Cebu City (Cebuano: Dakbayan sa Sugbu; Filipino: Lungsod ng Cebu) is a first class highly urbanized city in the island province of Cebu in Central Visayas, Philippines. Though the seat of government and capital for the province, it is governed independent and separate from it. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 922,611, making it the fifth most populated city in the nation. In the 2016 electoral roll, it had 630,003 registered voters. Cebu City is a significant center of commerce, trade and education in the Visayas.
Located on the mid-eastern side of Cebu Island, it is the center of a metropolitan area called Metro Cebu, which includes the cities of Carcar, Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Naga and Talisay; and the municipalities (towns) of Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla and San Fernando. Metro Cebu had a total population of 2,849,213 as of 2015, making it the second most populous metropolitan area of the nation after Metro Manila in Luzon.
The city is the first Spanish settlement, the country’s oldest city, and the first capital of the Philippines. It is considered as the Fount of Christianity in the Far East. It is the “second city” of the Philippines after Manila.
Cebu is the Philippines’ main domestic shipping port, and is home to about 80% of the country’s domestic shipping companies. Cebu City is bordered to the northeast by Mandaue and the town of Consolacion, to the west are Toledo City, and the towns of Balamban and Asturias, to the south are Talisay City and the town of Minglanilla. Across Mactan Strait to the east is Mactan Islan
The name “Cebu” came from the old Cebuano word sibu or sibo (“trade”), a shortened form of sinibuayng hingpit (“the place for trading”). It was originally applied to the harbors of the town of Sugbu, the ancient name for Cebu City. Sugbu, in turn, was derived from the Old Cebuano term for “scorched earth” or “great fire”.
On 7 April 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu. He was welcomed by Rajah Humabon (also known as Sri Humabon or Rajah Humabara), the grandson of Sri Lumay, together with his wife and about 700 native islanders. Magellan, however, was killed in the Battle of Mactan, and the remaining members of his expedition left Cebu soon after several of them were poisoned by Humabon, who was fearful of foreign occupation. The last ruler of Sugbu, prior to Spanish colonization, was Rajah Humabon’s nephew, Rajah Tupas (d. 1565).
On 13 February 1565, Spanish conquistadors led by Miguel López de Legazpi together with Augustinian friars whose prior was Andrés de Urdaneta, arrived in Samar, taking possession of the island thereafter. They Christianized some natives and Spanish remnants in Cebu. Afterwards, the expedition visited Leyte, Cabalian, Mazaua, Camiguin and Bohol where the famous Sandugo or blood compact was performed between López de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, the chieftain of Bohol on 16 March 1565. The Spanish arrived in Cebu on 15 April 1565. They then attempted to parley with the local ruler, Rajah Tupas, but found that he and the local population had abandoned the town. Rajah Tupas presented himself at their camp on 8 May, feast of the Apparition of Saint Michael the Archangel, when the island was taken possession of on behalf of the Spanish King. The Treaty of Cebu was formalized on 3 July 1565. López de Legazpi’s party named the new city “Villa de San Miguel de Cebú” (later renamed “Ciudad del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús).” In 1567 the Cebu garrison was reinforced with the arrival of 2,100 soldiers from New Spain (Mexico). The growing colony was then fortified by Fort San Pedro.
By 1569 the Spanish settlement in Cebu had become important as a safe port for ships from Mexico and as a jumping-off point for further exploration of the archipelago. Small expeditions led by Juan de Salcedo went to Mindoro and Luzon, where he and Martín de Goiti played a leading role in the subjugation of the Kingdoms of Tundun and Seludong in 1570. One year later, López de Legazpi departed Cebu to discuss a peace pact with the defeated Rajahs. An agreement between the conquistadors and the Rajahs to form a city council paved the way for the establishment of a new settlement and the construction of the Christian walled city of Intramuros on the razed remains of Islamic Manila, then a satellite state of the Bruneian Empire.
In 1571, the Spanish carried over infantry from Mexico, to raise an army of Christian Visayan warriors from Cebu and Iloilo as well as mercenaries from the Tagalog region, and assaulted the Sultanate of Brunei in what is known as the Castilian War. The war also started the Spanish–Moro Wars waged between the Christian Visayans and Muslim Mindanao, wherein Moros burned towns and conducted slave raids in the Visayas islands and selling the slaves to the Sultanates of the Malay Archipelago and the Visayans fought back by establishing Christian fort-cities in Mindanao, cities such as Zamboanga City.
On 14 August 1595, Pope Clement VIII created the diocese of Cebu as a suffragan to the Archdiocese of Manila.
On 3 April 1898, local revolutionaries led by the Negrense Leon Kilat rose up against the Spanish colonial authorities and took control of the urban center after three days of fighting. The uprising was only ended by the treacherous murder of Leon Kilat and the arrival of soldiers from Iloilo. On 26 December 1898, the Spanish Governor, General Montero, evacuated his troops to Zamboanga, turning over government property to Pablo Mejia. The next day, a provincial government was formed under Luis Flores as president, General Juan Climaco as military chief of staff, and Julio Llorente as mayor.