CEBU in the eyes of a LUMAD VIAJERA

CEBU, Philippines — A sense of pride washed over me as I walked over the streets of Colon and Magallanes towards the Basilica Minore del Sto Niño to hear a novena mass for the Sinulog Festival happening this week. The feast day is every 3rd Sunday of January and it will always be a celebration of life and faith for us Cebuanos. I have been born and raised here in Cebu City, and this place was dubbed as the Queen City of the South for nothing. This humble city has prided itself as the seat of local government, being the cradle of Christianity here in South East Asia and also, a safe city where you can spend the night partying with friends and colleagues.

KNOWING YOUR WAY AROUND

Getting around Cebu City was never a headache. Several jeepney routes will take you where you need to be in a matter of minutes. As for any tourist who would want to spend the weekend #wheninCebu, the journey starts at the airport. From there, you can take a cab to your hotel or have the hotel staff fetch you up. A lot of world class resorts are in operation nearby. From the hotel just across the gates of the arrival area which is Waterfront Hotel Mactan to the budget hotels like Islands Stay Hotels and Gold Berry Suites that you can find just 5 minutes away from there, your options are unlimited. There are also world class resorts that you can choose from when you want to unwind from the grueling and tiresome air travel. Starting off with Bluewater Maribago where you can learn the art of doing nothing, to the lush greens of Plantation Bay Resort and Spa, to the wonderful pools that will get you excited at JPark Island Resort and Spa, to spending cool nights in Crimson Resort and Spa, the possibilities are endless. And all of these are accessible via cab or jeepney. These resorts will take approximately 10–35 minutes from the airport but travel time will vary depending on the severity of the traffic. There are minor road blocks since roads are being repaired or reinforced. Do not hesitate to ask if you are at a loss on the directions. Most Cebuanos would be glad to help you find your way around. There are also tourist desks in major malls like Ayala Center Cebu and SM City Cebu for all your needs. Even SM has a traveler’s lounge where you can leave your stuff while shopping for food items and other souvenirs like shirts, key chains and the like.

If you are planning to spend the weekend somewhere downtown, there are budget hotels to accommodate you as well. In the heart of the city where Fuente Osmeña was located, you can find Summit Circle Hotel on top of Robinson’s Mall. There are also other inns that you can stay nearby like Cuadro, Capitol Tourist Inn, Travelbee’s among others. You can also find Islands Stay Hotel Magallanes just at the back of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño where the Magellan’s Cross, a major tourist attraction is located.

WHAT TO EAT

Being a true blue Cebuana [having been born and raised here], I love to eat the same food with almost everyone in this side of town. I have varied selections based on the weather, mood and vibe of the city. I am an avid rice eater, a staple on each meal. There are varieties of rice that abound, but I stick to white long grain ones. I also crave and go for anything that has meat on it, though not limited to that of course A foodie by heart, I had always been thrilled on the food choices unfolding before my eyes. Truly, CEBU is not only a feast of sights and sounds, but also of chows as well. Everything is evolving thereby creating collaborations here and there.

There are many options as to what to eat when in Cebu. To start off, just outside the airport is Marina Mall that holds shops that cater to a diverse choice of chows. You can choose from Chinese, Korean, Mexican and Filipino Cuisines. You can also choose to eat Cebu’s Pride, the Lechon or roasted suckling pig. Zubuchon is found on the corner of the mall offering various ways of enjoying Lechon.

For the more adventure loving tourist, SUTUKIL near Mactan Shrine is a must try. This stands for SUGBA [grilled], TULA [soup] and KINILAW [ceviche]. This is actually enjoyed mostly in a beach side for most of us. However, you can still enjoy this anytime of the day. There are restaurants that capitalize on these three styles of cooking. Of course, there are fine dining restaurants that accommodate your craving for anything delish. When night time comes, there is also an avenue for you to enjoy dining at Cebu’s highlands. You can start at Café Dolce then move to Anzani and Bellini. Or if you want to chill and see the city lights, a trip to Tops will be perfect. This is located in Busay, around 30 minutes away from JY Square Mall in Lahug.

If you are the budget type of eater, you can always drop by at any fast food chains that dot the metro. There are also cafes and diners that cater even to the pickiest eaters. One is Cadishack Diner in Panagdait, Mabolo wherein you can enjoy dining away from the busy city. You can take a cab going there or ride a 03A jeepney route and pull over at the juncture and walk your way to the diner. Over the vicinity are hotels and restaurants that may tickle your fancy for a sumptuous meal. If you wanted to get some good and tasty barbeque, head on to Larsian in Fuente just beside Chong Hua Hospital where you can select from different vendors and get the best deals. Or if you are in heading north of the city, don’t forget to drop by Mattias’s Barbeque where the best pieces are. You won’t be paying much for a well deserved barbeque meal after a long day of wandering around the city. To get there from Fuente, you can ride a 04L going to Ayala Terminal and then transfer to a 13C route then pull over at Gaisano Country Mall, and then ride either a 24G or any jeep that has a route for HiWay/Merkado. This will take you directly to Mattias. Or you can take a cab from any point in the city to Mattias.

Truly, Cebu is more colorful and vibrant that you can ever imagine. It’s just a matter of how adventurous you are in selecting your itinerary. Normally, any tourist would check out the oldest street which is Colon then head out to the nearby historic churches and then after that, head to the nearest big mall and then plan out the next urban hike or nature tripping.

With more than 101 reasons for you to stay, experience and live the island life, CEBU is definitely one place you should visit.