Having two days to spare before the Grand Sinulog Parade, we really did not have any itinerary although we did have a number of destinations in mind. We initally planned to go down South to Oslob to go whaleshark watching and to head up to Cebu’s Tops to view the metro but none of these were really finalized. I guess this made our trip unpredictable – no plans except for us to enjoy the Sinulog 2016 celebration.
Touchdown Cebu (Day 1)
Our first hours in Cebu was really spent preparing for Sunday’s festivities. Of course, lechon was the main course for breakfast and I must say that CnT Lechon, near SM City Cebu, was a great way to welcome us in the Queen City of the South. My trips to Cebu is never complete without enjoying a hefty serving of Cebu Lechon.
The rest of the morning was spent looking for the right Sinulog shirt and designing it for Sunday’s festivities. We also had to do our shopping for the festivals must-haves – whistle, dreamcatcher, headress (optional), festival powder, and face paint. All these goods are to be used to ensure a fun-filled Sinulog experience.
Of course, going through all these shopping got us in the Sinulog mood because the Sinulog theme song was blasting in almost every corner of the city. The locals ensure that its visitors will get into the Sinulog spirit, days before the Grand Parade.
Robinsons Galleria Cebu
One of the newest malls in the city is Robinsons Galleria. Just a few hundred kilometers from SM City Cebu, the mall exudes class and elegance. Its mall’s interiors give it an atmosphere of a high end mall. The mall still has a lot of tenants that are still in the process of fit-out.
Interestingly, a Sinulog exhibit was on display at the ground floor of Robinson’s Galleria. One section features the Sinulog gowns that was used during the past celebrations. These dresses glow in vibrant colors of gold, white, silver, and red. These lavish gowns come with amazing headresses.
At the end of the hallway are winning captures of Sinulog 2015. You will be amazed at these captured moments of triumph and manifestation of faith.
One of the things that I enjoyed the most with the new mall is the aesthetic design. The malls have managed to incorporate nature and zen designs onits lower ground giving you that feeling of being close to nature even if it is artificial. Of course, we took the chance of challenging our visual creativity with these amazing interior designs.
Cebu Taoist Temple
Standing in all its grandeur at 300 meters above sea level, the Cebu Taoist Temple offers a grand view of Cebu City. It was built in 1972 to cater to the Chinese community of Cebu who needed a temple where they can practice their Taoist faith. In the end, this magnificent temple located in one of the posh villages in the city, Beverly Hills, now serves as one of the tourist spots to visit when in Cebu.
Although I have been to Cebu numerous times, it was only now that I was able to visit the Cebu Taoist Temple and I was really amazed with its intricate Chinese architecture. I was in awe with intricacies of the design from its staircase to its temple. One could really say that a lot of detail really came through during its planning and construction.
The temple also offers an amazing view of the Queen City of the South from its balconies. The dragons that seem like guardians of the temple seem to be also looking onto the city. It was also nice that we came in at a time when the sun was starting to set as it allowed us to play with the light and shadows of the afternoon sun.
We were rushing to get to Tops Lookout as we wanted to catch the final burst of colors of the setting sun as our good IG friend, @awesome.lei, said that it is a good vantage point and we did get there at the nick of time.
Tops Lookout is a good vantage point to have a panoramic view of Cebu City and the nearby Mactan Island. We came at a time when the day and night was at its eclipse and it gave me a full view of how the city looks during the day and how it glitters at night. The glittery night show was complemented by the cool weather of the mountain top that it was a breather from the humid weather of the city.
It is no wonder that people would really head up to Tops Lookout as it offers an amazing and relaxing view of the city and its nippy weather.
Rushing up to South Terminal wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to start our second day in Cebu. We earlier planned to head down south for a dose of Vitamin Sea but the fluidity of our plans allowed us to make changes instantly. But our first concern was really catching the bus that would leave at 5am. As the city was gearing for the weekend celebration, the major thoroughfares was being closed off that resulted to the temporary relocation of bus stations and that was the main reason why we were on a mad rush to catch the 5.30am trip.
Yes, we did manage to catch the bus.
Three hours of catching snooze in the bus, we finally found ourselves in the municipality of Dalaguete. The municipality is known as the “Vegetable Basket of Cebu” because the cool weather of its hillside make it conducive to vegetable farming. Like any Cebu destinations, Dalaguete has its own share of natural wonders above and below.
Osmena Peak and the Habal-Habal
After a hefty breakfast prepared by the family of our good IG friend, @willjr42, we discussed the day’s intinerary. We planned on heading up to Osmena Peak then proceed to Oslob in the afternoon for our dose of Vitamin Sea. Now all the plans were temporary as things may change due to time constraints.
After an hour on the road aboard a habal-habal through highways and dirt roads, we were finally at the jump-off point of Osmena Peak.
Osmena Peak is the highest point in the island of Cebu at 1000 meters above sea leavel. Named after the Osmena clan of the province, the peak offers a panoramic view ofBadian. The hike to the top takes about an hour and gives you a visual treat of greens, both from hill covers and vegetable plots, intertwined with rock formations.
The view from the top is really amazing, matched by its cool weather. We were lucky to have come in when the sky was clear that gave us an unobstructed view of Badian. Visitors of the peak will also get treated with a view of a mountain range with pointed peaks that gives Osmena Peak its unique character.
For that extra cheap thrill, you can try standing on one its rock formations at the peak. It will definitely give you that height jitters while trying to keep your balance.
Dalaguete Beach Park
Having stayed a little longer at Osmena Peak, our plans quickly changed as we knew that heading off to Oslob after was not a bright idea. But the decision to stay in Dalaguete proved to be a better idea as we discovered an amazing cove that is also a worthy of attention for a quick beach escape.
Dalaguete Beach Park is a tranquil cove that is managed by the local government. For a minimal fee of Php20, one can already enjoy a strip of white sand beach, clear waters, and the sea breeze. They also have cottages for rent and facilities for group activities. An abandoned private beach resort sits adjacent to the beach park.
I enjoyed the tranquility of the Dalaguete Beach Park. With only a couple of groups who joined us for that Saturday escape, we enjoyed the peace and quiet that the public beach offered. The atmosphere was so chill that I was able to catch a snooze after enjoying a sumptous lunch of grilled chicken and puso.
The Dalaguete Beach Park is one destination that you can check out when you are in Dalaguete. It may not be as impressive as other beach destinations but its cove can offer that peace and quiet when you are searching for a quick escape.
Simala Church (Sibonga)
More like a castle than a church, Simala Church has been attracting Marian devotees from different parts of the country to seek the divine intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also known as the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist Church and has set its home in Sibonga, some 30-minute habal-habal ride from the main highway.
The huge and grand design of the church will take you more than an hour to explore and is still undergoing construction. As soon as you enter the compound, you will be amazed at the lavish design of its current structure and the huge expanse that it covers. It really looks more like a castle rather than a church. Its grand design includes a fortress-style walkway, grand staircases leading to its courtyard, and towers on its four-corners. As earlier mentioned, construction is still ongoing with renovations on its courtyard. I heard that what is being constructed is a water basin/pond.
At the center of the complex is the actual church where the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary is housed. The interiors of the church is as grand as its exteriors with the altar as its main attraction. Atop the altar is the miraculous image that devotees can access through a maze of hallways that leads you to the back of the altar.
Adjacent to the church is a prayer room, a museum, prayer areas, and a hallway of testimonies from devotees. Interestingly, the hallway exhibits memorabilias from devotees whose lives were transformed by the Blessed Virgin Mary. They give their testimonies of miracles that was done to them from healing to passing of examinations.
Simala Church was a profession of Marian faith. The church was built to its grandeur through the devotion of its followers. It is also evident with the continuous flow of devotees, from all walks of life, to the church.
Pre-Titit: A Habal-Habal Experience
As we were heading back to the highway aboard a habal-habal and in pitch darkness from Simala Church, I simply enjoyed the cold evening breeze. Heck… it was my first time to hop on board a habal-habal and it was such a cheap thrill. I guess our pre-Sinulog trip was somewhat like that… chill and exciting. I enjoyed squeezing in a hike to the top of Osmena Peak, chilling like a boss by the beach, and watching the faithful in Simala, not to mention the quick city stops from our first day.
That is what I enjoy the most with unplanned trips. It gives you that thrill of a new experience while challenging you… parang sumakay ka lang sa habal-habal.
Getting There: Cebu is an hour away from Manila by air. All major airlines ply the Cebu route daily. You can get to Cebu Taoist Temple and Cebu Tops Overlooking by hiring a cab but expect it to be pricey. A cheaper alternative is taking the habal-habal from JY Square in Lahug.
Dalaguete is about 3 hours away from Cebu City. Regular bus trips to Dalaguete is available at the South Bus Terminal. From Dalaguete, you can take a habal-habal to the drop off point of Osmena Peak. Local transport can bring you to Dalaguete Beach Park.
From the highway, you can take a bus heading to the city and asked to be dropped off at Sibonga, where you can take a habal-habal to Simala Church. Quick tip – Simala Church closes at 5pm and you have to dress appropriately if you are visiting the church.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.