Cebu, Cebu City, & Metro Cebu: Which Is Which?

Cebu IT Park in Cebu City Philippines

Do you know the difference between Cebu, Cebu Province, Cebu City, and Metro Cebu in the Philippines?

Every time a new quarantine protocol will be implemented, people are confused about Cebu Province and Cebu City. And yes, who would have thought that there is also Metro Cebu waiting to be recognized? Unfortunately, this geographical confusion is not only happening in Luzon, but it’s also existing here in Cebu, among the Cebuanos themselves.

Cebu Province

Cebu, as a province in the Philippines, is a part of Region VII also known as the Central Visayas Region. Aside from its main island, Cebu Province has more than a hundred small islands and islets. Collectively, it is called Cebu Island. The island is consists of 9 cities and 38 municipalities with more than 3 million voters as of 2018.

As of August 2015, Cebu Province has a population of 2,938,982 (excluding Cebu City, Mandaue City, and Lapu-Lapu City). By continually reading below, you will know why these cities are excluded from provincial statistics and why they should not be thought of as part of Cebu Province.

Metro Cebu

In the middle of the eastern part of Cebu Island, it lies the metropolitan area of Cebu, technically called Metro Cebu. This is composed of 7 cities and 6 municipalities.

The 7 neighboring cities of Metro Cebu:

  • Cebu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Danao City
  • Lapu-Lapu City
  • Talisay City
  • Naga City
  • Carcar City

The 6 municipalities of Metro Cebu:

  • Compostela
  • Consolacion
  • Cordova
  • Liloan
  • Minglanilla
  • San Fernando

Within Metro Cebu, you can find three independent cities, namely: Cebu City, Mandaue City, and Lapu-Lapu City. Since they are independent, if data is provided, these three cities are excluded from the data of Cebu Province. An example of that is the statistics of the population I provided above taken from the Philippine Statistics Authority or PSA (formerly known as National Statistics Office or NSO).

As you’ve noticed, Metro Cebu is not commonly being tackled in providing data for the pandemic. Probably, this is to avoid more confusion. But for geographical, electoral, media, and personal information, it is essential to get knowledge about this area called Metro Cebu.

Cebu City

Cebu City is at the heart of the metropolitan area or Metro Cebu. It is also known as the “Queen City of the South” (the term South includes the entire Visayas and Mindanao regions). Cebuanos also call the city as Sugbo (or Sugbu). And to complete it, Cebu City is called in Cebuano-Visayan as “Dakbayan sa Sugbo.” 

Cebu City is the capital of Cebu Province and the center of Metro Cebu. As an independent city, the records of cases and even the quarantine protocols of Cebu City are always separated from its surrounding areas. Statistically, Sugbo has 922,611 total population as of August 2015 based on PSA records. According to DOH Region 7, Cebu City has a total of 9,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of July 31, 2020.

With the above information, now you know that the use of the word “Cebu” is critical in media circulations. If the word is used carelessly, it may convey vague or confusing information, let alone misinformation. Usually, the word “Cebu” is more pertained to Cebu Province in its entirety. So, to avoid confusion, it is safer to use Cebu City and Cebu Province separately and contextually. This should also be done for the other independent cities and the other parts of Metro Cebu.

Some more facts:

  1. The Capitol of Cebu Province is in Cebu City, which adds to the confusion because Cebu City is independent of the gubernatorial jurisdiction. When Cebu Province closed its borders, some people teased on how could the Capitol close its border within Cebu City.
  2. The word “Metro” is simply a contraction of the long word “Metropolitan.” Hence, Metro Cebu could also be named as Cebu Metropolitan. Well, the word becomes popular because of a go-to mall along Colon Street bearing the name “Metro.”
  3. Cebu City is the oldest city in the Philippines, and it has 80 barangays where big universities, BPO industries, skyscrapers, shopping malls, commerce, and trade are conveniently situated, fueling the economic, educational, social, and political life of the Cebuanos.

Now, you know. I hope that after reading this, you’ll not already be confused about which protocol to follow: the one from Cebu City Hall or the one from Cebu Provincial Capitol. And, you may now understand the Facebook post below.

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JP Abecilla

JP Abecilla is a lifestyle Filipino blogger, freelance content writer, copy editor, and motivational speaker based in Cebu City, Philippines. He was awarded Blog of the Year 2020 (2nd Place) and Best Cebu Events Blog of 2019. More than writing, JP loves drinking a cup of coffee and eating donuts while reading a book or magazine.

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