The name “Cebu” comes from the old Cebuano: sibu or sibo (“trade”), a shortened form of sinibuayng hingpit, ‘the place for trading’. It was originally applied to the harbors of the town of Sugbu, the ancient name for Cebu City. Alternate renditions of the name by traders between the 13th to 16th centuries include Sebu, Sibuy, Zubu, or Zebu. Sugbu or Sugbo, in turn, is derived from the Old Cebuano term for “scorched earth” or “great fire”, variously spelled by early European sources as Subuth, Zsubu, and Zubut, among others.
The Rajahnate of Cebu was a native kingdom which existed in Cebu prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. It was founded by Sri Lumay otherwise known as Rajamuda Lumaya, a half-Malay, half-Tamil prince of the Chola dynasty who invaded Sumatra in Indonesia. He was sent by the Maharajah to establish a base for expeditionary forces to subdue the local kingdoms, but he rebelled and established his own independent Rajahnate instead. The capital of the nation was Singhapala (சிங்கப்பூர்) which is Tamil-Sanskrit for “Lion City”, the same root words with the modern city-state of Singapore. The later Spanish chronicler Antonio Pigafetta mispronounced Singhapala as Cingopola instead.
Spanish colonial era:
The arrival of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 began a period of Spanish exploration and colonization.
Losing the favour of King Manuel I of Portugal for his plan of reaching the Spice Islands by sailing west from Europe, Magellan offered his services to King Charles I of Spain (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor). On September 20, 1519, Magellan led five ships with a total complement of 250 people from the Spanish fort of Sanlúcar de Barrameda en route to southeast Asia via the Americas and the Pacific Ocean. They reached the Philippines on March 16, 1521. Rajah Kolambu the king of Mazaua told them to sail for Cebu, where they could trade and obtain provisions.
Arriving in Cebu City, Magellan, with Enrique of Malacca as a translator, befriended Rajah Humabon the Rajah or King of Cebu, and persuaded the natives to ally themselves with Charles I of Spain. On April 14 Magellan erected a large wooden cross on the shores of Cebu. Afterwards, Humabon was baptized along with about 400 islanders.
Magellan soon heard of Datu Lapu-Lapu, a native king in nearby Mactan Island, a rival of the Rajahs of Cebu. It was thought that Humabon and Lapu–Lapu had been fighting for control of the flourishing trade in the area. On April 27 the Battle of Mactan occurred, where the Spaniards were defeated and Magellan was killed by the natives of Mactan in Mactan Island. According to Italian historian and chronicler Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan’s body was never recovered despite efforts to trade for it with spice and jewels. Magellan’s second-in-command, Juan Sebastián Elcano, took his place as captain of the expedition and sailed the fleet back to Spain, circumnavigating the world.
Survivors of the Magellan expedition returned to Spain with tales of a savage island in the East Indies. Consequently, several Spanish expeditions were sent to the islands but all ended in failure. In 1564, Spanish explorers led by Miguel López de Legazpi, sailing from Mexico, arrived in 1565, and established a colony. The Spaniards fought the King, Rajah Tupas, and occupied his territories. The Spaniards established settlements, trade flourished and renamed the island to “Villa del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús” (Town of the Most Holy Name of Jesus). Cebu became the first European settlement established by the Spanish Cortes in the Philippines. In 1595, the Universidad de San Carlos was established and in 1860, Cebu opened its ports to foreign trade. The first printing house (Imprenta de Escondrillas y Cia) was established in 1873 and in 1880, the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion (College of the Immaculate Conception) was established and the first periodical The Bulletin of Cebu (“El Boletin de Cebú”) began publishing in 1886. <Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cebu>
American invasion era:
In 1898, the island was ceded to the United States after the Spanish–American War and Philippine–American War. In 1901, Cebu was governed by the United States for a brief period, however, it became a charter province on February 24, 1937, and was governed independently by Filipino politicians. <Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cebu>