Cebu's Little Amsterdam
by Aaliyah Ybanez
Friday, December 23, 2016
A Hint of Spring in the Philippines
I once read a post on Facebook that said, “Spontaneous adventures are the best because planned ones never push through,” and I couldn’t help but laugh because it was so true.
I’ve been to Sirao Flower Farm twice, and both were spur-of-the-moments kind of thing. The first time I went, a friend of mine invited me to go to Temple of Leah in Busay and while we were on the way, the habal-habal driver told us that the flowers in Sirao were in bloom. Enticed and curious since both of us haven’t been to Sirao, we decided to haggle with the driver on the price to go there and back.
The second time I went was with my girlfriends. We were on our way to Balamban for the weekend for a volunteer feeding program, one of my friends brought a car so we didn’t have to hitch with the other volunteers, and we passed by the road going to the flower farms and she said, “Hey, why don’t we go?” So all of us, clad in white shirts, blue jeans, and white shoes went to Sirao Flower Garden. It was still quite early, around 7 in the morning and it drizzled a bit during the night before so the farm was muddy, staining our pristine shoes (no!!). No matter, adventures guarantee an exciting and unpredictable time and all of us got great pictures, which seems to be our standard if we had fun or not, LOL.
How To Get There
The flower farms are located in Sirao, Cebu. On my first time, I came from Mandaue so my friend and I took a cab going to JY Square in Lahug and then we got a habal-habal (motorcycle) driver to get us all the way to Sirao. Make sure to haggle with the prices, we got a deal of P350 one-way, which would be P700 round trip, but we also went to other destinations aside from Sirao so that’s why it’s a bit more expensive. The ride on a habal-habal will take about 30-40 minutes.
If you’ve never ridden a habal-habal before, I think you’d find the journey towards the destination quite the adventure already. When we rode it, we were on the way at around 4PM where the sky was beginning to show hints of pink and orange and the wind would lightly splash on our faces as the motorcycle sped up.
Another way would be to bring a car, on the second time I visited Sirao, my friend brought her pickup truck so we stayed at the back where you could feel the cool breeze and savour the tranquility as you get farther and farther away from the bustling city. There is limited parking though and you have to pay P20 for the parking. If you and your friends don’t have a car, worry not! You could ask some taxi or Uber/Grab drivers if they could wait for you, some would even offer to transact with you outside of the third-party applications since they offer lower prices at times as well.
It may get chillier as you go up the mountain so make sure to bring a jacket or something to warm you — cuddle weather will always be in season up in the mountains.
The Sirao Flower Farms
There are actually two flower farms in Sirao, one is the Sirao Pictorial Garden Mini Camping Site (SPGCS) and the other one is Sirao Garden, both have entrance fees.
On my first time, we went to Sirao Garden. It’s farther from SPGCS. The entrance fee is P50 and while there are a lot of little designs here and there such as a fountain with benches around it, a bike, a gazebo, and arches, there aren’t as much flowers. It is nice though if you were looking to take a pictorial here because of the designs but aside from that, it isn’t much.
SPGCS was the one I went to the second time around, the entrance fee is only P30 and it offers much more space for walking and even more flowers! That’s most probably why I liked this more than the other one, they didn’t have as many designs and instead chose to focus on the flowers as the real highlight of their farm, which is how it’s supposed to be, really. At the edge of the farm, there’s a view of the mountains, the sky, and the fog separating the two — a great place to just stand and take the beauty of all of it in. For a fee of P100, you could also go camping here overnight and watch the sun set slowly down the mountains and the flowers. Night sky photography would be spectacular since there isn’t much light out in the area so the view of the night sky would not be disturbed.
Outside of the farms are little stores the locals put up where you could buy fruits, food, drinks and water so you’re basically all-set if ever you do plan to take an overnight trip in the farm.
It isn’t uncommon to see a group of backpackers walking in the area, some say they hike from Lahug or Busay all the way to Sirao and bit more up. It’s “pit stop” as well for mountain bikers and motorcyclists heading to the western part of Cebu.
The flowers are supposedly in bloom all year round but the peak period is around October-November where the lots are filled with vibrant shades of yellow, red, magenta, orange. The flowers are harvested for All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and Sinulog, which is the biggest festival in Cebu.
They also sell the celosia flowers if you’d like to take a souvenir of your trip home, a batch of freshly picked ones would cost at around P100-150. There are actually flowers growing outside of the farms, just beside the row of stalls that sell souvenirs, food and the like. Although I don’t advise getting these as they may still be part of someone’s property, it’s a nice choice if you just want to save a bit of money and observe the flowers instead of paying to go inside to see them. But of course, the winning part of the farms are the views of what lies beyond.
by Aaliyah YbanezFriday, December 23, 2016
Aaliyah is an adventure junkie struggling to balance her academics and her wandering feet with a college budget. She's 18 years old currently set on exploring the islands of the Philippines. Whenever she's not doing homework or exploring, you could most definitely find her at a coffee shop drinking coffee and listening to her iPod or reading a book (don't be shy to say hello!) You can read more about her travels in her blog girlunderthesun.comRead more at girlunderthesun.com