If you’re after the fine, white sand of the country’s poster beach but hates its crowdedness, Bantayan Island is a perfect alternative. Located off the northern tip of Cebu, it may not be as accessible, but every minute of that three-hour bus ride from Cebu City (and another hour on the ferry) is worth it. It’s laid-back, quiet, and absolutely beautiful. Read more
Claps of thunder resonated over the island as lightning flashes broke the growing darkness. Watching the heavenly spectacle, I stood at the beach contemplating whether to stay or head back to my room. It had been a while since I last swam in the rain, but the lightning was scaring the schnitzel out of me. Just a few moments ago, the sun was shining brightly and under it was me, lazing on the sand, pretending that I owned the entire beach. The Visayan skies are fickle. Weather changes fast, almost as fast as our stay in Bantayan Island.
Bantayan Island is Cebu’s fastest rising beach destination. What used to be a sleepy fishing village years ago has been enjoying the fruits of tourism as tourists look for laid-back alternatives to Boracay. Bantayan has found its way to Cebu all inclusive travel packages but remains a favorite among backpackers for its sheer beauty and serene atmosphere. Located off the northern tip of Cebu, it is a three-hour bus ride and a one-hour ferry trip away from Cebu City. Its remoteness contribute to its almost undisturbed quietness. The island is divided into three municipalities: Bantayan, Madridejos, and Santa Fe.
The sun looked like it had no plans of letting the night take over yet when our boat docked at a floating seafood restaurant off the coast of Olango Island, Cebu. We were supposed to watch the sunset here and have sinful dinner, but it seemed like plans needed to be changed at that point.
The Kenneth Cobonpue furniture pieces easily hypnotized some of my friends who had been fans of the designer. “This is the first time I’ll be sitting on a Cobonpue chair!” exclaimed one of my colleagues right before he graced the piece with the warmth of his derrière. Our first several minutes in the hotel turned into a photo op session with inanimate objects. Such is life these days.
“I asked for a fish. You gave me an ocean,” I told a friendI had been urging to take me where I could buy danggit. The entire day that I was exploring Cebu City, a nagging voice had been playing in my head. It was my mother’s; she always requires that I bring danggit home as pasalubong whenever I am in Cebu. My friend appropriately took me to Tabo-an Market. What I didn’t expect was how much dried fish and how wide a variety of it would welcome me there! It wasa danggit-lover’s paradise!
A contemporary tune played by a talented blind musician welcomed us as we stepped into the grounds of Fort San Pedro in Cebu City. The music was rather merry that my cheery friends could not help but dance to the tune. There we were by the entrance to a truly historic site, dancing and sharing a laugh on a bright Saturday afternoon.
A wooden board displaying instructions on how to communicate with God stood just outside the main temple hall. My friends gathered in front of the board while trying to think of the perfect questions to ask God and excitedly anticipating whether the answer would be Yes, No, or Maybe. But before they could come up with any, another friend invited us to explore the rest of the Cebu Taoist Temple complex.
After our two-day tour in Iloilo and Guimaras, the Poor Traveler and his poor friend decided that it was time to head home. But the flight tickets that we got would have a connecting flight in Cebu City. Our plane would land at Mactan International Airport at 4pm and would depart for Manila at 6am the next morning.
“Destination?” The driver said as I hopped into his taxi. It was too early to check in at my hotel, and I did not know any other place in Cebu at the time except…
“Magellan’s Cross,” I replied, half in delight and half in utter hope that it was not that far from the airport. Call it reflex, but you can also say it was the only place in Cebu that I was familiar with at that moment.
It was Sunday and the church premises were crowded as locals and tourists gather around the area. Wherever we look we could see many people — lighting candles on one side, attending the mass on another, or simply taking a walk around the church premises. Read more