Cebu City in One Day

2 Comments

I previously posted a 1-day city tour of Cebu. This post is another suggestion for a whole day city tour based on a recent visit.

Best to hire a car for an efficient day. Or hire a taxi later in the day after covering the core destinations within the city.

TAOIST TEMPLE

Remember that this is a religious shrine. Located within the posh Beverly Hills, visitors are treated to the imposing structure of this temple. Non-Taoist guests are welcome, but visitors are not allowed to take photos of the altar and the saints. The view from the temple is beautiful, the city skyline, with the Huge Waterfront Hotel, can be seen from the terraces of the temple.

img_2587

img_2603

FORT SAN PEDRO

This fort is the oldest and smallest bastion in the Philippines. It is a lovely spot, pretty much like, albeit a smaller version of, Manila’s Paco Park.

img_2423

img_2421

img_2426

STO NINO SHRINE

Popular among devotees, and more popular than the cathedral. Old ladies in religious costumes offer candles previously blessed for sale. The altar is beautiful, the ceiling grand.

img_2457

img_2454img_2460

img_2461

MAGELLAN’S CROSS

Across from the church is the city’s most famous landmark, the Magellan’s cross. The original cross is wrapped in the tindalo wooden cross visible to visitors.img_2447

img_2449img_2450

CITY HALL

Across from the cross is the Cebu City Hall

img_2445

LUNCH AT LA FORTUNA

Inexpensive lunch can be had at La Fortuna Bakery. This is found at the exit of the Sto Nino Shrine, before Magellan’s Cross. They also have a door fronting the City Hall. They actually have a fast food counter that serves lunch items. Lunch for three, in our case, was less than P300.00img_2466

img_2467

CASA GORORDO

gorordo-marker

gorordo-mansion

YAP SANDIEGO HOUSE

Reputed to be the oldest Chinese house outside of mainland China. The brick roof is original. The floors are rather squeaky, and guests are made to slip on socks-like protection over their shoes so as not to damage the floors.

yap-sandiego

HISTORY OF CEBU

Just outside Yap-Sandiego is a huge mural depicting the history of Cebu.

cebu-parian

MUSEO SUGBO

Museo Sugbo means Cebu Museum. I will let the marker describe the structure.img_2553

img_2475

This is a very interesting destination where one can spend more than an hour if he is s serious student of history. There are many galleries, all air-conditioned, with each one focusing on different stages of history. There are many guides taking turns to explain the different galleries to the visitors. After a rather long journey thru history, guests can avail of refreshments and souvenirs from the shops inside.

img_2491

TOPS

If you haven’t hired a car, this is the time to arrange for a hired taxi. Unless you know your way to Tops, as they also offer transportation to and from Tops.

img_2611

img_2616

img_2622

img_2612

the view from Tops

img_2608

CAP YOUR DAY AT LANTAW

This is simply the loveliest spot for refreshments, early dinner, if not a real dinner at night. High on a hill in Busay, people go up to Lantaw for the good food and the nice city view while having dinner or drinks. Not a cheap place. Prices are mid-to-above-mid range. img_2637

img_2631

the view from Lantaw

TEMPLE OF LEAH

Temple of Leah is listed on tripadvisor and many city guides as a destination, likening it to the Parthenon. Quite honestly, I was not that interested. I have seen the spot being constructed from way before, right from Lantaw. So I took some iPhone photos of Temple of Leah from the Lantaw veranda.

img_2633

All of these can be visited in 8 hours. I hired a car from Mabuhay for P5,000 for the first 8 hours. If you must exceed 8 hours, the subsequent charge for every hour in excess is P550. But then I figure that being in comfortable in an air-conditioned car makes this tour more efficient and more pleasurable.

Davao Da “WOW” 

5 Comments

When one thinks of Davao, exactly what images do come to mind? As for me, Davao is durian and marang, Luz Kinilaw, Samal Island, the Shrine in Matina, Philippine Eagle, orchids, the San Pedro Cathedral, the no-smoking rules, and the well loved Mayor Duterte.

they don't send smokers to jail, as long as you smoke responsibly - - in designated spots away from non-smokers

Well, the 2010 elections have just been concluded and the mayor-elect is Inday Nita, a daughter of the incumbent mayor. Thus it is expected that the peace and order enjoyed by Davao will continue and will make this largest Philippine city  even more attractive to visitors.

It was a Sunday so I visited the Sto Nino Shrine in Matina. If one needs a place conducive to praying, and communing with nature, the Shrine is the best place to go to in Davao.

the grounds around the Shrine

On the road opposite the Shrine is Jack’s Ridge, a destination in itself, particularly popular for drinks at night when you can have a good view of Davao City at night. They were fully-booked when I went, all three rooms. Book ahead at (+6382) 2978830 to 31. website http://www.jacksridgedavao.com

the city as seen from Jack's Ridge

restaurant at Jack's Ridge

Bar with a view

pool on the ridge

A relatively new attraction is Baywalk, with a reproduction of Michaelangelo’s famous sculpture “David” as the most prominent, albeit much talked about and controversial centerpiece. Apparently, the locals were scandalized by the statue of a man with his genitals uncovered, that at some point they actually covered David’s private parts. Maybe the thought of Michaelangelo rising from the dead made them re-think this “solution”. Now, David, in bronze and bigger than the original housed in Florence, Italy, stands proud, showing to one and all his manhood. The park also features a lagoon with sharks on the water, and a small zoo with some ostriches in cages.

David now stands tall and proud, and still uncovered.

real, aquarium-variety sharks on the lagoon

from the Baywalk, a view of bathers at Emar's Beach, one of many low-end beach resort in the area known sa Times beach

Shopping in Davao is like any big-city shopping. I checked out SM Davao, plus the huge NCCC Mall. At SM Davao, the fastfood staff were attired in their best Filipiniana, the day of my visit being the celebration of the Philippine Independence Day. There was also a huge exhibit mounted by the Philippine Eagle Center, with real live eagles brought into the mall for public viewing. Plus photos of the birds taken by ace photographers, also on exhibit. I will blog separately about the Philippine Eagle Center.

a chance encounter :eagles at the SM Mall, limited run. Terry is an Australian who came to the Philippines just to see the Philippine eagle, and stayed on as a volunteer at the center

Meanwhile, I was floored to see this signage at the men’s room of SM Davao, 2nd floor. Unthinkable for a mall that has become so big because of the patronage of its customers, more than the value of its tenants. Calling SM Malls !

SM treats tenants better than customers?

A visit to Davao is not complete without saying a prayer at the San Pedro Cathedral across from the City Hall. Never mind that the church was bombed by extremists in 2003. I guess it is better to leave this planet while praying in such great place of worship, just in case.

Eating Out

I also checked out the restaurant row beside the Peoples Park. Banok Banok apparently means “baboy at manok”.

Baboy-manok = Banok

It was hot and humid so I decided to skip these famous al fresco restaurants and decided to enjoy cheap lunch in aircondtioned comfort just across from all these famous restaurants – – – at a cafe cum grocery, a version of 7-11 and Figaro, called 24 Shop in Store . I was happy with my rice toppings lunch. I had ampalaya with beef, and it was so good it could have come straight from the kitchen, fresh cooked. All for P70, plus P15 for iced tea.

in this corner is the " 24 Shop in Store" . . .

...where you can buy a P70 ampalaya con carne rice topping

You can also try Tsuru, a Japanese restaurant that shares a common kitchen with Hanoi, serving Vietnamese dishes.

go Japanese at Tsuru, right beside Cafe Leticia

Luz Kinilaw Place is still there along Magsaysay, and so are the regular customers. I had the usual kinilaw na tuna, and the famous inihaw na panga. This time, I sat closer to the street instead of what used to be the prime seats facing the sea. The sea view is gone, and in its place are roofs of squatter-type houses. The kinilaw, as expected, is still great. And so is the panga, the smallest of which is still impossible to finish. The driver was happy to take the panga home.

the familiar old stairs

same old set up, minus the sea view

good old food : this huge panga for P360

and the raison d' etre : kinilaw

Within a few steps from Luz Kinilaw is the row of fruit stalls with the prominent signage Magsaysay Fruit Vendors Association. I savored a small durian for P85, and moved to the next stall for my favorite marang. There was no small marang that was ripe enough to eat, so I bought one that is nearly 3 kilos for P135. Again, the driver was happy to bring home more than half of the fruit, because these fruits can not be brought into the hotels in Davao.

glorious durian, but they don't allow inside hotels !

marang, 2.5 kilos for P135

People’s Park.

This is a popular park at the restaurant area near Casa Leticia and at the back of Apo View Hotel. The park is , typical of the entire city, a no-smoking park.  It is well maintained, with interesting giant stone sculpture depicting barrio life  and fishing village scenes. A section of the park is a gardener’s haven, with clinging vines and orchids within the area around a pond. Interestingly, a gym operates from this area, albeit out of place. Still, it is a clear message that the park is for everyone’s use.

at the park, carabao for transport (stone sculpture)

the park is for joggers, and a venue for sports events

a gym in a quiet corner

a garden enthusiast's haven, too

while people run, ducks take a walk

Hotels

In my previous visits, I have stayed in the better hotels in the city. From the Maguindanao Hotel, the premier hotel in the 7os, but is now closed, to the Apo View Hotel, to the new 5-star Marco Polo. I have also stayed at the Waterfront, even before when it was just Davao Insular. This time I stayed at the Casa Leticia, a good value mid-level hotel.

Casa Leticia along J. Camus Street has rooms that are as good as 3-star hotel rooms. A de luxe room I checked into (P2,500) had a queen size bed, television, mini bar and ref, a workdesk, a coffee table, while admittedly a bit cramped within the small space. The toilet had complete toiletries like toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, shampoo, bath towels, floor towels, hair dryer, and an old-fashioned retractable mirror. I would say I got the best value this time. Clean comfortable room at half the cost of my previous hotels. Contact Casa Leticia at (+6382) 2240501.

Casa Leticia, best value for money

Juliet at the front desk, with Benjie the bellman

Sagay coffee shop, with very attentive waiter Erwin

room rates include breakfast of your choice

my day 1 breakfast : home made sardines, the house specialty

my de luxe room, for P2,500

I went around to check my old hotels.

Apo View has refurbished and is clearly not letting the newer hotels take over its clientele. It has the look of a new hotel, with a huge glass wall beside Cafe Josefina that makes the whole lobby area look green thru the foliage outside the glass wall. Even the pool on the ground level has moved, to give way to restaurants and generous garden spaces.

Apo View: more beautiful than before

Cafe Josefina, at the end of the lobby

Marco Polo is humming with brisk business. Clearly THE hotel in Davao.

the world-class Marco Polo, first stayed here in 2006

The Royal Mandaya is also quite busy, getting its fair share of business. I guess that is because tourism in Davao is on an upswing, with business going to as many establishments as possible.

Seagull at Matina Aplaya

On a tip from the taxi driver, I also checked out Seagull, a beach accommodation in the down-market area called Matina Aplaya. Access is through a thickly populated area. When on a budget or when going with friends for a swim nearby, this place is good enough. Away from the city center, but only P85 by taxi. Contact (+6382)3010100, 3010097

the beach at Seagull

aircon room by the beach, with TV at P1,950 and it comes with...

an outdoor seating overlooking the beach resort

Cebu: 1-day City Tour

7 Comments

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