I love to travel and often find myself feeling excited to see what other cities have in common with Malaysia. Cebu may seem like an odd choice to make my comparison but believe me, once you are there, you can see quite a number of similarities between that city and Malaysia.
While Malaysia has Fort Cornwallis in Penang featuring verdant landscaped park and age-old cannons, Cebu has San Pedro Fort with similar looking cannons and facade. The unique find about both forts is the history behind them. With the purpose of warding off enemies and rebels, British built Fort Cornwallis while Spanish colonizers formed San Pedro Fort in the 18th and 15th century respectively.
Another striking resemblance is the monument built in the heart of the city to commemorate significant events. Malaysia has the National Monument which pays tribute to fallen heroes in the country’s struggle for freedom, notably against the Japanese occupation during World War 2 and the Malaysian Emergency.
Meanwhile, Cebu has the Heritage of Cebu Monument showcasing significant events in the Cebu history, starting from the Rajah Humabon to the day Saint Pedro Calungsod was beatified.
To experience Chinese culture, climb up the hill to enjoy a majestic panoramic view of George Town city from Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang, Malaysia’s largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia.
Alternatively, you can capture the amazing aerial view of Cebu City at Cebu Taoist Temple located in Beverly Hills of Cebu City. Both temples feature architectural marvel of ancient Chinese.
You may also want to take a step back in time and experience the cultural mix. Enter Yap-San Diego Ancestral House in Cebu City, said to be the first Chinese house built outside of China during Spanish colonial era. It is built from coral stones and wood around 1675 and showcases a mix of Chinese and Spanish mass antiquities, old furniture, religious art and curios.
Likewise, Malaysia has its fair share of cultural mix. The most common is the Straits Chinese or Peranakan. Otherwise known as Babas and Nyonyas, they adopted some cultural practices of the Malay community and made their own customs and lifestyle. See more at Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum in Melaka or Pinang Peranakan Mansion in Penang.
In 2015, Malaysian celebrity chef, Chef Wan sparked a controversy when he said, “Philippines is known to have the worst food in Asia, ask any chefs and they will tell you I am right.”
Well, I beg to differ. I love Cebu cuisines as much as I love Malaysian streetfoods. Cebu has lots of ‘pork’licious foods like Cebu Lichon, Liempo and Butadon. Cebu’s ‘puso’ is also similar to Malaysia’s ‘ketupat’. Puso is made of rice placed inside a triangular shape of woven palm leaves.
If this is not enough to satisfy your insatiable appetite, how about Siomai Sa Tisa and Tag Tres which is considered as Dim Sum herein Malaysia?
To sum it up in Cebuano language, ‘Salamat’ for making me feel at home in Cebu.
Words and Photos by Francis Yip