The Surprise That Never Was: Dad’s First Out Of Town Trip

Years ago my dad was suppose to leave for Kuwait, that was his chance to sit on plane and see the world  but then the gulf war happened. He never left. He never got to ride a plane ever since.

I was

Cebu City: Sinulog Country

Every time that someone says the word Cebu there are three things that comes into my mind the beach, danggit and señor Sto. Niño!

I arrived in Cebu International Airport about past midnight and I didn’t want to waste my money on checking-in in a hotel. It’s a good thing Doi of  The Travelling Feet told me that I could hang out for the night at the IT Park ( sorry no photos) where I spent most of my time having coffee, eating at a fast food and sleeping on chairs until daybreak.

By six in the morning when it was bright enough, I went to the Basilica of the Senor Sto. Niño to hear mass. I arrived at the basilica just in time for the start of the mass, unfortunately as I sit and listened I realized that I couldn’t understand a thing that is being said! The mass was in Cebuano! I had no choice but to wait for the next mass which will be done in English.

 

Lacking in sleep I can’t help but doze off a bit while waiting for the next mass. The celebration was done at the outdoor area and not inside the basilica it self so I went to a corner that ain’t that noticeable so I could take a nap guilt free =)

After hearing mass (which I still didn’t understand half of the homily as it was said in tagalog-cebuano) I went inside the basilica to observe the architecture and pray some more at the altar and at the image of the santo Nino so I could travel smoothly.

The basilica features a courtyard which is beautifully landscaped with statues where families hang out for a while maybe while waiting for the next mass or for a family member inline for the image of the sto. Nino.

The line was a bit long that just shows how Cebuanos love the Sto. Nino. Which also is the reason why one of the biggest celebration in honor of the senor is celebrated in Cebu.

If you want to get a taste of Sinulog better book your flights and accommodations months in advance as the festival attracts a lot of people both with devotions to the Sto. Nino and tourists a like .

For more information about the Sinulog Festival you may visit their official website www.sinulog.ph

Pit Senyor!

Moalboal: The Road To A HiddenParadise

In life we all search for meaning, a purpose. And in the journey to search for this meaning we get tired. Our souls then search for a special place of refuge to rest our souls.

I was on a bus from Boljoon searching for a place to spend the night. I had no itinerary and nothing was definite on this trip, the only thing that I know was I waited for this trip for sometime to escape the pressure and stress from the city the I live in.

With no definite itinerary with me, I continued my journey to my next destination. I was still contemplating on whether to spend the night at Santander or Moalboal.

It was getting dark and I had to make a decision, so to decide on where to look for a  place to stay I said to my self that if the beach at Santander would look nice I would get off there and look for a cheap place.

As soon as the bus took a turn at the Liloan port in Santander I saw a few resorts but the beach was not that impressive though the water at this part of Cebu is extremely beautiful, take a look at this video to see what I mean.

As much as the waters in Santander was inviting I was looking more of a sandy beach and Santander was not cutting it, so I decided not to get off and continue my journey to Moalboal.

There were no buses that goes straight to Moalboal from Boljoon, I had to get off at the bus’es terminal at Bato and get on another bus to Moalboal.

Just a reminder, as soon as you see the Rizal monument near the church, get off! I almost got lost because of the signage pointing to Panagsama beach. The signage says that the Panagsama beach is about 1km still, but its going to be a 1km ride from the highway so you would need to ride a tricycle or a habal-habal. I was thought that the beach was 1km away still from that point so I didn’t get off immediately. Luckily my instincts told me to ask my seat mate if I needed to get off already.

I told the driver to take me to the Backpacker’s Inn which is well known there. I was welcomed by the inn’s very cheerful and friendly staff that made my stay there really memorable.

I was really tired from all of the walking that day so I just decided to eat dinner and retire for the night. The accommodation is pretty okay because of the price. I am very specific when it comes to the bathroom and this is the first time that I am sharing one and the inn didn’t fail me on this part.

The morning after, I walked around Panagsama beach. I found this small pathway to a small pocket of beach and it was the most decent beach there is (I guess, since I didn’t find any other better) at Panagsama beach.

To be fair, Panagsama beach is ideal for divers. Here most of the accommodations and establishments were meant for divers and not beach bummers.

Even though Panagsama beach didn’t offer a fantabulous beach you can still enjoy the beautiful view by the sea. I while walking that morning I decided to take my coffee with me and enjoy the cool morning breeze and the sea. I even met a Korean who talked to me, though I am quite snobbish with strangers I talked with this guy since his greeting was more of a positive note starting with a good morning.

After walking around I ate breakfast at a nearby restaurant where they have budget meals, I ordered scrambled eggs, hotdogs, rice with a complementary choco or coffee.

Over breakfast I was contemplating on whether or not to go to white beach. To get to white beach from where I was staying I needed to rent a habal-habal for 200 pesos and it was kind of not on the budget. I also didn’t know how does the beach looks like and I was worried that it would just disappoint me if I payed for the habal-habal.

The driver didn’t take the usual road and drove through a shortcut instead of going back to the highway. We went through some rough road and finally got back to a cemented one.

It took about 10 – 15 minutes from Panagsama beach. The driver dropped me off on an area with houses and some cottages so I really cant see much of the beach. I walked further and passed by the cottages and my heart just jumped, shouting “Finally I found paradise”.

I felt so lucky to have the beach all by my self (well almost) I really don’t have much words to describe how beautiful the place is so just take a look at your self.

The water is so clear that even if the water water chest deep already I could still see my foot at the bottom, I was amazed. I never thought that I could be in place like this ever.

I was really fortunate the Sun miraculously shined that very moment I went to the beach as it was raining and gloomy the whole time that I was traveling on the southern part of Cebu.

After basking underneath the Sun I ate search for the nearest carinderia and found none but they weren’t selling any food at that time since there were not so much people visiting the place. So I walked further and found a restaurant

I was really hungry and didn’t want to spend more time looking for a carinderia so I just stepped into the restaurant and ordered. The food on the menu was quite pricey ranging from about 100 – 150 pesos.

While on white beach I got a chance to meet chinchan of  www.juanderfulpinoy.com. We first met during a trip to corregidor courtesy of Sun Cruises and it was lots of fun meeting him again as we talked about his trips.

It was almost three PM and the habal-habal that I rented has come to fetch me back to the inn so I bid goodbye to chinchan and his friend. I asked him to wait for me at the dropped off because I wanted to walk leisurely.

While walking I could not help but notice the little girl playing on the sand near the water. I couldn’t help my self but take a photograph of her (with her mom’s permission) she was just so beautiful and she reminded me much of my childhood.

I slept all afternoon and woke up about 9PM there are a few bars at Panagsama beach and most of the customer’s were foreigners.

One of the inn’s staff works double jobs so I just picked their bar. I bought a few bottles and was joined by my new found friend Dorthe from Denmark. We talked about our travels and the reason why we gave up a lot of things travel and start a new life.

We called in a night at almost two in the morning with happy heart from a good conversation from someone who seemed like I knew for a long time already. It was just too bad that I was not able to take a photo of Dorthe and me.

I had to be back to Cebu city the following day, I left Moalboal with a happy heart and soul, though I was sad to leave the place and the new friends I have made on my short stay there. Now I can relate to the line one backpacker said I miss the place but the people are the place and they have already moved on so I can’t go back. Moalboal just made a special place in my heart.

Bol-joon: A Place Where Time Stands Still

I first heard about this place from my friend AJ Poliquit while reading his blog (www.ajpoliquit.wordpress.com) and I was like are you sure its called Bol-joon? or am I reading this right?  Well yeah those are my initial reactions, but well into his story goes, I was almost having an experience reading his article. Then I found my self wanting to go to the place at the end of the story. Hence, Bol-joon is the only definite place that I have listed on my must see places in Cebu on my itinerary.

After eating lunch in Carcar I hopped into a bus to Bol-joon which costed Php 78.00. Along the way the scenery reminded me much of how life used to be. Simple.

This house reminded me of our old abode.
 
A girl stares at my weird hairdo =)
 
It was a good thing the bus that I rode has footrests as my feet are tired from all of the walking done.
 

after about an hour I reached the town of Boljoon. The conductor dropped me off right in front of the church and all that I could do is stand still in amazement. I stepped inside the compound of the church and just right after the arch I could help but do a 360 view and admire the church as it faces the sea.

Bol-joon church’s entrance arch
 

I walked inside the church and found that a funeral service was taking place in front of the gold gilded altar of the church, again I just stood in awe of the beauty of the altar, one of the biggest that I have seen so far.

Main altar

The Bol-joon church is regarded as one of the oldest and important churches in Cebu and unlike its other counterparts throughout Cebu, one unique feature of the church is its tower. It features a rectangular structure instead of a being round, which they say shows a moro features.

Bol-joon church’s exterior and convent
 

It was good to know that the church is actually undergoing renovation and restoration to bring it back to its original state. I am just concerned with the cracks on the restored bell tower as it seems like cement was used instead of the original material, the materials used back then are still more reliable than that of a cement as it protects the stones more from moisture.

Beside the church is a small garden which used to serve as a public cemetery before which was the reason for the creepy looking garden gate

Aside from the church and its convent, the Escuela Catolica can also be found inside the complex. The structure used to be a dormitory for children who are about to take their first communion, the children are required to stay there for the night prior to receiving one. As of now it is still being used as a meeting hall for various religious organizations.

Being a football fan that I am (well just a bit 🙂  ) I stayed for a while and watched the kids playing at the plaza of the church. Soccer is really big in the Visayas compared to the Basketball crazy Manila. Yes, even after Manila got the soccer fever because of the Azkals, the Visayas still has much of my respect when it comes being dedicated to the sport.

Kids playing soccer
Blockhouse fortress

A structure that served as the church’s main fortress is to be found at the left side of the complex. It served as  a watch tower during the Spanish times against pirates and invaders.

Barangay Hall

Across the street is Plaza Bermejo, it’s a small plaza that has a tennis court, the barangay hall and a small promenade along the sea wall. I hanged out at the plaza for a while and took advantage of the free wifi,  yes they do have wifi! =)

Heritage trail billboard

You can follow the billboard at the barangay hall which suggests a trail that would take you to the heritage sites around the vicinity, but for me I just enjoyed the moment and the cool breeze along the sea wall.

At the plaza I can see the humongous rock formation that we passed by that they call Ili Rock which served as a natural fortress during the Spanish era.

Ili rock
 
Bol-joon Church seen from Plaza Bermejo
 

So there I was finding my self spending most of my afternoon, sitting at the plaza and just enjoying the view. I would have to say Bol-joon offers one of the most picturesque towns in Cebu. I really enjoyed my stop here in Bol-joon and experience its laid back, relaxed environment.

Bol-joon will always be a special place me simply because it takes me back to a time when people knew how to live life as it should be.

Well after spending so much drama by the sea (lol, but no kidding it really is a place where you could think about life a lot) I went to wait for another bus to take me to my next destination the town of…… hmmmm actually I am not sure of yet where my next stop will be so I had to think it over while on the bus.

Carcar City: Experiencing Latin America In Cebu

The Journey

The challenge for my self to explore the southern island of Cebu takes me to my second destination, the city of Carcar.

On this leg of my trip, I have already felt the challenge of having language barriers when I tried to ask for what bus to take so I could get to Carcar. I approached a guy on a table giving out tickets and asked what bus to take. He answered back in cebuano (the local dialect) so I thought that he has just mistaken me for a local. So I answered back and told him that I don’t speak cebuano, but he still spoke to me in his dialect. Having difficulty understanding him I just smiled back at him and asked someone to translate.

I hope that Cebuanos won’t take me wrong. The language barrier for me is part of what I came for as part of my first solo travel challenge to my self and I love it! The feeling being lost and the need to survive actually pumped up my thirst to do more solo travels.

The journey from the queen city of the south to Carcar took about more or less than 1.5 to 2 hours. I road a minibus from Cebu City South Bus Terminal which costs 45 pesos. After about an hour of traveling in high speed I felt nervous thinking that I might have passed by the town already.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria Church

My destination? One of the most Iconic landmarks of the city, the church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

The church stands on top of a hill where it can be seen from afar. As soon as I got up close to the church it felt like I have travel a thousand miles to Latin America.

I love seeing old things as it takes me back to the old times. However, I was quite disappointed when I walked inside of the church due to its deteriorating state.

The church features brightly colored arches guarded by angels lighting each post.  while the  ceiling is beautifully designed with a trompe-l’œil painting.

The rostrum where priests used to stand in the midst of their parishioners to deliver their homilies back when electronic sound systems still didn’t exist, though  still intact I doubt that it is still used.

The altar has three saints on it while a painting of a the sagrada familia is seen above the main altar.  I was glad that it was a Sunday when I embarked on my trip that it allowed me to explore the churches on my impromptu list.

The church even though it is not maintained well (referring to its paint) still gives you a certain experience of seeing a different kind of architecture, a not so ordinary, if I may say, for houses of worship in the Philippines.

I love the wing of the church with its brightly colored translucent glass windows that casts different shades inside the church.

As I step out of the church and observed the amazing structures around the church. I now have this certain feeling, an atmosphere if you may, like I have been transported to a different space and time.

Just right beside the church is it’s convent which has survived the test of time. It is also regarded as one of the biggest convents in Cebu. The tricycle that I rode to the church was actually much prouder of their convent than the church it self, he would just keep on bragging “yan po yung kumbento namin” (that is our church convent)

Adjacent to the convent stands a pocket of garden with the statue of St. Catherine of Alexandria.

Around the Church

Up on the hill the church is surrounded by other structures that gives the place an old world vibe. Just right beside the statue of St. Catherine is the Carcar Elementary School, which was built as the date in front of the building suggests in 1905

 As you ascend up the hill the first thing that would greet you is the Philippines’ national hero’s monument Dr. Jose Rizal. On my way to Carcar I actually notice that each and every town that I passed by has their own monument to honor the hero and the Carcar monument I would have to say be my favorite among the monuments that I saw while in Cebu.

Another heritage structure can also be found within the vicinity that houses the city museum. I was not able to go inside since it was closed as it was a Sunday. I wish they would think about opening it on weekends as well, I mean travelers like me most of the time do the traveling

The Heritage Town

As I go down hill along the highway a series of heritage houses can be found. Houses made up of stone at lower portion and wood for the upper floor which are more popularly referred to as “Bahay na Bato”

The houses though built during hispanic time have learned to adapt to the modern times. The lower portion of the houses has been converted to businesses to cater the town’s growing needs.

I walked along the highway to reach the round about of the city where three roads leading to different parts of the southern part of the island.

I am not knowledgeable so much about architecture but I could say that the structure is beautiful done. It gave a feel that it was built during the american times when Filipinos are being Americanized, hence the filipiniana statue on the top of a westernize gazebo. It said that the artist Martino Abellana’s sculpture is stating this is America guiding the Philippines to prosperity.

My journey in Carcar is about to end and I still have a lot of places to cover that day, so I decided to take my lunch at a fast food near the rotonda. It was a shame that I didn’t even thought of going to the public market, as I learned that it is where they serve the most delicious lechon.

Anyways, at this roundabout where my trip to Carcar ended and this is also where my Journey to another Heritage site in Cebu  starts. See you at Bol-joon!

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