Today marks a very important date in the calendar for people from Australia and New Zealand. April 25th is known as ANZAC Day and marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I. It's a day of national remembrance with commemorative services held around the country to pay respect to those who have sacrificed their lives during battle.
Following a march through the town and the service, it's usually off to the local RSL club for a hit of rum and a little gambling on the unique game of Two-Up where two coins are tossed in the air and players bet on the outcome. It's usually illegal in Australia, but it's an accepted tradition on this one day of the year.
While there's no Two-Up here in Cebu, the Aussies and Kiwis are out in force this afternoon, and perhaps our little gambling game of poker will be played in the ANZAC spirit. Some of those ANZACs here on Day 1a of the APPT Cebu Main Event include Grant Levy, Aaron Benton, Daniel Laidlaw, Jesse McKenzie, Mishel Anunu, Michael Kanaan, Jacky Wang, Daniel Francis and Paul Hockin. May the coins fall their way.
Preparations are also under way in Cebu for another celebration of sorts, with the city about to host the annual Mantawi Festival. It's a festival to commemorate the arrival of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.
Magellan's expedition was the first to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean and the first to cross the Pacific. It also completed the first circumnavigation of the Earth, however Magellan himself did not complete the entire voyage, as he was killed during the Battle of Mactan on April 27th 1521. There is a spot on Mactan Island called the Mactan shrine where the battle is re-enacted during its anniversary, known as "Kadaugan sa Mactan", with several other commemorative statues located around Cebu.
The Mantawi Festival is a symbol of the city's history and affirms its identity as a highly urbanized industrial center as well as a new tourism destination for progress and prosperity. The highlight of the festival is a parade of street dancers showcasing the history and culture accompanied by brass instruments. Industries in the city join in the celebration with their creatively-crafted floats with the festival completed with a fireworks display.
So for those in Cebu looking for a little culture in the city, then we believe that preparations for these festivals are already under way, offering visitors a fun evening away from the tables.