The best places are those which you can keep coming back to and still be able to discover something new about. The last time I went to Cebu was for my first and final kitchen installation there in July. I was mostly alone and preoccupied with work, so I wasn’t really able to see much aside from the job site, SM and Ayala Mall. Luckily, my visit there just a few weeks ago made for a more interesting and unforgettable experience.
The idea for the trip first took root when I found out that one of my closest friends in the office was going to be transferred there to manage the new design center. Of course, I promised to come over and visit her. The question was, when? I forget who first mentioned Sinulog, but since I’d never been to a fiesta before, it seemed like the perfect time to go.
In the end, six of us (half existing employees, half resigned and unemployed…including me) flew in from Manila to join the four “Cebu ladies”, as we so creatively call them. They say the best tour guides are the locals–and these mostly-locals were definitely the best guides we could ask for.
It would be impossible to narrate everything that happened during my three day stay in Cebu, so I’ve narrowed them down to the most memorable. Here are five important things that I learned from my trip, in chronological order:
1) Cebu really is a booming design capital–especially now that Focus Global’s in town! And I’m not just biased because I used to work there. Check out these photos of our gorgeous new showroom along A.S. Fortuna 🙂
2) When joining the Sinulog parade, have the tallest person in your group wear a bright shirt and a distinctive hat. Oh, and steer clear of families with little kids–they’ll cling to you and drag you along with them somehow (and you’ll end up separated from your group…based on first-hand experience!)
3) In the Sinulog festivities, being clean is the exception. So listen to the veteran partygoers when they tell you to keep your cellphone in a ziplock, and do bring only the bare necessities. Also, having a “pit stop” (aka a friend’s house that’s super near the party venue) is a godsend…especially for breathers/seats, bathroom breaks and first aid.
4) A lot of Cebu’s historical sites are within walking distance of each other, and are either free or only have a minimum charge. Perfect for a half-day trip for people on a tight budget!
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral (FREE) – The first stop on our walking tour was the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the ecclesiastical seat of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cebu. It’s a breathtaking Spanish Colonial style church that’s light and airy both inside and out — maybe that’s what makes it so perfect for weddings!
Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu (FREE) – The Minor Basilica of the Holy Child is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. It is said to have been built in the exact location where the Spanish explorers discovered the image of Santo Niño, which is now housed in the church’s Santo Niño Chapel. Rightfully, this is where the Sinulog parade starts and ends on the third Sunday of January.
Magellan’s Cross (FREE) – A few meters from the Basilica del Santo Niño stands a small chapel housing Magellan’s Cross. This nearly 500-year old cross was planted by Ferdinand Magellan to signify the arrival of Spain and with them, Christianity.
Colon Street (FREE) – Farther along the way is Colon Street, known to be the oldest street in the Philippines. It takes is name from Cristobal Colon, better known as Christopher Columbus. Marked by a tall obelisk, this street used to be the business and shopping center of Cebu.
Heritage of Cebu Monument (FREE) – Just a stone’s throw away from Colon St. is a massive sculptural tableau depicting the rich and significant history of the city. It was fashioned out of steel, concrete, bronze and brass by National Artist Edgardo Castrillo over a period of three years.
Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House (Fee: P50) – From the monument, we walked down the street to find one of the oldest existing residential houses in the Philippines, the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House. Built by a Chinese merchant named Don Juan Yap, this wood-and-stone house now serves as a museum owned by Val Sandiego.
Casa Gorordo (Fee: P40) – The final stop on our tour was Casa Gorordo, another house turned into a museum. Built on a grander scale than the former, this bahay na bato was the home of Juan Gorordo, Cebu’s first native bishop. Aside from the traditional architecture, the house boasts of beautiful antique furniture and intricately carved wood ornamentation. Definitely the perfect end to the walking tour.
5) When in doubt about what to do to fill your day, EAT! Cebu has tons of great restaurants, cafes and bars to offer, and you can eat to your heart’s content while spending less than you would in Manila.
But I guess the most important thing I discovered during the trip is that traveling with friends (especially locals) makes the difference between a good trip and a great one. Looking forward to many more friendly travels to come…oh, and would you look at that. I’ve got one tomorrow.
CAMBODIA, SEE YOU IN A LITTLE OVER 24 HOURS!!!!! 😀
Photo credits: Myself, Sheila, Shibbie, Dec, Em, Mommy Christa/Papa Joe >> Thank you guys!!! (sorry I didn’t ask for permission anymore, LOL)