Top Adsense

The Cebuano People of the Philippines [Mga Bisaya] - History, Culture and Traditions [Cebu Province - Kultura ng Kabisayaan]

The Cebuano People of the Philippines [Mga Bisaya] - History, Culture and Traditions [Cebu Province]

Cebuano” comes from the root word Cebu, the Spanish version of the original name Sugbo, which comes from the verb sugbo, meaning “to walk in the water.” In the old days, the shores of the Cebu port were shallow, so travelers coming from the sea had to wade in the water to get to dry land. The term is suffixed with hanon to refer to the language, culture, and inhabitants of Cebu; thus, Sugbuhanon or Sugbuanon. Sugbuhanon was later modified by the Spaniards to Cebuano and by the early Americans to Cebuan. Today “Cebuano” may also refer to the speaker of the language no matter where he comes from.

The Cebuano are also called Bisaya, although this is a generic term applying not only to the Cebuano but to other ethnic language groups in the Visayas. The etymology of “Bisaya” is uncertain although it is probably linked either to the word meaning “slaves,” for the region was either a target or staging area for slave-raiding forays in precolonial and early colonial times; or it could mean “beautiful,” which was what a Bornean sultan declared upon seeing the islands, according to a popular tale.

Cebuano is the first language of about a quarter of the Philippine population or around 15.8 million Filipinos today. It is dominant in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Camiguin, sections of Leyte and Masbate, and is spoken by the majority of Visayan settlers in Mindanao, particularly in the Davao provinces, General Santos, Bukidnon, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Surigao, Butuan, and Agusan. It belongs to the Austronesian family of languages, which, in the Philippines, has split up into many language groups or subgroups.

The Cebuano language chiefly defines the Philippine ethnic group also referred to as Cebuano. The core area of this group is the province of Cebu, an elongated mountainous island with some 150 scattered islets. Encompassing a total land area of 5,000 square kilometers, Cebu province is bounded in the north by the Visayan Sea, in the east and northeast by Bohol and Leyte, and in the west and southwest by Negros across Tafton Strait. Cebu is located in the geographical center of the archipelago. This region—with four provinces, 16 cities, 116 municipalities, and almost 3,003 barangays or villages—has a combined population of 6.8 million. Cebu City is the second largest metropolis in the nation.

The cultural reach of the Cebuano extends beyond Central Visayas. The dense population and a lack of arable land have made Cebu and Central Visayas an important source area for population emigration. It is for this reason that the Cebuano constitute a significant part of the populations in other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao. Moreover, the role of Metro Cebu, the country’s second largest urban concentration, as southern center of education, media, and transportation, enables Cebu to exercise cultural influence beyond provincial or regional boundaries.

The Visayan that is spoken in Cebu, Bohol, and Davao belong to the same language, with some phonetic and syntactical peculiarities. During the Spanish period, the Catholic Church translated the Bible into a variant of Cebuano spoken in southeastern Cebu. Known as the Sialo vernacular, this translation became the standard for written Cebuano. Sialo refers to the precolonial territory that included the towns of Carcar and Santander in southern Cebu.

Over the years, Cebuano speakers outside of Cebu have asserted the distinctions of their vernaculars. This was evident in the 2000 Census, which created the separate language categories Bisaya, Boholano, and Cebuano. According to the 2000 Census, 8% of the population identified the language they spoke as Bisaya or Binisaya. In everyday speech, many Cebuano speakers use the term Bisaya to refer to the language, even though there are other languages in the Visayas.

In the Cebuano variant spoken in Cebu City, the “l” is dropped and replaced with “w” in certain words. In Bohol towns facing Southern Leyte, the “y” in certain words is spoken as a hard “j,” while there are also words exclusive to Bohol. Cebuano-Davao has two varieties: The first one is a combination of the vernaculars spoken in southeastern Cebu and Cebu City; the second is a hybrid of Visayan and Luzon languages, containing some syntactical features of Tagalog and lexical borrowings from Hiligaynon and other languages.

For written Cebuano, the Sialo vernacular continues to be the standard. The house style of Manila Bulletin’s Bisaya Magasin, which also adopts the Sialo variety, is influential among literary writers.

As for spoken Cebuano, there is yet to be a standard. The varieties of Cebuano spoken in Visayan towns outside Cebu and parts of Mindanao that are considered economic centers have gained prominence due to the influence of writers groups, mass media, and academic institutions.

History of the Cebuano People

As early as the 13th century, Chinese traders noted the prosperity of the Cebuano, with whom they traded various porcelain plates and jars from the late Tang to the Ming, which were used by the natives for everyday life or buried in the graves. The traders also remarked how the Visayan, when not engaged in trade, raided Fukien’s coastal villages, using Formosa as their base. Reportedly, the Visayan rode on foldable bamboo rafts and, when attacking, were armed with lances to which were attached very long ropes so that they could be retrieved to preserve the precious iron tips.

Depiction of Visayan man and woman
Depiction of Visayan man and woman, circa 1590 (Boxer Codex, The Lilly Library Digital Collections)

In the early 16th century, the natives of Cebu under Rajah Humabon engaged in an active barter trade of woven cloth, embroidery, cast bronze utensils, and ornaments. The settlement also had small foundries producing mortars, pestles, wine bowls, gongs, inlaid boxes for betel, and rice measures. Humabon himself was finely clad in a loincloth, silk turban, and pearl and gold jewelry, and was supposed to have demanded tribute from East Indian, Siamese, and Chinese traders. At that time, densely populated villages lined the eastern coast of the island, while the highland villages hugged the streams and lakes. The coasts were linked to the hinterlands either by rivers or trading trails. Communities were composed of bamboo and palm leaf-thatched houses raised from the ground by four posts and made accessible by a ladder, with the area underneath reserved for domestic animals. Humabon’s large house resembled the common dwellings, towering like a big haystack over smaller ones.

Mural on the ceiling of the kiosk of Magellan’s Cross in Cebu
Mural on the ceiling of the kiosk of Magellan’s Cross (Cebu, Pride of Place by E. Billy Mondoñedo. Arts Council of Cebu Foundation, Inc., 2007.)

On his way to the Moluccas, Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu on 7 April 1521 and planted the seeds of Spanish colonization. Rajah Humabon and his wife, baptized Juana, were Christianized following a blood compact between conquistador and native king. However, Lapulapu, chieftain of Mactan, refused to accept Spanish sovereignty. Outnumbering the foreigners by 1,000, his men killed Magellan, eight Spanish soldiers, and four of Humabon’s warriors. Duarte Barbosa and Juan Serrano, who took command after Magellan’s death, were also killed along with their soldiers during a goodwill banquet hosted by Humabon. The remnants of Magellan’s expedition under Sebastian del Cano sailed homeward defeated, but proving for the first time that the earth is round.

Lapulapu statue, Cebu
Lapulapu statue, Cebu (wikimediacommons/Alpapito)

The second Spanish expedition to the Philippines, headed by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Andres de Urdaneta, reached Cebu on 27 April 1565. As in the earlier experience, the native reception of Legaspi was initially amiable, with a blood compact with Sikatuna, chieftain of Bohol, even taking place. Later, Tupas, son and successor of Humabon, battled with the Spaniards, who easily killed some 2,000 warriors equipped merely with wood corselets and rope armor, lances, shields, small cutlasses, arrows, and decorative headgear. Their native boats, “built for speed and maneuverability, not for artillery duels,” were no match for Spain’s three powerful warships.

Legaspi, accompanied by four Augustinians, built the fort of San Miguel on 8 May 1565. This was the first permanent Spanish settlement in the archipelago. Cebu was the capital of the Spanish colony for six years before its transfer to Panay and then to Manila. Many Cebu warriors were recruited by Legaspi, Goiti, and Salcedo to conquer the rest of the country.

Tupas signed a treaty tantamount to submission on 3 July 1565, for which he was given a 13-meter brown damask. On 21 May 1568, shortly before his death, Tupas was baptized by Father Diego de Herrera—an event which propagandized Spanish rule. On 1 January 1571, the settlement was renamed Ciudad del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus (City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus) in honor of the image of the Child Jesus that had been found in a house left unscathed in the wake of the Spanish invasion of 1565—the site of the present Augustinian Church. It was believed to be a relic of Magellan’s expedition, the same one given to “Queen Juana” upon her baptism.

In the 1600s, Cebu had been one of the more populous Spanish settlements in the country, usually with about 50 to 100 Spanish settlers residing there, not including the religious. However, this dwindled sharply after 1604, when Cebu’s participation in the galleon trade was suspended. Cebu had annually outfitted and dispatched a galleon to New Spain. Profits were minimal because of restrictions imposed on the items that could be loaded, at the instigation of Spanish officials who wished to maintain the Manila-Acapulco trade, which was the more profitable venture. Moreover, one galleon from Cebu sank in 1597.

The nonparticipation of Cebu in the galleon trade greatly diminished its importance, and by the late 1730s, there were only one or two Spaniards who lived in Cebu City who were not government officials, soldiers, or priests. Few Spaniards owned land in the countryside, a situation further buttressed by a decree that forbade the Spaniards from living among the Filipinos until 1768.

Italian traveler Gemelli Careri in the late 17th century and French scientist Le Gentil in the 18th both noted Cebu’s commercial poverty. The island had become a mere outpost. Interisland trade was further restricted by two factors: the threat of so-called Moro raids from Mindanao and Moro pirates on the seas, which continued way into the late 1790s; and the attempts of the alcaldes-mayores (provincial governors) to monopolize domestic trade for their own personal economic advantage. These alcalde-mayores were allowed to purchase the special license to trade to make up for the fact that the Spanish central administration perennially lacked funds to give as salaries to its local officials and bureaucrats.

As Spanish officials recovered from the short-lived British occupation of Manila from 1760 to 1762, they began to institute reforms that eventually made the atmosphere more conducive to trade. Cebu’s trade slowly became rejuvenated.

The opening of the Philippines to world trade in 1834—and subsequently of Cebu in 1860—stimulated economic activity in Cebu. Sugar and hemp became important cash crops for Cebu’s economy. Sugar had already been previously grown in Cebu even before Magellan arrived. Identified as one of the four varieties of sugar to be found in the Philippines during the Spanish period was a strain called Cebu purple. The vastly increasing demand for cash crops meant, as in most other areas of the Philippines, a big change in land ownership patterns. Land was increasingly concentrated in the ownership of a few hands, usually through the method of pacto de retroventa, whereby land was mortgaged by its original owners to new cash-rich landowners on the condition that it could be bought back at the same price on a certain date. This system, which favored the creditors, created a new class of wealthy landlords and a mass of landless agricultural wage laborers, both of which grew agitated against the Spanish administration and the power of the religious. This pattern was familiar to the rest of the country.

The Cebu revolutionary uprising was led by Leon Kilat, Florencio Gonzales, Luis Flores, Candido Padilla, and Andres Abellana. On 3 April 1898, they rose against the Spanish authorities in Cebu. Furious fighting took place on Valeriano Weyler Street, now Tres de Abril, and other parts of the city. The revolutionaries drove the Spaniards across the Pahina River and finally to Fort San Pedro. They besieged the fort for three days but withdrew when the Spaniards sent reinforcements from Iloilo and bombarded the city.

Spanish rule in Cebu ended on 24 December 1898, in the wake of the Treaty of Paris signed on 10 December. The Spaniards, under Cebu politico-military governor Adolfo Montero, withdrew from the city and turned over the government to a caretaker committee of Cebuano citizens. The Philippine Government was formally established in Cebu City on 29 December 1898, and revolutionary head Luis Flores became the first Filipino provincial governor of Cebu.

The American occupation ended the republican interregnum. After the occupation of Iloilo on 11 February 1899, the Americans started closing in on the Visayas. Days earlier, a group that included provincial officials of the newly established civil government gathered at the Casa Real to plan the war. Luis Flores, Miguel Logarta, Juan Climaco, Arcadio Maxilom, and Pablo Meija were among those in attendance. However, class tensions among these personalities led to factions. During a meeting on board the American vessel Petrel, the Cebuano civil officials debated whether or not to surrender or wage war. As a result, two factions emerged: the moderates who favored surrender, led by Julio Llorente and Pablo Mejia, and the younger officials who wanted to resist, led by Arcadio Maxilom and Juan Climaco. The moderates won the argument. Under threat of US naval bombardment, Cebu City was surrendered to the Americans on 22 February 1899. However, a province-wide war ensued under the leadership of Climaco and Maxilom.

The Cebuano army retreated to the highlands and broke into smaller guerilla troops, a strategy which Maxilom had adapted from that of Emilio Aguinaldo. These bands moved around the province sabotaging American communication lines and recruiting more insurgents and civilian allies. Meanwhile, the Americans, whose units were being attacked all over Cebu, began ransacking towns and torching houses in an effort to terrorize civilians into submission.

Class tensions and the lack of cohesion and a stable leadership hounded the resistance. The defection of the ilustrado (the educated) members of the civil government splintered a united front against the Americans. At the onset of war, the insistence on fighting from fixed positions instead of applying guerrilla tactics cost the resistance movement their artillery and soldiers. Meanwhile, collaborators and American sympathizers were growing in number. The Catholic leadership in Cebu looked after its own interests, and several businessmen wanted stability and order. The war killed around 1,000 Cebuano. The Americans had only 100 casualties.

Cebuano resistance to US rule was strong but had to submit to superior American arms with the surrender of the Cebuano generals in October 1901. Along with 78 men, Maxilom surrendered to Lieutenant John L. Bond of the 19th US Infantry in Tuburan on 27 October. Maxilom became instrumental in coaxing other leaders of the resistance in the Visayas to surrender. However, insurgent groups and bandits of mixed persuasions, all of whom were generally called the pulahanes, kept up the fight against the Americans until 1906.

The Americans introduced public education, promoted industry, and reorganized local government. In 1901, Julio Llorente was appointed civil governor of Cebu. All previous laws and ordinances observed were permitted to continue. Eventually, the municipal board positions were no longer filled by appointment but through popular elections. In 1902, an election was held in Cebu City for the governor of the province. Juan Climaco won with 249 votes against Llorente, who received 122 votes.

With the consolidation of American rule in Cebu and its nearby provinces, the local elites and intellectuals, including those who fought during the two phases of the Philippine Revolution, ventured into the civil administration by standing for election in the local government. One of these individuals was a young lawyer named Sergio Osmeña, Sr., who was known for writing nationalist articles for the Cebuano daily El Nuevo Dia. At age 25, Osmeña was appointed as the acting provincial governor of Cebu by Governor-General Luke Wright (Valencia 1977). The young Osmeña then climbed the political ladder starting as the provincial fiscal of Cebu and Negros Oriental in 1904 and later serving as governor of Cebu Province in 1906. Soon he was thrust into mainstream politics, forming the Partido Nacionalista with Manuel L. Quezon for the elections for the Philippine Assembly in 1907 and later becoming the Speaker of the Philippine Assembly (later the House of Representatives) until 1922, when he was elected senator (Cullinane 1989). With the inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1935, Quezon and Osmeña were elected President and Vice-President respectively and re-elected in 1941 (Mojares 1994). Vice-President Osmeña later assumed the presidency upon the demise of Manuel Quezon in August 1944 and soon after returned to the Philippines with General Douglas MacArthur. With the return of civilian administration in 1945, Osmeña restored the various functions of the branches of government and started the immediate economic rehabilitation of the country. After his defeat at the presidential elections of 1946, Osmeña retired from politics (Santos 1999). But his descendants continued to dominate Cebuano politics for decades after.

By the 1930s, under the American Homestead Settlement Act, Visayan settlers were arriving by the thousands in Mindanao, mostly from Cebu and Iloilo. Most of the Cebuano settled along the Davao Gulf, which was then known for abaca and coconut plantations. The Americans encouraged this wave of migration from Luzon and the Visayas to defuse peasant uprisings in these areas and, in Mindanao, to counteract the resistance of Muslim and indigenous communities and the growing population of Japanese settlers. Most of the settlers who arrived in Mindanao were peasants who took the opportunity to be given land and employment; but there were also educators, entrepreneurs, and other professionals.

Today, the Cebuano-speaking population in Mindanao continues to influence the cultural and political landscape of the region. The largest Cebuano communities on the island are found in towns along the Davao Gulf, making Cebuano-Visayan one of the most widely used languages in Mindanao. Both Davao and Cagayan de Oro have a circulation of Cebuano-language radio, TV programs, and newspapers. Entrepreneurs in Cebu extend their businesses into urban areas in Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and General Santos. A number of political leaders in Mindanao are of Cebuano descent.

Cebu became a chartered city on 24 February 1937. Vicente Rama authored and secured the approval by Congress of the Cebu City Charter. The Charter changed the title of “presidente” to mayor. Alfredo V. Jacinto served as mayor by presidential appointment.

On 10 April 1942, the Japanese landed and seized Cebu. Over half the city was bombed. Cebu’s USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East), Constabulary forces, and some ROTC units and trainees staged a brief and unsuccessful offensive. A few surrendered to the Japanese, on orders of General Wainwright, supreme commander of the United States Forces in the Philippines. Many fled to the mountains and later reorganized into guerrilla bands, which harassed the Japanese throughout their occupation and facilitated the entry of the American forces into the province. As elsewhere in the country during wartime, suspected collaborators were tortured and killed.

Notorious for such summary executions of suspected collaborators in Cebu was the group led by Harry Fenton, who held sway in northern Cebu, while James Cushing controlled those operating in central and southern Cebu. For his many abuses against comrades and civilians, Fenton was executed by the guerrillas on 1 September 1943. James Cushing assumed command of Cebu’s anti-Japanese resistance movement, which was one of the most effective in the country. By the time MacArthur returned to the Philippines in October 1944, Cushing had about 25,000 men, half of whom were armed and trained.

Juan Zamora administered the city of Cebu during the war. Upon the return of the Americans in March 1945, Leandro A. Tojong was appointed military mayor of Cebu. Following the post-“liberation” general elections on 23 April 1946, Manuel Roxas was elected Philippine president. In 1946, he appointed Vicente S. del Rosario as mayor of Cebu, the first to serve the city at the dawn of the Third Republic. The Charter of the City of Cebu was amended in 1955 to make the post of mayor elective. Sergio Osmeña Jr. was overwhelmingly elected mayor.

In 1969, Osmeña ran for president under the Liberal Party against Ferdinand Marcos, who was running for a second term under the Nacionalista Party. Osmeña openly criticized Marcos’s corrupt administration, thereby establishing him as Marcos’s fierce political rival before martial law was declared. Marcos won the election, but Osmeña and the Liberal slate accused their opponents of election fraud. In 1971, Osmeña was wounded when two grenades exploded at a Liberal Party campaign at the Plaza Miranda in Manila. When Marcos declared martial law in 1972, Osmeña escaped to the United States. The Philippine government identified him as a key figure in an assassination plot against Marcos. Osmeña remained in the United States until his death in 1984 from respiratory failure.

Several members of the Osmeña clan became political prisoners, while others were exiled in the United States. Sergio R. Osmeña III, son of Sergio Osmeña Jr., was arrested and imprisoned in Fort Bonifacio until he escaped by digging a tunnel in 1977 with Eugenio Lopez Jr. He joined relatives in the United States, during which he served as the director of the Movement for a Free Philippines and the Justice for Aquino, Justice for All. Osmeña III returned to the Philippines after the EDSA Revolt and won a seat at the Senate in 1995.

Emilio Mario Osmeña was imprisoned for nine months in Fort Bonifacio and for four years was placed under house arrest. After the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Emilio Osmeña ran for governor of Cebu and won. John Henry Osmeña, who had been in Plaza Miranda in 1971 as a senatorial candidate, flew to the United States after martial law was declared, even though he had been elected senator the previous year. After Aquino’s assassination, John Osmeña returned to the Philippines and helped in the campaign against Marcos.

Cebu’s distance from Manila made it a safe location for opposition leaders to plan a revolt. Corazon Aquino stayed in Cebu for four days during the EDSA Revolt. Student protest leaders such as Jorge L. Cabardo, who helped Sergio Osmeña III escape from Fort Bonifacio, led student demonstrations against Marcos’s regime. Cabardo had come to Cebu to study at the Cebu Institute of Technology, having already been a student activist at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. Father Rudy Romano led demonstrations against Marcos, most of which ended violently, even after the lifting of martial law. The protests led by Father Romano were seen as more dangerous to the regime because they were not motivated by political factions, but by the grievances of farmers and ordinary citizens. On 11 July 1985, Father Romano disappeared after state forces arrested him. In 2012, a marker was placed in Cebu City’s Plaza Independencia to honor all Cebuano who lost their lives fighting against Ferdinand Marcos’s regime.

Decades after the EDSA Revolt, Cebu’s political field continues to be dominated by the Osmeñas and the Garcias, clans from which two Philippine presidents have emerged. The most prominent descendants from both sides are Gwendolyn Garcia and Tomas Osmeña, the son of Sergio Osmeña Jr. Garcia served as Cebu governor in 2004 to 2012; Osmeña served as Cebu City mayor in 1988 to 1995, and again in 2001 to 2010. Each was critical of the other’s administration. One instance was their public dispute over a failed land swap deal between the province and the city.

During her term, Garcia, the first female governor of Cebu, weathered a graft case over a questionable land purchase and was reelected in 2010. Two years into her second term, she was given a six-month suspension by President Benigno Aquino III for “grave abuse of authority.” In 2013, after her suspension, Garcia went on to win a seat in Congress. In the same elections, Tomas Osmeña lost the mayoralty seat to the incumbent Michael R. Rama.

Cebu Economy

Long before even the colonial era, Cebu has been a distribution center of the Central Visayas; hence, its economy continues to rely on nonagricultural sectors. This emphasis, brought about by the lack of wide expanses of arable land, has propelled Cebu to sustain economic prosperity, especially in the last two centuries.

Loading of copra in the port of Cebu
Loading of copra in the port of Cebu, circa 1910 (Photo courtesy of Cebuano Studies Center)

The many industries in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapulapu take advantage of the fine harbor protected on the east and south by Mactan Island and on the north and west by the Cebu mainland. The port of Cebu, now an international port, is headquarters for 22 shipping firms, among them some of the leading interisland shipping companies in the country such as Aboitiz Shipping Corp, William Lines, Sulpicio Lines, George & Peter Lines, and Sweet Lines. More ships of domestic tonnage call at Cebu Port than in Manila.

The other major point of entry to the province is Mactan International Airport on Mactan Island, which is connected to Cebu City by the 864-meter span Mandaue-Mactan Bridge. The airport, the hub of air transportation in the south, links Cebu not only to the rest of the country but to such points as Hong Kong, Singapore, Guam, and Tokyo.

Cebu’s position as a transport and communications center underlies its principal economic activities. Around 90% of business establishments in Cebu City are in these sectors, thus making it primarily a center of trade and commerce. However, Cebu is also a manufacturing and industrial center. It is the site of the Mactan Export Processing Zone established in 1980. Metro Cebu has LUDO & LUYM Corporation, known for the processing and export of coconut oil and coconut, corn, and cassava-based products, and for such establishments as Aboitiz Jebsen Co., AboitizLand, Ayala Land Inc., Cebu Holdings Inc., International Pharmaceuticals, Norkis Industries, and the Cebu plants of corporations like San Miguel Brewery. Other enterprises engage in the manufacture of liquor and beverages, paper products, ceramics, chemicals, metal products, and rubber and plastic products. It is also a center in the production of export crafts and giftware made of rattan, shell, wood, bamboo, stone, and others.

Danao, a city of some distance away from the Cebu-Mactan hub, has a cement factory and a paper bag factory. Toledo City is the site of Atlas Mining, the leading producer of copper in the country. In addition to copper, Cebu boasts of rich coal and cement deposits with the possibility of some untapped oil resources. In more modest quantities are to be found gold, silver, molybdenum, limestone, dolomite, feldspar, and rock phosphate. Cebu has drawn many large commercial firms and banks from Manila and foreign countries, and houses a branch of the Central Bank and banking establishments, such as Rural Banking Association of the Philippines, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Banco de Oro, Asia United Bank, Metrobank, and Philippines Veterans Bank among others. In 2010, the province had 445 banks that recorded deposits of around 218,554 million pesos, which was the largest in the country.

Further indication of Cebu’s progress is its growth of per capita gross domestic product in 2011, which was 372.2 billion pesos or 3.8% of the country’s GDP. Starch, soy sauce, garment, shoe, slipper, paper, tile, brick, and glass factories and some foundry shops, tanneries, fertilizer, ice, bottling, truck and car assembly plants generate employment. Unlike other provinces, Cebu has no serious labor problem.

Not all of Cebu’s industries are concentrated on manufacturing. Mandaue City is the home of traditional Cebuano crafts: mats, brooms, rattan furniture, shell craft, and ceramics for both export and domestic use. Argao and the southern parts are weaving centers. Mactan is recognized as the country’s source of handmade guitars, ukuleles, bandurrias, and violins, which are sold locally and exported to Japan, Australia, and Germany.

Fisherman and traders at a fish landing in Cebu
Fisherman and traders at a fish landing in Cebu, circa 1900 (Cebu, More Than An Island by Resil B. Mojares and Susan F. Quimpo. Ayala Foundation, Inc., 1997)

Cebu’s extensive fishing industry commercially processes sardine, herring, salmon, mackerel, and anchovy in the northwestern parts. Fish is a mainstay of the Cebuano diet, together with corn, although locally produced corn cannot adequately feed the provincial population. Cebu also grows sugar, tobacco, and coconut fiber. Other export products are Toledo’s bananas, Carcar’s pomelos and grapes, and mangoes from Guadalupe in Cebu City. Native delicacies include dried mangoes, turrones, and Rosquillos biscuits.

The educational capital of the south, Cebu attracts students from Mindanao and the Visayas who attend its private and state-owned institutions, notably the University of San Carlos, University of San Jose-Recoletos, University of the Visayas, and University of the Philippines Cebu. Cebu City has some 68 public schools and 65 private schools, nine of which have university status.

Video: Miss Universe Philippines 2021 Tourism Videos | Cebu City

Tourism is another income earner. Cebu City, the oldest Catholic city in the Orient, is both cosmopolitan and historic; its quaint horse-drawn carriages called tartanillas persist amid luxury hotels and department stores. Among Cebu’s Spanish colonial landmarks are Magellan’s Cross, the Santo Niño Basilica, the Fort San Pedro, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Legaspi Monument on Plaza Independencia, and the Moro watchtowers at Boljoon and other areas. Tourists can also seek modern amusements like golf courses and country clubs, restaurants and discotheques, and numerous beach resorts in Mactan, Argao, and Danao.

In 2013, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 hit the Central Visayas, damaging churches in Cebu, some of which were built in the 16th century. The quake destroyed the belfry of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, and it created cracks on the belfry and facade of the 19th-century Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. Private sectors and government agencies have since vowed to restore these churches. The earthquake also damaged business establishments, including the Gaisano Country Mall in Banilad and the Cebu Doctors’ University.

Cebu workers processing mangoes
Cebu workers processing mangoes (Michiko Nina Gandionco)

With Cebu as its center, the Central Visayas is one of the most economically vibrant regions in the country. Exports from Central Visayas totaled 2.3 billion US dollars in 2011. The leading exports of the region include abaca pulp, copper concentrate, dried mangoes, carrageenan (seaweed extract), seaweed flour, activated carbon, drilling machine accessories, rattan and wood furniture, coconut shells, and coco fatty acid distillate.

Digital technology and real estate investments in the 2000s have caused further economic growth. The most active industries in Cebu are business process outsourcing (BPO), real estate, tourism, and the service industry. Information technology centers, particularly in Lahug, employ around 95,000 workers. The Board of Investments (BOI) confirmed in 2011 that 14 firms expressed an interest in initiating projects amounting to 12.1 billion pesos. In 2012, the construction sector built 7,000 condominium units. In the same year, the manufacturing sectors earned 3.6 billion dollars in exports. The industry and service sectors comprise 92.2% of the economy of Central Visayas.

Cebu's Colonial Political System

Archaeological evidence indicates that present-day Cebu City was already a settlement as early as the l0th century. From the mid-14th century to the time of Spanish contact, Cebu expanded as a trading and administrative center linked to other settlements on the island of Cebu and other places in Visayas, Mindanao, and beyond. Interregional and long-distance trade led, among others, to increasing complexity in the social and political structure of Cebu, such that by the 16th century, the port settlement of Cebu was ruled by a rajah such as Humabon and Tupas, who exercised influence over a larger number of followers, retainers, and lesser datu. While Cebu was developing into what has been called a “super-barangay,” the general situation in Cebu and the Central Visayas was one characterized primarily by a large number of relatively autonomous barangay or balangay, loosely linked together by relations of trade and exchange. Spanish colonization beginning in the 16th century revised the political landscape as the Spaniards embarked on the creation of a unitary colonial state out of the territories they annexed. This, of course, was a long drawn-out process.

Old Cebu provincial capitol
Old provincial capitol, circa 1910, shown in an American-period postcard (Lucy Urgello Miller Collection, photo courtesy of University of San Carlos Press)

Cebu was the site of the first Spanish settlement in the archipelago and the capital of the colony-in-the-making until the transfer of the Spanish seat of government to Manila in 1571. On 8 May 1565, Legazpi took “formal possession” of Cebu and called the Spanish settlement “Villa de San Miguel.” On 6 August 1569, King Philip II issued a decree granting the title “Governor and Captain-General” of Cebu to Legazpi. On 1 January 1571, Legazpi reestablished the settlement of Cebu, renaming it Ciudad del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus, appointing “city officials,” and distributing encomiendas in Cebu and neighboring islands to Spaniards.

The creation of a colonial political system was slowed down by a host of factors: lack of Spanish personnel and resources, geographic and cultural particularism, and native resistance to Spanish rule. It was only in the 19th century that the colonial state took a more full-bodied shape. In large part, this was due to economic changes ushered in by the “opening up” of the countryside to world trade and population growth. In Cebu, 44 towns were established in the 19th century as against only 13 towns founded in the centuries before 1800. This was the pattern as well in the rest of Central Visayas.

Cebu was one of the earliest provinces to be organized in the archipelago. It was already an alcaldia or civil province in the 16th century. Throughout much of the 16th and 17th centuries, the province of Cebu encompassed such areas as Bohol, Leyte, Samar, Negros, Masbate, and Mindanao. The island of Negros became a corregimiento, an unpacified province under a military governor in 1734 and an alcaldia in 1795. On 25 October 1889, a royal decree established Negros Oriental as a separate province, with Dumaguete as capital. Earlier, Bohol was separated from Cebu and became a province on 22 July 1854. Siquijor, at various times a part of Cebu, Bohol, and Negros Oriental, became an independent province on 1 January 1972.

The Americans reorganized provinces by abolishing towns or creating new ones. However, the basic political organization of the Spanish period remained. The important innovation was the introduction of popular suffrage and the “Filipinization” of government, such that Filipinos occupied not only the municipal positions they had under Spanish rule but provincial and national positions as well.

Today, Cebu is administratively divided into 6 congressional districts, 9 cities, 44 municipalities, and 1,203 barangays. Negros Oriental has 3 congressional districts, 6 cities, 20 municipalities, and 557 barangays. Bohol has three congressional districts, one city, 47 municipalities, and 1,109 barangays. Siquijor has one congressional district, 6 municipalities, and 134 barangays.

These four provinces constitute Region VII, with Cebu City as the seat of the regional offices of government line agencies and of the Regional Development Council, which is charged with the function of integrated development planning for the region.

Region VII has more than 4.1 million registered voters out of the current Philippine population of 6.8 million, and as an ethnic group, the Cebuano constitute a major percentage of the country’s voting population. Hence, the Cebuano have exercised a significant influence on the national leadership. The region has produced two Philippine presidents: Sergio Osmeña and Carlos Garcia.

Cebuano's Social Organization, Traditional Customs and Culture

Many traditional customs color the life of many Cebuano even from the day they are born. Children are trained as early as possible on proper conduct, with the stress placed on obedience, respect for elders, and honesty. Some of this training has applications in daily life, like when children touch the hands of elders to their foreheads after praying the Angelus. The education of children is considered the highest priority in every family and is looked upon as the means to achieve upward social mobility. Girls are also expected to learn domestic skills like cooking, weaving, laundering, and child care to prepare them for marriage. Parents often start raising pigs once their sons reach 10 years of age to prepare for what should be slaughtered on their wedding day.

Cebuano devotees singing “Bato Balani” and waving their hands in front of the Santo Niño in the religious ceremony called gozos, a highlight of the Sinulog Festival
Cebuano devotees singing “Bato Balani” and waving their hands in front of the Santo Niño in the religious ceremony called gozos, a highlight of the Sinulog Festival (Ariel Salupan)

Once a man has chosen his mate, he must undergo a long process of courtship. This includes many practices that date back to pre-Christian tradition, but they are still practiced today in more remote areas though to a lesser extent. Pangolitawo or paninguha includes serenading the girl during courtship. Romance is enhanced by the recitation of love verses by the girl’s window at night or by sending billetes (love letters) through an intermediary.

The suitor visits the girl’s house with her parents’ permission, dressed in his best clothes, and bringing homemade delicacies prepared by his mother or other simple gifts for his beloved and her relatives. In the practice called pangagad, the serious suitor begins to render service at the girl’s house by helping plow the fields, fetch water, chop firewood, or feed livestock. Later on, the mamae, a respected man of the community, represents the boy’s parents and discusses arrangements with the sagang, the representative of the girl’s family. This is usually followed by a debate between the two speakers and a feast. Before the evening is over, the date of the panuyo, the visit of the boy’s family to the girl’s house, is set.

In the practice of pangasawa, the boy’s parents openly express the son’s intentions to the girl’s parents. Or the suitor may decide on visiting the girl’s house himself and begging for her hand from her parents, in the practice called pagluhud. A gift called hukut is given by the prospective groom to his bride-to-be as a sign of good faith. This is usually a ring or any precious object, which is returned if the wedding does not take place. Engagements are cancelled when the suitor’s service during the pangagad is deemed unsatisfactory by the girl’s parents or when there is a change of heart.

As the wedding day approaches, the likod-likod is held. This is a special festivity on the eve of the wedding that allows the relatives of both families to get acquainted. At this point the parents address each other as “mare” for the mothers and “pare” for the fathers. On the wedding day itself, utmost efforts are spent to beautify the bride. The bride is taken to the church, where the groom awaits her at the altar. After the ceremony, the reception is usually held at the bride’s house. During the reception, the newlywed couple, each holding a lighted candle, is led to an altar in the house where they listen to a sermon by the bride’s parents on the duties and responsibilities of husbands and wives. After the sermon, the couple rises and kisses the hands of the parents. The bride’s veil is removed, and the banquet begins. A wedding dance called alap or alussalus is held, during which the guests throw coins on a plate placed near the feet of the newlyweds as they dance. The festivities continue with more dancing and singing. A package of leftover food called putos is prepared and given to the departing guests for members of the families who were unable to attend. Other guests remain for the hugas, the practice of helping in the cleaning of the house and washing utensils after the reception.

Some folk and indigenous elements are found in the Christian marriages of Cebu. During the marriage ceremony, two candles of equal height are lighted simultaneously for peace to reign in the house of the newlyweds. The guests must not drop anything during the ceremony as this will bring bad luck. Wedding guests should not be dressed in black. The bride must step on the foot of her groom so neither will dominate the other. Upon reaching the reception, the couple is given a glass of water to drink to ensure a calm and peaceful life. The glass from which the couple drinks is thrown to the ground, and the broken pieces are not to be picked up. The bride is given a comb to run through her hair to ensure an orderly wedded life. The couple is showered with rice to assure them a prosperous life. In some towns, the newlyweds are locked up for three days in a room of the groom’s house. Meals are delivered to their room. They should not leave the house lest an evil wind blow on them.

Cebuano social organization is rooted in the family. A folk welfare society has developed out of this strong familial orientation. Kinship ties, traditionally strong, have been enhanced by the limitation of living space brought about by an unusual increase in population. The marriage rite and the events that immediately precede and follow it ensure the generation of this folk welfare society. Parents often see to it that their children by their marriages will not burden themselves, their parents, or the community. The customary bugay (bride-price) is an array of material property in the form of land, cash, animals, and so forth, mutually agreed upon, which both parents must present to each other. This dowry serves as an appreciation of the bride’s parents for having raised a daughter worthy to be the wife of any promising young man in the barrio.

During the marriage ceremony, both families attempt to outdo one another in raising the dowry. Careful planning, joyous celebration, and sumptuous eating are the hallmark of any successful wedding. However, the first few days and nights of married life are spent apart, with each one staying in his or her in-law’s house. The newlyweds may elect to reside with any of their parents until they feel that they can be independent. The bugay provides for this, and the family income may be supplemented by the husband’s wages. When substantial, the bugay may be used as inheritance for the couple’s future children. When there are several children involved, the addition of an annex to the parental house may provide a simple solution to housing problems. Married children can make their new home on a nearby lot, which enables them to look after their aging parents.

Like most other regions of the Philippines, Cebu has a generally patriarchal family system. However, in the home, the wife takes complete charge of running the household. There is a unique way of addressing people: The first names of husband and wife are joined together in a compound noun to identify the married spouses.

Folk beliefs govern the period of pregnancy, birth, and early childhood. A pregnant woman must be selective about the food she eats when she is conceiving. Dark-colored food produces a dark-skinned baby; jackfruit has a resinlike gum that may envelop the baby and hamper childbirth; twin bananas bring forth twin babies; morisquetas (boiled rice) endangers the lives of mother and child; and chicken gizzard and other heavy food cause difficult delivery.

For the sake of the unborn child, the mother observes other taboos: The child will be born with a harelip if she gazes at the sun during an eclipse; the child will be abnormal if she leaves the house without a cloth over her head or around her shoulders; the child will have a flat head if she sits directly below the lintel of the door, on heaps of palay, or on the stair steps; the child will be deformed if she talks with handicapped persons or walks over strung cord or rope; the child will be entangled in the umbilical cord if she sews; the child will choke if she carries rosaries or wears earrings, rings, and bracelets; and the child will die if she curls her hair. She should not go out when the gabilan (hawk) is about nor listen to horror stories.

The pregnant woman should take other preventive measures. When walking outside at night, she should bring suwa or biyasong (a citrus fruit) to drive away the fetus-eating wakwak, a vampire in the form of a bird. Her bedroom must have a bagakay (bamboo stick) to ward off evil spirits.

There are numerous other beliefs pertaining to mothers before, during, and after delivery. Should she be nauseous or wanting in appetite, she should step over her sleeping husband to transfer the discomfort to him. For an easy and normal delivery, no bamboo container should be covered nor any coconut-shell ladle placed crosswise on a clay jar. Killing a hen will cause bleeding during delivery. To avoid labor pains, she should not step on the rope of a grazing animal. During a first pregnancy, her stomach should be anointed with monkey’s oil to hasten delivery. She should grip the handle of a bolo to bear the pains of childbirth. Upon delivery, she should be fed a mixture of ground cacao and pulverized shell of the first laid egg of a pullet while prayers are being recited. This is so she will recover strength as quickly as a young hen after laying an egg. The placenta should be placed inside a clay pot or a coconut shell and buried under the eaves of the house for the good health of mother and child. The placenta should be buried separately so that one will not overpower the other. Thorny twigs of lemon and a bagakay should be placed around the house to safeguard the child from evil spirits.

A Christian baptism, which should ideally take place soon after the child’s birth, is regarded not only as a sacrament but as a means to keep away the malignant enkanto. The baby is customarily named after a grandparent, a deceased relative, or a saint on whose feast day he is born. Shortly before baptism, a few strands of the child’s hair are cut and the fingernails trimmed. These are placed inside a guitar or hollow top cover of a fountain pen to make the child bright and musical. The child is made to take three tentative steps before the christening so that he or she will learn to walk much sooner. During the baptism, the mother should carry a banana and a fish called lisa to protect the child from infectious diseases.

Forty days after the birth of the child, mother and child go to church for the paglahad or bendisyon. The priest approaches them with a cord tied to his waist. The mother, holding the cord, follows the priest to the altar where she kneels with the child almost throughout the mass. The ceremony is a petition for the child’s good health and long life. As the child grows, evil spirits are kept away when the mother says “pwera buyag,” especially when the child is admired.

On the occasion of death, many old practices and beliefs still persist. The deceased is untouched within an hour after death for it is believed that his or her soul is still facing the Lord. After an hour, the deceased is dressed in his or her best clothes. During the wake, the floor is left unswept to prevent bad luck. The pabaon (last prayer) is prayed at the end of the wake.

Burials are held after several days of mourning. The coffin is lifted, and the family members pass under it to prevent any misfortune from befalling them. Only after the coffin has been removed from the house may the floor be swept. In the church rites, the agoniyas (a tolling bell) signals the mourning for the dead. During the mass, family members offer something to the Lord for the soul of the departed. After the mass, they take a last look at the body. Before the casket is lowered, a sad song may be sung and the deceased is eulogized. During the burial, the relatives throw lumps of earth on the grave for the repose of the deceased. A meal may be served to parents and relatives by the family of the deceased after the burial. A nine-day novena is held for the dead, although prayers are said until the 40th day. A party called liwas is held after the novena for those who have attended the prayers. The bayanihan spirit, called alayon or tinabangay in Visayan, is best manifested during mourning as relatives and friends give donations to the family of the deceased. On the first death anniversary, all mourners’ clothes are given away and all wreaths burned. On All Souls’ Day, family members visit the cemetery.

Religious occasions are important social events in Cebu. Fiestas to honor the saints feature dances, games, and sports, and sometimes even beauty contests for civic or charitable causes. Dramas and band concerts are held in the public plazas. Cultural shows, fireworks, and the sinulog add spectacle to the Feast of the Santo Niño, which is marked in Cebu City on the third Sunday of January and is the region’s premier religious ritual. The Christmas season includes yuletide parties, caroling, and the noche buena or Christmas Eve feasts.

Video: What is Cebuano Culture? | Bisaya | BAI TV

Cebuano's Religious Beliefs and Practices

Many Cebuano, especially the less Westernized and those who live in the rural areas, continue to be firm believers in the existence of spirits. Although this belief stems from the indigenous tradition, it persists to this day and has become integrated with Catholicism.

There is a strong belief in supernatural beings who are capable of assuming any form and causing illness to those who offend them. The evil spells they cast on people can be driven away by performing rituals, reciting prayers in Spanish or Latin, making offerings, and using the crucifix and holy water. Oftentimes the folk healers or mediums like the babaylan, tambalan, and mananapit are asked to perform rituals to drive away the spirits. Spirits may appear as the tamawo, which dwells in big trees and occasionally falls in love with mortals, who upon death enter the world of the tamawo; the tumao, the creature with one eye in the middle of its face and goes out only during the new moon; the cama-cama, a mountain gnome of light brown color, whose great strength can inflict intense pain on all mortals who displease it; and the aswang, an evil being that can be disguised as a man or a woman at night, helped by its agents like the tictic and silic-silic birds.

Birds often act as agents or messengers of the spirit world. When the sagucsuc bird sings “suc, suc, suc,” it announces rain. A kind of owl, the daklap, is believed to conceal its nest on the seashore so cleverly that anybody who finds the eggs but keeps the secret becomes a curandero (healer). The hooting of the owl is considered a bad omen, specially if it comes from the roof of a sick person’s house. The appearance of the kanayas (sparrow hawk) is a portent of a coming typhoon because it is the agent of tubluk-laki, the god of the winds. Other animals also serve as good or bad omens.

Cats are often regarded as possessing special powers. Their eyesight enables them to see evil spirits. Fisherfolk and hunters use the eyes of wildcats as charms to enable them to have an abundant catch. A talisman is made from a special arrangement of a black cat’s bones. When a cat gets wet during a drought, rain is coming. On the other hand, bad weather is expected when a cat stretches itself in the morning.

Dogs become more ferocious if fed with wasps’ nests, and their continuous barking means they are seeing evil spirits like the tumao. To scare away the aswang, cow or carabao horns, or tortoise shells are thrown into red hot coals.

People recite the Ave Maria backwards to escape the poisonous sting of the alingayos (wasp). When the dahon-dahon (praying mantis) enters a house, it foretells misfortune for the occupants.

Almost all aspects of agriculture are governed by beliefs and practices. The tambalan is often called to perform the practice of bayang or buhat before virgin lands are cultivated. A dish of white chicken or white pork is offered to the unseen owner. Before planting, a table with cooked rice, chicken, wine, or buyo is set in the open and offered to the spirits, who are asked to grant a good harvest. If planting is done during a new moon in May or June, rice is toasted and then ground with sugar in a mixture called paduya. The paduya is then baked, divided into 24 parts, wrapped in banana leaves, and offered the night before planting to the aswang who protects the field. For harvest blessings, pangas may also be prepared in a basket from a mixture of rice, medicinal herbs, palm fruit, and a wooden comb.

There are practices specific to the crop being planted. During the planting of rice, one must not hurt or kill the taga-taga, an insect with protruding antennae, believed to be the soul of the palay, or else this will cause a bad harvest. A good harvest is likely when its tail points upwards. In planting corn, the first three rows should be planted at sundown, when chicken and other fowl are in their roosts. If they do not see where the seeds have been planted, they will not dig up the seeds. If it rains while the farmer is planting, it is a sure sign that the seeds will not germinate. Corn that is planted by a person with few or broken teeth will bear sparse and inferior grains.

In coconut planting, so that the nut will grow big and full, seedlings must be placed on open ground during a full moon. They should be planted at noontime when the sun is directly overhead and shadows are at their shortest. This is so the coconut tress will bear fruit soon, even if they are not yet very tall. If one carries a child while planting coconuts, the tree will yield twice as many nuts.

Bananas should be planted in the morning or at sunrise, with young plants carried on the farmer’s back so the branches will have compact and large clusters. Sticks should not be used when planting cassava lest the tubers develop fibers that are not good to eat. Ubi is a sacred root crop. lf it is dropped on the ground, it has to be kissed to avoid divine fury called gaba. The harvest of camote or sweet potatoes will be abundant if planters have laid clustered fruits on three hills.

Planters must remove their shirts, lie on the ground, and roll over several times during a full moon. Crops planted near the diwata’s place or during thunderstorms will become infested with rats.

During harvesting, if the crops are poor, the farmers prepare biku, budbud, ubas (grapes), tuba, guhang, 12 chickens, pure rice, tobacco, and tilad. These they place under a dalakit tree in the fields as offering to the spirits.

Rice harvesting entails more intricate rituals. A mixture called pilipig is prepared from seven gantas of young palay added to ubas, bayi-bayi (ground rice), grated coconut, and sugar. This mixture is pounded in a mortar and brought out at midnight. At midnight, the farmers call the babaylan to chant prayers while they surround him or her with smoke.

Fisherfolk have their own ways of soliciting the favors of the other world. During a full moon, a mananapit is asked to pray for a good catch and to bless the fishing nets and traps with herbs and incense. To cast off evil spirits, fisherfolk at sea mutter “tabi,” meaning “please allow me to fish.” They keep a small yellow copper key under their belts to protect themselves from being devoured by big fish. Divers eat the flesh of cooked turtle for greater stamina underwater. Fisherfolk avoid bad luck by neither sitting nor standing in front of their fishing gear and by returning home by way of the route used when setting out to sea. To avail of future bounty, fisherfolk using new traps must throw back half of their first catch.

That spirits who are believed to roam the world of the living must be considered in building houses. Spirits like dwelling in caves and ought not to be disturbed by the construction of a house nearby. A good site for a house is determined by burying three grams of rice wrapped in black cloth at the center of the lot. If a grain is missing when they are unearthed three days after, the site is not suitable because it will cause illness. February, April, and September are the months to build houses. To bring prosperity and peace to the owners, coins are placed in each posthole before the posts are raised. The ladder of the house should face east to ensure good health. A full moon symbolizes a happy home life when moving to a new house. For the moving family to be blessed, they should boil water in a big pot and invite visitors to stay overnight in their new house. A ritual is also performed against evil spirits during the inauguration of public buildings, bridges, and other structures.

Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Osmeña Boulevard, Cebu City
Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Osmeña Boulevard, Cebu City (Jerry Guarino,

The Cebuano, like other Catholic Filipinos, are devoted to their patron saints. During fiestas, novenas are prayed, candles lit inside the churches, and the image of the patron saints kissed in homage and thanksgiving. The masses are preceded by processions to prevent misfortunes during the year. From 16 to 24 December, the misa de gallo (dawn mass) is held for nine consecutive days. There are also solemn Lenten rituals, long processions, and religious dramas.

Christian folk religiosity is most apparent and typical in the Lenten procession held on Holy Thursday and Good Friday in Bantayan Island. In this major Lenten spectacle, the Bantayanon garb their children in angel and saint costumes and follow the carriages of their favorite saints. Apart from the life-size statues of San Vicente, San Jose, Santa Teresa, San Pedro, and Santa Maria Magdalena, there are around 20 other floats depicting scenes from Christ’s passion.

A candlelit procession during the feast of Santo Niño in Cebu
A candlelit procession during the feast of Santo Niño in Cebu (The Philippine Star)

Their most popular devotion, however, is to the Santo Niño of Cebu, whose statue, venerated in the Augustinian Church in Cebu City, is the oldest Christian religious relic in the Philippines. The Holy Child is believed to be a savior during fires and natural calamities. It is a performer of miracles big and small; its role can range from shielding the island from foreign invaders in earlier times to playing harmless pranks.

Both secular and religious authorities have symbolically linked the story of the icon’s discovery in the 16th century with the nation’s history. A grand, weeklong celebration during the feast of the Santo Niño is highlighted by sinulog dances and a candlelit, evening procession.

The Cebuano Community

In pre-Hispanic times, what would later become the city of Cebu was a lineal settlement by the sea—a cluster of rather large but not too populous barangays and a port. This roughly encompassed the six-hectare area bounded by the present-day streets of Magallanes, Juan Luna, Manalili, and Martires. Here stood variations of the Cebuano nipa hut that still characterizes rural Cebu.

The native hut is basically divided into two sections: the sala, a hall combining living, dining, and sleeping quarters, and the abuhan or cocina (kitchen). However, the local dwelling may have a third section, the sulod, a room for sleeping and storage. Sometimes a porch graces the entrance, leading into the sala. Tropical weather requires walls of light materials such as coconut or nipa ribs, buri palms, cogon grass, and bamboo; floors of bamboo slats with gaps between them; awning-type windows; and low room dividers. Evident are features of other lowland Filipino houses as distinct from upland houses: the use of natural lumber instead of hewn timber, rattan, or vines to hold the building materials together, and long poles dug deep into the ground to support the roof.

Cebuano nipa dwelling and tobacco drying on rack
Cebuano nipa dwelling and tobacco drying on rack, 1933 (CCP Collections)

Precolonial houses were built near rivers, fields, or forests. Farmers also erected makeshift structures called balai-balai or bugawa, in their fields. When the Spaniards arrived, native settlements were transformed by the reduccion policy, concentrating the natives in organized pueblos (towns), a landmark of Spanish colonization. In the Cebu port area, the natives were moved to San Nicolas, a town south of the Pagina River. This came to be identified as “Old Cebu” to differentiate it from the original center, which was converted into the colonial city of San Miguel. The Spaniards lived within a triangular settlement composed of the Augustinian church, the convento, and Fort San Pedro, which is the first colonial building constructed in the Philippines in 1565. Both the city plans of 1699 and 1738 picture a rectangular grid system of square city blocks. By the 17th century, churches, convents, and colonial-style houses surrounded the main plaza, Maria Cristina, now Plaza Independencia. The 18th-century city had formidable edifices and wide-open spaces, and was encircled by arrabales (suburbs) for native dwellings. Thus to the west of the poblacion de europeos (settlement of Europeans) called Villa de San Miguel or ciudadde Cebu, lay the poblacion de naturales (settlement of natives) of San Nicolas. To its north and linked to the sea by an estuary lay the old Chinese ghetto called the Parian.

The Parian emerged from Spain’s policy of ethnic segregation. It was established in 1590 when Cebu began its brief participation in the galleon trade. Initially a market and trading center, it grew into a residential district of mestizos or half-breeds possessed of landed wealth and absorbed into Hispanic culture. The stature of the Parian as trading center diminished in the 19th century with the shift of port activities and the Chinese population to the district of Lutao in Cebu City.

The street patterns of the Spanish city partly correspond with the present street locations, particularly in the southeast corner of Cebu City. Legaspi and Gomez Streets have retained their names; Magallanes was the south shoreline, MacArthur Boulevard was the north-south; Juan Luna was Felipe II; Gullas was Nueva; M. J. Cuenco was Martires; Jakosalem was Norte America.

Early Spanish houses in Cebu were of tabique, that is, walls of bamboo or boards, reinforced by a lime-and-sand mixture. The 19th century gave rise to the bahay na bato house of stone, brick, and wood. Besides fireproof measures, frames of wooden posts reinforcing the exterior walls are added in anticipation of an earthquake. A typical house has a brick-and-stone first level and a predominantly wooden second level, with sliding windows adorned with lampirong or capiz shell (Placuna placenta) panes. Floors are hardwood planks set on huge beams. In earlier times, the ground floor would often be uninhabited because of the damp ground; a portion of it could be raised above the ground as an entresuelo (mezzanine) serving as an office or servant’s room. The upper story contains the house proper comprising a caida (spacious hall), comedor (living and dining rooms), comun (toilet), baño (bathroom), and cocina. The azotea at the side of the house is a modification of the native batalan or pantaw. As in other parts of the country, the bahay na bato in Cebu has a sloped roof, wide eaves, profuse windows, high ceilings, broad halls, and raised floors.

Now a public museum and administered by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Casa Gorordo, which is located at the corner of Lopez Jaena and Ballesteros in the Parian district, represents this style as adapted for a moderately wealthy residence of the period. More imposing bahay na bato were those owned by Don Mariano Veloso at the corner of Juan Luna and Martires, fronting Plaza Independencia; Don Manuel Cala on Juan Luna; and Don Pedro Cui on Sikatuna in Parian. These houses have not survived. Rare was the full stone house, such as the partly extant 18th-century Parian residence of the Jesuits.

The Spaniards left a considerable architectural legacy in Cebu. Notable landmarks are the Santo Niño Church, Cebu Cathedral, Recoletos Church, and the churches of Argao, Bantayan, and Carcar, St. Catherine’s School, the Emergency Hospital and Dispensary building in Carcar, and the forts in Daanglungsod and Boljoon.

Casa Gorordo Cebu
Casa Gorordo (Photo by Mark Anthony Maranga)

Casa Gordo interior Cebu
Casa Gordo interior (Cebu, Pride of Place by E. Billy Mondoñedo. Arts Council of Cebu Foundation, Inc., 2007)

Cebu City acquired a cosmopolitan character in the 20th century. In the first quarter of the century, the city abounded with foreign establishments, such as the Chinese Yap Anton and Co., the Japanese Bazaar Sakamoto, the Indian British Indies Bazaar, the Spanish Muertegui y Aboitiz, the American Bryan and Landon Co., and the German Botica Antigua. Firms were generally situated together according to the type of business. Export and shipping firms lined the port area, and Colon Street (formerly Calle del Teatro) featured the cinemas Oriente (formerly Teatro Junquera), Empire, and Royo. Although the seat of the city government has shifted several times, it has always remained in the original Spanish ciudad.

The city was renewed by the Philippine Commission’s 1905 urban program. Streets were realigned, widened, and straightened out; new buildings given a special elevation; sidewalks cemented and uniformed. San Nicolas merged with the city proper in 1901. The American era also saw modern landmarks and structures, including Fuente Osmeña, Jones and Mango Avenues, and the upmarket residences in the new suburbs of Sambag, Cogan, and Lahug. Transport and communication improved remarkably with the construction of a line of the Philippine Railway Company, later destroyed during World War II. The Parian shrank and eventually lost its aristocratic quality. Fires changed the face of the city as the downtown area was razed in 1898, 1903, and 1905.

The postwar period saw the further expansion of the city as outlying areas were integrated into the metropolis. Factory sites and residential areas developed to the south, north, and west of the city. Rolling, elevated areas west of the city were carved out as new residential subdivisions, such as Beverly Hills and Maria Luisa Estate; and the city shoreline was reclaimed in the Cebu North and South Reclamation projects to create space for new urban development. Today, Metropolitan Cebu consists of seven cities—Carcar, Cebu, Danao, Lapulapu, Mandaue, Naga, and Talisay—and six municipalities—Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, Cordoba, Minglanilla, and San Fernando.

Churches continue to be major architectural landmarks in the postwar period. In addition to the old churches that survived the war, like the Santo Nino Church and the Cathedral, postwar churches include the new Recoletos Church, Redemptorist Church, Santo Rosario Church, Sacred Heart Church, and Lourdes Church in Punta Princesa. Joining a few surviving prewar structures like Vision Theater on Colon Street, modern commercial and residential buildings were erected, among them the Cebu Plaza Hotel, Robinsons Department Store complex, and Metrobank Building on Fuente Osmeña. Restored and repurposed as museums are the old cathedral rectory and the 19th century carcel or jail.

In the 1990s, with the establishment of the Cebu Business Park and the development of the Cebu Reclamation Area, there was an upsurge in urban development, thus causing the architectural face of the city to change at an even faster rate. However, architecture in Cebu confronted several challenges. There was the problem of underutilized local talent, since many buildings were put up by Manila-based corporations that hired Manila-based principal architects, thereby reducing their Cebuano colleagues to mere supervisory roles. On the other hand, there was a growing sense of self-awareness as a community on the part of Cebuano and Cebu-based architects. This had been fostered by local schools of architecture like the University of San Carlos and Cebu Institute of Technology, by professional associations, and by the work of such pioneering Cebuano architects as Santos Alfon, Cristobal Espina, and Filomena Perez-Espina. Cebuano architects were not only taking an active part in local urban planning but had taken a more visible and decisive role in the design of new buildings. Young Cebuano architects were coming into their own and aimed to make their own distinctive contribution to the architectural profession in the Philippines.

By the turn of the 21st century, economic advancements and the surge in real estate and service industries had brought rapid growth to urban planning and architecture in Cebu. After the establishment of the Ayala Center Cebu mall in 1994, Ayala Land’s affiliate, Cebu Holdings, developed the Cebu Business Park. Today, 15 high-rise buildings stand on a 50-hectare area along Archbishop Reyes Avenue. In 2001, the Cebu Information Technology Park was constructed on a 24-hectare lot in Lahug. Developed by the Cebu Property Ventures and Development Corporation, the business complex has brought information technology firms to Cebu and opened the job market for BPOs to workers from the Visayas and Mindanao.

These business and residential parks have drawn thousands of young professionals from the Visayas and Mindanao into Cebu, as bridges and flyover roads were erected across the city, and new commercial spaces constructed in Talamban, Apas, Kamputhaw, Guadalupe, and Kasambangan.

The Cebu provincial government spent 800 million pesos to construct a three-story convention center in Mandaue City, which became the venue for the 12th ASEAN Summit and the 2nd East Asia Summit. However, this Cebu International Convention Center was met with controversy for its high cost and relatively short construction schedule of one year. The convention center opened in 2007 in time for the international summit. Damaged by an earthquake and a typhoon, the convention center would be up for sale seven years after its inauguration.

Today, one of Cebu’s largest community development projects is the South Road Properties (SRP), a vast 300-hectare area that the city government envisions to become a site for retirement facilities, midrise residential complexes, business establishments, a hospital, and a UP campus. After its initial phase in 2009, the new SRP Bridge overlooking the property now links Cebu City to Talisay and Minglanilla. A seaside retail complex owned by Henry Sy will be constructed in the area and is projected to become the largest commercial center in Cebu.

Sy donated a portion of the area to the Archdiocese of Cebu for the construction of the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod, the first Visayan saint who was canonized in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Carlos Arnaiz, a US-based architect, designed the chapel in the contemporary style. Made of glass, stone, and sand, the chapel stands on a 5,001-square meter lot and has 100 walls of varying width and height. For the occasion of Calungsod’s canonization, the Archdiocese of Cebu built another structure made of bamboo and steel. The shrine, which overlooks the SRP Bridge, stands out for its facade that is shaped into palm fronds.

The University of San Carlos Talamban constructed Cebu’s first energy-saving building. The 16,000-square meters Joseph Baumgartner Learning Resource Center, which houses the Cebuano Studies Center, among other libraries and study halls, is one of the largest libraries in the country. Brother Antonio Flores SVD, designed the four-story structure with architects Jensen Racho, Kimberly Yung-Gultia, and Richeto Alcordo of the University of San Carlos. The interiors are brightened by high ceilings, and wide glass windows allow natural light to stream in.

Arts and Crafts of Cebu 

Cebu’s liturgical art manifests its deeply rooted Catholic tradition. Relief or three-dimensional santos (holy images), murals and paintings for altarpieces, gold and silver vestments, and altar accessories have always been Cebuano expressions of religiosity that are stylistically similar to those of Bohol.

Cebuano folk art includes basketry and the handcrafting of jewelry and musical instruments. Basketry was developed by the interisland trade, which regularly demanded cargo containers. Baskets and planters are made of coco midrib, rattan, bamboo, or sigid vine. The island’s furniture industry is related to this art. Chairs of rattan and buri ribs are fashioned using basket-weaving techniques. Cebu has produced some of the most sought-after furniture makers in the world. Kenneth Cobonpue’s acclaimed work on rattan furnishings shows a mastery of new techniques. Allan Murillo of Murillo Furniture Philippines in Inayawan Pardo specializes in custom-made wood and metal furniture known for its craftsmanship and sophisticated design.

Living room chairs in Yoda style designed by Kenneth Cobonpue
Living room chairs in Yoda style designed by Kenneth Cobonpue (Photo courtesy of Kenneth Cobonpue)

Mactan produces guitars and ukuleles from langka (soft jackfruit wood). Cebu’s abundant shells and coral can be transformed into ornaments, some of which are set with precious metals. Popular Cebuano arts of the 19th century, such as sinamay weaving, dyeing, and pottery, especially the alcaaz or water jars of fine red clay, have since declined. Such is the creativity of local artisans, however, that new crafts such as stoneware are constantly being developed.Mat Weaving

Painting was the first secular art that appeared in the mid-19th century. Initially unsigned and undated, they were personal rather than professional. Gonzalo Abellana of Carcar, Canuto Avila from San Nicolas, Raymundo Francia of Parian, and Simeon Padriga were early painters and sculptors who actively participated in the period of transition from religious to secular art.

painting Sofronio Y. Mendoza, Untitled, 1979
Sofronio Y. Mendoza, Untitled, 1979 (Photo courtesy of Leon Gallery Fine Arts and Antiquities)

Aside from their works, Cebuano masterpieces include Diosdado “Diovil” Villadolid’s finger paintings, Oscar Figuracion’s paintings of the Blaan community of Davao, Julian Jumalon’s lepidomosaic art, Silvester “Bitik” Orfilla’s historical mural titled Ciudad del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus (City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus), and Carmela Tamayo’s tartanilla series.

Aside from these painters, others contributed to the flourishing of Cebuano visual arts in the 20th century: Mary Avila, Jose Alcoseba, Vidal Alcoseba, Virgilio Daclan, Sergio Baguio, Emeterio Suson, and Jesus Rosa.

Painting Martino Abellana, Boy with Instrument, 1972
Martino Abellana, Boy with Instrument, 1972 (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Collection, photo courtesy of Sister Gemma Abellana)

Martino Abellana is the “dean of Cebuano painters.” Though primarily a figurative impressionist, his later works nevertheless show a desire to reconcile the figurative and the abstract. Notable works of his are The Farmer’s Son, Job Was Also Man, Rocks, and Korean War. Cebu and the Central Visayas have also contributed to the Manila art scene through artists such as Manuel Rodriguez Sr. and National Artist Napoleon Abueva, who are distinguished for their pioneering ventures in Philippine graphic arts and modernism in sculpture, respectively.

An important catalyst in the development of the Cebu art scene was the founding of the Cebu Arts Association (CEARTAS) in 1937 by Julian Jumalon, in association with artists like Oscar Figuradon, Jose Alcoseba, Emilio Olmos, and Fidel Araneta. CEARTAS promoted community awareness of the visual arts as well as the exchange of ideas among artists.

In the post-World War II period, the older practitioners were joined by younger artists like the Mendoza brothers (Sofronio, Teofilo, and Godofredo), Romulo Galicano, Gamaliel Subang, Fatherr Virgilio Yap, Jose Yap Jr., Tony Alcoseba, Gig de Pio, and Mardonio Cempron. Some of these artists, notably Sofronio Y. Mendoza, also known as SYM, and Romulo Galicano, later moved to Manila and to foreign countries to gain a much wider reputation and audience.

Today, Cebu has what is probably the largest community of artists outside of Manila. Although many of the young practitioners have inherited the Cebuano artist’s predilection for landscapes in the Abellana style, they are also influenced by various modern styles in the country, like those of Jose Blanco of Angono and the late Vicente Manansala, as well as from abroad. Today’s crop of artists includes Isabel Rocha, Mariano Vidal, Boy Kiamko, Fred Galan, Wilfredo Cuevas, Manual Panares, and Rudy Manero. Anthony Fermin, Paulina Constancia Lee, and Celso Pepito are also influenced by modernism. The town of Carcar, hometown of Martino Abellana, has produced a new generation of artists led by Gabriel Abellana, Martino Abellana Jr., and Luther Galicano.

The opening of the fine arts program at UP College Cebu, the first formal fine arts school south of Manila, has dynamized the Cebuano art scene. Soon after its founding, Manila Artist Jose Joya initiated in 1978 the Annual Joya Art Competition, which has showcased new talents from UP Cebu, such as Raymund Fernandez, Javy Villacin, Edgar Mojares, Arlene Villaver, Janine Barrera, and Karl Roque. The University of San Carlos, whose own fine arts program opened in 1985, has recruited artists such as Jorge Lao, Radel Paredes, and Paul Vega.

Although present-day Cebuano art is concentrated on painting, sculpture has had its noteworthy practitioners, notably Fidel Araneta and Ramon Abellana. Artists like Jet Florendo and Ricky Osorno are making their own innovative expression in this art form. Roy Lumagbas, Errol Marabiles, Jojo Sagayano, and Jon Unson seek a genuine Filipino expression in photography, performance art, and mixed-media art. Today’s most prolific Cebuano artists also include Dennis “Sio” Montera, Marvin Natural, Richie Quijano, Palmy Pe Tudtud, and Russ Ligtas. An artists’ group called The Junks Collective practices “intermedia” art production and explores the blurring of genre distinctions and the divide between popular and academic art.

There are support institutions and networks in Cebu that keep interest in the visual arts alive. Apart from the Cebu Arts Association and UP Cebu’s fine arts program, Cebu City has a good number of art galleries; and painting exhibits are regularly held in such places as Casa Gorordo Museum, College Assurance Plan (CAP) Center, and the City Museum, which was established by the city government in 1992. The city has a fairly large number of art patrons and collectors. The city’s private collections are varied, ranging from the antique collections of Lydia Aznar-Alfonso, Leocadia Binamira, and Ramon Arcenas, to the philatelic collection of Victorino Reynes, the Shell Collection of Asela Franco, the photographic collection of Gahleo Medalle, and the lepidoptera and lepidomosaic art collections of Julian Jumalon. Moreover, a good number of local art patrons have collections of modern art, creating a market that enables local artists to survive. Cebu is well on its way toward becoming a viable center for contemporary art, and no longer is it necessary for local artists to move to Manila to practice and develop their art.

Cebuano Literature

Cebuano literature is a major component of Philippine literature. Produced in a language which is the mother tongue of a quarter of the country’s population, it compares in volume to Ilocano literature and comes second to that in Tagalog. Writing in the language was done as early as the 14th century, albeit in a limited way: The first printed works in Cebuano appeared in the 17th century, and the first printing press, the Imprenta de Escondrillas y Cia, and first Cebuano newspaper, El Boletin de Cebu, were established in 1873 and 1886, respectively. Through time, literary works in Cebuano, Spanish, and English were also produced by the Cebuano.

Cebuano poetry is embedded in the qualities of the local language itself. A 17th-century Jesuit chronicler Francisco Alzina found Visayan highly expressive, nuanced, and complex, with an “abundance of metaphors” even in ordinary conversation. Such qualities were raised to an even higher level in Visayan poetical compositions.

Early chroniclers like Alzina and Francisco Encina, who wrote Arte de Ia lengua Zebuana, the first formal treatise on Cebuano poetry in 1801, speak of such types of Visayan poetry as ambahan, balak, bikal, siday, parahaya, awit, garay, gabay, bagay, inagung, uriyan, cachorinon, comintang, and guya. The lack of specimens, however, makes it extremely difficult to document these forms, beyond noting such common features as the use of assonantal rhymes, a syllabic measure of 5 to 12 syllables per line with the heptasyllabic as the most common, the use of couplets and quatrains as units of verse, and the prominence of “enigmas” or metaphors.

The Spaniards introduced printed poetry to the Cebuano, mostly devotional verses, but the best poetry throughout the Spanish period was poetry in the oral tradition, composed in forms like the ambahan, balitao, and duplo. The first known Cebuano poets were mostly priests such as Jose Morales del Rosario, Alejandro Espina, and Emiliano Mercado, who wrote religious verses in Spanish or Cebuano.

“Modern poetry” developed with the rise of printing and publishing in Cebu at the turn of the present century. The first important Cebuano poets—Vicente Ranudo, Tomas Bagyo, Potenciano Aliño, Escolastico Morre—appeared in the wake of the publication of the first newspaper in Cebuano, Vicente Sotto’s Ang Suga, 1901-1911. As journalism expanded in the early 20th century, so did the volume of published Cebuano poetry. It is estimated that more than 10,000 Cebuano poems were published between 1900 and 1941.

Vicente Sotto
Vicente Sotto, 1911 (Filipinas Heritage Library)

Vicente Ranudo, “the Father of Cebuano Poetry,” stamped Cebuano poetry with the character of classical speech: highly elevated, formal, romantic, and tending toward the sentimental and the mystical. Even as this mode of poetry became the norm, Cebuano poetry remained versatile: It encompassed a range from comic, folksy verses, to philosophic poetry with mystic undertones, to poems of patriotism and social comment. Among the outstanding prewar poets were Nicolas Rafols, Fernando Buyser, Amando Osorio, Elpidio Rama, Vicente Padriga, Emiliano Batiancila, Napoleon Dejoras, and Vicente Ybañez.

Even as Cebuano poetry hewed close to the traditional, the influence of Spanish and Anglo-American poetry stimulated experimentation, as seen in Buyser’s sonanoy and Diosdado Alesna’s siniloy, Cebuano adaptations of the sonnet. The postwar period also saw the wide use of “free verse.” Important poets included Priscilla Campo, Brigido Alfar, Maricano Camacho, Marciano Peñaranda, S. Alvarez Villariño, Lucas de Loyola, and Francisco Candia.

In the 1960s younger poets, equally fluent in Cebuano and English, and influenced by American and European authors as well as Filipino poets in English, attempted to extend Cebuano poetic traditions by writing poems that were sparer, unsentimental, and more intellectually complex. They included Leonardo Diokno, Junne Cañizares, Melquiadito Allego, and Ricardo Patalinjug. They were followed by poets like Ernesto Lariosa, Pantaleon Auman, and Lamberto Ceballos—poets who introduced a contemporary sensibility to Cebuano poetry.

Book Collection of Cebuano poetry
Collection of Cebuano poetry, 1894 (National Library of the Philippines Collection)

Today, much poetry in an older, conventional mode is written and remains popular. New directions, however, have been taken by poets like Rene Amper, Temistokles Adlawan, Melito Baclay, Vicente Bandillo, and Ester Bandillo, who have all sought new ways of melding the resources of native Cebuano poetry with the temper and substance of contemporary experiences.

Bathalad (Bathalaon-ong Halad sa Dagang, literally meaning “godly gift of the quill”) and Ludabi (Lubas sa Dagang Binisaya or “core of Visayan writers”) are two prominent writers’ organizations whose members publish their works in Bisaya. Robert Pableo Lim, Agustin “Don” Pagusara, and Jose Tomarong are notable poets working outside of these groups. In the 1990s, two more groups changed the course of Cebuano poetry. WILA (Women in the Literary Arts Inc.) became the first and only women writers’ organization in Cebu. Among the first members of WILA were Erlinda Kintanar Alburo, Corazon Almerino, Ruby Enario, Marvi Gil, Jocelyn Pinzon, Delora Sales, Leticia Suarez, and Ester Tapia. Almerino’s poems were first collected in Sinug-ang, an anthology of works by Alburo, Tapia, and Almerino.

Young poets who want to distinguish themselves from the more conventional modes of Cebuano writing have formed a group called Tarantula, which includes poets Adonis Durado and Michael Obenieta. Known for his wit and striking imagery, Durado has published the poetry books Dili Tanang Matagak Mahagbong (Not All That Drops Falls) and Minugbo Alang sa Mugbo og Kalipay (Short Verses For Those Whose Happiness is Short). He received the Emman Lacaba Prize from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Obenieta’s exuberant lyricism is evident in his first collection, Iring-iring sa Tingbitay sa Iro (Cats at Play As the Dog Is Hanged). Obenieta also manages the web blog Kabisdak, the largest online source of new Cebuano poetry which, to date, has published 2,992 poems by more than a hundred poets.

Cebu continues to produce exemplary poets in English. Palanca-winning poet and essayist Simeon Dumdum is an influential figure to young poets in Cebu and other parts of the country. Dumdum’s books of poetry include The Gift of Sleep, Third World Opera, If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly, and To the Evening Star. Prize-winning young poets include John Labella, Lawrence Ypil, and Shane Carreon.

A history of Cebuano narratives would encompass various forms of mythic and folk narratives extending back to precolonial times, a study of which has not yet been attempted. The novel and the short story, however, are distinctly modern forms. What may be considered the first novel in Cebuano is Recollect Antonio Obeda de la Santisima Trinidad’s La Teresa, 1852, a novella that deals with contemporary problems and is set in Bohol with Boholano characters. It is, however, an isolated achievement since it was not until the beginning of the 20th century, after the appearance of printing and publishing in Cebu, that the ground was set for the rise of the novel. Though there is a passing reference to an unfinished novel by Filemon Sotto in the pages of his newspaper, Ang Kaluwasan, 1902-1903, the restrictive format of the early papers did not encourage the printing of long narratives. Thus, it was not until the second decade of the century that the first Cebuano novels appeared: Juan Villagonzalo’s Walay Igsoon (No Siblings), 1912; Uldarico Alviola’s Felicitas, 1912; Vicente Duterte’s Ang Palad, Palad Gayud (Fate, Ah Fate), 1912; Amando Osorio’s Daylinda, 1913; and Nicolas Rafols’s Ang Pulahan (The Pulahan), 1918.

By the late 1920s, the novel form had become popular. It was at this time that the word sugilambong (elaborated narrative) was coined as the Cebuano term for the novel. Pre-World War II novelists include Vicente Rama, Florentino Suico, Natalio Bacalso, Vicente Flores, Angel Enemecio, Vicente Arias, Tomas Hermosisima, Jacinto Alcos, Angel Campo, and Candido Vasquez. Perhaps the most popular novelist of the time was Sulpicio Osorio, also known as Sulposor, whose best-known work was Mga Bungsod nga Gipangguba (Destroyed Fish Corrals), 1929, a controversial anticlerical novel. At this time, readers were also exposed to Cebuano translations of novels by Alexandre Dumas, Charlotte Braeme, Marie Corelli, Rafael Sabatini, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. The novels of Jose Rizal were made widely available in translations done by Tomas Alonso, Juan Quijano, and Isidro Abad. Most novels were written for weekly serialization in popular magazines. This made for loose, episodic novels written on the run. Despite this, however, the Cebuano novel reached a maturity of form in the works of Flaviano P. Boquecosa, also known as F. Bok, whose Ang Palad ni Pepe (Pepe’s Fate), 1937, and Ang Anak ni Pepe (The Child of Pepe), 1939, are well-crafted popular romances.

After the war, novels continued to be a staple in magazines. Leading postwar magazines included Lamdag, 1947-1950; Alimyon, 1952-1963; Silaw, 1961-1964; Bagong Suga, 1963-1971; and Bisaya, founded in 1930 by Liwayway Publications and the only surviving Cebuano magazine today. Also noteworthy was Liwayway Publications’s Saloma, launched in 1948 as a monthly pamphlet that carried novels in full or serial form, both Cebuano originals and translations of Tagalog novels by writers like Nemesio Caravana and Susana C. de Guzman. Saloma, which lasted for almost 10 years, had a peak circulation of 22,000 copies. Postwar novelists include Martino Abellana, Maximo Bas, Fausto Eugenio, Lina Espina-Moore (born Austregelina Espina), and Hilda Montaire.

Starting in the 1950s, there appeared novels that were consciously modern in their themes and styles, and used such Western devices as the stream-of-consciousness technique. Noteworthy were Godofredo Roperos’s Paghugpa sa Kangitngit (Descent of Darkness), 1951, and Tiburcio Baguio’s Parnaso (Parnassus), 1959.

By the 1990s, around 200 novels in Cebuano had been published. The development of the Cebuano novel, however, is hounded by problems of outlet and the lack of scholarly criticism. Bisaya Magasin remains the most reliable venue, serializing two to three novels at a time. From 2000 to 2013, Carmelo D. Lariosa, Rogelio S. Pono, and Vincent Revilo-Sadaya have had their novels published in Bisaya, along with Gumer Rafanan, Ricardo Patalinjug, and Raul Acas (Justo Virtudazo) of Bohol. The decade’s notable works include Temistokles Adlawan’s Ang Kabaho, Unya, ang Kahumot sa Pulbos (The Foulness and Fragrance of Powder); Rafanan’s Maratabat and Ang Misteryo sa Inuslang Kasingkasing (The Mystery of a Borrowed Heart); and Acas’s Handag: Lima ka Degrees (Slanting: Five Degrees). In 2007, Telesforo Sungkit received the NCCA Writers’ Prize for his novel, Mga Gapnon sa Kamad-an (Driftwood on Dry Land). A Higaonon novelist from Bukidnon, Sungkit is an emerging voice who has brought the contemporary issues of Mindanao to the Cebuano novel. Cebu and the Central Visayas have produced accomplished novelists in other languages, such as Antonio M. Abad in Spanish, and Edilberto Tiempo, Lina Espina-Moore, and Carlos Cortes in English.

The Cebuano short story germinated in the 19th century out of folk narrative tradition, and more particularly, out of such early prose narratives or protonarratives as the pananglitan or exemplum, from the Spanish ejemplo; bida, or kinabuhi (saints’ lives); and cuadros (narrative sketches of manners). Examples of these early forms are the illustrative tales in Father Bias Cavada de Castro’s Ang Suga (The Light), 1879.

A beginning in the short story form in Cebuano came with Vicente Sotto’s “Maming,” which appeared in his newspaper Ang Suga on 16 July 1901 and is considered the first Cebuano short story. Sotto went on to write other stories and was joined by early fictionists like Juan Villagonzalo, Pablo Aguilar, Leoncio Avila, and Uldarico Alviola. The early stories did not often go too far beyond the narrative sketch, dealing with manners and social issues. The short story was simply called sugilanon (story) or mubong sugilanon (short story), while anecdotes and quick sketches in prose were called pinadalagan (run-through) and binirisbiris (scribblings).

The short story became a popular form in the 20th century. Prewar practitioners include Vicente Rama, Nicolas Rafols, Fernando Buyser, Vicente Flores, Sulpicio Osorio, Pantaleon Kardenas, Vicente Garces, Angel Anemecio, Maria Kabigon, Natalio Bacalso, Florentino Tecson, Rufino Noel, Celerino Uy, Fausto Dugenio, and Gardeopatra Quijano. Notable published story collections include Buyser’s Dungog ug Kamatayon (Honor and Death), 1912; Rafols’s Damgo (Dream), 1918; Kardenas’s Sa Akong Payag (In My Hut), 1919; Rama’s Larawan (Image), 1921; and Sotto’s Mga Sugilanong Pilipinhon (Filipino Stories), 1929.

Marcel M. Navarra’s “Ug Gianod Ako” (And I Was Borne Away), 1937, is considered the first modern Cebuano short story because of its conscious cultivation of style and its attempt at psychological realism through the use of the first-person point-of-view. Navarra turned out even better stories in the postwar period, becoming the best short story writer of his generation.

Postwar short story writers include Florentina Villanueva, Eugenio Viacrucis, Luis Ladonga, Tiburcio Baguio, Martin Abellana, Maximo Bas, Laurean Unabia, Fornarina Enemecio, Hermogenes Cantago, Nazario Bas, Porfirio de la Torre, Gumer Rafanan, Alex Abellana, Benjamin Montejo, Arturo Peflaserada, Temistokles Adlawan, and Gremer Chan Reyes. The field was also enriched by the works of bilingual (English-Cebuano) writers like Estrella Alfon, Lina Espina-Moore (Austregelina Espina), Felino Diao, Godofredo Roperos, and, sometime later, Junne Canizares, Dionisio Gabriel, and Ricardo Patalinjug. The current generation of fictionists includes Mario Batausa, Maria Victoria Beltran, Jona Branzuela Bering, Josua Cabrera, Richel Dorotan, Arturo Penaserada, Oscar C. Pineda, Lilia Tio, Candido Wenceslao, and Januar E. Yap.

Regional writers’ groups and literary contests have helped discover writers from the Visayas and Mindanao such as Eleazar T. Acampado, Edgar S. Godin, and Noel P. Tuazon of Bohol; Saturnino P. Apoyon and Justo Virtudazo of both Bohol and Davao; Shielfa Alojamiento, Errol Merquita, and Macario Tiu of Davao; and Honecito R. Saguban of Negros Oriental.

While the Cebuano short story increased in refinement through the present century, there were also factors that made for stagnation. The commercialization of magazines and the influence of competing media like movies, radio, and comic books favored the production of quick, formulaic fiction. Art was frequently subordinated to the demand-and-supply dynamics of a mass entertainment market. While Cebuano literary organizations and competitions tried to elevate the writer’s craft, publishing conditions and the lack of literary criticism inhibited the artistic development of the Cebuano short story.

The Cebuano has excelled in the short story form in the other languages: in Spanish, with Buenaventura Rodriguez and Antonio M. Abad; and in English, with Estrella Alfon, Lina Espina-Moore, Renato Madrid, and Carlos Cortes. In Cebuano itself, there is a great deal of notable work today.

The essay in Cebuano is a form sired by the introduction of printing in the late 19th century. Since the church dominated early print communications, the first authors of prose in Cebuano were Spanish priests like Tomas de San Geronimo, Mateo Perez, Tomas de San Lucas, Ramon Zueco de San Joaquin, and sometime later, Cebuano clergymen like Blas Cavada de Castro, Jose Morales del Rosario, Alejandro Espina, Emiliano Mercado, and Juan Alcoseba. They produced such texts as spiritual meditations, saints’ lives, and sermons.

More important in the rise of the essay form was journalism. With the advent of Cebuano-language periodicals in the 20th century, starting with Vicente Sotto’s Ang Suga in 1901, and particularly of Cebuano magazines which were more congenial to the essay because of a more capacious format compared to tabloids, articles and essays became popular forms. Magazines like Bag-ong Kusog (New Strength), 1915-1941; El Boletin Catolico, 1915-1930; The Freeman, 1919-1941; Nasud (Nation), 1930-1941; Babaye (Woman), 1930-1940; and Bisaya, 1930, spurred the writing of articles and essays in Cebuano.

As a literary form, the essay developed slowly and unevenly. What proliferated were journalistic articles that were utilitarian, harried, topical, and perishable. These included commentaries on local politics, history, culture, places, and personalities. Interest in the cultivation of form was not pronounced since many of these pieces were largely informational or polemical. They were called artikulo (article). Words like pinadalagan (quick texts), tampo (contribution), or simply sinulat (writings) were used to label these texts.

Among the early writers of articles and essays in Cebuano were Vicente Sotto, Filemon Sotto, Vicente Rama, Tomas Alonso, Vicente Flores, Marcos Trinidad, and Maria Kabigon. There were published book collections of articles and essays: Vicente Sotto’s Mga Handumanan sa Sugbu (Reminiscences of Cebu), 1926; Pantaleon V. Kardenas’s In Memoriam, 1937; and Naglantaw sa Kagahapon (Looking toward the Past). There were also collections by such English-Cebuano authors as Jose Ma. Cuenca, Vicente Gullas, and Cayetano Villamor. There were also ensayos (essays) in Spanish written by the likes of Buenaventura Rodriguez, Celestino Rodriguez, Antonio M. Abad, Jose Ma. del Mar, Vicente Padriga, and Ines Villa. A notable work in this respect is Manuel C. Briones’s Discursos y Ensayos: Temario y Vida Filipina (Speeches and Essays: Philippine Theme and Life), 1955.

In the post-World War II period, magazines like Lamdag, 1947-1950; Alimyon, 1952-1963; Silaw, 1961-1964; and the venerable Bisaya carried assorted prose texts in Cebuano. Important writers, particularly on the topics of life and letters, included Flaviano Boquecosa; Martin Abellana, who has published Sentido Komon (Common Sense), a collection of short essays; Francisco Candia; and DM Estabaya. Notable essays in English, published through the medium of magazine or newspaper columns, have also been done by contemporary writers like Napoleon G. Rama, whose editorial essays are collected in A Time in the Life of the Filipino, 1990; and Simeon Dumdum Jr., whose personal essays are collected in Love in the Time of the Camera and My Pledge of Love Cannot Be Broken. Resil B. Mojares has won both national and international recognition for his books of history, essays, and criticism: The Origins and Rise of the Filipino Novel, House of Memory, Waiting for Mariang Makiling: Essays in Philippine Cultural History, Brains of the Nation: Pedro Paterno, T.H. Pardo de Tavera, Isabelo de los Reyes and the Production of Modern Knowledge, and Isabelo’s Archive.

In Cebuano, the conscious cultivation of the prose style has been more manifest in such types as oratory and “love letters” rather than in the essay form itself. Writers seem more predisposed toward the oral forms of persuasion and exposition. The popularity of oratory is shown in the number of published collections of speeches—actual speeches or model texts—authored by writers like Fernando Buyser, Angel Enemecio, Cayetano Villamor, and Vicente Florida. Compilations of model love letters or moral (texts for “wooing”) are also popular. The essay remains a largely undeveloped form in Cebuano. An immediate reason for this is the matter of medium. Newspapers and magazines generally carry journalistic articles, editorials, and columns, rather than more reflective, cultivated literary essays. Book-publishing opportunities are limited. A tradition of orality also inclines writers to more oratorical rather than essayistic forms of writing.

The Cebuano term gumalaysay has been coined to refer to the “essay.” In practice, however, the gumalaysay is inadequately distinguished from the journalistic article. Cebuano writers themselves have not as yet arrived at a clear consensus, whether in practice or in theory, as to what the gumalaysay, as a distinct literary form, means or requires.

Cebuano Songs and Music

Rarely can a Visayan be found, “unless he is sick, who ceases to sing except when he is asleep.” Thus remarked 17th-century Jesuit chronicler Francisco Alzina (1668) on the prodigious activity of Visayans in the field of music. He noted, with much amazement, not only the fact that Visayans seemed to be singing all the time but that they played musical instruments with such dexterity, they could—by just playing such instruments as the kudyapi (guitar or lute) and korlong (fiddle)—“speak and make love to one another” (3:679).

The field of Visayan and Cebuano music is vast. This is indicated by the array of native musical instruments in the Visayas, which include percussion tubes called bayog and karatong, drums called guimbal and tugo, ribbon reeds called pasyok and turutot, lutes or buktot, violins or litguit, the mouth harp or subing, clarinets or lantoy, and flutes or tulali.

Video: USAHAY | Famous Visayan / Bisaya Love Song-Cebuano Folk Music Songs of the Visayas] Rondalla Version

Ubiquitous too was vocal music, since songs called ambahan, awit, or biyao were sung for many purposes and occasions. Songs included saloma (sailor songs), hila, hele, holo, and hia (work songs), dayhuan (drinking songs), kandu (epic songs), kanogon (dirges), tirana (debate songs), the balitaoromansada (song form of the balitao) as well as religious chants, courtship and wedding songs, lullabies and children’s songs, and songs that accompanied various types of dances and performances. Note an excerpt from a saloma below, translated by Simeon Dumdum Jr.:

Tapatako magsakay

Nga dili sa dagat nga malinaw

Kay unos dili ako malunod

Malunod ako sa mga kamingaw.

(I’d rather ride the waves

Than the calm of the sea

Because no storm can sink me

More surely than solitude.)

Spanish colonial rule exposed Visayans to Western musical traditions. In the 17th century, Visayans could already play Spanish musical instruments with “notable skill” (Alzina 1668, 3:66). The Spanish guitar, called sista in Cebuano, superseded indigenous string instruments akin to it and became so popular that the Visayas, particularly Cebu, acquired a reputation not only for guitar players but for the manufacture of fine guitars. Other instruments like the alpa (harp) became widely diffused in the Visayas. The Spaniards introduced the Christmas carol called dayegon or daigon and a more Latin touch to the serenade or harana. Below is a representative of the Cebuano harana, translated by Erlinda K. Alburo:

Daigon, a Christmas caroling tradition in Cebu
Daigon, a Christmas caroling tradition in Cebu, 1991 (CCP Collections)

Jazmin preciosa

Ning kasingkasing

Nga ginapaniba sa kalanggaman

Ginadugok kay bulak nga mahumot

Uban sa hinuyuhoy

Ning tun-og sa kagabhion.

(Precious jasmine

Of this heart

Supped by the birds

Whose fragrance attracts many

Wafted by the breeze

In the cool night.)

Catholic liturgical music and associated religious songs became an important part of the music tradition of the Visayas. Little is now known of Cebuano composers of early liturgical music, and no adequate study has been undertaken on the adaptation of this music to the Visayas or of its influence on secular music in the region. While there was a tendency toward rigidification in liturgical practices in the Spanish period, artistic cross-fertilization undoubtedly took place. After all, the early missionary accounts themselves frequently cite how the Spanish missionaries appropriated native songs and reformed their content to facilitate the communication of new messages. At the very least, Catholic liturgy, with the important role played in it by songs and chants, nourished the native passion for music.

American rule also introduced new musical influence into the Visayas, particularly through the public schools, the stage as in the case of vaudeville or bodabil, the phonograph, movies, and radio.

The first half of the 20th century saw a flowering of Cebuano music composition. A major factor was the rise of Cebuano theater in the early 1900s, with the sarsuwela (musical play) as the most popular dramatic form. Hence, there was a demand for music-and-song performances. Teatro Junquera, later called Oriente, in Cebu City showed Cebuano sarsuwela and Spanish zarzuelas, Italian operas, and American-style bodabil in the early 1900s. Plays by Buenaventura Rodriguez and Florentino Borromeo were staged with complements as large as 32-member orchestras. Off-theater, there were open-air plays staged in Visayan villages as well as neighborhood performances of the Cebuano balitao. One must also consider that beginning with the Spanish period, the social calendar was filled with religious festivities that created occasions for musical performances. Hence, it was standard for a town and even many barrios to have a local orchestra or band. In later years, Cebuano movies and radio programs also stimulated the creativity of composers and performers.

The 20th century saw the advent of the music recording industry in the Philippines. In the 1920s and 1930s, Cebuano songs and singers were recorded on phonograph discs. In 1929, for instance, the premier Cebuano singer of the time, Concepcion Cananea, had already cut 27 songs for Disko Odeon while her husband, composer Manuel Velez, had 12 songs recorded. Velez also owned at this time the Santa Cecilia music store in Cebu City, which sold musical instruments, sheets, and phonographs. In 1931, there was an Odeon Palace in Cebu City selling phonograph records of compositions by Velez, Brigido Lakandazon, Piux Kabahar, and F. Viñalon, sung by such local artists as Cananea, Velez himself, and Soledad Noel.

Video: SA KABUKIRAN cover by Lara Maigue (Soprano)

Among the notable composers of this period were Lakandazon, Velez, Celestino Rodriguez, Piux Kabahar, Hermenegildo Solon, Rafael Gandiongco, Ben Zubiri, Domingo Lopez, and Tomas Villaflor. Lakandazon, a Tagalog who married a Cebuana and settled down in Carcar, Cebu, was an all-around music man who played several instruments, acted as local bandmaster and music teacher, and composed music for Cebuano sarsuwela. Songs composed during this period included “Sa Kabukiran” (In the Rice Fields) by M. Velez, with lyrics by Jose Galicano; “Rosas Pandan” and “Kamingaw sa Payag” (Loneliness of the Heart) by Domingo Lopez; “Salilang” and “Dalagang Pilipinhon” (Filipino Lady) by Celestino Rodriquez; “Wasaywasay” by Piux Kabahar; “Aruy-aruy” by Tomas Villaflor; “Garbosong Bukid” by Hermenegildo Solon; and “Mutya sa Buhat” (Pearl of Labor) by Rafael Gandiongco.

The prolific character of the pre- and immediate post-World War II period can be inferred from the large number of Cebuano composers: Vicente Rubi, Emiliano Gabuya, S. Alvarez Villarino, Diosdado Alferez, Manuel Villareal, Dondoy Villalon, Vicente Kiyamko, Estanislao Tenchavez, Ramon Abellana, and the Cabase brothers (Siux, Sencio, Narding, and Mane). In addition, Cebu produced excellent performers and singers: the couple Manuel and Concepcion Cananea-Velez and their daughter Lilian Velez, Eulalia Hernandez, Teodora Siloria, Presing Dakoykoy, Pablo Virtuoso, and Pilita Corrales.

Video: Sugid Ni Maria - Ukelele Version | Visayan / Bisaya Love Song

In time, the growing dominance of Western music and the promotion of Tagalog music—favored by the fact that Manila is the capital of art and entertainment—eclipsed Cebuano music composition. Musical activity, however, has remained active in Cebu through the work of such composers, teachers, and performers as Pilar B. Sala, Rodolfo E. Villanueva, Ingrid Sala-Santamaria, and the Cebu Symphony Orchestra. Promotional activities by such groups as the Cebu Arts Council, Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission, Cebu Arts Foundation, and Cebu Popular Music Festival, which have done notable work in encouraging Cebuano composition of popular songs, and local music schools and radio stations have encouraged composition and performance in Cebu.

Video: Nostalgic Cebuano / Visayan Children's Folk Songs Medley - Funny Bisaya Songs - Huni Ukelele

The indications that Cebuano music composition was entering a new energetic phase in its history have been realized. In the early 2000s, a group of musicians cultivated a genre called Bis-Rock, a portmanteau of the words “Bisaya,” which refers to the language of the lyrics, and “rock,” which refers to the genre of music. Januar E. Yap coined the term in 2002 in his review of the band Missing Filemon. Bis-Rock signaled the arrival of a robust Cebuano popular music for a new generation of listeners. Influenced by rock music and the folk songs of Max Surban and Yoyoy Villame, bands that followed the Bis-Rock sound made original compositions in Cebuano. Other bands that are identified with the Bis-Rock sound include The Ambassadors, Aggressive Audio, Iron Smoke, and Smooth Friction. Today, young musicians in the Visayas and Mindanao have embraced Bis-Rock. Two Cebuano bands that compose songs in English have also broken into the mainstream OPM industry in Manila: Urbandub and Franco.

Perhaps the most exciting group to have emerged in Cebuano popular music in recent years is Junior Kilat, a band influenced by Jamaican reggae and ska. The band’s name was inspired by the 1970s band Leon Kilat, which was named after the legendary revolutionary leader Pantaleon Villegas. The singles, “Original Sigbin” and “Buwad Suka Sili” (Dried Fish Vinegar Pepper), made the Junior Kilat a household name. “Ako si M16,” a catchy but sardonic commentary on illegal gun trade, won “Song of the Year” at the NU-107 Rock Awards in 2005.

Cebuano Folk Dances and Performing Arts

Maligonoy dance of Consolacion
Maligonoy dance of Consolacion (CCP Collections)

Cebuano dances are varied. This variety features the colorful surtido Cebuano of Bantayan, the maligonoy of Consolacion, the la berde and the ohong-ohong of Carcar, the sampaguita of San Fernando, as well as the paso doble. In Sibalon, Negros Oriental, San Antonio of Padua is honored with the gapnod dance. Children dance and sing the yuletide pastores, a portrayal of the shepherd’s adoration of the Child Jesus. 

Video: Surtido Cebuano - Philippine Folk Dance Competition 2017

The Cebuano penchant for mime is demonstrated in the mananagat, a dance about fisherfolk at work, and the dalagang gamay (little maiden), in which a girl, singing and dancing with a handkerchief, plays at being a lady. More unique are the la berde, wherein a boy dances with not one but two girls, and the maramyon, another pantomime which is accompanied by the singing of dancers or the audience. The ohong-ohong dance of farmers similarly invokes audience participation. Performers of these dances are costumed as in other Visayan dances; the women in patadyong, camisa, and pañuelo, and the men in barong tagalog. Generally, the outward flings and extravagant movements in Cebuano dances manifest the carefree and fun-loving outlook of the Cebuano.

Sinulog Festival
Sinulog Festival, 2011 (Rodell Basalo)

In Cebu City, the sinulog, which is accompanied by shouts of “Pit Senyor!”, is performed by devotees before the image of the Santo Niño. Sinulog dancing has three traditions. The first involves female candle vendors performing outside the Cebu Cathedral. The dancers, in a swaying, back-and-forth movement, offer petitioners’ candles to the Santo Niño. The second form is performed by dance troupes and reenacts the introduction of Christianity in Cebu. The third and most recent form of sinulog is the parade: Dancers are presented on floats that combine traditional and modern elements, such as popular culture and Hollywood movies. Of the three traditions, the second, which is the sinulog performed by troupes, highlights binary motifs such as the invader and the native, the heathen and the saint, and the poor and the affluent in Cebuano history and society.

Balitaw masters Josefa Bacalso and Antonio Bohol in the 1960 movie Ang Mutya sa Saging Tindok
Balitaw masters Josefa Bacalso and Antonio Bohol in the 1960 movie Ang Mutya sa Saging Tindok (National Library of the Philippines Collection)

Traditional Cebuano dances have been preserved even if their popularity has declined. Though the balitaw was a prewar favorite popularized by Pedro Alfafara and Nicolasa Caniban, and later by Antonio and Pacing Bohol, it is rarely performed today because of the general preference for Western dance. There are hopeful signs, however, that traditional dances like the balitaw and sinulog will not only be preserved but creatively adapted by contemporary Cebuano choreographers and dancers. Opportunities are provided by festivities like the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City and the work of school-based dance groups, like those at the University of San Carlos, Southwestern University, University of Cebu, and University of the Visayas. There are as well groups dedicated to the promotion of modern dance forms. The Cebu Ballet Center, established by Fe Sala-Villarica in Cebu City in 1951, was the first institution outside Manila to promote training in classical ballet and has produced such artists as Noordin Jumalon and Nicolas Pacaña.

The indigenous matrix of Cebuano drama is formed by a host of dramatic and quasi-dramatic performances associated with religious rituals, like the paganito or pagdiwata ceremonial worship, as well as festive occasions, like the pamalaye and kulisisi debates and the pangasi drinking sessions. Such precolonial practices as the sinulog, the Cebuano dance of worship, and the balitaw, the song-and-dance debate, contain mimetic elements of rudimentary drama.

Formal theater had its start in the Spanish period. Early plays include a comedia, written by Jesuit Francisco Vicente Puche, presented in the Cebu Cathedral on the occasion of the inauguration of a Jesuit grammar school in 1598; and a Bohol play, on the life of Santa Barbara in 1609, presumably in Cebuano and thus the first recorded Western-style vernacular play in the Philippines. The Catholic religion, with its celebration of the Mass and the rich array of church-related pageants and performances, inspired theatrical activity in the Visayas and elsewhere in the Philippines. There were then twin streams of theater in the region, one associated with indigenous practices and the other tied to Catholic religious life.

Secular theater in the modern manner did not become significant until the 19th century. The moro-moro or komedya, or what came to be called linambay in Cebuano, an elaborate costume play dramatizing plots drawn from European metrical romances, began to take root in Cebu, first in the port area and later in surrounding towns and villages. It reached the height of popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The last two decades of the 19th century are particularly important. The komedya flourished with the works of such turn-of-the-century playwrights as Salvador Gantuangco, Rafael Regis, and Benigno Ubas, and others working in various parts of Cebu and the Central Visayas. Religious plays were staged, such as Augustinian Antolin Frias’s one-act Spanish play, La Conquista de Cebu (The Conquest of Cebu), 1890. Later, Cebuano priests Juan Alcoseba, Ismael Paras, and others also wrote and staged religious and doctrinal plays. The sinakulo, a dramatization of the Passion and the Death of Christ, did not become as popular in Cebu as it did in the Tagalog provinces. Nevertheless, Cebu’s Lenten and other Catholic rituals have never lacked dramatic flair. In performing the kalbaryo, devotees climb Ditta, Talamban, as though following Christ’s path up the Calvary. A spectacular procession in Bantayan Island highlights the semana santa. Sugat (meeting) dramatizes the reunion of the resurrected Christ and the Blessed Mother, an integral part of the Easter Day celebration in Minglanilla. Nativity plays called tambola and pastora are staged during the Christmas season, at the end of which the Los Tres Reyes pageant graces the feast of the Three Magi.

In the 1880s, the Spanish zarzuela was introduced in Cebu, performed first by visiting Spanish troupes from Manila and later by local aficionados. Manila-based zarzuela companies such as those of Navarro and Balzofiori performed in Cebu in the 1890s. From Cebu City, the sarsuwela spread to other places like Carcar and Barili in southern Cebu. In the early 1900s, elements of the sarsuwela were incorporated into the minoros or opereta bisaya, a shortened and localized form of the komedya. An important event was the establishment in 1895 of Cebu’s first permanent playhouse, Teatro Junquera on Colon Street. Later called Oriente, this theater became the focus of theatrical activity. It was here that Vicente Sotto staged his Ang Paghigugma sa Yutang Natawhan (Love for the Native Land), the first Cebuano language play in the modern, realist manner, on 1 January 1902. Sotto went on to write other plays, and his example was quickly followed by other Cebuano playwrights, thus creating a period of intense dramatic activity in Cebu and other places in the region.

Playwrights of the “golden period”of Cebuano theater from 1900 to 1930 included Buenaventura Rodriguez, Piux Kabahar, Florentino Borromeo, Celestino Rodriguez, Vicente Alcoseba, Alberto Ylaya, Silverio Alaura, Jose Galicano, Francisco Labrador, Jose Sanchez, Zacarias Solon, and Victorino Abellanosa. Composers, actors, and other theater artists included Sabas Veloso, Sebastian Lignatong, Antonio Kiyamko, Eulalia Hernandez, Concepcion Cananea, Manuel Velez, and Isabelo and Jose Rosales. Plays were staged in makeshift, open-air stages, cockpits, warehouses, and city playhouses. There were also attempts to organize theater artists into professional groups, the earliest attempt perhaps being Vicente Sotto’s Compañia de Aficionados Filipinos, 1902, and into troupes that went on performing tours in the Visayas and Mindanao, thus giving Cebuano playwrights exposure over a large geographical area.

Cebuano theater artists also played an important role in the early attempts in the prewar period to produce Cebuano movies. They also supplied talent to soap operas and musical variety programs in Cebu’s radio stations in the postwar period. However, the advent of these new forms of mass entertainment, that is, movies and radio, also led to the eclipse of Cebuano theater. The postwar period failed to recapture the high creativity of the early 20th century. Old plays continued to be staged, particularly during town fiestas; new playwrights emerged; and some of the older artists, like Emiliano Gabuya and Leox Juezan, continued pursuing the art by bringing their companies of performers to towns and villages in the southern provinces. There continued to be avid audiences in the towns to the plays of writers like Diosdado Alferez, Lorenzo Alerre, Galileo Varga, and Anatalio Saballa. The linambay lived on, albeit fitfully, in the rural areas. Yet, there was a slackening of theatrical activity as plays in Cebuano lost the prestige of the days of Buenaventura Rodriguez and Piux Kabahar.

Today, theater has become an occasional activity, kept minimally alive by colleges and universities staging annual plays, by local art associations, and by dedicated theater persons. These urban institutions and individuals have also played a role in presenting to local audiences modern Western plays in English, such as those by Tennessee Williams, Bertolt Brecht, or Neil Simon.

Cebuano theater still has to fully break out of its postwar stagnation. There are interesting signs of renewed interest in Cebuano-language theater, however, beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, with the revival of the Cebuano sarsuwela by university theater guilds, the efforts of playwrights and theater artists like Rodolfo Villanueva, Delia Villacastin, Claudio Evangelio, Allan Jayme Rabaya, and Orlando Magno, and the work of nationalist cultural organizations linked to other groups in the country dedicated to the promotion of a “national theater movement.”

Cebuano Media Arts

Cinema came to Cebu in 1902 when films were first shown by the Cinematografo Electro-Optico Luminoso Walgrah in Cebu City. In the years that followed, various cinematographs operated out of cockpits, warehouses, and playhouses in Cebu City. By the second decade of the century, there were regular cinema houses in Cebu City, like Cine Ideal, 1911; Cine Auditorium, 1922; and Cine Oriente, which was the old Teatro Junquera.

It was not until 1922 to 1923, however, that Visayan moviemaking had a start, when a group led by Max Borromeo, Celestino Rodriguez, and Florentino Borromeo collaborated to make El Hijo Disobediente (The Disobodient Son), the first Cebuano full-length silent movie. In 1938, the first talking motion picture in Cebuano, Bertoldo-Balodoy, was produced by Estudio Americo-Filipino, Cebu’s first film company, owned by Virgilio R. Gonzalez. Playwright Piux Kabahar wrote and directed the movie. Gonzalez produced two other films, Gugmang Talagsaon (Rare Love), 1940, and Mini (Fake), 1940, before the Pacific War broke out.

Sa Kabukiran, theme song of one of the first postwar films produced in Cebu
Sa Kabukiran, theme song of one of the first postwar films produced in Cebu, 1947 (Photo courtesy of Cebuano Studies Center)

After World War II, the Cebuano movie industry entered its most active period. The first postwar films were Sa Kabukiran (In the Rice Fields), 1947; Timbu Mata, 1948; and Luha sa Kalipay (Tears of Joy), 1949. Visayan movie companies included Star Pictures, organized by Manuel Velez; Mutya Productions, owned by Rafael Ramos and headed by Natalio Bacalso; Azucena Pictures, owned by the Arong family; and S-R Productions, of the movie couple Mat Ranillo Jr. and Gloria Sevilla. The industry produced such notable screenwriters and directors as Piux Kabahar, Fernando Alfon, Natalio Bacalso, S. Alvarez Villarino, Leox Juezan, and Gene Labella. Audiences in the Visayas and Mindanao thrilled to the performances of such stars as Mat Ranillo Jr., Gloria Sevilla, Esterlina (Ester Colina-Labella), Eva de Villa, Bert Nobrado, Virgie Solis, Intang Navarro, Danilo Nunez, Arcadio Roma, and Caridad Sanchez.

There were around 80 Cebuano movies produced between 1947 and 1960. These included Leox Juezan’s Dimakaling, 1950; Azucena Pictures’s Pailub Lang (Be Forebearing), 1951; Natalia Bacalso’s Salingsing sa Kasakit (Partner in Pain), 1955, which won a FAMAS Best Picture nomination and the Best Child Actor award for Domingo “Undo” Juezan; and S. Alvarez Villarino’s Matam-is ang Pagpaubos (’Tis Sweet to Suffer), 1957. Cebuano-language films were not limited to Cebu. In Davao, an attempt was made to establish a local industry when playwright Emiliano Gabuya organized La Suerte Motion Pictures, which produced Bagane (Warrior), 1954.

Leroy Salvador’s Badlis sa Kinabuhi, 1969
Leroy Salvador’s Badlis sa Kinabuhi, 1969 (Photo courtesy of Simon Santos/Video 48)

By 1960, however, the Cebuano movie industry had started to decline. A few movies were produced in the 1960s, including Badlis sa Kinabuhi (Mark of Life), 1969, directed by the Tagalog Leroy Salvador, which won the Best Actress award for Gloria Sevilla in both the FAMAS and the 16th Asian Film Festival in Jakarta in 1969. Badlis was also chosen best black-and-white film in Jakarta and was entered in the Berlin Film Festival of 1969.

Cebuano movie companies could not compete with their Tagalog counterparts’ economies of scale, larger resource base, wider reach, and control of nationwide theater bookings. While there were moves for the complementation of Tagalog and Cebuano movie companies, like lease of equipment, exchange of services, and even the dubbing of films, the decline of the local movie industry was inexorable. In 1956, at least two Cebuano films— Salingsing sa Kasakit (Partner in Pain) and Mutya sa Saging Tindok (Talisman of the Banana Tree)—were dubbed in Tagalog for national distribution. Cebuano talents gravitated toward Manila. Gloria Sevilla, Caridad Sanchez, and other Visayan artists made names for themselves in Tagalog movies. Earlier, Rudy Robles, a Visayan, earned some distinction in Hollywood in the 1940s, starring in films like Real Glory, Singapore, and Okinawa.

While sporadic attempts were made to revive the industry in the 1990s, the reemergence of a Cebuano film industry during that decade rested on a complex of factors not only aesthetic but economic and political. In the main, this depended on the extent to which political and economic decentralization favored the rise of alternative centers of cultural production outside Manila.

Matud Nila (According to Them), 1991, was hailed by its production outfit Bisaya Films as the project that would usher in the revival of the Cebuano film industry. The film failed to attract a large audience, and hopes for a Cebuano filmmaking revival in the 1990s quickly faded. It took more than a decade for another Visayan-language production to emerge.

In 2005, an 8,000-square meter film studio was constructed in Mactan, Cebu. Owned by a German investor Michael Gleissner, the International Academy of Film and Television offered short-term courses and workshops in acting and filmmaking. The studio was the first of its kind in Cebu and trained several local filmmakers in new technologies.

By 2005, the Philippine movie industry saw the rise of independent digital filmmaking. A group of young Cebuano filmmakers joined their counterparts in Luzon in making artistic and uncompromising cinema. Many of these films would be shown in international exhibitions. Alternative funding sources and new technologies, which were now available in Cebu, afforded them the freedom to operate outside of the traditional studio system in Manila. Mindful of a once-thriving Cebuano film industry, these new filmmakers forged new directions in cinematic forms and subjects.

Since the successful first run of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival in 2005, two more initiatives of a similar scale followed: Cinema One Originals Film Festival by TV studio ABS-CBN and Sineng Pambansa National Film Festival by the Film Development Council of the Philippines. Of the three, Cinema One Originals has contributed most to Cebuano filmmaking, yielding significant Cebuano-language productions between 2007 and 2013.

Ruel Dahis Antipuesto collaborated with Jerrold Tarog on Confessional, 2007, the first Cebuano production to be included in the Cinema One Originals Film Festival. The film employed Cebuano talents and was screened at the 10th Osian Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema, where it received the Best Film prize. The success of Confessional gave young Cebuano filmmakers a glimpse of how far a local production could go along an alternative path.

In 2010, Remton Siega Zuasola directed his first feature film Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria (The Dream of Eleuteria), based on the short story by Maria Victoria Beltran. About a young woman who is leaving for Germany to marry a man she has never met, Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria is remarkable for its effective use of a single continuous take throughout its two-hour duration. The film won four Gawad Urian awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Zuasola. Zuasola’s second feature film P, 2013, is about the life of Cebuano Catholic saint Pedro Calungsod.

Working in a more experimental vein is Keith Deligero, whose highly personal and fragmented Baboyngirongbuang (Pigmaddog), 2010, and Kordero sa Dios (Lamb of God), 2012, contrast with Zuasola’s languorous and straightforward narrative. A comparable effort is Christian Linaban’s Aberya, 2012, which, like Deligero’s films, defies easy categorization.

Two Cebuano independent films were made with a larger audience in mind. Victor Villanueva and writer Diem Judilla’s My Paranormal Romance, 2011, is a comedic fantasy characterized by its distinct Cebuano humor. Ivan Zaldarriaga’s Di Ingon ’Nato (Not like Us), 2011, is a local update of the zombie film genre made popular by American director George Romero. In the genre of nonfiction film, Cierlito Tabay’s Walay Tumoy sa Punterya (No End in Sight), 2012, which is about Cebu’s gun dealers, won the Best Documentary prize at the Sineng Pambansa National Film Festival.

Arnel Mardoquio’s Riddles of My Homecoming
Arnel Mardoquio’s Riddles of My Homecoming, 2013 (Photo courtesy of Arnel Mardoquio)

Several filmmakers in Mindanao have also contributed to the reemergence of Cebuano-language movies. Arnel Mardoquio’s films often portray the intersecting lives of Christian settlers, Muslims, and indigenous peoples affected by civil war. Mardoquio’s films include Hunghong sa Yuta (Earth’s Whisper), 2008; Shieka, 2010; Hospital Boat, 2012; Ang Palalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim (The Journey of Stars in the Dark Night), 2012; and Riddles of My Homecoming, 2013. Like Mardoquio, Sherad Anthony Sanchez creates films about Mindanao from the perspective of a settler. Sanchez’s films include Huling Balyan ng Buhi (The Last Balyan of Buhi), 2008; Imburnal, 2010; and Jungle Love, 2013.

Local film festivals such as the Binisaya Film Festival, the Sinulog Film Festival, the Cebu International Documentary Film Festival, and various college-based film exhibitions are now held each year in Cebu. The Tioseo-Bohinc Film Archive was set up in Lapu-Lapu City. Cebu colleges and universities offer film courses, reviving not only enthusiasm for but also the study of Cebuano films. In 2011, the College of Architecture and Fine Arts at the University of San Carlos launched a bachelor of fine arts in cinema, and in 2013, a master of fine arts in cinema studies. The institution publishes the film journal Sinekultura.

The first radio station in Cebu was KZRC, “the Voice of Cebu,” which was opened in 1929 with American Harry Fenton as manager. The first radio station outside Manila, it received transmission from the shortwave transmitter of KIZR in Manila. It kept broadcasting until 9 April 1942, the day before the Japanese invasion of Cebu. KZRC resumed broadcasting on 24 August 1947 and changed its name to DYRC in 1949. In 1949, a sister-station, DYBU, was also established in Cebu City.

Cebuano radio broadcasting expanded in the postwar period. In 1992, there were 12 AM and 14 FM stations, second only to Manila in number of stations. In addition, six national television networks broadcast through local stations in Cebu. In 1991, cable television also came to Cebu with the establishment of the Cebu Cable Television Inc. Only a small fraction of television time, however, is devoted to programs produced in Cebu City. For this reason, and in view of the fact that radio is a much more widely diffused medium, it is radio that has provided greater opportunities for nourishing Cebuano talents in the broadcast media.

Between the 1990s and 2000s, a handful of Cebuano television programs had successful runs. Marcos Sacol’s Si Goot da Wanderpol (Goat the Wonderful) and Milyonaryong Mini (Fake Millionaire) were comedies that gained popularity among audiences in the Visayas and Mindanao. Though the success of these programs was not replicated in the years that followed, Tagalog remakes and movie adaptations were made. Today, the Cebu Catholic Television Network produces drama serials featuring veteran and young television talents.

Radio has promoted such arts as music, drama, and oratory. In the prewar period, KZRC ran the popular programs Amateur Hour, which made Ben “Iyo Karpo” Zubiri, the program host, a household name; and Sunday Night Serenade. Both of these were big entertainment events broadcast from Cebu City’s Freedom Park. Cebu had its first fully operating radio station in 1947, which began the use of the medium as a platform for political commentary and campaigns, apart from entertainment and public service programs. In the 1950s, DYRC had such weekly programs as Mga Haranista (Serenaders) directed by Ben Zubiri, and Takna sa Hudyaka (Hours of Fun), which had popular program host Presentacion “Tikay” Dakoykoy. In the 1950s and 1960s, Cebu Broadcasting Corporation, which operated DYRC and DYBU, was home for such talents as Ben Zubiri, S. Alvarez Villarino, Diosdado Alferez, Cedric Tumulak, Rudy Rubi, and Nenita “Inday Nita” Cortes. Popular programs of the 1960s included Upat ka Badlongon (The Four Brats), a comedy skit that featured Ben Zubiri, Jose Mercado, and Ester “Esterlina” Colina-Labella, and was directed by Diosdado Alferez; and Tipaka sa Kagahapon (Fragments of the Past), a drama series written and directed by Nenita “Inday Nita” Cortes.

There has been active cross-fertilization among such media as theater, film, and radio broadcast. Playwrights like Piux Kabahar, Natalia Bacalso, and S. Alvarez Villarino contributed their talents to radio as writers and program personalities. Bacalso, Cebuano radio’s most popular “commentator,” enriched the medium with his gift of language. By airing balitao performances, Cebuano folk and popular music, and Cebuano poetry, radio has also contributed to the preservation and promotion of local traditions. Radio drama or soap opera remains an important form. It is estimated that around 20% of Cebu AM radio time is devoted to drama in Cebuano. Contemporary radio playwrights include Ben Abarquez Villaluz, Marcos Navarro Sacol, and Leonilo Estimo.

In 1981, the komentaryo rose to prominence, a genre of radio programming that began as a trend set by Station DYLA’s Labor Patrol. Komentaryo is a political talk program that runs between one to three hours. If in the past such programs mainly aired during election season, komentaryo segments run throughout the whole year. The program follows various formats: the live political commentary between a radio “personality” and a cohost who functions as a foil; a panawagan or person-to-person messages; and selections of entertainment and gossip.

The popularity of political komentaryo coincided with the highly competitive market for radio and the supposed lifting of martial law by Ferdinand Marcos. Although the komentaryo phenomenon encouraged dissent, several private and political entities used political talk programs as platforms for campaigns. Nevertheless, komentaryo enriched the forms of talk and commentary in Cebuano society by allowing the audience to interact with radio personalities and discern their motivations and rhetoric.

Today, even with the presence of new media, the public continues to patronize Cebuano radio. Many radio stations are now transmitted on the Internet for listeners overseas who wish to access news, political commentaries, and drama serials. Radio Mindanao Network, which operates DYHB, is considered as the largest producer of Cebuano radio programs that are broadcast in the Visayas and Mindanao. Among the network’s most popular programs are Handumanan sa Usa ka Awit (Memories from a Song), Mga Asoy ni Teban ug Goliat (The Stories of Teban and Goliat), Kun Ako Pasultihon (If I May Say), and Kini Akong Suliran (This Is My Problem).


“5 RMN Dramas to Be Aired Simultaneously.” 2013. Daily Zamboanga Times, 9 January.

Albos, Bella H. 1973. “Food and Culture: A System of Production and Consumption in a Bisayan Village.” MA thesis, University of the Philippines.

Alburo, Erlinda K., ed. 1977. Cebuano Folktales 1 and 2. Cebu: San Carlos Publications.

———. 1978. Cebuano Folksongs 1.Cebu: San Carlos Publications.

———. 2002. “Lit, In Our Language.” In The Cebu Yearbook 2002. Cebu: Sun Star Publications.

Alburo, Erlinda K., Vicente Bandillo, Simeon Dumdum Jr., and Resil Mojares, eds. 1988. Cebuano Poetry/Sugboanong Balak 1 and 2. Cebu: Cebuano Studies Center.

Alzina, Francisco. (1668) 1960. The Muñoz Text of Alzina’s History of the Bisayan Islands, vols. 1-3. Translated by Paul S. Lietz. Chicago: Philippine Studies Program, University of Chicago.

Anissinov, Misha. 2013. “A Film Called P: Zuasola’s Cinematic Resurrection of St. Pedro Calungsod.” Sinekultura Film Journal 4: 26-33.

Aparece, Francisco T. 1960. “The Care of the Sick and the Burial of the Dead in the Rural Areas of Bohol and their Educational Implications.” MA thesis, University of San Carlos.

Aprieto, Pacifico, ed. 1986. Folk Culture of the Central Visayas. Quezon City: Ministry of Education Culture and Sports Instructional Material Corp.

Arevalo, Rica. 2013. “Arnel Mardoquio Helms Silent Film.” Philippine Daily Inquirer, 13 November.

Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation. 2013. “Atlas Mining: Corporate Profile.” Atlas Mining.

Baduel, Concesa M. 1959. “A Study of the Cebuano Dayegon (Christmas Carol).” MA thesis, University of the Visayas.

Balane, Juan. 1954. “The Fiestas of the Coastal Towns of Southern Bohol: An Evaluation of Their Socio-Educational Significance.” MA thesis, University of San Carlos.

Barrera, Rosalinda. 1937. “A Critical Study and Translation of the Lagda.” MA thesis, University of the Philippines.

Bautista, Julius J. 2010. Figuring Catholicism: An Ethnohistory of the Santo Niño of Cebu. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University.

Bernal, Buena. 2012. “CA Clears Cebu’s Garcia of Grave Misconduct in Land Deal.” Rappler, 29 December.

Brigoli, Brian C. 2012. “Calungsod Template Explained.” The Official Website of Cebu Archdiocese.

Briones, Concepcion G. 1983. Life in Old Parian. Cebu: Cebuano Studies Center.

Cabahug, Gloria V. 1975. “A Study of the Fundamental Characteristics of Some Cebuano Folk Dances.” MA thesis, Cebu Normal College.

Campo, Liv G. 2013 “Weaving the Way to Prosperity.” The Freeman, 21 July.

Ciammaroni, Stefano. 2013. “One Take, Many (Hi)Stories.” Film International 11 (3-4): 96-99.

Commission on Elections. 2013. National and Local Elections Statistics. ph/.

Dagooc, Ehda M. 2013. “As Major Markets Struggle, Upbeat Domestic Market Kept Export Sector Afloat.” The Freeman, 21 December.

———. 2013. “Furniture Exported Capitalizes on Upbeat Domestic Demand.” The Freeman, 7 February.

de los Angeles, Edison. 2012. “Underpass Projects in Cebu City Next Year.” Cebu Daily News, 1 April.

Department of Education Region 7 Central Visayas. 2012. “Updated List of Private Schools with Government Recognition and Temporary Permit as of January 2012.” DepEd Region 7. http://www.

Dumont, Jean-Paul. 1992. Visayan Vignettes: Ethnographic Traces of a Philippine Island.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

“Editorial: Father Romano and Martial Law.” 2014. The Freeman, 9 July.

Encina, Francisco. 1801. Arte de la Lengua Zebuana. Sampaloc.

Endriga, Divine Angeli P. 2012. “Dialectology of Cebuano: Bohol, Cebu, and Davao.” Multilingual Philippines.

Fajardo, Fernando. 2013. “Cebu Today and Some of Its Development Challenges.” Cebu Daily News, 5 July.

Fajardo, Libertad V. 1961. Visayan Folk Dances, vols. 1 and 2. Manila.

Fenner, Bruce L. 1985. Cebu under the Spanish Flag (1521-1896). Cebu: San Carlos Publications.

Fernandez, Leandro H. 1919. A Brief History of the Philippines.Boston: Gensi and Company.

Fernandez, Raymund. 2002. “The Streams of Cebu’s Visual Art.” In The Cebu Yearbook 2002, 42-43. Cebu: Sun Star Publications.

Flores, Filomena C. 1968. “A Study of the Superstitious Beliefs and Practices of Cebuano Parents Concerning Pregnancy and Childbirth.” MA thesis, University of San Carlos.

Go, Fe Susan. 1976. “Ang Sugbu sa Karaang Panahon: An Annotated Translation of the 1935 ‘History of Cebu.’” MA thesis, University of San Carlos.

Gonzaga, Encarnacion. 1955. “Bisayan Literature (from Pre-Spanish Times to 1917).” MA thesis, University of San Carlos.

Grant, Paul Douglas. 2013. “Ang Pelikulang Binisaya.” Film International 11 (3-4): 71-83.

———. 2013. “Cebu’s Black Sheep of God.” Film International 11 (3-4): 103-109.

Hart, Donn V. 1955. The Philippine Plaza Complex: A Focal Point in Cultural Change. New Haven: Yale University.

———. 1958. The Cebuano Filipino Dwelling in Caticugan: Its Construction and Cultural Aspects. Southeast Asia Studies, Cultural Report Series No. 7. New Haven: Yale University.

———. 1964. Riddles in Filipino Folklore: An Anthropological Analysis. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

———. 1969. Bisayan Filipino and Malayan Humoral Pathologies: Folk Medicine and Ethnohistory in Southeast Asia. Ithaca: Southeast Asian Program, Cornell University.

Hutterer, Karl. 1973. An Archaeological Picture of a Pre-Spanish Cebuano Community. Cebu: San Carlos Publications.

Hutterer, Karl, and William MacDonald, eds. 1982. Houses Built on Scattered Poles: Prehistory and Ecology in Negros Oriental, Philippines. Cebu: San Carlos Publications.

Junior Kilat.” 2011. Everything Cebu, 18 July.

The Junks Collective. 2014. “About the Junks.” Cargo.

Kapili, Bernabe H. 1951. “The Place of the Cebuano Balitaw in Philippine Literature.” MA thesis, Silliman University.

Kenneth Cobonpue on Innovation and Evolution.” 2014. Rappler, 16 February.

Leavold, Andrew. 2013. “A Cebuano Zombie Invasion.” Film International 11 (3-4): 100-102.

———. 2013. “Di Ingon ’Nato: Zombies in Our Backyard.” Sinekultura Film Journal 4: 14-21.

Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig, eds. 2014. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 18th ed.Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Accessed 28 July.

Lieban, Richard W. 1967. Cebuano Sorcery: Malign Magic in the Philippines. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Limpag, Marlen. 2014. “6 Boljoon Centuries-Old Attractions You Should Visit.” My Cebu, 4 July.

Lumbera, Bienvenido. 2008. “Hunghong sa Yuta: A Mindanao Film for the Nation.” Minda News, 8 May.

Macaraig, Ayee. 2012. “Cebu and Garcia Suspension: Whose Battle Is It?” Rappler, 23 December.

———. 2013. “After Suspension, Gwen Garcia Now Congresswoman.” Rappler, 16 May.

Magdamo, Priscilla V. 1957-1958. Philippine Folk Songs: Folk Songs of the Visayas 1-4.Dumaguete: Silliman University.

McFarland, Curtis D., comp. 1983. A Linguistic Atlas of the Philippines. Linguistic Society of the Philippines.

Modequillo, Archie. 2005. “Panaghoy Sa Suba.” The Freeman (8 January), 19.

Mojares, Resil B. 1983. Casa Gorordo in Cebu: Urban Residence in a Philippine Province. Cebu: Ramon Aboitiz Foundation.

———. 1985. Theater in Society, Society in Theater: Social History of a Cebuano Village. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

———. 1999. The War against the Americans: Resistance and Collaboration in Cebu 1899-1906. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

———. 2002. “Talking Politics.” In Waiting for Mariang Makiling: Essays in Philippine Cultural History, edited by Resil Mojares, 246-69. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Mongaya, Candeze R. 2011. “Cebu Fruit Industry Thriving, Says Agriculturist.” Cebu Daily News, 26 October.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). 2012.“Central Visayas Regional Economic Situationer (Whole Year 2011).” National Economic and Development Authority Regional Office 7.

National Statistical Coordination Board. 2012. “Cebu Has the Most Number of Banks and Biggest Bank Deposits in the Philippines in 2010.”

National Statistics Office. 2010. “Central Visayas: 2010 Census of Population and Housing.” Philippine Statistics Authority.

Ness, Sally Allen. 1992. Body, Movement, and Culture: Kinesthetic and Visual Symbolism in a Philippine Community. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Oaminal, Clarence Paul. M. J. 2013. “Cuenco Avenue, Cebu City.” The Freeman, 2 September. http://

———. 2014. “Paulino Gullas St., Cebu City.” The Freeman, 18 July.

Obenieta, Michael. U., ed. 2014. Kabisdak: Waves of Cebuano Writing, Bisaya Literary Lighthouse. Accessed 10 August. http://

Orientations. 1973. January, p. 69.

Ortiz, Melissa. 2012. “Tartanillas in Cebu.” One Cebu, 16 April.

Parco, Bernadette A., Davinci S. Maru, Jill Tatoy-Rabor, and Princess Dawn H. Felicitas. 2013. “Public Schools Open amid Challenges.” Sun Star Cebu, 3 June.

Pareha, Jessica Ann R. 2012. “Martial Law Marker to Be Unveiled in Plaza Independencia.” The Freeman, 19 September.

Philippine Craftsman 1. 1912. Issue 3, p. 158.

Philippine News Agency. 2012. “Cebu’s First Green Building Opens in San Carlos.” Interaksyon, 29 August. http://www.

———. 2012. “Real Estate Boom Changes Cebu City Skyline, Boosts Realty Tax Haul.” Zambo Times: Business News, 28 November.

———. 2014. “Cebu International Convention Center Up for Sale–Cebu Gov.” Balita: Provincial, 2 April.

Philippine Touring Topics 2. 1934. Issue 6.

Pigafetta, Antonio. 1969. First Voyage around the World. Manila: Filipiniana Book Guild.

Putong, Cecilia. 1965. Bohol and Its People. Manila.

Quisumbing, Lourdes R. 1965. Marriage Customs in Rural Cebu. Cebu: San Carlos Publications.

Ramas, Leonisa L. 1982. “A Cultural Picture of the Visayans As Derived from the Philippine Islands, Edited by Emma Blair and James Robertson.” MA thesis, University of the Philippines.

Ramas, Wilhelmina Q. 1982. Sugbuanon Theatre, From Sotto to Rodriguez and Kabahar. Quezon City: The Asian Center.

Ranada, Pia. 2013. “Century-old Churches, Bridges Damaged by Quake.” Rappler, 15 October.

———. 2013. “Heartbreaking: 10 Iconic Churches in Bohol and Cebu Damaged. Rappler, 15 October.

Rodriguez, Caridad. (1958) 1983-1989. Negros Oriental1-4. New Haven: Yale University. Reprint, Dumaguete: Provincial Government of Negros Oriental.

Rosario, Adela del. 1922. “Cebuano Literature from Pre-Spanish Times to 1922.” BSE thesis, University of the Philippines.

Ruiz, Angeles L. 1968. “A Study of Cebuano Folk Medicine.” MA thesis, University of San Carlos.

The San Pedro Calungsod Chapel Opens Its Doors.” 2012. The Philippine Star, 22 December.

Sanchez, Mateo. 1711. Vocabulario de la lengua Bisaya. Manila: Imprenta en el Colegio de la Sagrada Compania de Jesus.

Sanchez, Merced. 1973. “A Study of Some Traditional Cebuano Songs.” MA thesis, Ateneo de Manila University.

Saxon, Wolfgang. 1984. “Sergio Osmeña Jr. Is Dead at 67; Ran Against Marcos in ’69 Vote.” The New York Times, 26 March.

Scott, William Henry. 1982. “Boat-building and Seamanship in Classic Philippine Society.” In Cracks in the Parchment Curtain and Other Essays in Philippine History. Quezon City: New Day Publishers.

Sereno, Nikki Reyn P. 2013. “Cebu City Thrives on Tourism, Services, Manufacturing.” GMA News Online, 29 April.

Sorote, Ryan. 2012. “Aquino Suspends Cebu Gov Gwen Garcia.” Rappler, 19 December.

Strong Quake Damages Bohol, Cebu Iconic Churches.” 2013. Sun Star Cebu, 15 October.

“Sugbuanon Literature: A Symposium on Its History, Poetry, Drama, Fiction, Essay, Radio Scripts.” 1978. Unpublished manuscripts. University of the Philippines Library, Quezon City. Typescripts.

Tago-Gonzales, Lourdes. 1959. “A Study of the Superstitious Beliefs, Practices, and Pastimes of the People of the Province of Bohol.” MA thesis, University of the Visayas.

Takacs, Jeno von. 1976. “A Dictionary of Philippine Musical Instruments.” Archiv fur Vol Len Lande 29.

Tan, Crispina A. 1962. “A Study of Popular Beliefs and Practices on Death and Burial in Rural Cebu.” MA thesis, University of San Carlos.

Tan, Katrina Ross A. 2013. “Tioseco-Bohinc Film Archive: A Case Study.” Sinekultura Film Journal 4: 37-42.

Tenazas, Rosa C.P. 1965. The Santo Niño of Cebu. Cebu: San Carlos Publications.

Tirol, Victoriano Jr. 1968. “A Study of Bohol Literature (Hero-Tale, Drama, Poetry, and Short Story).” PhD dissertation, University of Santo Tomas.

Tiu, Macario D. (2005) 2013. Davao: Reconstructing History from Text and Memory, 2nd ed. Davao: Ateneo de Davao University.

Tomada, Nathalie M. 2006. “Finding Marcos Sacol.” The Freeman, 23 October.

Velasco, Maria Tordesillas. 1952. “The influence of the Hindu Culture on Bisayan Folklore.” MA thesis, Centro Escolar University.

Yap, Januar E. 2002. “Missing Filemon: Back to Basic, Back to Bis-Rock.” Sun Star Weekend, 14 July, 10-11.

This article is from the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Digital Edition.

Title: Cebuano

Author/s: Resil B. Mojares, and Monica P. Consing (1994) / Updated by John Bengan, with additional notes from Matthew Benjamin P. Lopez (2018)


Publication Date: November 18, 2020

Access Date: August 15, 2022


No comments:

Got Something to Say? Thoughts? Additional Information?

Powered by Blogger.