The gang is back! Ting, Doods and I went to the lively island of Cebu last June 5, 2014. We arrived at Mactan Cebu International Airport at around 4:30 PM. We were booked in Elegant Circle Inn conveniently located in front of Fuente Osmena Circle. After a brief rest, we went to Robinson’s Place food court for dinner which is just nearby. Having had a hearty meal, we decided to check out Ayala Center Cebu in Cebu Business Park. And oh my, the establishment is imposing both in size and prices, haha.
The next day we availed of the free breakfast at the hotel and transferred to Sampaguita Suites, along Mango Avenue. We slept for a few hours and at lunchtime Doods and I ate at the resto below the hotel.
In the afternoon, Ting and I went out to hunt for Amway as we intend to buy Agri-chem, personal health, and perfume products. We went along Jakosalem Avenue but not able to find it. Finally, a friendly tenant in one of the business establishments is helpful enough to tell us that they have transferred to a new location. After buying the products, we proceeded to the Santo Nino Church.
Also, known as the Minor Basilica of the Holy Child, it is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country. It was built in 1565 on the very spot where the statue depicting the Child Jesus was found. The structure still housed this religious image.
Last year October 15, a 7.2 earthquake with the epicenter in Bohol is able to destroy most of the Basilica’s belfry and damage the façade. After a few minutes attending the ongoing mass, we walked towards Magellan’s Cross which was also affected by the big one.
We purchased empanada from a bakery and went to nearby Plaza Independencia. There, we spent quite a long time talking, all the while eating and viewing the cityscape and people around us, haha.
Walking distance is Fort San Pedro. Originally made of wood, it served as the nucleus of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. In 1738, a stone fort was built to repel Muslim raiders which still stands today.
Its night-time and the group decided to explore the dark alleys of Mango Avenue also known as General Maximo Avenue. But first, we dropped by Sunburst Fried Chicken for dinner. Famished, we ordered their classic fried chicken, crispy pata, sinigang na hipon and chopsuey. It was here that I savored the tastiest crispy pata and sinigang ever! I will never forget Sunburst, not just the flavor but also generous servings for the price, haha.
We strolled along, looking for a place to hang out and we’ve decided to try Viva Cafe. The place is quaint but cozy and the staff is very friendly. They have a live band playing and they keep us entertained. The group spent hours kissing glass and listening to good music until its time to sleep, for tomorrow we will embark on a whole new adventure.
The next day, we went to Oslob, famous for whale watching. The whale shark is locally called “butanding”. It is considered as the largest fish in the world, measuring 40 feet or more. Despite its size, it is a slow-moving and filter-feeding animal, which means it feeds on phytoplankton, macro-algae, plankton, krill, and other small aquatic life.
From South Bus Terminal, the 3-hour bus ride weaved through the coastline and my eyes feasted on the photogenic seascape. The waters are clear and the color changes from deep blue to light, magically. Finally, we reached the place where we can inspect the butanding up close and personal.
Regulated by the Municipal government, we paid an entrance fee of 50 PHP and a watching fee of 300 PHP, the rate for locals, it’s 500 PHP if a foreigner. Fees already include the 30-minute boat ride, not a bad deal, haha.
The boat is a traditional “banca” capable of accommodating 4-6 persons. The whole process is very organized, everyone is required to wear a life vest. The fisher folks feed the fish with krill to keep them swimming along the coast. The boats paddle parallel to the whale’s path. For every second, near these gentle giants, I can’t help the feeling of fear and excitement. These animals are big with huge mouths gulping feed and water. A full-grown man can easily fit inside, haha. Around me, I can hear the sound of oohs and ahhs of fellow tourists. Others, with scuba diving gears, jumped into the water. It is definitely another surreal experience to remember for all time.
After lunch, we are supposed to see other local spots but an upset stomach spoiled the fun and we are forced to go back.
A trip to Cebu is not complete without seeing the famous Taoist Temple. Perched on top of Beverly Hills, it offers an excellent view of Cebu City.
Next, Ting and I proceeded to buy an “exotic” item in a public market but failed to find it. Instead of griping, we decided to get ourselves lost in the crooked streets of the city, haha. We strolled and rode jeepneys and explored some more until we stumbled on Gaisano Metro. There, I purchased a mug and t-shirts with Cebu and Oslob emblazoned on it.
We hailed a taxi going to SM where we met Doods. They purchased local delicacies as pasalubong. I myself didn’t buy any as what I have in mind is one that “melts in your mouth”, Krispy Kreme Donuts. Unfortunately, they have run out of donuts and referred us to their branch in Asiatown IT Park.
We took a jeepney but were distracted and missed our stop in a long way, haha. We dropped off and walked with our hands holding the bulky and heavy plastic bags full of pasalubong, huffing and puffing along the road. What a sight to see, so typical of “probinsyanos”, haha. Then with a sudden swerve to the right, behold the towering buildings of the park. With our last reserves of energy, we reached Krispy Kreme and slumped on our chairs. Tired, we decided to stay longer and ordered coffee and donuts.
Since it’s our last night, we went and visited Cafe Viva the last time and got ourselves tipsy and ready for bed. I got a taste of Bailey’s Irish Cream whiskey and I liked it very much.
The next morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we left for the airport. On the way, we stopped so Ting can buy a guitar, then we bade goodbye to Cebu. We will definitely be back!
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