Cebu is one of the iconic cities in the Philippines. A place full of history and festivities, Cebu is the oldest city in the country and is widely known as the “Queen City of the South”. I was fortunate enough to be one of the representatives of my school in the recently held International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), a gathering of many church leaders and chosen delegates around the world. The IEC usually occurs every 4 years, and this year, Cebu is the host of the event. With this said, I stayed at Cebu from January 27 to 31 for the Congress and as well as to explore the different attractions in the city.
For our first day, we had lunch at Zubuchon, a famous restaurant in Cebu known for its lechon (roasted suckling pig), one of the Philippines’ iconic dishes. Afterwards, we checked in at our hotel and rested for a bit.
For our first stop, we visited a sister school in Cebu. Then we went to Magellan’s cross and Basilica del Santo Niño, two of Cebu’s historic sites. Cebu was the place where the Spaniards came to colonize the country, led by Magellan, and they were the ones who converted our country to Christianity.
Afterwards, we had dinner at SM Seaside City Cebu, a mall that opened just last November. Then we watched a cultural show that showcased a number of folk dances at Ayala Center Cebu.
For the next three days, we attended the IEC Proper. Every morning we listened to a lot of bishops and cardinals who catechized us about the Eucharist, and we also heard a lot of inspiring testimonies who recalled to us how they were brought closer to God.
In the afternoon of these days, we did a variety of stuff. On Thursday afternoon, we had a procession for about two hours and walked around Lapu Lapu City. During the walk, there was a parade and a lot of dancers were on the streets. This brought back the festival of Sinulog, a Cebu festival that is celebrated every third Sunday of January. After the procession, we witnessed more performances at the dome that we stayed in.
On Friday afternoon, we attended Mass then had another procession afterwards. It lasted for 3 hours as many of the IEC delegates were holding candles and saying prayers. It was considered a historical event since over one million people were recorded to attend the event. Despite my tired feet after all the walking, it was an honor to be part of it and I just offered every step to the Lord.
On Saturday afternoon, we watched a lot of Sinulog performances once again at the Cebu City Sports Complex. Different spiritual songs were also performed, and the finale of the show was great as it ended with a very colorful and amazing fireworks display. Afterwards, we had a small get-together with the students from our sister schools. We had dinner and played games.
For our last day, Sunday, we just bought presents to be given to our family and friends back at Manila, and visited the Mactan Shrine which showcased a statue of Magellan, the founder of the Philippines and Lapu Lapu, our country’s first hero.
Overall, I was really overwhelmed and blessed to be part of such a once-in-a-life time experience. I felt honored that I was given the opportunity to join the IEC, and it helped me learn a lot about life. I was also able to make new friends and appreciate more my country’s culture. I look forward to the day that I get to celebrate more festivals in Cebu, or even have chance to attend another IEC in the future.
For more pics, check out my photo gallery!