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This is a nice tour once you have done the usual Cebu tour of the Magellan’s Cross, Taoist Temple, the Sto Nino Shrine, the Gorordo Mansion, Tops, etc. Time to head south.

Hit the road going to Argao and Cagbalete and head back via Toledo, Balamban, and return to Cebu City via Nivel Hills – – where Marco Polo Hotel is.

You will be passing thru The cities and towns of Talisay, Minglanilla, San Fernando, Naga, Carcar, Sibonga, Argao, and then return via the coastal city of Toledo. You need to rent a car or hire a taxi for this wonderful tour. Hotel cars can be arranged for P5,000 for 8 hours, taxi’s can be negotiated for P3,000.00.

Stop and take photos.



This Naga is not in Bicol

This Naga is not in Bicol



Carcar is a major stop. You can buy shoes and slippers, or ampawa and chicharon. These are the major finds in this city. But the visitor will most likely spend a bit more time taking photos of Carcar’s beautiful church, the museum beside it, and its many old homes.

stop by the stalls around the rotunda for chicharon and ampao

stop by the stalls around the rotunda for chicharon and ampao

shop for shoes and bags - - this is Cebu's Marikina

shop for shoes and bags – – this is Cebu’s Marikina

the old church

the old church

and the museum

and the museum

one of the many old houses

one of the many old houses


Among photo hobbyists, the biggest stop is probably Sibonga with the castle-like Simala Church. The structure is very much unlike any other church in the country. Perhaps unlike any other church in the world.

To non hobbyists, it is a pilgrimage place, pretty much like the Manaoag church in Pangasinan where devotees queue to get to touch the statue of the virgin


as if it is not grand enough, construction is ongoing to surround the church with moat-like bridge/passageways

as if it is not grand enough, construction is ongoing to surround the church with moat-like bridge/passageways


The top attracation of Argao is the cathedral. There is a nearby cafe for the weary and the famished, before heading back to the city.



the church in Toledo

the church in Toledo



when you get up the hill, look down and see the beauty of the place you just came from

when you get up the hill, look down and see the beauty of the place you just came from

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Cebu: 1-day City Tour


Cebu is the hub of the Visayan region, with Cebu City as the capital. In school, we learn that Cebu is the oldest city in the Philippines, older than Manila, the seat of the national government. In fact, it was in Cebu where the “discoverer” of the Philippines for the western world planted the cross to symbolize the Christianization of the Philippines.

Magellan’s Cross. This is necessarily the first stop, from where the next must-visit places can follow. On a concrete gazebo stands a huge cross which represents the cross planted by Magellan. But they are careful to clarify that the “tindalo” wood in effect serves as cover for the original cross. There is a glass mosaic on the dome that shows that bit of history when Magellan came to this part of the world.

Right beside the cross is the gate that leads to the the Basilica Minore de Sto Nino. This church is probably one of the most visited churches in the country, and the seat of all religious activities honoring the much venerated Sto Nino.  A museum is across from the church, within the basilica compound.

Basilica Minore de Sto Nino

Fort San Pedro is Cebu’s version of Fort Santiago, and the walk among the ruins is a lesson in history. Cannons in strategic positions are a sight to behold and, with the thick walls surrounding the whole area, remind visitors of the then impregnability of the Fort.

Fort San Pedro

Blind man and a girl singing for donations

Keep out of here!

Gorordo Mansion completes the visitor’s trip down memory lane. The Mansion makes visitors imagine a glorious past. Big, old house in a rather spacious block of land. A wide, open, second floor azotea. The house has been bought by the Aboitiz Foundation and remains open to the public except on Mondays when maintenance work is scheduled.

Casa Gorordo, viewed from the street

Casa Gorordo

the azotea

The Taoist Temple is another must-visit spot in Cebu, right inside Cebu’s premiere address, the gated Beverly Hills. Visitors are allowed, but taking photos of the saints is prohibited. Senior citizens can be driven all the way to the road that leads to the temple itself. However, I have almost always stopped at the lower gate, and take the steps, gasping, all the way up. Silence is observed in this holy place.

the temple as viewed from the altar level walkway

an imposing view at street level

Carbon Market is the next stop, but make sure you don’t have valuables with you, and your mobile phones are safely tucked in your pockets, all jewelry left behind where you are staying. This is like a back street alley and thugs can cause harm. If you are alert, then you can survive the market experience, and maybe even enjoy the hunt for bargains. They literally have everything here, including ukay ukay.

Carbon market, the biggest market in Cebu

what do you see : chaos or bargain?

Walk along Fuente Osmena to the end of the road where the Provincial Capitol stands. It is an awesome structure. Imposing and venerable.

Cap the day tour with a drive up the roof of Cebu City, called the Tops Lookout. This is in the direction of Nivel Hills, past Marco Polo Hotel (the former Cebu Plaza Hotel). Go there and be sure you are there before 6:30 pm to see Cebu slowly being lit from late afternoon to early evening. The view when it gets dark is breathtaking. Whenever I am at Tops, I get myself a San Mig light and dried squid bbq. A bottle of SMB light, a Coke zero, plus 4 pcs of daing na pusit bbq cost me only P225. Entrance fee to this fortress-like sky garden is P100 per person.

You can spend the rest of the evening at the Ayala Center, and maybe pick a resto-bar for dinner, before calling it a day.

My favorite hotels in the city:

Marco Polo Hotel at Nivel Hills. This is a better version of the old Cebu Plaza Hotel. I am, however, terribly missing Lantaw, the restaurant by the poolside in front of the hotel that offered a good view of the city, over coolers.

Marco Polo Cebu

Waterfront Hotel, Lahug. Probably the biggest in the city, with a convention center big enough to accommodate the 2,500+ delegates we have had in two editions of the Philippine Advertising Congress. A PAGCOR casino operates from the 2nd level of the hotel.

the famous meet-up lobby of the Waterfront Hotel. Huge.

a cake and...

and a capuccino

I always get myself a cake and a capuccino at the cake shop by the lobby, and have it at the tables outside the lobby-level flower shop.

Marriot Hotel has the most convenient location, being right at the Ayala Center. It is also the hotel I most recently checked into, having with me my 78-year old mom and, therefore,  location was a top consideration.

2 queen size beds, for me and mom

the refreshing pool at the Marriot Hotel, Ayala Center