Cebu: My first solo backpacking trip

Magellan’s Cross, Cebu City

It all started with a seat sale of an airline company and my two travel buddies were both unavailable, my feet was itching to travel and my hands are wanting to hit that confirm button to book a flight. Then I realized that I have not done a real solo travel so far, so I mustered all my courage and booked a flight to the queen city of the south, Cebu!

I envisioned the trip to become my first solo travel and backpacking experience. I wanted to navigate the city without having to use cab straight right from the airport to the city. More than once did I try to come up with an itinerary for the trip but there were so much information and places that I keep on discovering and considering, hence I ended up with none.
My closet for the next 5 days




Flight Details Departure: Manila (MNL) to Cebu (CEB) NAIA Terminal 3; Mactan Cebu International Airport Departure: 08 October 2011, Saturday,2205 H Arrival:      08 October 2011, Saturday,2315 H Flight No.: Flight 5J – 579 Return: Cebu (CEB) to Manila (MNL) Mactan Cebu International Airport; NAIA Terminal 3 Departure: 11 October 2011, Tuesday,0905 H Arrival:      11 October 2011, Tuesday,1020 H Flight No.: Flight 5J – 564 The Adventure

Airbus A320 that I rode as we disembark at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport

It was almost 11PM when our plane arrived, due to the not so good weather, there have been delays with flights throughout the day.

I challenged my self not take a cab the entirety of the trip, so I walked to the right side (if you are facing the building) of the airport’s departure entrance from the arrival area where the muticab-jeepnies are. These brightly colored yellow multicabs are the only public transport (aside from taxi cabs of course) allowed to get in the airport.
Spending the night at the IT Park
From the airport I got off at the Marina Mall (Php 8.00), I was planning to spend the night in a coffee shop there but they were closing up already. I asked the staff if there are any coffee shop that is open 24 hours and he directed to go to their branch at the Asiatown IT Park. I remembered Doi of The Travelling Feet told me that it is a nice place to go for taking photographs and  chilling out.
Asiatown IT Park Lahug City, Cebu

I asked the staff on how to get to the IT Park and he gave me really good directions. I took a multicab to Mandaue Hi-way and got off  under the flyover near Jollibee. From there I hailed another multicab coded 21B going to Mabolo, I got off at the cross road where the Mabolo Church is. I was starving as I have not ate anything aside from the crackers that I have taken with me I decided to eat first on a burger stand.

After eating I asked around again where I could get a multicab to the Asiatown IT Park but they told me that there’s none that goes there by that time anymore which caused my very first Habal – Habal ride. Habal – Habal is the local term for motorcycles that transports passengers from one point to another.

The morning afterI spent the night at the park drinking coffee and ate breakfast there too by daybreak. The only thing that I really planned was hearing mass at the Basilica Minore of Santo Nino de Cebu.

Santo Niño de Cebu Basilica Minore, Cebu City, Cebu

After finishing my breakfast I took a jeep coded 17b from the park to the Basilica. The jeepney dropped me off at the plaza in front of the city hall. The Plaza is also home to the structure that houses The Cross of Magellan, and the Colegio de Santo Nino which serves as the entrance to the compound of the Basilica Minore. The basilica’s compound has good security with a number of guards roaming around to make sure everything is in order. I must say that the security guards are very courteous to every one. The mass that was being celebrated when I arrived was said in Cebuano so I waited for the next one that was to be celebrated in English, however the priest still spoke Cebuano delivering the homily. The Southern Cebu Trail AdventureLooking at the map that I brought, after the mass I plotted on how I want this trip to go. I have this general idea that what I want to do in Cebu is to experience the southern part of the island and from all the places that I have read online these are the ones that stuck into my mind, Carcar, Argao, Boljo-on and Moal boal. With a single Cebuano phrase in my pocket (which right at the very first I doubted that I’ll be able to use anyway) I ventured bravely to explore the southern part of the island.

I rode one of these on my way to Carcar City, Cebu

From the basilica I asked around on how I could get to Cebu’s Southern Bus Terminal where all of the buses heading south are stationed. From there I took a mini bus to my first destination, Carcar City where the famous church of the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish is situated.

One of Carcar City’s famous landmarks

I walked around the church and since it was a Sunday I was lucky enough to see the interior of the church. There was a lot of people having their children christened. After taking some photos inside the church I went out to see its magnificent facade. Around the church are some more structures worth exploring like the museum and convent. There are also heritage houses within the city and its famous landmark, the city’s roundabout.

My extra special local Jollibee (pun intended) meal, with the special appearance of Jollibee him self

Time was running so fast and I was doubting that I could do everything within the day just as I have planned earlier, so instead of getting off at Argao where I just plan to eat lunch by the beach I went straight to the town of Boljo-on.

Boljo-on Church; Boljo-on, Cebu

Boljo-on offers a heritage walk and I was surprised that they even have a wifi zone along their plaza by the sea side. While walking around I remember my co-worker telling me that his home town of Santander is very beautiful. So after listening to a few songs from my phone while looking at the sea, I decided to hop on a bus to Lilo-an, Santander

A child staring at me (just like every one else when I boarded the bus), a man with a strange hair do LOLZ!

Lilo-an has a port that for ferries that shuttles passengers to and from Dumagete and a few beach resorts but it was just another ordinary coastal town with crystal clear water, honestly there was nothing much to see so I just told the conductor that I’ll just add some more to my fare and get off at  Bato which is where the buses going to Moal boal are. It was quickly getting darker while I was on the road until I reached the town of Moal boal. I rode a habal-habal from the highway to Panagsama Beach in barangay Savedra where I will be staying for the night. I checked in at Moal boal Backpackers Lodge ate dinner and succumbed my self to sleep from exhaustion.

Panagsama Beach, Moal boal, Cebu

The next morning I walked around Panagsama beach. It is ideal for divers but not for beach bummers, so I looked for the care taker of the inn who offered her friend’s services to take me to White Beach which is about 5-10 minutes away from Panagsama Beach.

Whitebeach, Moal boal, Cebu

The moment I emerged from the back of the houses that blocks the view of the beach, my jaw dropped with the beauty of the beach. The water was crystal clear and I almost have the beach for my self. In the afternoon I met up with a friend Chinchan of Juanderful Pinoy whom I found out will be spending the night at white beach. As for me, after eating lunch with Chinchan my service was back to pick me up back to the inn where I was staying.

With Chinchan and his friend

I was suppose to go back to Cebu city that night for a meet up but the sky started getting dark and it rained really hard so I decided to stay instead. I hanged out at a local bar that was also being tend by Ethel, there I met Dorthe from Denmark and a funny guy Steve who owns the inn where Dorthe was staying. Dorthe, Ethel and I had a nice and long coversation about life. Later on a korean that I met early in the morning saw us and joined in the conversation. After a few bottles we decided to call it a night. I woke up the following day energized at almost mid morning. I fixed my self up and packed up my things. I left the Backpacker’s Inn by 10AM with a heavy heart, If I only have so much money and wouldn’t need to work I could have stayed there for weeks. The people there in Moal boal are so easy to get along with which made it harder for me to leave. I rode a Librando Bus Liner to Cebu City which took about four hours. The Librando Bus Lines terminal was just right across the Cebu South Bus Terminal. From there I took a bus going to SM Cebu where I will be meeting up with Doi. At last I will be able to meet a couple of people whom I look at when it comes to blogging.

Supersize Baby backribs at Casa Verde, Ayala Center, Cebu City, Cebu

After eating snacks at SM Cebu, we talked a while and decided to go to Ayala instead of the IT Park to eat since it was a bit traffic (which is nothing compared to Manila =)  ) we ate at Casa Verde restaurant and she encouraged me to order the baby back ribs which she said was their signature or one of their famous food. I accidentally turned my head and saw the waiter serving ribs at the other table, my jaw dropped the second time in Cebu…. LOLZ!  I was speechless and it’s as if my brain stopped working for a while and all it can think of was, Did I just ordered the same??? hahaha…. Anyways the waiter served ours and I couldn’t help but still be over whelmed with the size of the food. I was not able to finish mine and Doi had her’s taken home. It was really fun meeting up with Doi of The Travelling Feet as there was no dull time with her. Lessons learned on my first solo travel After dinner Doi generously drove me to the airport. My flight was scheduled at 9PM, or so I thought! The weather was not that fine and the gusts of wind kept on blowing from time to time. So I headed straight to the flight departure monitor to check the status of my flight. I couldn’t find it! So I went to the airlines’ booking office and check the status if it was cancelled. The staff looked into her computer and told me sir it took of at 9:XX. I was not understanding what she was saying so I replied but it’s just almost 8PM. The lady replied back, “Sir morning po yung flight” (sir the flight was during the morning)

Photo from

I was shock realizing that I missed my flight by 12 Hours! I texted Doi again to get some help as I could not think properly and all I could think of to text was “Help please”. She went back to the airport to pick me up and since I was stuck in Cebu for the night, Doi and I decided to hang out at the IT Park so that we could meet with Ed of Lesson learned in one line:  MAKE SURE YOU READ YOUR FLIGHT ITINERARY CORRECTLY! =)) Inspiration At that point I thought that I was meant to miss my flight, talking to the two of them was truly inspiring. I learned about how was it before they actually became my idols when it comes to blogging. I learned a lot of things from Doi which also inspired me to write some more. The two even how great they are for many people are so humble and so accommodating. Flight Back HomeAfter meeting up with Ed, Doi helped me up finding a place to stay. The following day I went to the airport earlier than the actual check in time just to make sure. I couldn’t afford to re-book another missed flight! Instead of booking Cebu Pacific I decided to book Zest Air as they had a flight in the afternoon and CebuPacific has one (that I can afford) by 11PM which I couldn’t take because I have to come to work by 4AM

Quezon City Memorial Circle from the air

The flight was the roughest as it could be. I don’t know how would cebu pacific would navigate the skies with that kind of weather but I have not experience a flight that rough ever since. To simply put it, I thought we were to crash that day. But to Zest Air’s credit, They are very cautious when it comes to adhering to the safety measures. They always check every now and then.

Inside ZestAir’s Airbus
Baggage claim area of Manila Domestic Airport
Manila Domestic Terminal

At last I was at home safely. I learned a lot of things with my maiden solo backpacking experience and I am thankful to God that I experienced these on a domestic trip and not with an upcoming international trip because if that same scenario happened outside of the country I don’t think that I could have gotten back home easily. I also learned how to take care of my self on the road more. I mean, no matter how friendly the people are at certain place or country there would still be bad people anywhere in the world as my new found friend Dorthe told me. Gratitude I want to end this entry by saying thanks to Doi of The Travelling Feet without her this trip would not be as memorable as it could be. Also, thanks to Ed  for the encouraging words about writing more. Cebu has captured my heart and will forever hold a special place in it. I shall call it my second home from this point on. Till next time, thank you so much for reading this oh so very long post…… IAN

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ian dela pena

iandelapena, the person behind the blog brownmantrips is a yuppie living in the metropolis who believes there is always something good to see everywhere in the world. This is his depository of travel memories for his not so good and maybe soon to fail memory, thus the travelogues in this blog.