Halfway through Nick Joaquin’s city memoir-slash-novella Manila, My Manila and after scouring the work of Resil Mojares on his attempts at outlining and draft-sketching the face of Cebu in his numerous journals and the book Cebu: More than Just and Island, I feel that there really is a duality in both cities. I may not be the first to point this out.
The history of Manila owes itself as the power of politics of place, the Philippines’ gate to the world, the becomings of a nation as the city dances with the shifts of global powers- and the tales of Raja Soliman and Lakan Dula.
Cebu, on the other hand, accepts its share of the limelight in the story as the first point of convergence of the east and the west in world history. The Battle of Mactan was monumental and the parlays of Magellan, Humabon and Lapu-Lapu, but beyond that, are mere mentions as a secondary city.
History has never been generous to Cebu City as it sinks into a backwater port for almost three centuries (16th-17th, and early 18th) since there is so little documented information on the politics, governance and moreover, daily life of Cebuanos. While the building and rebuilding of Spanish Manila was well underway, the battles fought between the Sangley rebels and the hindsight monumentality La Naval de Manila, Cebu City was, well, mum about it- or maybe there were was nothing worth writing about at the time.