Know an Asian Island: Cebu, Philippines


Kawasan Falls on the West coast of Central Cebu, Philippines

It’s not just any island –it’s the 3rd “Best Island in Asia” according to Travel + Leisure’s Readers Choice Poll 2010 (The top two are Bali and the Maldives, which I have to say is not just one island, but anyway –Cebu is in good company.)


It’s also my home island, where I was born and raised. All my life I’ve told people what an awesome island Cebu (pronounced “seh BOO”) is.


Now that it’s got validation from a highly acclaimed travel magazine, let me teach you a thing or two about the third best island in Asia.








  • Cebu is the second biggest city in the Philippines, after the capital, Manila. It’s located in the center of the Philippine archipelago, which has over 7,000 islands.
  • Cebu’s heritage is a mix of Spanish and Chinese influences, which you’ll find in a lot of old Catholic churches and local, Chinese-owned businesses.




While on his landmark expedition to circumnavigate the world, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed by a Cebuano tribal chieftain named Lapu-Lapu. Set on converting the pagan chief to Christianity, Magellan and his sixty men descended on the shores of Mactan Island, Cebu, only to be met by 1,500 of Lapu-Lapu’s hostile men.  Magellan was shot by a poisonous arrow and later killed by bamboo spears.




Ever seen that Youtube video of orange-garbed prisoners dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”? That one. That, along with several other choreographed dances of ‘80s hits, was shot in the exercise yard of a maximum security prison in Cebu.
The dances were originally part of a prison program to keep the inmates mentally and physically fit. Now it’s a point of pride (43 million views and counting), not to mention a tourist draw. The 1,500 or so male inmates give free monthly performances, and visitors can have their photos taken with the performers.




In Anthony Bourdain’s crappy coverage of the Philippines for his usually incredible show, “No Reservations,” he visited Cebu and sampled a local delicacy, a roasted pig called lechon. This is no ordinary pig over a spit –the pig is stuffed with a tasty blend of herbs and spices, and carefully kept moist as it spins slowly over hot coals.


The result is the juiciest strips that tear easily from your fingers, and skin that crackles as you bite into it. Tony Bourdain, food connoisseur and pork lover extraordinaire, called Cebu lechon “the best pig ever.”




It’s a tropical island with beautiful white-sand beaches and calm, warm waters famous for lush coral reefs and a wealth of marine life. It’s got all the comforts of a big city, but it still retains a friendly, small-town vibe.


That, plus delicious pork and dancing prisoners. Seriously, Cebu rocks. Consider it the next time you plan a trip to an Asian island.

Post your Comments

Book with OneTravel

  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Cars
Click here for calendar
Click here for calendar
Seniors: (65+)
Infants on lap:
Infants on seat:
Save on Bookings with 3+ pax
or hotel stays of 3+ nights
this month withSM25


  • A Dinner Table Mouthful! How to Say 'Bon Appétit' in 15 Languages Across EuropeComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0

  • By:Suzy Guese, last post 17 Nov 2014
  • The French phrase, “Bon appétit,” is often used as a substitute for the lack of an English phrase of the same meaning. While you might hear, “Enjoy your meal,” Bon appétit is one of the most common ways of greeting someone before they chow down. As most of the country gets ready to have a Thanksgiving feast, in case you have a few at your table who don’t speak English or French for that matter, it is useful to know how to wish someone a good meal in some of France’s neighbors. Here’s how to say essentially, “Good appetite,” in 15 European more

  • Switzerland Celebrates 150 Years of Winter TourismComments: 1Rating: 0 / 0

  • By:Chris Osburn, last post 17 Nov 2014
  • Mention Switzerland and most people immediately dream of skiing in the snowed Alps. And that’s just as many folks from there would like you to think of their beautiful home. Indeed, there’s consensus among the Swiss that their country is the original destination for cold weather fun — and that this coming season marks the 150th anniversary of winter more

  • The Next New York Obsession: MeowParlour Cat CaféComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0

  • By:Danielle Thillet, last post 15 Nov 2014
  • The Internet loves two things: coffee and cats. It just seems natural that these obsessions should combine. While cat cafés are not a new concept in many Asian countries, the phenomenon had not yet made permenant residence in the United States - until now. New York as always been a hub for ideas from different cultures to merge together, and next month, the Big Apple will have its very first cat café: more

  • Celebrate Claude Monet’s BirthdayComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0

  • By:Chris Osburn, last post 14 Nov 2014
  • Claude Monet was born November 14, 1840 in Paris and died December 5, 1926 about 75 kilometres from Paris in his home at Giverny, Normandy. During his prolific career as an artist, he painted hundreds of works of art with a passion to capture his impressions of the French countryside and beyond. With works by the beloved artist and founder of French Impressionism on view across the globe (literally there are numerous “Monets” in museums and galleries on every continent except Antarctica) what better way to celebrate the painters 174th birthday than enjoying the many gifts he left to art lovers? more

  • Art in DallasComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0

  • By:Jen Westmoreland Bouchard, last post 13 Nov 2014
  • One of the first things I do when I’m planning a visit to a new city is research the art scene. I was pleased to learn that Dallas has a vibrant and impressive arts community, and is home to several world-class institutions. Here are three places that art lovers should check out the next time they are in the Big D. All of these museums are all located within the Dallas Arts more