I have been waiting for him to do this himself but he hasn't done it 'til now so I thought I must do it then. See, my little brother Ople just graduated from high school and never travelled farther than the next province. He did well in his high school and graduated as the valedictorian. He studied at a village high school located around 420 kilometers away from Manila, the Mongilit Ligmayo National High School, and is planning to move to Metro Manila for his college studies (only because I am working there and I suggested it). Life is getting boring and lonely so I need some company especially a fun-loving brother. Uh-oh, enough about that.
As a graduation treat since I wasn't able to go home and attend his graduation, I booked a vacation, a budget trip to Cebu for him and my husband. It would be a first time for my husband as well. Other than fun, the purpose of the trip is to enforce his lessons of history. The reason I chose Cebu City is because it is the one place in the Philippines where one can see and experience the magic of the old era, or at least some of it, with the fusion of todays industrial progress. As they say, one can only experience the magic of the south when one is in Cebu, the Queen City of the South. So there you go.
First time at the airport... Like an excited kid, he got all sorts of questions :) We took Zest Air since it offered the cheapest fare at the time. We left from the Manila Domestic Airport at 4:05am.
Queuing outside to enter the building. The domestic terminal building closes sometime during the night and opens it's gates only at 2:30am.
Checking-in at the counter. My brother was wondering why we can't just go in.
Anxious to get in as the queue is still long.
Then after an hour or more, we arrived in Cebu, at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Still feeling energetic huh?
Too early when we arrived as hotel check-in is still at 12 noon. So we took a taxi from Mactan-Cebu International Airport to the Europa Mansionette Inn, where we have our reservation, just to leave our luggage. I asked the same taxi driver to bring us straight to the Sto. Nino Basilica of Cebu. The jolly driver served as our free tour guide as well.
Right across the basilica is a Chowking fastfood that is open as early as 6am. Let's have some breakfast before we start the tour. I'm sure there's a lot of walking and picture taking to be done.
Then we enter the basilica. Oh, I almost forgot. There is a row of flower shops right infront of Chowking. You can buy your flower offerings, candles, or even souvenirs from there. Although there are many peddlers as well right at the door of the church, just like in Quiapo church in Manila. The shops are closed yet as you can see, so the street is occupied by illegal flower vendors.
We were very early, around 7:30am but there was already a long line of worshippers, queuing in to get infront of the Sto. Nino. I raised my camera to camera to be able to take this picture but you can still see the heads of the queuing churchgoers, both local and tourists. The Sto. Nino is hidden away, protected from thieves in this corner surrounded by steel gate. Anyway, I said my prayer but didn't wait for the queue.
Inside is the actual cross. However, it was again encased in a strong Tindalo wood, to ensure the safety of the original cross.
Facing the Magellan's Cross is the Cebu City Hall, or seat of the local government of Cebu. It has the message, "Public Office is a Public Trust".
Just a few steps away from the Magellan's Cross is the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) museum which has been declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Historical Commission.
After reading the landmark tablet of BPI, turn to your right and you'll see the Sampaguita Hotel of Cebu, which is one of the common hotels offered in tour packages. I haven't stayed there but I read some good reviews about the hotel. Simple, modest, and budget friendly are the best descriptions of it that I gathered.
While still standing in front of BPI, turn 180 degrees and you'll see an old building called Gottaoco Building, with an old PCI Bank signage still intact. I had a weird feeling about the building, that it is somehow important. However, when I asked if tourist can go inside, they said it's in ruins so entry is not permitted as it is dangerous.
Round the corner and walk a hundred or more paces and you'll be at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Cebu. It has an impressive facade and array of bells, as often cathedrals do. The bells were so loud I believe it can be of great use in case of alarms. It has a pretty garden and prayer nooks.
Myles and Ople are still very excited despite of an sleepless night. They didn't sleep because they were so worried they won't wake up on time to make it to the airport for the check-in time at 2am. As for me, I came from work coz I had a shift from 2pm to 11pm so we all had a long night. But it doesn't matter, we're not yet sleepy.
We crossed some streets and corners and went beyond the ruined old buildings and this is what we saw, a welcome marker for Cebu City. This is not a normal tourist spot we saw no one there at all, just the 3 of us.
Infront is a new highway then the sea, where some private ships and yachts are docked.
But why is that, one would wonder, but we're not arguing so instead, we asked for directions to the next tourist spot which he happily obliged. Next destination: Fort San Pedro. By the way, I thought the guy on the bike that was coming to us was just an ordinary passerby but then again, the place is empty so we were so obviously out of place.
As we re-entered Cebu City thru that new highway, I saw why the place is guarded and tourists are not allowed. It is the back of the Port of Cebu otherwise known as the Malacañan sa Sugbo, another old building that would have been in ruins by now had it not been restored by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.
Moving forward, we saw our target destination. We're beginning to feel tired as the sun is already way up, the heat is starting to rise, and we're running out of water. We kept looking for shops to buy water but of course there isn't any as it is a big, wide, under renovation park - the Plaza Independencia. What's to see here? I'd say nothing.
First person we met is Sir Antonio Pigafetta, or his statue, located outside the Fuerza de San Pedro. He is facing the large building of the Cebu Central Post Office. I somehow didn't see anything worth capturing the post office for so I didn't take a picture of it. But I'm glad somebody did so I'll just link to it so you know what I'm saying, and others are saying, too.
He looks so lonely here. Actually, I had bad vibes while I was on this place. There's a feeling of sadness and some anger. First, he doesn't seem to belong there because he is separated by a fence in his front and a tall wall on his back. He doesn't belong to the post office nor does he belong to the fort. Somebody should have adjusted the fence to exclude him, making it look like he's guarding the post office. Anyway, what hurts most was that there were lots of garbage dumped next to his statue and it stinks of urine. There were even some broken bottles so it's not safe for strolling.
So off we go to the highlight of the plaza - the Fort San Pedro. It looks bare and dry, but I guess that's how forts are supposed to look, but really, I found a better looking picture of the Fort San Pedro some years (2006) back here.
Ople: I still have it on my head sissy. On the 8th day of May 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established the Spanish settlement called Villa de San Miguel. This is after some fighting and arguing. That is how Cebu started. You want more or shall we continue to walk?
Oh well, I'm beginning to starve and my eyes need to rest. But we must finish this set of destinations coz we may not come back here again soon. And here we have the weapons used by the Katipuneros. That's more history lessons for me.
Andres Bonifacio and other leaders. They really have very nice handwritings considering it was a hectic and dangerous time. I was always under the impression the scribbles would be rushed and hard to read. My husband, ever the smartass, quipped, "The leaders don't do the writing, they have secretaries to do that job. They're just doing the thinking and analysing. Oh, and commanding too."
Now the fort is such a lovely garden and it's so windy up there, we're getting sleepy just roaming around the lovely lush gardens. The cartridge and powder rooms were now turned to storage rooms of gardening tools. We were able to get some refreshments as well coz there's a mini-store inside the fort. There's a singing group of disabled singers, too for those who doesn't want to continue walking. There's a shaded hall to sit, rest, and relax while sipping some refreshments and listening to music.
Away from the crowd, I actually napped in one of the benches in the garden. I woke up alone some 30 minutes later because Ople and Myles went to inspect the buildings in the fort.
Now I'm really hungry I went looking for Ople and Myles which were in another small museum. I had no more trouble dragging them out coz when I said let's go find some place to have lunch, they both agreed with not much protest.
On the way out, I noticed a well which used to be the water well used by the soldiers during the war. But nowadays, it became a wishing well.
Outside the fort, picture taking continues :) Even if we're tired, sleepless and hungry, we can't just pass up the chance. Go Mikke Ople!
This is where you can still see the renovations that were not yet completed at the time of our visit. This should be one grand plaza once completed they say. But we'll see to that some time soon :) Maybe next year again?
And to the finale for the day, lunch at The Original AA BBQ restaurant. I read a lot of good reviews about this restaurant so I made sure our lunch is here. Oh, and we just walked to the restaurant from Fort San Pedro. It's just a few blocks away.
We ordered bangus, squid, pork, 3 extra rice (2 rice each), 3 bottles of water, and 1 pitcher of their 4 seasons drinks which is a mixture of 4 various fruits, mainly apple, orange,lemon, and watermelon. Although we are hungry, our palates are well satisfied too. Our plates can only describe it well.
After that hearty lunch, we took a Mandaue-bound jeepney along the street on the left side of the restaurant. I forgot the number but I'll dig in my list and update this soon with all the other jeepney numbers for various destinations. Upon arriving in Maguikay, Mandaue, we just took a tricycle going to our hotel and the waiting bed for our rest and long sleep.
I linked to many sites with relevant information so my thanks go to them.