The great thing about traveling with friends is that you have more energy and motivation to go out and explore. I remember the first time I went to Cebu. It was my first solo travel, and I was exhausted and I found the heat intolerable. I didn’t have the energy to explore Cebu, checking out only one or two landmarks. This time though, with two avid travelers as my companion, I was determined to see the places I missed the first time I was in Cebu.
First in the itinerary was the Taoist Temple. There’s a huge population of Chinese and Chinese-Filipinos in Cebu, and the influence of the culture can be seen where ever you go. The temple is not easily accessible — located inside the posh Beverly Hills subdivision, you’d have to take a taxi to go there. From the area of the Fuente-Osmeña Circle, the fare is around Php 80. The Cebu Taoist Temple is best visited early on in the day or in the late afternoon, when the sun is not too hot. There are 99 steps to climb to reach the main temple, and from there you are rewarded with stunning views of the city below, as well as the islands of Mactan and Bohol.
From the Taoist Temple, we took another taxi to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. Since it was a Sunday, the cathedral was packed with people hearing mass. We only took some outdoor shots and made our way to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu. The two churches are within comfortable distance from each other. Like the Cebu Cathedral, the Basilica was likewise packed. The church was located in a main thoroughfare, so most public utility vehicles are driving by. There are tons of street vendors outside the church, selling clothes, flowers, balloons, and even prayers.
Right beside the Basilica of the Sto. Niño is the Magellan’s Cross. The shrine is filled with tour groups filing in and out at intervals. There are ladies milling around the shrine. For a fee, they will perform the traditional Sinulog — a prayer done while dancing and waving a bunch of candles.
From the Basilica, we made our way down the road to Colon street, the oldest street in the Philippines. I was getting pretty tired and hungry at this time, and I just wanted to breeze through Colon. It turns out that there is plenty to see in Colon. Like the rest of Cebu, there are plenty of beautiful architecture that’s just begging to be photographed and restored to its full glory. Unfortunately, the traffic, the banderitas and the powerlines made for an annoying photoshoot, so we cut it short and hopped on a SM-bound jeep.
SM wasn’t really our destination — it’s what’s across SM that we’re after. CNT Lechon’s restaurant across SM was our target. It was already 1pm, yet the restaurant was still packed. This is not a fancy restaurant, mind you. The place was not airconditioned, and it’s like a glorified turo-turo wherein you go up to the counter and point at the dishes you want to order. A trip to Cebu isn’t complete without a taste of the local lechon, and CNT delivers with the cripy skin and flavorful meat that doesn’t have you reaching for that bottle of Mang Tomas.
Our Cebu lechon craving satisfied, we headed out to Mactan, to look for a Cebu guitar factory or store. We ended up at Guitar Master, and after a passionate sales talk from Mr. Ronie, we headed back into Cebu to look for danggit. Tabo’an Market is the place to go for anything dried: they have danggit (rabbitfish), dilis (anchovy), pusit (squid), and every variation of daing (dried fish).
We were welcomed with mini mountains of every variety of dried seafood. After a round of photos, it was down to serious pasalubong shopping. While everyone is busy buying danggit, I opted to buy some Cebu chorizo, something I just discovered and tried the night before. A kilo of danggit goes for Php 400+, while the chorizo goes for Php 190 per kilo. Apart from the chorizo, I also bought some packets of Guadalupe brand dried mango strips, a brand I read about in other blogs, and something I am longing to find in Manila because it’s so good.
With our plastic bags tightly sealed (the dried fish tastes good, but it has that strong smell when uncooked), we jump into a taxi and headed back to the hotel to freshen up before meeting the Cebu bloggers. By the time we changed our clothes and headed out, the sun was almost setting, casting a fine soft light on our hotel’s neighboring building, the University of San Carlos.
Meeting the Cebu-based bloggers was an experience. It was great seeing and meeting new faces. Fresh new faces at that… they were all so young! To Arnold, McBilly, Jorich, Wilhelmina, Aileen, Empress, Xerxes, Kevin, Rodel, Sinjin, Maibe, Winston and Mark, thank you for meeting with this
weird group of Manila travel bloggers 😀
Great hotel deals in Cebu via Agoda