Cebu City and How It Gained Its Independence: A Closer Look

Cebu City gained its independence thanks to the great efforts of one man

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

This quote by notable Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu may be the perfect way to describe the tumultuous development of Cebu City.

Before it became known as the Queen City of the South, it was merely a popular fishing and trading port for Asian countries to do business.

Its residents were among the first Filipinos to convert to Christianity when Ferdinand Magellan offered the image of Santo Niño in the 1500s.

Along with the entirety of the Philippines, the city was colonized by the Spaniards and later on by the Americans, until the country gained its independence in 1898.

The busy municipality had been relying on government funds for many years, but one political pundit fought to gain its independence.

His wish was granted when Cebu was finally declared a chartered city in the 1930s.

Picture of Vicente Rama and his actual suitcase

Vicente Rama wrote the bill that made Cebu independent from the Philippine government.

DON VICENTE RAMA

Former Senator Vicente Rama is considered the Father of the Cebu City Charter.

A writer at heart, he fell in love with literature at 15 years old. He eventually opened newspaper publications like the Nueva Fuerza to write political commentaries.

His fearless reporting gave him massive popularity in Visayas and Mindanao, and helped him succeed as a politician for several decades.

He filed a bill to turn Cebu into a chartered city, gaining independence from the national government. This wasn’t without struggles, though.

Several leaders and local government officials considered Cebu unfit for its independence. This created many political rivals against Rama, while the Cebu Chamber of Commerce even wrote a scathing letter opposing its declaration.

Rama persevered and taking this step changed Cebu forever.

Commonwealth Act No. 58 was approved and signed into law by President Manuel L. Quezon on October 20, 1936.

Cebu was inaugurated as a chartered city on February 24, 1937, with Alfredo Jacinto as its first mayor.

February 24 was subsequently hailed as the city’s Charter Day, a special non-working holiday.

This was an important moment for Don Vicente, who kept documents and newspaper clippings pertaining to the city’s independence as a sign of remembrance.

These are currently stored at Museo Sugbo, the province’s very own local museum. You can also find several transcripts and telegrams written by Rama to President Quezon, as well as arguments by politicians and organizations preventing the declaration.

Vicente Rama kept documents of this important moment in the history of Cebu.

Some of these items were displayed at the City Hall to commemorate the 85th anniversary on February 24, 2022.

An exhibit at Cebu City Hall was held for the 85th anniversary in 2022.

CEBU CITY NOW

Cebu is now one of the biggest cities in the Philippines with a population of over a million in 2022, according to the World Population Review website.

It had a massive growth in industrialization during the 21st century, with the rise of technology and commerce creating more business opportunities in the city.

It’s become famous for its long list of popular tourist spots, like historical churches, fine dining establishments, and some of the world’s biggest shopping malls.

It is also among the country’s most recognizable and visited locations, especially because of the Sinulog Festival every January.

However, Cebu City was not always the booming tourist attraction that we all know today. It had to go through many struggles, and it was the persistence of one man that set the stage for its growth.

It continues to become a sought after destination for many travelers worldwide.

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