For me, a place unvisited is like an unrequited love.
A dull ache that – try as you might to think it away,
to convince yourself that she wasn’t the right country for you –
it just won’t leave you in peace.
–Eric Weiner, The Geography of Bliss
Our journey to Negros Island left us more energized. Our trip was not about to end though, as we cross another island in Visayas, the Queen of the South, Cebu.
This is a reunion to once my hometown during my toddler years and a comeback after more than 20 years. It felt good to be back home again.
We left Sibulan Port via Santander Express Fastcraft at 12:30 PM going to Liloan, Cebu. Its a quick 30 minutes boat ride in a panoramic seascape backdrop. Liloan is the Southernmost part of Cebu. From my last blog entry, you can view the breakdown of our travel expenses upon leaving Negros Oriental. We made it to Liloan and took a parked Ceres Bus that goes to Cebu South Terminal.
The bus ride is more impressive as we crossed the crooked road going to Central Cebu. Uphill, downhill and for most part, a cliff view of the breathtaking seascape of the island. We were lucky to grab a seat at the right side of the bus.
Our ride lasted for 3.5 hours in a smooth flowing traffic. We steal a good nap while at it. Arriving in Cebu City South Terminal, we faced our dilemma in finding a cheap accommodation. We hailed a taxi and ended up in Robinson’s Mall. Along its proximity are a number of hotels, inns and budget accommodations.
We hunt along Fuente Osmena and nearby street for the best last minute hotel deals. Elegant Circle Inn, Crown Regency Hotel, Cebu Midtown and Sampaguita Suites are just some of the options.
Alas we found Fuente Pension House located at the street behind Elegant Circle Inn. Twin Room isn’t available though so we opted for Suite Room at a discounted rate of P1,600 for a 24-hours stay. It was just minutes before 6 PM and the time covered is just perfect for our check out the next day.
The room is nothing fancy but it is spacious and clean with one king size bed and 1 single bed. Facilities include Aircon, cable TV, PABX telephone and hot & cold shower. Bathroom is roomy and water supply is good too. They took the fridge in exchange of our discounted rate. Looking through the glass panels, our eyes are set for a nice 90 degrees view of Cebu Skyline.
We freshened up a bit before exploring more of Cebu. Decided to have dinner at a fast food restaurant in Robinson’s Mall and window shop around. Nothing spectacular to see so we agreed to go to Ayala Mall.
Ayala Mall Cebu reminded me of Alabang Town Center. The landscape is almost the same. It’s an upscale shopping and party hub for Cebuanos. I remember what Harold told me about downtown and uptown district of Cebu. Ayala Mall is located at the uptown district. Older district around Colon St. is referred to as downtown. Most tourists prefer to stay uptown considering the quiet, fancy environment and best business amenities within the area. While Downtown district has gained bad reputation over the years for its impoverished state.
After traipsing around Ayala Mall, we then headed to Asiatown IT Park in Lahug where we are set to meet hubby’s officemates assigned at the nearby Waterfront Casino. We opted to settle ourselves at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I was wondering if it was just the frappuccino or the weather is getting colder?
After the brief chitchat we head back to our accommodation and call it a night.
Day 6 – Exploring Cebu City
Yay, we are early risers now. It’s unimaginable, but yeah, on the 6th day we still survived getting up early. My husband teased me for being nocturnal, yet on this trip, I evolved. lol.
We were up at 6 am to prepare for our hectic Cebu Itinerary. We were able to cram up everything for the whole day before our flight at past 9 in the evening.
Hubby suggested that we’ll have breakfast at Orange Brutus at the nearby street. So off we went for a power meal.
Later, we hailed a taxi going to Fort San Pedro, where our journey to downtown will begin. Unfortunately, we were too early as the gate opens at 8 AM. Plaza Independencia which is just across the street is under renovation. We then agreed to just walked back and checked out the church we passed through from the taxi ride earlier.
We were greeted by the impressive architecture of Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. There is an ongoing mass yet we can’t help ourselves to be overwhelmed with this church baroque interior.
After paying respects, we went ahead to another church, Basilica Minore Del Santo Niño. If I remembered correctly, it’s just two blocks away and can easily be reached by foot. It is the oldest church in the Philippines dating back to 16th century. The grand interior showcase a history of old carvings. The main altar boasts a display of carved pillars with statues of Augustinian Saints. Being at this place brought about strange feelings on me. Don’t ask me what, but is it miraculous?
The mass is just about to end when we discovered a queue at the left side of the church. Apparently, it lead to Santo Niño Chapel where an altar of the miraculous statue of the Holy Child of Cebu is stationed. We did joined the line before it gets longer.
Cebuanos are known to be religious as the island is recognized as the seat of Christianity in the Philippines. It is evident in the number of people attending the mass on a weekday.
After offering our intentions to the Holy Child, we head back to the church facade for some photo ops. Later, we found our way to Magellan’s Cross, Cebu’s top tourist destination. An octagonal kiosk enshrines the famous cross that Magellan brought to instill Christianity on Filipinos. This historical landmark is a homage to Catholic Churches in the Philippines. Miraculous claims include that Magellan’s Cross grows taller over the years. On the other side of the road is where the City Hall is located.
Avid patrons of Sto. Niño bound the area to offer their services in lighting candles as they danced to chant your petitions and prayers. The sacred dance in honor of Santo Niño is called “sinulog“. Sinulog Festival is a big event in Cebu celebrated during the third Sunday of January.
After visiting Magellan’s Cross, we headed to La Fortuna Bakery to grab some refreshments. We went back to Basilica Minore Del Santo Niño grounds where a Museum is located. We paid P20 each for the entrance.
The museum features a rich collection of Santo Niños, vestments, jewelries, rosaries, toys and gifts collected over the years from devotees. Taking pictures are not allowed inside.
After our trip to the Museum, we decided to get back to Fort San Pedro. Time Check: 10:00 AM.
Fort San Pedro is located at the Pier area. It was built by the Spaniards for Military defense in 1738. It is the oldest and smallest triangular bastion fort in the country. There were few tourists wandering around when we got in. We paid an entrance fee of P30 each.
The place is pretty much the same as Fort Santiago in Intramuros except that it is noticeably smaller. We didn’t stay long enough as the scorching sun pulls down our remaining energy. A little photo shoot here and there… and we are off to grab some lunch.
We decided to take a jeepney going to JY Mall which is the jump off to our next destination. Upon reaching there, we agreed to have some lunch first at a fast food restaurant.
Later on we hailed a cab to take us to our next stop, Cebu Taoist Temple. It is located at Beverly Hills Subdivision and the only way to get in is via private vehicle, cab or rent a motorcycle (habal-habal). The temple is open to the public, worshippers and non-worshippers alike. It is a multi-tiered tower standing at 300 meters above sea level.The hike up the 81 steps is pretty exhausting especially on a sweltering weather.
There are students and Indian Nationals on a field trip when we arrived. I’d like to try the ritual of praying and determining the answer through the crescent-shaped divining blocks, but I haven’t had the chance to talk to anyone if it is allowed to a non-devotee.
We realized there is another entrance door after passing through the replica of Great Wall of China. This is pretty convenient if one is not comfortable with using the stairs. There is a giant dragon statue which provides a nice backdrop to the Great Wall.
A little more hike and we were rewarded with the panoramic sight of Downtown Cebu. Taking picture on the place of worship even as a backdrop is strictly prohibited.
We decided to go down after a while and wait for a cab to take us back to JY Mall. Reaching there, we stock up on bottled waters at a nearby grocery before negotiating to a young man who offered his motorcycle to us.
As we are going to , Cebu’s premier viewing deck located at 2,000 feet above sea level in the hills of Busay, we realized that our best option is to hire a habal-habal or local motorcycle. The distance and uphill terrain is not for a usual taxi ride.
It cost us P200 per motorcycle for a two-way ride. So off we go, we hired two motorcycles for us. The trip on the main road and off to uphill route lasted for about 20 minutes.
At the TOPS, an entrance fee of P100 each is required for an unlimited hours of stay. Tops is open 24 hours. Cottages are lined up on the covered area, just perfect for family and friends picnic party.
I would suggest to go there in late afternoon to night time to enjoy the breathtaking and spectacular view overlooking Metro Cebu.
At 2:00 PM, we went down still undecided where to head next. We asked for directions to Carbon Market, supposedly to buy some dried fish and goods but we were advice to stay out of the area or be wary of snatchers.
Hmmm, not to keen on risking our gadgets though, we just agreed to go back to our hotel and rest for the remaining hours before our flight. On our way back, we dropped by at Shamrock Pension House to buy the famous Shamrock Otap for pasalubong. It is located at Fuente Osmena Circle and just few minutes away from our hotel.
We used our time to freshen up and re-pack our things. We don’t want to go over the hassle of unpacking goods at the airport, so we were ready with our packaging tape.
Summing it up, we were able to cover most of Cebu City’s top tourist destinations within a day. I guess this itinerary is more useful as a filler to any exciting explorations in the neighboring islands of Cebu. We shall return to check out the best beaches in Cebu like Bantayan, Camotes, Mactan & Malapascua Island.
By 6:00 PM we had a sumptuous dinner at Fuente Pension House Restaurant. The food is appetizing in a generous amount of serving. We were able to admire Cebu Crown Regency’s Sky Ride, Edge Coaster from our backdrop. Hubby is egging me to try it but I’m too chicken to do so. Who knows, maybe next time.
We checked out before 7 in the evening and left the hotel for our flight at 9:25 PM via Zest Air. Got the best deal on airfare at P1,976 for both of us on Cebu – Manila flight. Mactan International Airport is quite far from our hotel, good thing traffic wasn’t that bad and we boarded on time.
Our trip back home is hassle free and thank God for our safe flight.
Can’t get enough of danggit,