Our first three days on vacation in Bohol got us into a mix of various adventures and emotions. It was just a fully packed three days that got us from one adventure to another that gave us the thrill and the chill. Our third day in Bohol got our hearts pumping and our adrenaline rushing that when we boarded our ferry, we were just asleep during the 2 hour trip to Cebu.
SECOND PIT STOP: CEBU (HIGH LIVING IN DOWNTOWN)
We arrived in Cebu at 7 pm, about four hours delayed, due to the suspension of our earlier trip because of a weather disturbance. We quickly boarded a cab that will bring us to the hotel where we will be staying for two nights. I got a good deal online for this part of our trip that gave us two nights accommodation with daily buffet breakfast and a buffet dinner. So for travelers out there, try searching for online deals when planning for a vacation as it will give you a lot of savings.
Checking In: Crown Regency
"This is the life!"
That was all I can say when we checked in to our room at Crown Regency along Osmena Street. It was one of those vacations where most of our time will be spent inside the room more than outside. Apart from the great room, it also offered a great view of Cebu's skyline as our room was located at the 28th floor. It was a definitely a good deal that I got online.
Crown Regency is just one of the many hotels in Cebu City. Located at the heart of the city, it is very accessible to almost all tourist destinations in downtown Cebu. It is also the tallest building in the city and is the home of the Sky Experience Adventure where thrill seekers can conquer their fear of heights.
As we were preparing to head out for dinner, I got the vibe that Cebu was going that part of our vacation where we can just relax and chill.
Fuente Osmena Circle
Taking the elevator down from our hotel floor, we were given a spectacular evening view of Cebu's Capitol Building and its surrounding areas. We were too tired to explore Cebu that night that we just decided to have dinner before retiring to our beds.
On our way to the place where we will be having dinner, we passed by the Fuente Osmena Circle. I told my wife that we were at the heart of the city. This rotunda park has seen the action of the city's major activities. We were lucky to have visited the city as it was gearing for the yearly Sinulog held every 3rd Sunday of the January and the rotunda was also ready for the celebration. The circle had small altars installed along the road in reverence to the Santo Nino to whom the celebration is being offered to. One can pay respect to the Santo Nino on these small altars by offering flowers and prayers. By the way it was set-up, you could feel that the city is gearing for a big celebration.
The highlight of the park is a fountain which is the focal point of the park. The park was named after Cebu's beloved son, the late President Sergio Osmena, to recognize his contribution in the development of Cebu. The surrounding areas of the park are peppered with business establishments and hotels. We chanced upon a peddler selling tissue holders and jewelry holders from recycled materials. We could not resist but stop to check out what he had to offer and we ended up buying some "pasalubong".
Fuente Osmena Circle is one place that is probably seen by most tourists and guests but is not noticed. But it is a nice park to briefly stop over and explore as it is an example of how Cebuanos show their respect to the prime movers of the city's development.
A visit to Cebu will not be complete without indulging your taste buds as the city is also famous for its food and one food stop that is a must place to visit is Larsians. Located near Fuente Circle, Larsians is a famous barbecue joint of Cebu and it is one place that is frequently visited not only by tourist but by the locals, as well.
It has undergone a major facelift compared when I visited it last. It is good to see that the local government has finally taken steps to improve the facility for this attraction that gave it a better and healthier ambiance. The set-up is still the same with the stalls stationed on the side of the complex and at the center is the grill area. In between the stalls and the grill area is the dining area. The biggest improvement is the ventilation that lessened the smoke being retained in the dining area.
The experience that Larsian brings is different. My family and I enjoyed our grilled "entrees" with our bare hands. It was great to see my wife and kid enjoy eating the "puso". What makes eating in Larsians fun? I really don't know but it is something that is uniquely Cebuano.
Walking Around Downtown Cebu (Day 2)
One thing that I really enjoyed in Cebu was waking up in the morning. I like walking to the window and I get to see the great view of the downtown Cebu and the neighboring Mactan Island. I just love Cebu mornings!
The activities that we were suppose to do on the first day was all moved to the second day because of the delay on our ferry trip schedule. I had to work on our new itinerary and was excited to get around the city. It wasn't my first time in Cebu so going around was not new to me, even to my little girl, as we have both been to Cebu. I was excited for my wife.
As I was mapping out the itinerary, my wife was excited to check out shops that sell beads. My wife engages in buying and selling stuff and I once brought home some beads from Cebu which got her interested to checking out these shops for possible finds. Her sister also mentioned that we could find a good selection along Colon Street. So part of our itinerary was to also to include these shops.
Minor Basilica of the Holy Child
I remember visiting a shop in downtown Cebu on one of my visit where I got the bead necklaces that I brought home with me. It was near one of the famous churches in the archipelago, the Basilica of the Holy Child. We decided to start of our search along that area.
The Minor Basilica of the Holy Child is the center of the festivities during the annual Sinulog. It is the home of the oldest image of the Santo Nino in the country to whom the Sinulog celebration is dedicated to. As the city comes to life with the beat of the music and streetdancing, the festivities attracts throngs of tourists and devotees yearly to witness the Cebuanos devotion to the Santo Nino. And with every "Pit Senyor" chant, comes a prayer of thanksgiving and request for a better year ahead.
It has been said that the location of the Basilica is exactly the same spot where the image of the Holy Infant Jesus was miraculously found. Now, the church has attracted devotees from all walks of life to seek the Santo Nino's guidance and blessing. One would notice that devotees would wave their hands to the Santo Nino before leaving the church as these is their way of showing their reverence to the Holy Child.
Just right across the church is a huge complex that is the venue for huge gatherings and celebrations as it can accomodate thousand of devotees that join in the celebration. The complex also has a museum and a library where one can go through the rich history of Christianity in the Philippines.
The Minor Basilica of the Holy Child do get a lot of visitors on a daily basis so when you visit expect throngs of people within its compound. You can also expect devotees who will approach you to offer prayers for you for a minimal fee. A visit to Cebu will not be complete unless you visit the Basilica to marvel at its beauty or to offer a prayer of thanksgiving.
Just right across the doorstep of the Minor Basilica of the Holy Child, visitors and tourists can view Cebu's tourism icon. If Bohol has the tarsier then Cebu has the Magellan's Cross - a symbol of how the Spaniards conquered the Philippines.
Magellan's Cross is housed inside a small chapel just right outside the Basilica. The centerpiece of the chapel is the Tindalo cross that encases the original cross. The original cross was encased because the original cross was being chipped off by guests as a souvenir. The chapels ceilings also depicts paintings of early christianization of early Filipinos. You will also be approached by devotees that offer prayers for your petitions for a minimal fee.
Magellan's Cross is not only a tourist spot to visit in Cebu but it is also a symbolic representation on how the Philippines was conquered by the Spaniards through religion. Religion has deep roots in the country and it was in Cebu City where it all started.
I brought my wife to a necklace shop where I bought the beads that I brought home and she was looking for something different. She mentioned that her sister said that we can find more varieties to choose from, along Colon Street. I was not aware of any shop along that stretch during my previous visit but it was worth exploring so we headed up to Colon Street, Cebu.
Colon Street is the oldest street in the country. Named after Christopher Columbus, it was once the "it" place for fashion, entertainment, and business during the early times. Presently, the street still holds a lot of business but the area is a bit rundown. You can still see some old building marker that provides a brief history of the old structures that are still standing and had survived the times.
Walking along Colon street can be quite an experience as it gives you a preview of the buzz of Cebu's downtown. It gives you that chill that our ancestors have walked the same street decades back.
Cebu Find: Cebu Necklace
After having a walkthrough downtown Cebu in search for these beads and necklaces, my wife opted to head back to the shop where we first started. The shop is located just right across the stalls that sell religious items at the back of the church. My wife was able to get good finds from the shop.
After half a day of walking around downtown, we were all tired that we decided to hit the mall instead to cool down rather than heading up to Mactan Island. We went around Ayala Cebu to do a little shopping before heading back to the hotel to go for an evening swim.
The evening was more laid back as we had buffet dinner in one of the restaurants in the hotel. The restaurant was located on one of the top floors of the hotel and it offers a magnificent view of the city. Our trip to Cebu was more relaxed and had us staying in the hotel and enjoying its amenities. It was a time that we veered away from rushing from one tourist spot to another. I had regrets that I was not able to show my wife around Cebu and Mactan but I think she liked our trip to Cebu this way. It served as our breather.
Looking at the sparkling lights of Cebu, I cannot help but think how beautiful Cebu is and it is no wonder how much I loved the city after I first visited it that I just had to keep coming back. What can I say...I love Cebu!
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Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.