Cebu, Philippines: Queen of the South
January 1, 1970
CEBU, THE QUEEN
I think it is only fitting and proper to crown her with such praise. She has been very generous when it comes to nature’s grace yet never being left behind when it comes to progress. She has changed a lot over the years yet one thing remained, her graciousness towards her children. Her soil is fertile with history and full of promise of a brighter future in the field of tourism.
THE INTERESTING CHURCHES
Cebu was discovered by Spanish conquistadors and this is where Roman Catholic flourished. One of the oldest churches, Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino, was built in this island where a lot of believers flock most every Friday and Sunday to ask favors and give thanks for the blessings they have received. In 2013, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 shook the shores of Cebu causing damage to its bell tower. Right now, the bell tower has been restored. In the same church, people celebrate Sinulog or also known as Cebu Festival every third Sunday of January witnessed and participated by thousands of Filipinos and tourists alike. It’s a week long celebration and it’s one of the most fascinating activity a person can witness in my hometown. The most colorful costumes paint the streets with vibrancy and the air is filled with upbeat music, one can’t help but dance.
If you wish to witness the greatest dance parade, you must book hotel as early as November because the number of people who comes and visits to celebrate this festivity is huge.
Another interesting church on my list is the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral which is adjacent to Sto. Nino church. Its architecture is Spanish inspired which gives a historical air. What makes this place so important for Cebuanos is the fact that it is the ecclesiastical seat of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cebu.
Getting there from the Mactan Cebu Airport takes 30-40 mins. Depends on the time of the day. Avoid rush hours like 7-9am and 5pm-7pm .
If you believe in miracles, come and visit the Shrine of the Miraculous Mama Mary or popularly known as Simala church in Sibonga, Cebu, Philippines. “Mary is shedding tears,” was a spread word that made the shrine famous. Although there are no proven scientific basis for the claim, it attracts believers and curious strangers to visit the place. The church has been massively renovated through generous donations from its devotees. Now, it pretty much looks like a palace in the mountains of Sibonga. If you go inside the church, you will see thousands of letters from once sick people expressing gratefulness for being healed from their illness, from students who wish to pass licensure exams, from delighted people for granted prayers and from anyone who has faith and who believed that every dream will come true in God’s time.
You can get there through a 2 – 2.5 hour bus ride from Cebu South Bus Terminal. From the drop point, you can then take a motor taxi to take you to the church which costs Php 20. Go there on weekdays if you can. During these days, it is less crowded. The line is shorter if you want to see Mama Mary’s miraculous image. The church holds mass every 12pm-1pm from Sunday – Friday and 10:30-11:30 every Saturday.
THE ADVENTURES IN AND OUTSIDE OF CEBU CITY
Cebu thrive in between nature’s abundance and its technology development. We have activities from up the sky down to sea adventures namely: edge coaster ride and skywalk in Crown Regency Hotel, chasing waterfalls in Samboan, canyoneering in Alegria and Badian, snorkeling in Moalboal, whale watching in Oslob, diving in Mactan or, simply sun bathing in Malapascua or Bantayan Island. This article is a soft introduction of Cebu. I have plans of writing about each one in the future and in giving you helpful tips so stay tune.
Many Cebuanos don’t know it but Cebu Island has 90 or more waterfalls. The first time I saw the water falling its way down to the lagoon below, I fell in love with it. I have plans to chase all the listed 90 and unlisted waterfalls for I love the way water cascades from the mountain top down to the river. The cool water simply washes away the tiredness brought by the sun. It is both refreshing and captivating. For now, let me tell you about the two waterfalls I have visited so far:
- Kawasan Falls in Badian – Travel time from the city may take 3-4hours. Kawasan is a three-tiered falls with a turquoise hue. The lush green surroundings is bound to take your breath away. And did I mention that the water is turquoise blue? It’s truly a gem mother nature should be proud of.
I suggest that if you visit Kawasan, stay in Moalboal as well to allow yourself to rest from the long travel. Moalboal is a famous diving and snorkeling site and it’s 20 minutes away from Kawasan. You can enjoy snorkeling and discover the splendid marine life the shores of Cebu has to offer.
- Mantayupan Falls in Barili – It’s a 2 hour bus ride. What I like about this place is you do not have to trek far to see the beauty of this waterscape. Non-swimmers can also take a dip without the fear of drowning since a huge part of it is shallow.
According to google, canyoneering means the sport of exploring a canyon by engaging in activities such as rappelling, rafting, and waterfall jumping.
Canyoneering has just gained its popularity 2 years ago among the tourists. This adventure allows thrill-seekers to trek Kanlaob River extending from Barangay Compostela in Alegria to Barangay Matutinao in Badian. The trek begins with you having to jump from a 10 feet tall starting point. Of course, you have safety gears before embarking in this exciting activity. You have to wear a life vest, trekking shoes and a helmet which will be provided by the tour guide. Canyoneering costs PHP650/head which is not bad for a 3-4 hour adventure. The tour fee is well controlled by the town’s tourism desks so you do not have to worry of being ripped off which could happen in other places.
Get on the bus as early as 5am because you must get there before noon. Sometimes, people are not allowed to trek if you arrive later than 1pm for safety reasons.
If you say Cebu, there are a lot of food associated with it. The most famous is lechon or in English, roasted whole pig. Rumor has it that it was in China where the concept of lechon started. A barn caught fire and all animals were able to flee except the pig. When the barn owner checked the place after the fire, he smelled something delicious and saw the roasted pig. Its skin was golden and crispy and true to its smell, it was mouthwatering. So every time the barn owner craves for lechon, he would build a small barn and set it on fire. However, doing so is a bit costly that’s when he thought of roasting the pig in an open fire as an alternative. The lechon was then improved over time stuffing spices, herbs and lemon grass inside its belly to make it tastier. Therefore, when you buy lechon, go for the belly for that is the most delicious part.
Another famous delicacy Cebu offers is dried mango. I know three dried mango factories near my place alone namely: 7D Mango, Inday Mango and Profoods. The former two is located in Barangay Casuntingan, Mandaue City. The latter is in Barangay Maguikay, Mandaue City which is just a neighboring barangay to Casuntingan. You can buy dried mango at its factory price if you visit these places. You can save much money if you want to bring dried mangoes to your relatives and loved ones back home.
I often buy in 7D Mango and I noticed that they ran out of stocks when weekend comes so be sure to visit the place on weekdays.
There are a lot of things to discover from the Queen of South. I could write about her all day and won’t get tired. I hope when you do visit her, you would love her as much as I do.
Until the next escape!