This cluster of islands is located between Luzon and Mindanao. The
major islands are Samar, Panay, Negros, Cebu and Leyte.
Leyte is known as the island 1st sighted by the Spanish
Ferdinand Magellan in the 16th century and also the landing place
for the American liberation forces in 1944. The San Juanico Bridge that links Samar and Leyte, is the longest bridge in
Cebu City, the Philippines’ second largest city, is
the major island of the Visayas and the main centre of population in this area.
It is also a commercial hub with an international seaport. Things
to see and do include Magellan’s Cross, a wooden cross
planted by Magellan himself over 450 years ago to commemorate the
baptism into the Christian faith of Rajah Humabon and his wife Juana
with 800 followers; and Fort San Pedro, the oldest and smallest
Spanish fort in the Philipines, constructed by order of Spanish
conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565. The town of Carcar,
south of Cebu City, boasts a number of preserved Castillian churches, houses
and gardens. In Mandaue City, the Chapel of the Last Supper features
life-size statues of Christ and his apostles dating back to Spanish
times. On Mactan Island, the Magellan Monument was
built in 1886 to mark the spot where Magellan died, felled by the
fierce chieftain, Datu Lapu-Lapu, who refused to
submit to the Spanish conquerors. Datu Lapu-Lapu also has a monument
honouring him as the 1st Filipino patriot. The region’s
guitar-making industry is Maribago. Famous
hotels, resorts and beach clubs are available.
Iloilo on Panay is an agricultural region growing
vegetable, root crops, cocoa, coffee and various tropical fruits.
Besides the many beach resorts in Iloilo City which is accessible by
air, is the 18th-century Miagao Church. It is an outstanding
landmark, designed in a Baroque colonial style with a facade decorated with impressions
of coconut and papaya trees. For those who wish to try scuba diving, Sicogon
Island is ideal for it. Here there are also mountains and virgin forests to adventure.
Another island paradise is Boracay, which is reached
by air via Kalibo followed by a bus or jeepney ride to Malay, and
ferry or pump boat to Cataclan. A recent survey considered its powdery
white sand beaches to be among the finest in the world.
Just across the straits from Cebu in Central Visayas lies Bohol
Island. It is the location of some of the country’s most
unique natural wonders. A great deal of limestone hills, some 30 metres or
100 feet high, that in summer look like oversized chocolate drops,
earning them the name ‘Chocolate Hills’ can be
seen here. The fantastic spectacle
to witness is the mound rising
up from the flatlands of dried grass that turns brown in the summer.
They are located about 55 kilometres or 34 miles northeast of Tagbilaran
City, the island’s capital. Bohol has white sandy beaches
and beautiful peaceful coves that can be reached by good roads. It
is a coconut-growing place and its handicrafts like grass mats, hats and baskets, are mainly made of
woven materials. Baclayon Church
is believably the oldest stone church in the country dating back
to 1595 and is worth a visit. The island is reachable by ferry or
plane. The flights from Cebu to Tagbilaran take 40 minutes. Ferry
service is provided from Cebu to Tagbilaran or Tubigon, another port north
of the capital.