Cebu City is the second most significant metropolitan center in the Philippines and known as the oldest city established by the Spaniards in the country. It is located on the eastern shore of Cebu and was the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. Cebu is the Philippines’ main domestic shipping port and is home to about 80% of the country’s domestic shipping companies. Cebu also holds the second largest international flights in the Philippines and is a significant centre of commerce, trade and industry in the Visayas and Mindanao region. According to the 2007 Philippine census, the city has a population of about 798,809 people.
Cebu City is the centre of a metropolitan area called Metro Cebu, which includes the cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay. Metro Cebu has a total population of about 2 million people. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport, located in Lapu-Lapu City is only a twenty-minute drive away from Cebu City. To the northeast of the city are Mandaue City and the town of Consolacion, to the west are Toledo City, the towns of Balamban and Asturias, to the south are Talisay City and the town of Minglanilla. Across Mactan Strait to the east is Mactan Island where Lapu-Lapu City and an aquarium attraction are located.
Tourism continues to contribute much to the city’s economy, not just of the city itself, but to the entire province. Because of this, the city hosted the 1998 ASEAN Tourism Forum. The city also hosted the East Asian Tourism Forum on August 2002, in which the province of Cebu is a member and signatory.
On early 2007, Cebu Plaza hotel was formally reopened under a new name, Marco Polo Plaza, after more than two years of closure. The hotel complex was formerly occupied by Cebu Plaza which was the first deluxe hotel in the province. It opened in the early 1980s and was viewed by some as a symbol of the province’s economic growth.
There are a number of significant Spanish colonial buildings in Cebu City, including the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, Fort San Pedro, Casa Gorordo Museum and Magellan’s Cross.
There are a number of shopping centres in the city, the most popular of which are the SM City Cebu, Ayala Center Cebu, Robinsons Place and Gaisano Malls. There are also other smaller shopping centres and stand-alone department stores. Throughout the years however, the establishment of large shopping centres offers some sort of a town centre environment which have become popular. Recent development and expansion of existing shopping centres have also given the shoppers a new variety of choices in the city such as SM Cebu’s “Northwing”, a multi-level annex building with multilevel parking and Ayala Center Cebu’s “Leisure Oasis”, a development that consists of redefining Cebu’s shopping experience through the newly re-designed Ayala Shopping complex. There is also the Carbon Market, a farmer’s market in the city and the famous “Dried Mango” food.
Cebu City is considered as one of the most progressive cities in the Philippines. About 80 percent of the island vessels operating in the country are also based there. Recently, the entry of business process outsourcing (BPO) firms such as call centres have contributed much to the growth of the local economy. BPO sites are scattered throughout the city. During the last years of the 1980s, growth has been spread to the countryside. Thus the name Queen City of the south, which was formerly held by Ilo-ilo City, is being used by Cebu City now. Aside from shellcrafts, rattan furnitures and stonecraft, tourism may well rake in dollars.
The Cebu Metropolitan Area has all the necessary infrastructures sufficient enough for its pace of urbanization. The city is readily accessible by air via the Mactan-Cebu International Airport located in Lapu-Lapu City which has direct international flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China, Qatar, South Korea and other domestic destinations. There are many international and cargo airlines flying to Cebu, such as Cathay Pacific, Silk Air, Qatar Airways, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and FedEx Express, 2GO, and Pacific East Asia Cargo Airlines respectively. There are also direct transfer flights via the capital’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport that readily connects the city to other destinations in the world.
The city is served by a domestic and international port which are handled by the Cebu Port Authority. Much of the city’s waterfront is actually occupied by the port with around 3.5 kilometers of berthing space. The domestic port readily gives access to nearby islands and provinces. The city’s central location makes it an ideal shipping hub. It is also home to more than 80% of the country’s island vessels traveling in domestic routes mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao.
The South Road Properties (SRP) is a 300-hectare prime property development project on a reclaimed land located a few metres off the coast of Cebu’s central business district. It is registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and is funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation(JBIC). Traversing the property is a 12 kilometres, four-lane highway known as the Cebu Coastal Road that provides the motorists with a good view of Cebu’s south coast and the nearby island of Bohol.