I did it! I conquered Cebu. All by myself.
It all started last year when we failed to go to Caramoan for my birthday. I decided that I will have my birthday trip this year, no matter what happened. And even if I had to do it alone.
Check out: 4D3N Cebu Itinerary, Budget and Travel Tips
So alone I went to Cebu. Only a handful of people knew of my plan and that did not include my mother. My sister advised me that she’d get angry if she found out that I was going to Cebu alone, so I carefully phrased my paalam so that she would get distracted and not ask who I was going with. I then avoided her the entire time so that we won’t be able to discuss my crazy escapade.
The day prior to my flight, my itinerary still wasn’t fixed. All I had was a booked hotel and a vague idea of what I would do on my first day. It even started raining so I became worried that my flight would be cancelled. So, I checked the weather forecast in Cebu and discovered that it would be cloudy to rainy during my stay there. At that point, I was already seesawing between going or not. It didn’t help that my boyfriend was obviously not in favor of my plan.
This resulted to my buzzer-beating rush to the airport. I got there an hour before my flight and twenty minutes to boarding time. The line at the payment for the terminal fee was long, the line for body and hand carry check was long and it was already boarding time when I got to the gate. It was my first time to fly with Air Philippines and I was really glad that although I was running a bit late, the flight was still on time.
DAY 1: Cebu City on Foot
My first day in Cebu had an Amazing Race-like quality to it, just trusting the taxi driver to take me to my destination and asking locals (and trying to understand the local language) for directions. Since my check-in at the hotel wasn’t until 2pm and I arrived at the Mactan airport by 9am, I decided to visit the Mactan Shrine and pay homage to the great Lapu-Lapu. I took the yellow cab from the airport (flagdown P70 pesos + P4 for every succeeding km) to the Shrine and was billed P186.50. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the driver requested for a smaller bill since he didn’t have change for my P200. I didn’t so I willingly gave him the whole amount and just got out of the cab.
After checking out the Shrine, I approached the policeman that was in the area and asked for directions to go to the Shangri-la Resort and Spa. I was instructed to just walk for half a kilometer and I would definitely see the resort. The policeman, being concerned with my well-being, advised me to take a jeepney instead of just walking because the sun was already high up in the horizon during that time. But I insisted and went on my way, walking under the heat of the midday sun. I was planning on going up to the Shangri-la front desk and asking for details about their day tour for the next day. But when I finally reached their driveway, I suddenly became conscious of my travel-weary appearance so my courage left me.
So I walked on a bit and asked a security guard which jeepney would take me to the Basilica Minore de Sto. Niño in Cebu City. They advised me to take the highway jeepney and get off at Parkway Mall. At Parkway Mall, I asked another security guard which jeepney I should take. He told me to take the 01K jeepney but he didn’t seem too confident in his answer so when I got to the parked 01K jeep, I asked the passengers if that should be my ride. The locals answered “dinhi”, which to my dyslexic Tagalog mind sounded like no, “hindi”. I started to walk away as it seemed because I thought they could not understand me but a woman spoke up and said that that indeed was my correct ride. I then boarded the jeepney and off we went.
It was a really long jeepney ride. I was getting a bit restless but it turned out that the same woman who talked to me was getting off at my stop. I had to walk a bit to reach the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. But it was such a great relief when I reached the church! There was an ongoing mass so I stayed ‘til the end, thanking God for letting me have a safe trip, a sunny day and a successful tour so far. I took communion and prayed some more and then the mass was ended. I left the church after taking a few photos of the altar.
My next stop should be the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño as I read that it is also just walking-distance from the Cathedral. I asked the Cathedral’s security guard for directions and found it in no time. As I have been to the Basilica about 6 years ago when my relatives and I went to Dipolog, I was not as excited about it. I explored the church grounds a bit and looked for the Sto. Niño museum, which I read about somewhere. The museum has an entrance fee and very strict rules about taking photos and videos.
After cooling down inside the museum, I walked to the Magellan’s Cross, something which I have already seen. When I got there, the prayer ladies were already dancing and lots of people were having their pictures taken. The ladies tried to persuade me to buy a candle but I was feeling stingy so I refused. Behind the Magellan’s Cross is the City Hall so I also took some snapshots.
After Magellan’s cross, I literally wandered around until I found myself in front of the Plaza Independencia. I tried to check out the place and that’s when I saw that I was able to reach the Fort San Pedro. It was really great that my internal compass was still functioning.
Fort San Pedro also has an entrance fee but there really wasn’t much to see. Maybe it was because it was already almost noon and that I was already exhausted from traipsing around with my luggage, so I decided not to go up the stairs and walk the Intramuros-like walls of the Fort. I rested for a bit on one of the many benches that surround the small park, watching families who were there on a picnic. Then, I went over to a museum-like room where I saw beautiful paintings of the time when the Spaniards first arrived in Cebu.
It was already noon when I left Fort San Pedro but amazingly, I wasn’t hungry nor thirsty yet, considering that my last meal and drink had been at 6pm of the previous day – must be my nerves. Still, I went off in search of nourishment because I knew that I shouldn’t abuse my body any more than I had to. I walked back towards the direction of the Basilica and found a Chowking. I was thinking that although it would be the height of lameness, I would already eat there because at least in Chowking, I would just have to place my order at the counter and they will be the ones who’ll bring the food to my table. Unfortunately, the place was packed so I walked on to find another place to eat. And that was how I found myself ordering at Mang Inasal. The concept was the same, but at least the smells and food were better.
To be continued… <read Part 2 here>
March 13, 2012