Cebu Chronicles Part 1

September 2011

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At the Lapu-Lapu Shrine

This trip is one of the most memorable trips of my life because it was my first time to travel by plane with friends. I always travel with my family or during field trips so this marked my first independent journey. I am glad I did it in Cebu.

Our flight was scheduled on a Saturday evening via Airphil Express. I was surprised  that there were many people flying with us considered that it was the rainy season and an evening flight.

Our plane left NAIA T3 on time and we landed at Mactan International Airport  after an hour. After getting our checked baggage, we went  outside to get a cab to our hotel. The travel from the airport to the hotel was actually fast. At first the driver was not very familiar with the location of Sampaguita Suites at Plaza Garcia. Luckily the Magellan’s cross is within walking distance from the hotel so it was easier to instruct the driver. It is also conveniently located near a grocery, the Magellan’s Cross and other popular tourist sites in Cebu City.

We arrived at the hotel close to midnight. Good thing was that they have 24 hrs reception. After checking in and paying our bills, we went to our room on the second floor. Our room was a pretty decent room with 3 single beds, a cable tv and private bathroom. It was actually spacious enough for the 3 of us.

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While waiting for our flight

Our first whole day in Cebu was a Sunday. And since Cebu is considered as one of the Catholic provinces in the Philippines, many people were attending the mass that day. I would really love to see one of their famous churches, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu, but it was full of people.  So we decided to head first to a nearby Jollibee to have breakfast.

After eating, we visited the Magellan’s Cross and the Plaza Sugbu. Nearby, we also saw the BPI Museum and the Cebu City Hall which were closed that day. Then we walked towards Plaza Independencia. It was surprisingly peaceful. There were few locals and tourists in the area unlike in the Magellan’s Cross. After taking some photos of the plaza, we went inside Fort San Pedro.

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Plaza Independencia

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Miguel Lopez de Legazpi Monument at Plaza Independencia

Before we entered Fort San Pedro, we had to register and pay a little entrance fee. Then we made our way inside and explored. Fort San Pedro was a military defense structure during the Spanish period. It is triangular in shape, with two sides facing the sea and one side facing the land. Inside Fort Sand Pedro, we saw a garden, some old cannons and a little museum.

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Fort San Pedro at Plaza Independencia

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Facade of Fort San Pedro

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Old cannons

Inside the museum, we found old paintings depicting the life during the colonial period. We also saw old flags and letters written hundreds of years ago. They were actually still in a good condition and some words can still be read.

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Old Spanish Flag

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Spanish period letters

After visiting Fort San Pedro, we walked towards Ramon Magsaysay’s monument and the Malacañang of the South or Malacanang sa Sugbu(Cebu). Then we headed to the nearby streets to look for the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. It was a huge church and beautifully maintained. There was a mass when we arrived so we went inside to offer a short prayer. Then just on the other street, we saw the Cathedral Museum of Cebu. It is a museum created to showcase Church architecture and artifacts. We paid a small amount before entering, then a tour guide led us inside and told stories about the things we will find in the museum.

Inside the museum, we saw the different clothes the priests wore during masses or ceremonies. We also saw old Bibles and materials at masses, priests’ bedrooms, rosaries and prayer books, and memorabilia of Pope John Paul’s visit in the Philippines.

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Ramon Magsaysay’s Monument

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Malacañang sa Sugbu

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Inside one of the prayer halls at Cathedral Museum of Cebu

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Memorabilla of Pope John Paul II

Since we were already tired and hungry from walking, we decided to go to the Ayala Center. It was a short ride from our place and the traffic was actually good. Then we immediately looked for Casa Verde. Before going to Cebu, Ruby and I asked one of our friends who lived in Cebu about recommended dining places. And she told us about the Baby Back Ribs in Casa Verde.

It was indeed a must-try restaurant because when we arrived, many people were still waiting outside to be served. There were still many people ahead of us so we decided to visit Fully Booked while waiting for our number to be called. After about an hour of scouring the 2 floors of the bookstore, we went back to Casa Verde. After a couple of minutes waiting, our number was called and we were escorted inside. The ambiance was good and we were able to get a table with couch which was more relaxing.

We ordered the famous Brian’s Ribs, the Dax(round steak with tavern shrimps), Ting-Ting’s tavern shrimps and seafood carbonara. The food was really good especially when paired with rootbeer. We had a sumptuous meal and our bill was incredibly inexpensive. We even took home leftover carbonara and shrimps.

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#Before the time of Instagram

After lunch, we took a cab to the Taoist Temple. Since it was a Sunday and many tourists were visiting the area, it was easy to find a cab.

It was really a nice place situated in a private village. From a far, we could already see the Chinese architecture. We were greeted by a few steps going up the main temple. We paused halfway to a small hall then went up again adorning everything Chinese-like.

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What Taoist Temple looks like from afar

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Mini Pagoda

The view at the main temple was also very nice. We were able to see Cebu’s skyline and the sea surrounding it. While at the temple, we also saw people offering prayers. We would really love to experience it but we were afraid because we did not know their rituals. We just rested, enjoyed the scenery and the peacefulness of the place.

After taking more photos, we decided to get a cab to take us back to our hotel to refresh. While on our way, we passed by the UP Cebu, University of San Carlos and the oldest national road in the Philippines, Colon Street.

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Dragons are coming. Chos!

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Feeling like Great Wall

After resting at our hotel, we decided to walk around then take a cab to Larsian’s BBQ at Fuente Osmeña. Larsian’s was actually composed of many BBQ stores and many tables in the middle. It was a great experience. Locals and tourists alike where there, eating puso(rice), isaw, pork bbq and grilled squid. It was a down-to-earth dining experience even using our bare hands. I really enjoyed it; very Filipino.

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Yummy BBQ dinner at Larsian’s

We still smelled smoke when we went at the Robinson’s to look for more pasalubong. We also went to the Shamrock store to buy pasalubong which was just beside the mall. Aside from the popular dried mangoes and danggit, biscuits are also the popular pasalubong from Cebu like otap, rosquillos, galletas, barquillos and hojaldres.

Our day ended with a full tummy and happy eyes. Next day, beach and lechon!

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