Filipinos are devoted to their religion, most of whom subscribe to the Catholic faith. In scenic Cebu, sacred places of worship are scattered all over the region, including ones that figured in the proliferation of Catholicism in the country. Cebu is where Philippine Christianity started. Tourists often include the notable religious spots on their travel itineraries, particularly those that are tightly knit with Philippine history.
The Philippines is largely a democracy, as people who belong to different religious sectors are free to practice their faiths in most places. On this list, you’ll find a plethora of old Catholic churches, historical sites and a Taoist temple with remarkable architecture.
So, without further adieu, here are some of the most notable religious spots in Cebu:
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is a thing of beauty, with its old Spanish architecture, elaborate carved patterns and its clover-shaped pediment. The church has withstood the test of time, as it endured wars from the Spanish, American, and Japanese periods. The bishops governing the area bore the burden of renovating and preserving the cathedral, and their efforts have proven to be fruitful. In the year 2000, the Holy Door was installed in commemoration of the Jubilee Year.
Currently, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral attracts flocks of tourists and local devotees. New elements have been installed fairly recently, which make the structure appear even more magnificent. As a result, a lot of people elect to have their weddings there, including those who live in Metro Manila.
Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu
As far as storied churches in the Philippines are concerned, the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu takes the proverbial cake when it comes to historical value. Catholicism in the country began at the exact location of this church, when Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan converted Rajah Humabon and his family into Catholicism. He gave them a Santo Nino statue as a gift.
That statue now resides within the area of the Cebu basilica, which is why hundreds of people regularly go there during the summer months and offer prayers. It is a frequent component of the list of churches visited on Holy Week. Appearance-wise, the edifice bears the prevailing architecture and design during the Spanish colonization era, making it a sight to behold.
Guadalupe Parish Church
The Guadalupe Church is home to Cebu City’s patron saint – Our Lady of Guadalupe of Cebu – and happens to be one of the largest churches in the region. Situated at Cebu City’s largest barangay, Guadalupe, the church is regularly packed with devotees. It also stages programs every Holy Week, featuring reenactments of Christ’s final moments.
According to locals, five Spanish missionaries were so pleased to have converted Cebu City into Christianity that they gave the locals a statue of the Lady of Guadalupe of Mexico in the 1500s. Upon receiving the image, many of the native settlers switched to Catholicism and placed the statue in a hut. The hut was said to emit light at night on occasion, which fortified the religious faiths of early Cebuanos. This furthered the spread of Christianity in the country.
Cebu Taoist Temple
Christianity is not the only religion practiced in Cebu City, or in the entire country for that matter. There is a large number of Chinese living in Cebu, and many of them follow the teachings of Lao Tzu – Taoism. The Chinese believe in peace, prosperity and serenity, all of which espoused in the Cebu Taoist Temple. People of different faiths are welcome to visit its halls, learn a thing or two about Lao-Tzu’s tenets, and say prayers.
The temple is distinguished by its oriental design, intricate patterns and a huge dragon statue. Loitering around the premises is prohibited, so vacationers who prefer quiet devotion and solemnity should definitely visit.
The cross comes as a symbol of Cebu’s prevailing religion – Christianity. Ferdinand Magellan initially holed up the cross upon his arrival in Cebu, prior to spreading the Christian faith throughout the region. Now a replica is lodged in a chapel near the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu, which acts as a container to the original cross.
The cross is surrounded by paintings and housed in a rather elegant structure. Visitors often offer a few solemn moments once inside the chapel.
A peaceful heart and mind go hand-in-hand with the Catholic faith, and you can have those in abundance upon entering the Celestial Gardens in Banawa Hills. One of the renowned gardens in Cebu City, visitors get to witness a series of statues that depict select moments during the death of Jesus Christ.
The garden is lush and well-maintained, giving off a serene vibe that is conducive to prayer and worship. Also, guests are treated to scenic views of the city. Tourists and locals are known to flock to the area and take snapshots.
Cebu is the Philippines’ capital of Catholicism, thus making it an ideal destination for the faithful. Turning the summer months into a religious pilgrimage is always a good idea in Cebu, as you devote time to venerate the blessings you receive daily. Sometimes taking a step back to reflect on your faith is the ideal way to move your life forward.