WanderLust Diary in Cebu City, Philippines – Jan 2013
Cebu City was my first stop when I got to the Visaya province. Backtracking my posts, this province was the reason why I wanted to visit the Philippines in the first place. Besides its beautifully unraveled nature, Cebu has its own history and culture.
I arrived in Cebu City (after a festival in iLoiLo for Dinagyang festival) via a cruise ship which took me 12 hours to reach from iLoiLo City. I had never traveled on a cruise ship before, it was my first and it was a very exciting experience. I had my own cabin bed, pretty much like a capsule dorm but with the added humming from the ship’s engine and a little peek-hole for a view of the water splashing outside in the dark night. Dinner was pretty bleak in a dead-deserted cafeteria on board the ship. The best entertainment for me that night was being on board the open-air section of the ship, sinking in the pitch-black darkness and salty breeze of silent night (creepily awesome). I got off at a port called Cebu-Mactan Ferry terminal and then made my way through the city after putting my bags off at my host’s place. I decided to do Couchsurfing while i was in Cebu City, just for the heck of it (more of this at a section below).
Cebu City, Philippines – First stop, Ayala shopping mall
Entire Cebu City is pretty much owned by the Ayala family. You’ll see this name everywhere you go – Ayala this, Ayala that … I took the jeepney service to make my way through everywhere in Cebu City. Just ask around on where and how to get to your destination. Cebuanas are always willing to help and always gladly flash you their genuine smiles. This mall is amazing … plenty of space, great diversity of shops, restaurant & entertainment area. I spent alot of my time here whenever I was bored – watching a movie or just to window shop.
Cebu City – historic places to visit
There are many linkold churches in Cebu, even in Cebu City. You will see plenty of them whilst wlaking along a busy street or just passing through a path to go somewhere. Amongst all else, the most significant ones are as below :
St Nino Church
This is a very old church in Cebu City. It was said this church was built after the Spanish first stumbled into this region. Cebu was the first soil where the Spainard ship landed & discovered Philippines by accident. All the history behind the findings were carved on the walls of the church and there were many paintings on the wall telling their historic “miracle” findings of Cebu. King of Spain had sent Ferdinand Magellan to find a westward passage to the Indies, but he had accidentally stumbled into Cebu instead. He had claimed the land and made it a Spanish ground to expand their Roman Catholic believes. This explains why there were such vast Spanish influence in the Philippines, especially in the Visaya region.
Miracles of the St. Nino child was discovered after 40-years of Ferdinad Magellan’s death in Cebu. At this time, there was a fire disaster happened during a conflict between the Spanish soilders and the locals who were rebelling against the Spanairds. Within the rubles of the disaster, a Spanish mariner named Juan de Camus had found a wooden carving of a St Nino child which was unburnt in a pinebox, amidst the fire & burnt buildings. This was regarded as a miracle – which eventually became the oldest main religion of Philippines. Festivals and fiestas were held to celebrate the honor of St Nino yearly, amongst them is the Sinulog Festival in Cebu & Dinagyang Festival in iLoiLo.
Cebu City : Cebu Metropolian Cathedral
This cathedral is also one of the most significant in Cebu City. There are many access to this cathedral so make sure to ask around which jeepney to take to get there. It had been rebuilt many times over since it was first built. This cathedral had its share of catastrophes, which makes it very historial. Its beauty marvels from its Spanish roots, clearly shown in its architecture is those of the typical Spanish colonial art.
Cebu City : Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro was used as a military defence structure, built also by the Spanish. Another mark left behind by the Spainards, which left standing till this very day. Within the area, there is a gallery museum holding drawings of the original drawing plans of the forst, and pictures of what the fort originally looked like and its surrounding areas. Fort San Pedro is located in an area now called Plaza Indepedencia, in the Pier Area of Cebu City, Philippines.
This fort reminds me of the Portugese military fort in Malacca, Malaysia. It stood the same shabby shade, but it holds so much history in them, the molds of the old structure plays with your curiosity and imagination even more.
Couchsurfing in Cebu City, Philippines
Cebu City’s Couchsurfing group is one of the most active (and coolest) group in South East Asia. I was lucky enough to be hosted by its very own “Queen Bee” who is also a great-excellent pal, Mayan Benedicto and several of her friends. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Cebu, so I just had to mingle with the locals to get to know more about it. Without her interceding, I wouldnt have made it to Camotes Island or Kawasan Falls nor would I know how to get around Cebu on my own like a local would (using jeepneys and cheap rate taxis). That is the beauty of of Couchsurfing. It is not JUST about getting free accommodation, but it is about being part of their local culture, learning more through mingling with them & getting make more acquaintances and knowing where/how to go about with lesser touristic spots of a town/city we visited.
I stayed over at my host’s place for 4 nights, using it as a port for me to move around the Cebu region. It was a great experience meeting other local friends of hers and mixing around with their hosts/surfers while we share local meals together and exchange stories/travel experiences.
One main reason why Couchsurfing is so famous in Cebu is simply because every January, there is a local festival called Sinulog Festival. It is the biggest street party celebration in Philippines to commemorate St Nino. Alot of booze, dance performances, food – celebration goes on for a few nights. Many backpackers/travelers would want to be making friends with the locals and grab couches rather than going to the hotels. Therefore, every January, the requests for couches would pour in. Naturally, the local hosts would make tons of contacts and new friends from all over the world.
Have you ever couch surf before? Share your experience below …
From Cebu City, I made my way to Camotes Island , Kawasan Falls and Oslob – These are the other local attractive, natural beautiful places to visit. Check out my other posts on these places
~ WanderLust Diary signing off