It appears an A-list Hollywood actress visited Cebu recently, and it was not for a vacation but for charity work in the slum areas of the city. Lara Tan of CNN Philippines reported that Australian actress Margot Robbie dropped by the Queen City of the South to chop carrots, prepare Baguio beans and stir a pot of porridge.
Rise Above Foundation Cebu project manager Elisabet Hansen revealed through a Facebook post that she met the “Suicide Squad” actress while she was on her way back to Cebu from Manila. Hansen said she talked with the actress and it resulted to a feeding sponsorship where Robbie and her friends helped in the preparation, cooking and serving of food for the children.
Hansen added that the actress and her friends accompanied the Rise Above Foundation Cebu team to hand out meal tickets in depressed areas of the city. She added that she is hoping that the story will serve as an inspiration for other people to do kind deeds as well as “support good causes.”
Aside from lending a hand in the activity, the actress also implored her Instagram followers to either give a donation to Rise Above Foundation Cebu or to sponsor a feeding and lend a hand in cooking for the children. She indicated on her post that £100 can feed 400 hungry children.
Margot Robbie plays Harley Quinn in the highly-anticipated superhero movie “Suicide Squad” of DC Entertainment. She is currently in the country working on a 2016 film adaptation of Tarzan, according to the dailymail.co.uk. The actress will play the role of Jane Porter in the Warner Bros. movie. Margot Robbie also posted a video on her Instagram account of her swinging through trees and jumping into the beautiful waters of Bohol.
Aside from the kiosk housing Magellan’s Cross, the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda is one of the most recognizable landmarks of the Queen City of the South. Located at the junction connecting General Maxilom Avenue and Osmeña Boulevard, it is among the most famous plazas in Cebu.
It was named after the “Grand Old Man of Cebu,“ the late President Sergio Osmeña, Sr. The rotunda features a park and a picturesque fountain illuminated with colorful lights in the evenings. In addition to being a place where lovebirds meet and families to enjoy their day, the rotunda also became the venue of numerous local events, like government functions, social gatherings and beauty pageants, among others.
Fuente Osmeña was inaugurated in 1912 and was constructed to inaugurate the new water system of the city. The Fuente Osmeña Rotunda was part of the master plan for Cebu prepared by Architect William Parsons in 1911. The Parsons plan recommended the construction of the new Capitol building on the site of rotunda, which served as the central hub from where six diagonal roads would emanate from. The Parson plan showed similarities with the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but only General Maxilom Avenue, Osmeña Boulevard and B. Rodriguez Avenue were built.
Fuente Osmeña was once the center of activity in the city with numerous business establishments and government offices surrounding it. While development in the city has spread to other areas, it is still a welcome oasis for early morning joggers and late night strollers who want to end the day taking in the breathtaking lights of the city.
Long before the coming of the Spaniards, the Chinese have already established their presence in Cebu. In fact, the Parian district can be considered as the Chinatown of Cebu since many Chinese traders dropped off the products they traded in the area. With the significant Chinese population in Cebu, it is all but understandable for Chinese restaurants to sprout all around the city.
Presently, there are numerous restaurants satisfying the cravings for Chinese food of Cebuanos. Among the more prominent ones are Grand Majestic Restaurant, Ching Palace, Tin Gow, Lai Garden, and Seafood City.
However, long before these restaurants opened their doors in Cebu, there was the White Gold House restaurant. The White Gold restaurant is considered as the grandest Chinese restaurant in Cebu, located across the ruins of the old White Gold department store.
In its heyday, the White Gold House was the favorite place of anyone who wanted a taste of authentic Chinese food. It was also the venue of baptismal and wedding receptions as well as birthday parties in the past. Despite the increasing competition, it still continues to offer among the best Chinese cuisine in the city.
With the recent developments in the area, the White Gold House restaurant may relive its glory days and once again become the one of the best Chinese restaurants in the Queen City of the South.
“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” - George Bernard Shaw
The love affair of Cebuanos for food is quite obvious with the numerous ways Cebuanos prepare their food. This can’t be more obvious at the SuTuKil stalls right beside the Mactan Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City. SuTuKil or STK is an acronym for the three ways of cooking seafood, Sugba or to grill on charcoal, Tuwa or stewing food with spices, and Kilaw or immersing raw food with white vinegar mixed with ginger and aromatics.
The SuTuKil area is located to the left of the Mactan Shrine, past the souvenir shops and police precinct. The area actually has a number of restaurants where visitors can dine in after visiting the Mactan Shrine. It is also a good stopover place for first-time visitors of Cebu. The restaurants offer different types of seafood, including fish, shrimps, clams, crabs, scallops, squid and even lobsters.
Among the more famous restaurants are Manna SuTuKil and Fredz SuTuKil. These two restaurants are said to be among the pioneers in the providing the freshest catch of the day. The weight of the seafood determines the price of the food. Aside from the well-known SuTuKil method of cooking, the restaurants can also prepare the seafood using other methods, such as baked scallops, sautéed crabs, and fried calamares. These cooking methods can be done upon request.
When the STK restaurants started out a number of years ago, the prices were quite affordable for locals. But, with the increase in the number of foreign tourists, prices were adjusted to cater to the budgets of these international visitors. The lack of new offerings was also emphasized by some return customers, who said it may be necessary for the STK restaurants to innovate and offer something new to its clients. In response to these comments, government officials are mapping out plans in addressing the issues affecting the area.
Despite these issues, the popularity of SuTuKil continues to grow. It can be seen with the opening of a number of STK restaurants in Cebu City. Similar to Larsians, eating fresh seafood is not the only reason for people to visit the SuTuKil restaurants at the Mactan Shrine since it is also about experiencing the love affair of Cebuanos with good food in one of the most famous dining places in Cebu.
The Guide to Sleeping in Airports released its list for the Best Airports in Asia 2015 recently, and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport made it to the list along with two other Philippine airports. The same interactive site ranked the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as the 8th worst airport in Asia, which is a significant improvement from its third place finish last year.
The website shows that airports are ranked according to comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service. Travelers answer an online survey ranking taking into account the "sleep-ability" factor, amenities, services and features layover passengers can take advantage of, among others.
While there were some negative comments from some travelers, a number of travelers also gave some positive comments about the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
Joining the Mactan-Cebu International Airport on the Best Airports in Asia 2015 list are Iloilo International Airport and Clark International Airport in Pampanga. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport was 18th among the 30 Best Airports in Asia according to the Guide to Sleeping in Airports. On the other hand, Iloilo International Airport and Clark International Airport ranked 21st and 24th, respectively.
The good news comes a few months after the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) broke ground for the first resort airport in the world. Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya of the DOTC said during the groundbreaking ceremony in June 29 that he Mactan-Cebu International Airport will become the second biggest gateway in the country. The groundbreaking marks the “start of Philippine airports matching the best in the world,” Abaya added.
Aside from the building a new terminal, the existing passenger terminal building will be converted into an exclusive domestic terminal facility. Construction is expected to be finalized by 2018 and renovation of the existing terminal of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport will be completed by 2019.
The complete list of the Best Airports in Asia for 2015 is as follows:
1) Singapore Changi International Airport
2) Seoul Incheon International Airport in South Korea
3) Tokyo Haneda International Airport in Japan
4) Taipei Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan
5) Hong Kong International Airport
6) Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia
7) Osaka Kansai International Airport in Japan
8) New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport in India
9) Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in India
10) Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in India
11) Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand
12) Tokyo Narita International Airport in Japan
13) Koh Samui Airport in Thailand
14) Trivandrum International Airport in India
15) Cochin International Airport in India
16) Lahore Allama Iqbal International Airport in Pakistan
17) Bangalore Bengaluru International Airport in India
18) Mactan–Cebu International Airport
19) Kolkata Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in India
20) Karachi Jinnah International Airport in Pakistan
21) Iloilo International Airport
22) Kualanamu International Airport in Indonesia
23) Da Nang International Airport in Vietnam
24) Clark International Airport
25) Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Azerbaijan
26) Surabaya Juanda International Airport in Indonesia
27) Penang International Airport in Malaysia
28) Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport in Vietnam
29) Beijing Capital International Airport in China
30) Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Malaysia
Lapu-Lapu was the native chieftain who ruled Mactan Island and is considered as the first Filipino hero after he fought Ferdinand Magellan in the Battle of Mactan. To honor the heroics of Lapu-Lapu on April 27, 1521, a 20-meter bronze statue was erected at the Mactan Shrine in Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City.
The statue of Lapu-Lapu is said to be the exact location of the Battle of Mactan, where Magellan was killed by the warrior of the Mactan chieftain. The statue shows Lapu-Lapu holding a curved kampilan with his right hand while his left hand is holding a shield. These were the weapons used by the native chieftain in the battle.
Aside from the larger-than-life statue of Lapu-Lapu, the Magellan Shrine was also erected to honor the Portuguese explorer. The memorial tower, which is an obelisk with a sphere on its apex, was erected in 1866. The obelisk sits on top of plinth with a tripartite structure as its base. The monument is inscribed with text honoring Magellan.
A covered structure can also be found in the Mactan Shrine complex. It houses a mural painting depicting the Battle of Mactan. Right in front of the painting stands a commemorative marker saying, “Here on April 27, 1521, Lapu-Lapu and his men repulsed the Spanish invaders, killing their leader, Ferdinand Magellan. Thus Lapu-Lapu became the first Filipino to have repelled European aggression.”
Every April 27, the “Kadaugan sa Mactan” is held at the shrine to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Mactan. The event re-enacts the epic battle between Lapu-Lapu and Magellan. It is a major attraction for both the locals and tourists, and draws a huge crowd every year.
The Mactan Shrine is one of the sites visitors of Cebu should not miss not only because it is dedicated to the first native to resist Spanish colonization but also because of the Sutukil stalls just outside the shrine itself, which is another story in itself.
The Traveler's 20 Best Islands in the World of Conde Nast Traveler magazine was published recently and the Queen City of the South made it. The readers of the travel magazine vote for the entries on the list, which included locations from the Caribbean all the way to islands in Southeast Asia.
The website of Conde Nast Traveler indicated that over 128,000 travelers participated in the annual survey. The list of the best islands is based on the comments and ratings given by the participants. Cebu is the 19th best island on the list while Boracay placed 15th. Palawan is the best island in the world according to Conde Nast Traveler magazine.
The Queen City of the South received an overall rating of 80.404. Cebu is renowned for its beaches, both on the mainland and the surrounding islands. While Cebu City is “not as wild as Phuket,” it has a number of promising restaurants as well as excellent shops.
The Conde Nast Traveler website also highlighted Camotes Island where travelers can get an authentic taste of the island life.
“Nearly every country in the world is now becoming industrialized as rapidly as it can.” - John Boyd Orr
It appears this may not hold true for the Philippines in the near future as hinted on a report from Andrew James Masigan on mb.com.ph. But, the same cannot be said for Cebu since its industrial sector has experienced a boost in the last five years, mainly in creative industries, electronics, ship-building, and furniture. Aside from being the most diversified region in the Philippines, the industrial sector of Cebu has increased faster compared to that of other regions in the country. In fact, Cebu may be on its way into entering an exclusive list of the newly industrialized economies in the region.
Let’s backtrack into the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. During this time, the country was in the middle of rebuilding its democratic institutions after two decades under the Marcos dictatorship. While the Philippines dealt with the removal of monopolies within its economy, newly-industrialized countries continued to develop. Due to this, the country was described as the “sick man of Asia.”
Fast forward to the present time, changes have been noted as investor confidence in the country increased with the commitment of the government in dealing with corruption and promoting good governance. The Philippines is currently among the most financially stable economies in the world thanks to good fiscal management by the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. In fact, growth in the Philippines reached 6.3 percent in the last five years, which is the highest in the ASEAN region.
Despite these accomplishments, the country has yet to reach the status of a newly industrialized economy. Only 33 percent of the country’s economy can be attributed to industry while 57 percent can be credited to services. Agriculture takes up the remaining 10 percent. Due to this, the Philippines cannot be considered a newly industrialized economy since it is mainly a service-driven economy.
But, when it comes to Cebu, the figures are different. The industrial sector of Metro Cebu accounts for nearly 40 percent of its economy, which is around 6 percent higher than the national average. The livelihood of around 29 percent of the labor force is based on the industrial section, which is nearly double the national average. The per capita income in Cebu is among the highest in the Philippines since its economy leans towards industry.
The economy of Cebu has been expanding by 9 percent, which is higher than the growth rate of the entire country. While Cebu is the fourth biggest regional economy in the country, it has the smallest population among the top four regions.
The growth of the industrial sector in Cebu is nearly double the growth rate of its service sector. The past five years saw industries growing by over 13 percent. In comparison, the services sector grew by only 7 percent. Exports in Cebu from 2013 to 2014 increased by 38 percent. Total exports reached $ 5.4 billion, which is $1.9 billion higher than its imports. With these figures, it may be possible for Cebu to become a newly industrialized economy by 2025 if its growth continues at its current pace.
Infrastructure is critical to ensure continuous economic growth in Cebu. Among the major projects set to be completed in the by 2017 are the Bus Rapid Transit system and a world-class airport. While these projects allow Cebu attain the status of a newly industrialized economy, there are other areas for improvement. It will be necessary for the government to improve the road and bridge networks along with the seaports and export processing zones in the region. Traffic in Cebu has gone from bad to worse in the past few years, making it critical for the government to find ways in managing it to prevent any adverse effects on its growth.
The Mega Cebu 2050 is a development road map showing what Cebu aims to achieve by 2050. The master plan epitomizes the aims and aspirations of Cebu for 2050. Since the whole country has a stake in the success of Cebu, it is necessary for the government to ensure suitable infrastructure projects are set aside for the region. Among the projects urgently needed by Metro Cebu are an effective flood control system, a Light Railway System, a bulk water supply system, and a bigger seaport.
While the government may have had a hand in the growth Cebu is currently enjoying, it was mainly achieved through hard work and proper planning. Since the country has the opportunity of becoming a newly industrialized economy through the development in Cebu, it will be necessary for the government to provide Cebu will all the infrastructure projects it requires to ensure its continuous growth.
Cebu City joins four other Asian cities in the Urban Green Grown in Dynamic Asia Project of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as reported by Princess Dawn Felicitas on sunstar.com.ph.
The “green growth” study aims to find ways in promoting growth in rapidly-developing cities in Asia by looking into policies that promote “greening’ and competitiveness among fast-growing economies. This was revealed by Governor Hilario Davide, who is also the head of the Metro Cebu Development Coordination Board or the MCDCB. The environmental performance and quality of life in the city will be examined by the project to look into areas for improvement.
The project also aims to enhance the capacity of the city in accomplishing green growth.
The OECD study comes with the completion of the roadmap study for sustainable urban development for metropolitan Cebu by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The roadmap study requires the implementation of the Mega Cebu plan, which can be started by offering it as the focus area of the OECD study, Davide said.
Since the development of Cebu is already at a critical stage, it would be advisable to take advantage of the study by using it to look into urban structure and land use policies in facilitating the creation of a better future for Cebu, Davide added. This can be used to create the details for “smart growth principles” that ensure green growth for Cebu while taking into account resiliency and economic competitiveness.
While the JICA roadmap has a different focus from the OECD, they can be merged to ensure all aspects in the development of Cebu are covered. The MCDCB indicated that the JICA roadmap concentrates on the creation of necessary infrastructure to promote development. On the other hand, the OECD study is focused on policy requirements for economic and social development.
The entire “green growth” study costs around P10 million, and the Cebu City Government will have to shoulder 25 percent of the total cost. The remaining cost of the project will be shouldered by the OECD. The City Council already made a request to include the P2.5 million contribution of the city in the annual budget for next year.
In addition to Cebu, the cities of Bangkok in Thailand, Bandung in Indonesia, Iskandar or Johor Bahru in Malaysia and Haiphong in Vietnam are also a part of the “green growth” study.
When the word Larsian is mentioned, all true-blue Cebuanos immediately salivate at the thought of the pork, chicken and fish cooked slowly on a barbecue grill. The smell, the taste and the overall atmosphere of the place literally awakens the senses. The current location of the place is just a few paces away from its original location.
The name Larsian actually comes from the names of twin sisters, Pilar and Siana, who set up a small eatery in the area in ‘70s. The stall was run by the son of Pilar, Colonel Alvino Mondarez. As the popularity of the area increased, barbecue stalls started to sprout like mushrooms. It gained prominence after an advertisement for a beverage was shot close to the area.
Tables used to line inside or outside the stalls with the barbecue grills positioned along the Don Mariano Cui Street and the side street close to Fuente Osmeña. Each stall was decorated with picture calendars, ceiling fans and Christmas lights. The barbecue stalls were transferred to a provincial lot in 2007 during the term of former governor Gwen Garcia. Stall owners employed people, who positioned themselves along the entrance, to guide customers to their stalls.
In April 2012, Larsian went through a major change as the governor wanted to create a wholesome atmosphere where locals and tourists can have a bite to eat. The governor broached the idea of using smokeless charcoal for the barbecue grills. The charcoal briquettes come from Tabogon, Cebu and were made of carbonized coconut shells and twigs.
The use of solar light bulbs was also proposed by the governor, who encouraged stall attendants to wear uniforms and hairnets. A standardized portioning of the food was also proposed and the open air display of uncooked or half-cooked food was discouraged. The vendors were temporarily moved to an area beside Robinsons Cybergate while the renovations were being made.
Today, Larsian looks more organized with barbecue stalls lining up the side and tables positioned right in front of each stall. A common cooking area was also set up in the middle of the place, letting diners avoid reeking of smoke while eating to their hearts content. The barbecue stalls offer similar food items, including pork, chicken, fish and squid, among others. Waiting time for the food to be cooked is normally fifteen minutes. While Larsian is open 24 hours, most stall owners open for business from 10 AM up to 2 AM.
Some locals who experienced the original set up of the place miss the old Larsian after the changes were made. They miss the smoke, the ruckus and the overall atmosphere that contributed to the unique dining experience of the place. Despite this, everyone can agree that Larsian is a place where people from all walks of life come together for not only the food but the overall experience as well.
Lola Pureza's Peanut Browas, a taste of old Cebu.
Available in leading supermarkets and pasalubong shops.