"I assure you that unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."
Upon searching for exotic spices, the Portuguese navigator - Ferdinand Magellan stumbled upon an island called Zubu, thus the beginning of Spanish era and our Catholic Faith. Since then, Cebu has been a witness to many of the firsts in our history.
Porta Fidei - the "Door of Faith". In the apostolic letter of the now Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, he said that "Door of Faith" (Acts 14:27) is always open, leading us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into His church. On October 11th of 2012, the beginning of the Year of Faith begun and will conclude on November 24th of 2013. According to annusfidei.va(insert link), the Year of Faith is an opportunity for the faithful to understand more deeply that the foundation of our Christian faith is "the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction".
To start our deep understanding of the Filipino Catholic faith, let's go back to how ours begun.
Nowadays, Cebu is known because of Sinulog. According to those who have experienced Cebu during Sinulog, the city turns into a massive carnival. However, it is not how Cebu got its distinctive mark on me.
I went to Cebu on the last quarter of 2011. I am not really fascinated about Cebu because I've been there a couple of times. If you're from Manila, Cebu looks the same, feels the same. What sets Cebu apart from Manila - the food and its rich history.
Still I was reluctant leaving Cebu - who wouldn't? Baby back ribs for dinner, Lechon for lunch and danggit and pusit for breakfast. When not eating, your appetite for history will be fed in an enormous serving. Have I committed the 5th of the 7 deadly sins (PALAGES)?
The food in Cebu would surely make you a pound or so heavier. Fret not, because a walking tour of the city will help you shed off those extra pounds. Start your tour at Fort San Pedro then lame your way to Magellan's cross which is already just beside Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino. A short walk along Zamora St. and Legaspi St. will take you to Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. Continue walking along Mabini St to Sikatuna St. At the corner of Colon St. and Sikatuna St. you will see the Heritage of Cebu, across the huge statue you will see the Sandiego-Yap Ancestral House. Make a quick stop at Shamrock for pasalubong shopping, this is along Colon St. From there make your way to Casa Gorordo Museum. This is the last stop for my DIY walking tour, now take a cab and make your way to Carbon Market for some refreshing aroma of dried fish and squid. Yummy!
Aside from discovering new spices to bring home to the King of Spain, one of Magellan's goals was to spread Catholicism. Upon docking, Magellan ordered to for a Christian cross to be planted instead of the Spanish flag.
The irony of Church.
When you visit beautiful churches of Cebu, notice the existence of Catholic religious images and the Chinese images that are visible outside the church. Even the old churches in Manila has them.
The irony of Faith.
Spirituality vs. Religiosity.
Sto. Nino de Cebu.
On April 24, 1521, Magellan gave this image of Sto Nino to Queen Juana wife of Raja Humabon, as a gift for her baptism thus the beginning of Filipino Catholic Faith.
Fort San Pedro.
A tri-bastion fort that has been a witness to our country’s milestones.
Fort San Pedro.
I don't know what this is but it looks interesting. What is more interesting though is the fact that Fort San Pedro was once the nucleus of the first Spanish Settlement of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi.
Fort San Pedro.
Since construction in May 8, 1565, Fort San Pedro has been a major part of Spanish era, American era, Japanese era and our present time. Isn't it fantastic to be standing on the very same ground that has been a part of the major happenings in our country, if only this canyon could talk.
Nuestra Senora de la Cotta of Cebu.
Known also as Our Lady of the Fort and Our Lady of Remedies.
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
The seat of Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cebu.
Heritage of Cebu.
A local artist, Eduardo Castrillo sculpted this tableau related to the history of Cebu.
Yap San Diego Ancestral House.
One of the oldest houses in Cebu where you can find artifacts from the family who owns this house.
The home of the first Filipino Bishop of Cebu - Juan Gorordo.
The best pig ever! Ever! Ever! If you're in Cebu, be kind enough to bring some for me. If you will be eating at one of their branches, make sure to try their Kamias shake, a refreshing drink that also washes away the "umay".
Here's another favorite, every time I'm in Cebu City, I always visit Casa Verde at one of the most popular malls. I always order, what else, their succulent and cheap baby back ribs!
Smell it to believe it.
Crimson Resort and Spa.
A deluxe beach resort located at the island of Mactan.
The resort has an amazing worth mentioning 3-tiered infinity pool.
Just appreciating the beauty of God.
Our spirituality is the trellis on which our faith thrives and reaches heights.
Eat like a king.
I don't mind being transported around the resort with this peculiar native trike. It's more fun in Crimson!
An outdoor spa.
Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will be at rest?
The resort has a total of 40 villas and 250 guestrooms.
A simple gesture by room service that will make you smile.
This bath can be another guestroom in the villa that I stayed in.
The resort's lobby.
Spiritual opening is not a withdrawal to some imagined realm or safe cave. It is not a pulling away, but a touching of all the experience of life with wisdom and with a heart of kindness, without any separation.
Sunrise is the start of a new day, a new hope and a new life.
On March 31, 2021, the Filipinos will celebrate its 500th year of Christianity. Up to this day, we are still the only catholic nation in Asia and we are proud to be.
Five hundred years after Magellan's discovery of our islands on 1521, have our faith grew? Have we moved on from being nominal catholics?
Since the beginning of our faith, we have been tagged as nominal catholics - from the Latin word "nomen, nominis" which means "name". We are catholic only by name, usually known as KBL - Kasal, Binyag, Libing. Our faith is strong but simple. We shamelessly express our Christian faith in public and we try to be faithful to our religious duties and devotions but often do not understand its meaning, much less do we put into practice what they really mean. "We are sacramentalized but not evangelized."
With a new leader, Pope Francis I (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) and a renewed faith of the people for the church, the Year of Faith is a privileged occasion for us to know our faith, deepen our faith, live our faith, celebrate our faith, and share our faith.
As I conclude my stay in Cebu, I thought to myself - I only did three things here in an island where Magellan could have christianize Lapu-Lapu . . .
Eat. Walk. Pray.