson's Place Cebu, Raintree Mall, Colonnade Mall, Rustan's Department Store, Gaisano Metro Colon, Coco Mall, Mango Square, QC Pavillion, Gaisano Country Mall, Rivergate Mall, Gaisano South, Gaisano Main, Century Plaza Complex and the Elizabeth Mall.

Other malls and shopping centers are scattered in the metropolis such as the Pilipinas Makro and Gaisano Metro Mandaue in Mandaue City, Gaisano Mactan and Mactan Marina Mall in Lapu-Lapu City and Gaisano Fiesta Mall in Talisay City.

Metro Cebu has a lot of markets, locally called mercado. Carbon Market, or simply Carbon to the locals, is Cebu City's biggest open-air market. It occupies seven city blocks of market space on the waterfront where almost anything is traded. Traders from as far south as Tawi-Tawi and Davao in Mindanao to as far north as Baguio and Manila in Luzon, converge here to sell their wares. Among the best buys are fresh farm produce such as fruits and vegetables and livestock, fresh and processed meat, and house items at bargain prices. Tabo-an Market, located in the Pahina Central district, is the dried fish trading center. Pasil Fish Port and market in barangay Pasil is Cebu City's largest fish port and trading center. Other major Metro Cebu markets includes Mandaue City Public Market and Lapu-Lapu City Market.


Arroyo taking her Oath of Office in Cebu City on June 30, 2004
Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City — Official venue for the ASEAN Summit 2006

2004 Presidential Inauguration

On June 30, 2004, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was the first Philippine President to be inaugurated in Metro Cebu. The inauguration was done in front of Cebu Provincial Capitol in Cebu City. This was done in gratitude for the support given to her by the people of Cebu during the election. In a break with tradition, she delivered her inaugural address in Manila before departing for Cebu for her inauguration.

2005 Southeast Asian Games

Metro Cebu and other key Philippine cities hosted the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. The event was held from November 27 to December 5, 2005. Venues for this event includes the Cebu City Sports Complex, Cebu Coliseum, Mandaue Coliseum, University of San Carlos and parts of Danao City.

2006 ASEAN Summit

The 12th Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN), originally scheduled for Dec. 10-14 was postponed to January 2007 due to Typhoon Utor. The decision was made in consideration of the safety and welfare of the participants. [3]

The Cebu International Convention Center is a structure built by the Cebu provincial government in time for the 12th ASEAN Summit and 2nd East Asia Summit at a cost of around US$10-million dollars, US$5-million dollars more than expected. It is a three-storey structure with a total floor area of 25,000 square meters and situated on 3.8 hectares of land at the Mandaue City Reclamation Area.

Public Utilities

Globe Innove IT Plaza


Metro Cebu's electricity is generated by the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) which is interconnected by power grids across Visayas. It is transmitted by the state-owned National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) through several high tension wires. It is stored and distributed by the Visayan Electric Company They put out 220VAC 60 Hz(VECO).


In 1974 the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) took over in distributing potable water to the whole metropolis after the Osmena Waterworks System suffered financial losses. MCWD supplies potable water to the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-lapu and Talisay and the municipalities of Consolacion, Lilo-an, Compostela and Cordova from their reservoirs in Talamban and Pardo in Cebu City, Casili in Consolacion and Mananga in Talisay City.

Water shortage has always been a problem in Metro Cebu due to deforestation and seawater intrusion of the underground water supply.Protection of the water supply of metropolis Cebu in consideration of the saline intrusion[4]</ref> There was a proposal to acquire water from nearby Bohol island because of the water crisis in the metropolis.[5]

In 1998, the Mananga Phase I Project located in Talisay City was completed producing an additional 33,000 cu.m or 33 million liters of potable water per day.


Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) is the major phone carrier in the metropolis and the entire province. Globelines Innove and Islacom, both subsidiaries of Globe Telecom came in after the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1995.

There are three wireless telecommunication companies serving Metro Cebu as well as the rest of the Philippines. These are :

  • Smart Communications/ Pilipino Telecommunications Corp., a PLDT subsidiary — using the brands Smart, Talk n Text, and Addict Mobile
  • Globe Telecom — using the brands Globe/Globe Handyphone, and Touch Mobile
  • Digitel Mobile — using the brand Sun Cellular.


See also: Transportation in the Philippines

An intersection within Cebu Business Park


Metro Cebu's roadways are among the country's busiest. The south highway, Osmena Boulevard, Colon, and V. Rama are Metro Cebu's major roads. A new highway which is the South Coastal Road or the Cebu Coastal Road is almost complete. The 12 kilometer, 4-lane highway was created to improve traffic in Metro Cebu. It connects Cebu City, Talisay City and other southern municipalities. An almost 1-kilometer long Subway Tunnel is currently under construction to connect the South Coastal Road with the Sergio Osmeña Avenue in the North Reclamation Area. Other planned projects include a series of flyovers in the north district, the Cebu North Coastal Road and Cloverleaf interlink road project.

Marcelo Fernan Bridge which connects Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City is one of the longest and widest bridge in the Philippines. It was constructed to decongest the traffic in the older Mactan-Mandaue Bridge. This modern bridge has one of the longest center span in the world. A 3rd Mactan-Cebu bridge as well as an underwater tunnel are both being discussed by local leaders citing the growing inconveniences related to the existing two steel bridges.


The province once had a railway system which started from the southern municipality of Carcar up to Danao City in the north. A railway station was once located near Leon Kilat street, where a shopping mall (Elizabeth Mall) now stands.

A new Mass Railway Transit (MRT) system for Metro Cebu has been approved in Congress. The proposed system will follow the old route starting from Carcar up to Danao City and passing through Cebu City. The system however will be implemented in phases and the first phase might actually begin in Talisay City, Metro Cebu and end up in Mandaue City or Lilo-an, Metro Cebu.


Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) is the major airport in the Visayas. Located in Lapu-Lapu City, it is the second busiest airport in the Philippines after Metro Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The number of weekly international flights to and from MCIA is constantly increasing. Cebu has regular direct international flights to Singapore, Hong Kong, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo|Tokyo-Narita, Seoul|Seoul-Incheon, Taipei and Doha. There are also chartered and extra flights to Busan, Incheon, Taipei, Kansai, Nagoya and Kaohsiung.

Metro Cebu's MCIA is the international gateway to the economic hub of the Central and Southern Philippines. There are numerous daily flights between Cebu and most Philippine cities. Air freight to and from Cebu is reliable and efficient with major international couriers like DHL, UPS, FedEx, TNT and Aboitiz International operating here.

A new international terminal will be constructed starting 2006 and will be completed in four years after which the existing 15 year old terminal, which houses the domestic and international wings and has a capacity of 2 million passengers, will be purely devoted for domestic use.


Metro Cebu's Port of Cebu is the biggest and main port of entry in the province of Cebu and Central Visayas Region. It plays a vital role in the Philippine's shipping industry with about 90 percent of the country's shipping companies that are based here. The port is located at the center of the province's east coast. It is nestled in a natural harbor in the narrow strait between Cebu City and Mactan Island, the latter providing a natural cover and breakwater, making the port one of the safest and operational the whole year round.

Cebu International Port and Cebu Domestic Port serves container vessels and passenger ships with destinations around the country and the world. Cebu International Port is a multipurpose terminal covering an area of 10 hectares with 690 meters of berthing space and a controlling draught of minus 8.5 meters at MLLW. The Cebu Baseport — Domestic Zone is the area for the domestic transactions of different business coming from and going to the different island of the archipelago. It is dedicated to coastwise shipping with 3.5 kilometers of berthing space, 3 finger piers and 3 passenger terminals.


Cebu City and Talisay City

There's an ongoing dispute between Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena and Talisay City Representative Eduardo Gullas that straddles Cebu City and Talisay City.

South Reclamation Project (SRP) is a national project centered on Cebu South Coastal Road, a super highway linking the two cities. The project was initiated by Cebu City government headed by Mayor Tomas Osmena. The project will reduce the travel time between the two cities and provide additional land area for residential, businesses and other investments.

The location of municipal boundary monument (MBM) 30, the marker establishing the boundary between Cebu City and Talisay City within Kilometer 10 of the SRP, showed the SRP did enroached on Talisay City [6] [7]. Representative Gullas said that he was only protecting Talisay City’s territorial integrity, which the Cebu City Government violated when it reclaimed land within Talisay’s municipal waters without permission.

Talisay City is claiming ownership of a 53.44-hectare portion of the South Reclamation Project (SRP) which the Cebu City government is currently denying. They said that early on, Talisay City officials were offered a chance to take part in the reclamation work, but they begged off.

The national government has endorsed the entire SRP will be declared under the ownership of the city of Cebu although the finality of the issue such as the territorial jurisdiction should be settled in the court.Finally, a solution — Cebu Daily News, April 14, 2005</ref>

Metropolitan Cebu Development Council

The Metropolitan Cebu Development Council was created by the RDC through Resolution No.117 (1997) and was patterned after the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. It is mandated to formulate development plans, prepare programs and projects, and coordinate/monitor the implementation of programs and projects that address problems and concerns affecting Metro Cebu.

The MCDC is composed of the Provincial Governor of Cebu; the Mayors of the Cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapulapu and Talisay; and the Mayors of the Municipalities of Compostela, Liloan, Consolacion, Cordova, Minglanilla and Naga. The Governor of Cebu acts as Interim Chairman of the Council.

Last August 2005, the Regional Development Council (RDC 7) of Central Visayas, composed of all the governors of Region VII, the Metropolitan Cebu Development Council headed by the Cebu Provincial Governor and Local Government Units of Metro Cebu expanded the definition of Metro Cebu to include the towns of San Fernando and Carcar in the south and Danao City in the north [8].

Member-LGUs of the MCDC believe the commercial and industrial area of Cebu has already expanded to the towns of San Fernando and Carcar and to Danao City.

MCDC does not have legal and institutional powers and resources like the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). The MCDC defines the coverage of Metro Cebu for planning purposes only. The Province of Cebu has proposed a bill to create a permanent Metropolitan Cebu Development Authority (MCDA). This bill is still pending in both the Congress and Senate.


1. RDC enlarges Metro Cebu - Sun. Star Cebu, October 8, 20051
2. Official Website of the Municipality of San Fernando Cebu2
3. Gavin Sanson Bagares, 'Why Cebu City is a Big Chinatown', Philippine Daily Inquirer, A16 (January 28, 2006)
4. Protection of the water supply of metropolis Cebu in consideration of the saline intrusion3
5. Finally, a solution — Cebu Daily News, April 14, 2005

See also

External links

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