Cebu Province is comprised of a long and thin island, plus a few smaller islands off-shore. The airport is located on the flat island of Mactan which is separated from the main island by the narrow Mactan Channel. In the north of the main island are Bantayan Island and Malapascua. Further off are the Camotes islands, which are technically still part of Cebu Province.

With the incorporation of Bogo into a city on June 17, 2007, there are seven cities in Cebu. Here they are, in order of importance.

A few other towns are desperate to gain the status of cityhood, such as Naga and Carcar. The town of Balamban is easily most qualified to become a city, thanks to revenue from the ship-building industry, but the sensible mayor is happy to keep it as a town.

The three cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Talisay have all grown into each other, and now form one contiguous urban sprawl known as Metro Cebu. Mandaue is northmost, Cebu City is in the middle, and Talisay is in the south. Across the bridges on Mactan Island is Lapu-Lapu City. On the other side of the main island is Toledo City, a small town which became a city thanks to the profits of Atlas Mining, now largely defunct (though plans are in the pipeline to revive it). Danao City is about an hour's drive north from Metro Cebu. How did little Danao become a city? Well, for one thing, the Durano clan which reign supreme in Danao were on good terms with the national administration during the Marcos years - to the extent that the citizens were exempt from income tax!

In addition to the cities, there are some 46 towns in Cebu Province.

Some towns are quite large, like Balamban, next to Toledo. Balamban is home to the colossal Japanese-owned Tsuneishi shipbuilding complex. Naga, a burb in the South, is gunning for cityhood under the leadership of Mayor Chiong. Carcar, further south, is also well on the way to becoming a city.

In the south of Cebu is the town of Dalaguete, the original summer capital of Cebu. The alternative haven in the summer is the island of Bantayan, in the north of Cebu. Perhaps you already know about the diving village of Moalboal, a favorite with tourists. Moalboal's Panagsama Beach is now quite well-known in the Asia Pacific region as a diving mecca.

Most of Cebu island is actually comprised of the cool central highlands, which few foreign visitors ever find out about.


The province is firmly in the hands of the Garcias. First it was daddy Atty Garcia, now it is his daughter Gwen Garcia who is at the helm of the province. Gwen is eager to prove herself and comes across as a competent, hands-on technocrat. She reminds one of our president, though Gwen, being a Cebuana, is far friendlier.

The province has a massive budget surplus and in 2004 plans were afoot to build a megadome, for hosting world-class events. This would have been a fantastic development for the future of Cebu, but the political opposition could not let a prize so rich and juicy just walk by unmolested; the resultant wrangling has caused the project to be shelved.

Previously, former governor Lito Osmena called for independence for Cebu, which, given our economic clout (or lack thereof), is insane. But even more insane are current plans to divide the province in two. It's not surprising that some ambitious politicians would prefer to be a big fish in a little pond, but it is surprising that these economically and culturally suicidal plans have been taken seriously by a considerable number of people. The hope is that in the end sanity will prevail.

The Wa'y Blima! theory is that things are so peaceful and pleasant in Cebu, that every now and then the people in power have to start bickering over something in order to keep themselves amused.

Speaking of bickering and quarreling, no-one does this better than Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena, who, because of his forceful personality and his city's disproportionate clout, dominates the political scene, though the new governor, Gwen Garcia, a formidable woman, has been giving him some competition lately. Mayor Tom is now sworn enemies with just about every other important political leader on the island, which is perhaps the kind of situation that the Spanish exploited when they got here and conquered the island with a handful of men.

Incidentally, the current president of the republic, President Glorial Macapagal-Arroyo, also know as GMA or Ate Glo (Big Sister Glo), loves Cebu, because a larger ratio of people voted for her here in Cebu than in the rest of the country. (Lord knows why.) So she thanked us by holding her inauguration at the Capitol. It was quite an occasion, and even the BBC was here.

Apart from the mayors of the cities, the Cebu City councilors, and the congresspersons representing Cebu, there is one interesting politician who regularly pops up in the news, and that's Daanbantayan Mayor Loot, a feisty, rich and pretty lady whose jurisdiction includes Malapascua.


ADMINISTRATIVE AFFILIATION: Republic of the Philippines; Central Visayas (Region 7) COMPOSITION: 7 component cities and 46 municipalities (towns), which altogether are made up of no less than 1,202 barangays in total. CITIES: Cebu City, Danao City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, Toledo City, Bogo City. TOWNS: Alcantara, Alcoy, Alegria, Aloguinsan, Argao, Asturias, Badian, Balamban, Bantayan, Barili, Boljoon (Boljo-on), Borbon, Carcar, Carmen, Catmon, Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Daanbantayan (Daan Bantayan), Dalaguete, Dumanjug, Ginatilan, Liloan, Madridejos, Malabuyoc, Medellin, Minglanilla, Moalboal, Naga, Oslob, Pilar, Pinamungajan (Pinamungahan), Popo, Ronda, Samboan, San Fernando, San Francisco, San Remigio, Santa Fe, Santander, Sibonga, Sogod, Tabogon, Tabuelan (Taboelan), Tuburan, Tudela LIFE EXPECTANCY: 69 (M) 72 (F) LAND AREA: 5,088 sqare kilometers or 508,800 hectares POPULATION: 2,377,588 POPULATION GROWTH RATE: A very virile 3.07 % POPULATION DENSITY: 496 persons/square km ECONOMY: Tax revenue in Cebu Province in 2003 was PhP 9.877 billion {2.3 percent of the BIR's national collection of PhP 425 billion). Where did it all go? PHONE LINES: 153,779 as of last count a few years ago.

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