"Parian, Cebu City is one of the oldest and most historic places in the country. Parian was once a small community of Chinese traders in the sixteenth century. It grew into a residential headquarters of the most dynamic entrepreneurs of Cebu and became the general district.
Chinese traders participated in the lucrative galleon trade and somehow had to settle down in Cebu. In time, Parian evolved into a market and trading center.
At the turn of the present century, Parian was the residential area of the city’s wealthiest families. The place became the center of social life of the Buena Sociedad Cebuana. The area remained a public place for it was variously the site of schoolhouses, a firehouse, and a local library."
After sightseeing the Cebu City for a while and planning day trips around the area, I find the info available quite overwhelming. Recommended places to visit in Cebu are all over the map. And, with the city's infamous heavy traffic, it might take a long while to get from one area to another.
Therefore, since I like to take it easy, I started planning my tours one area at the time. Instead of trying to see everything in the city in one day, I make my trips enjoyable. That means less driving and less sitting in the traffic - and fewer places to visit. Here's the first one of my recommended daily tours: In and around the district of Parian, Cebu City.
- Colon Street
- Yap Sandiego Ancestral House
- Heritage of Cebu Monument
- 1730 Jesuit House
- Basilica Santo Nino
- Magellan's Cross
If you're touring on your own, choose only the places you're interested in. Start with any of the listed places, they are all within a walking distance from each other. Still, make sure to consult the map first! 🙂
1. Colon Street
Known as the oldest street in the Philippines, Colon Street was built by the Spaniards during the time of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. Named after Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus), it is the heart of downtown Cebu, a glittering area by night lined with movie houses, restaurants, department stores, and other business establishments.
Developed by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the place became the center for commercial activities in downtown Cebu. Through the years, Colon remained the lifeline of trade and commerce in colonial Cebu. It was in Colon where the first business establishments and offices where built and flourished in Cebu. It was also the place where most happenings took place such as social and cultural events. The street similarly has become a witness to the rise and fall of Cebu’s economic and political competence over the years.
Labeled as the center of commerce and trade, many universities were built near or along Colon Street such as University of Cebu, University of the Visayas, University of San Carlos, and University of San Jose-Recoletos.
Colon Street is now lined with many big commercial establishments. Investors believe that profit is halfway achieved once they invest in Colon. Jeepneys, taxis and buses as well have replaced the calesas (horse-drawn carriage) of long ago as the means of public transportation that move in and out of this street.
Colon never lost its position as the bargain hunters’ paradise. Most old stores and even the newer shops on Colon offer much cheaper prices compared to their counterparts in the malls, making them the primary choice for most shoppers. Colon shops are a one-stop shop where you can buy everything with price tags assuredly lesser than other places in Cebu.
2. Yap Sandiego Ancestral House
Dating back to the Spanish colonial era of the 1600s, the Yap Sandiego Ancestral House is a museum that sheds light on the Chinese settlements of the city. It is said to be among the first Chinese houses to be built outside of the country. Find out about the unusual blend of Spanish and Chinese cultures that infiltrated the Philippines centuries ago.
Note that the structure is built from a mixture of wood and coral stones, with red tiles making up the curved roof. Enjoy the green ambiance generated by the potted plants flanking the entrance walkway.
3. Heritage Monument
The Heritage of Cebu Monument is a mesmerizing tableau of sculptures made of steel, brass, and concrete, depicting some of the most important historical scenes of the city. From Rajah Humabon’s baptism and the legendary Battle of Mactan to the late Sergio Osmeña Senior, The Heritage of Cebu Monument reveals and illustrates some of the most important events and people in the city’s illustrious history.
4. 1730 Jesuit House
1730 Jesuit House is tucked behind high contemporary concrete walls right in the heart of the Parian district in Cebu City, the Jesuit House is an 18th century house that has been remarkably preserved throughout the years. It is very much hidden from public view so that only a very few, mostly history buffs, knew of its existence and origin. It has survived different transformations from being the residence of a religious community to a hardware store and warehouse. Not until the present owners converted it into a museum last year has the house slowly entered into the consciousness of the locals and into the pages of local tourist guide books and websites.
5. Basilica del Santo Niño de Cebú
Just before everything went horribly wrong and he wound up dead on the beach of Cebu, Magellan presented this small sacred figure, along with other religious gifts to the Cebu chieftain’s wife Hara Amihan to celebrate their conversion to Christianity.
The elaborately dressed carved wooden figure, believed to be of Belgian origin, traveled with Magellan on his voyage of discovery and conquest from Spain to the Philippines, making this the oldest Catholic treasure in the islands.
After Magellan’s death at the hands of angry locals in April 1521, the little Jesus disappeared until 1565, when it was rediscovered. The oldest church in the Philippines, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is said to be built over the spot where it was found. The basilica has burnt to the ground twice, and was bombed during WWII, but the little Santo Niño has escaped ‘miraculously’ unscathed.
6. Magellan's Cross
Magellan’s Cross holds a very big part of the history of Cebu. It is believed to be a Christian cross planted by the Portuguese and Spanish explorers headed by Ferdinand Magellan. It was planted upon their arrival in Cebu on March 15, 1521. That day also marked the birth of Christianity in the land.
The original cross was believed by the people of old to have miraculous healing powers so they started chipping it away. Because of that, the government officials was prompted to supposedly encased it in another wooden cross made from tindalo.It is now housed in a small chapel. Rumors say though that the original cross was destroyed or disappeared after the death of Magellan.
Today, the cross is housed in an octagonal pavilion called the “kiosk”. It is one of the main attractions for tourists because it is a part of country’s history.
Happy touring of the Parian, Cebu City's district that has much history to offer.