Welcome back to another guide of Philippines. If you ask people, what is the most favourite pasalubong (souvenir) from Philippines, most of people will say 7 D mangoes. Yes, that’s right, whenever my Filipino office mates back to Phillipines, they will bring 7 D dried mangoes as a must bring pasalubong. But do you know 7D mangoes produced in Cebu? Cebu is also second largest air hub and city in Philippines and the main exporter of goods of Phillipines. Many of pasalubong come from this city. Cebuano, is how Cebu people called themselves. People in Cebu speak Cebuano as main language and also Tagalog as national language
How to Go There?
Mactan Cebu international airport serves both domestic and international flight from Singapore, Hongkong, and Korea. The airport itself is located on Mactan island in Lapu-Lapu City. It takes about 20 – 30 minutes from the airport to go to the Cebu city center. Once you go out from the airport terminal, you can find the taxi stand on your right. Same as Manila, you can find the fixed price taxi or metered taxi. The fare is about 200-300 pesos to go to city center.
For my trip in Cebu, I choose hotel compared to my normal choice for travel, hostel. I choose Gran Prix Hotel & Suites which I booked through Agoda for about 30 USD include breakfast for two. The hotel itself is 3 star hotel, clean, and located in city center however for going to sight seeing place, you will need jeepney or taxi. Taxi as well is not expensive, about 100 pesos arond the city. You can find several restaurants nearby the hotel, include Jollibee, the biggest fast food chain in Phillipines. If you look for night life, Mango square is also located nearby the hotel. When you stay in the hotel, do not expect so much on the breakfast as the reception will give only jollibee voucher to be exhanged with the cheapest jollibee breakfast menu. The reception is on the 3 rd floor meanwhile, for my room, I have to go to 4 th Floor. The room itself is a bit small and packed, but clean and equiped with televison hanging on the top. If you would like to have massage or book for a travel, on the first floor of the building, there are massage center and tour to book for your trip.
Gran Prix Hotel & Suites
3rd Floor Coast Pacific Business Center, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines
Phone : +63-322500000
If you have sufficient time, suggest to visit Moal Boal, which takes about 2,5 – 3 hours by bus departed from South bus terminal in Cebu. The other interesting place are Malapascua, which famous for thresher shark departed from North bus terminal and takes about 3,5 – 4 hours or takes the ship to Tagbilaran ferry terminal for about 2 hours to visit Bohol, famous for Chocolate hill.
As my time in Cebu is limited, I have to cancel my trip to Moal Boal. Beginning my journey in the city, I first choose to visit Basilica de Santo Nino. I take Jeepney from the street across my hotel. Jeepney is the most famous public transport in Philippines. It was originally made from US military jeep leftover world war II. The driver is proud of his jeepney, hence he will decorate and paint the jeepney. Sometimes there are competitions for the most attractive decorated jeepney in Phillipines.
Before I enter Basilica de Santo Nino, I go to the bank nearby to exchange the currency. Bank is safest place to exchange currency in Philippines, as there are reported several cheating money changers in several cities. It’s quite uncommon for me when visiting the bank as the security in the bank is a bit strict compared when visiting banks in Singapore or Indonesia. There will be security guards in front of the bank which will ask your purpose visiting the bank, searching through your belonging before allowing you enter the bank. Please note, using mobile phone is not allowed in the bank due to security reason which I think to prevent people inside to call robbers outside the bank. You also need to present your passport.
One of the special thing of the Basilica de Santo Nino is there is a statue of Santo Nino (Holy child) , the oldest religious relic in Philippines.
When I visit there, I can see queue of people beside the main cathedral, queuing for the relic of Santo Nino.
When you visit Basilica de Santo Nino, don’t forget to look into the small garden there as it’s well decorated.
Outside the building but still in the surrounding of Basilica de Santo Nino, you will find candle seller for worship.
Just a few walk from Basilica de Santo Nino, you will also find the Magellan Cross. The history of Magellan cross, the octagonal building with wooden cross in the middle is for commemorating portuguese, Ferdinand Magellan who planted a wooden cross upon converting the original inhabitant to Christianity.
In the area nearby Magellan cross, you can also see a nice building of Cebu City hall. I like the writing put on the top of the building “Public Office is a Public Trust” which I agree on it.
Now it’s time for lunch. For my lunch, I try Chowking, one of favourite franchise in Philippines which serve chinese food. It’s a set of combo contain of fried rice, with some fried noodle, dumpling and fried ball contain of peanut inside with chicken wing and crackers.
Normally when you visit restaurant in Philippines, you can take by yourself plain water for free. For my desert, I order halo-halo, one of the favourite desert in Philippines with ice cream served on the top of halo – halo. Halo-halo basically contains of jelly mixed with fruits, beans, with ice cream on top.
After having my lunch, it’s a time to visit Fort San Pedro, which will take about 5-10 minutes walking from Magellan cross. In the entrance of Fort San Pedro, it is beautiful Plaza Independencia. It’s a nice place just for sitting on the afternoon of Cebu.
Fort San Pedro, the smallest Spanish outpost in Phillipines during the colonial era have two storeys inside and beautiful garden to be admired.
Remember to go the upper floor of the Fort San Pedro, where you can see nice view of Plaza Independencia and surrounding and taking nice picture with the background of the building.
Next place to visit is Cebu Metropolitan church.
In term of design, I prefer Cebu Metropolitan church compared with Basilica de Santo Nino however Basilica de Santo Nino has valuable history of the church.
Nearby the Cebu Metropolitan church, you can find famous Cebu pasalubong shop, named Shamrock which is famous for its Otap, oval shaped puff pastry. You can also find other delicacies as well like lady’s finger, banana chips, rosquillos, and polvoron.
If you visit Cebu, don’t forget its famous delicacy. Cebu is most well known for its lechon baboy. I visit SM Mall in Cebu to look for one of the most famous lechon baboy, CNT lechon, which serve authentic Cebuano lechon. It has crispy skin. Don’t ever try to have more skin, as the stall staff won’t allow to give you more as many are eagers for the skins. CNT lechon is located on the ground floor of SM city.
For my dinner, I try Mang Inasal, it’s a popular local franchise serving barbecue chicken and other Filipino food. At initial stage of the franchise, Mang Inasal is one of biggest competitor of the market dominance, Jollibee. Edgar Sia II, the owner started the restaurant in December 2003 in Iloilo and then successful and spread around Visayas region and Metro Manila. It’s famous for its barbecue chicken, hence don’t forget to order it when you go there. One of the unique in this place is the rice is wrapped with banana leaf, which makes the rice smell better and if you want, you can add the rice whatever you want. Most of people eat here use hand, but if you want, there are also forks and spoons available.
To accompany my dinner, I also order talong (eggplant) which serve with salsa on top of the talong and shrimp paste.
For my next article, I will post Puerto Princessa, commonly called Palawan, the rising star of tourism in Philippines and one of the new 7 wonders of nature for its underground river.