History in Cebu

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Early History

Cebu has an illustrious history that can be traced back to many centuries ago. The area around present-day Cebu was known as Sugbo in the 13th century, and its inhabitants were Muslim and Hindu tribal groups that were governed by Rajahs and Datus. At that time, it was the busiest trading port in the southern part of the Philippines, and it welcomed many merchant ships from China and other countries in the surrounding regions. The villagers resided in stilt house that were made of wood and bamboo, and they had tattoos on their bodies and wore beautiful silk clothes and gold jewelry.

Spanish Colonization

Cebu’s importance as a trading port declined after the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. When Magellan arrived in Cebu, he was very well-received by Rajah Humabon and the villagers. He erected a wooden cross and converted many Cebuanos to Christianity, including the rajah’s family. The wooden cross can be seen today in Upper Magellanes street, and it stands as the earliest symbol of Christianity in Cebu.

Soon after his arrival, Magellan came to know about a native ruler called Datu Lapu Lapu who had been fighting with Rajah Humabon over trading rights in the region. Magellan decided to help the rajah defeat his enemy, and this resulted in the Battle of Macatan. However, the Spaniards lost the battle and Magellan’s body could not be found in the battlefield. It was presumed that he was killed during the battle. The government of Spain continued to send troops to fight Datu Lapu Lapu, but they all met with defeat. It was only in 1564 that the Spaniards succeeded in colonizing Cebu.

War of Manila Bay and Japanese Occupation

Spanish colonization in Cebu ended in 1898, after the Spanish fleet was defeated by the Americans in the War of Manila. About 3 years after the war, the Americans made Cebu a municipality, and the city became a chartered province in February, 1937. Since Cebu was one of the most populated cities in the Philippines, it was chosen as a regional base for the Japanese army during the World War II.


The Japanese army remained in Cebu for 3 years, but the American forces freed the city and the entire Philippines in 1945. After centuries of colonization, Cebu finally became an independent city in 1946. From that time until now, the city has grown to become one of the most affluent cities in the Philippines, and it is presently a major tourist destination in South East Asia.



January 19, 2010 change by sequoia maner

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