Recently, we headed to the Visayas (Philippines) for a short vacay. Cebu has always been one of our favorite local destination. Its city is as urbanized as Metro Manila but less congested. Our favorite activity in this city is to visit the factory outlets for branded clothes, shoes and bags. The girls love shopping. I go along because we are like a band of bandits – we support the whim of one another. After tiring ourselves hopping from one shop to another, we went to 10,000 Roses Café in Cordova. We missed the sunset and failed to get nice shots so, if you want to check out this beautiful spot, click this link for more information and daylight photos.
The next day we went to Oslob hoping to swim with the whale sharks, locally known as Butanding. I was excited for this activity. Who would not want to have a close encounter with these fascinating sea creature? In the past, the only town to go to for such adventure in this country is Donsol, Sorsogon in Bicol Region which is quite near us. The catch is, you should know how to dive because these mammals are left in their natural environment. Oslob is another matter. I have read concerns of some environmentalists about the Butandings being turned into domesticated sort for the sake of tourism. I did not heed this negative feedback because I do understand the economic reason by the local government. Yet, we were not prepared for the reality of it.
Due to some delay in travelling from the city going there, we arrived in Oslob late (whale shark activity is only up to 11:30AM) in the morning – that means there were already many tourists in the area. It was, perhaps, a blessing in disguise that we saw the throng of people crowding the space of the whale sharks. We do love visiting animal sanctuaries, but…
In Australia, people are allowed to get close to Koalas but there is limit in the number of persons allowed inside the enclosure each time. Only two. I was expecting similar thing in Oslob – and was disappointed. I have no problem if these mammals are domesticated and are used to raise income for the local government. Nonetheless, I do believe that somehow we, humans, should learn how to respect their space as living beings. The crowd we saw against that of two whale sharks spells exploitation to me. Apology for my term. Again, I only wish them to be treated like conscious living things no different from mankind. So, I guess, until we learn how to dive, swimming with Butandings will be removed from my bucketlist for now.
It was a long drive and so as not to waste our effort we decided to drive around the whole loop of Southern Cebu and ended up in Moalboal and later Carcar for the famous lechon (roasted pig) and chicharon (deep-fried pork skin, very healthy, lol).
We stayed one more day in the city then proceeded to Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental. This is another place we love to return to for the flimsiest reason like eating fried ice cream. Yep. Sorry, Manileños, you have your own version of fried ice cream but it is no comparison to Dumaguete’s Panda brand. Our next favorite hang-out in this city is the one and only Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries, the bakeshop café which famous products are, of course, Sans Rival and Silvanas. It is 40 years old by now. There are other available cakes and pastries, obviously, but that two are the “why” we keep coming back. Guess what? We have another delicious reason to want to visit again – boneless belly lechon. Just YUM!
We stayed here in an apartment we rented via Air BnB – the Antonia’s Place. A great home away from home with a great host, Mr. Cresente Ng. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms as well as spacious living and dining areas. Price is reasonable at PhP2650 (approx. US$53). Conveniently located in St. Raymond Street. Well, I guess, I will let the photo here speaks for itself. If you are interested, you can contact Mr. Ng via 09175109710. He is a very accommodating person.
This is our third visit to Dumaguete so, we did not really bother to go to the usual spots like Apo Island, Casaroro Waterfalls, Manjuyod White Sand Bar, dolphin watching in Bais, etc. For more information, click the local government website here or here.
The next day we drove to Bacolod City to meet my brother who was attending a convention. It was a 5-hour drive but well worth it because we were able to revisit our favorite Calea Pastries and Coffee. They have the yummiest cakes and prices are affordable compared to that of many cafes in Manila. And if you ever go there with ample of time, make sure to check the Mambukal Mountain Resort. The family cottage (villa type) which has a large lawn and 2 bedrooms costs PhP4000 (US$80) but it can accommodate several people (last time we were there, we were 5 adults and 5 kids). The living and dining room are quite spacious. There are smaller accommodation for solo or small group travelers. For other details, check out here.
Now, back to Cebu…because that is where we will catch the plane home. But, first, we checked out popular destinations. First stop was Temple of Leah in Busay. The temple was constructed in 2012 by a widower to honor his undying love and devotion for his wife, Leah, who died of cancer. It is inspired by Roman architecture that one can not help but reminisced images of Parthenon. What with its impressive gigantic columns and attention to intricate designs both on the ceilings and floors. It also offers an overlooking panoramic view of the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Cebu.
Next, we visited Terrazas de Flores in Sitio Tigib, Malubog, Cebu City – a one hectare botanical garden that features different species of flowers and plants cultivated and planted in terraces similar to those you will find in Banaue and Sagada Mountain Province.
And last stop was in Sirao Flower Garden dubbed as “Little Amsterdam of Cebu” because it boasted, among other flowering plants, of Celosia blooms in red, yellow, orange, pink and gold that are not common in this country.
The Visayas Islands in the Philippines promise a lot of possibilities. What I showed you here are just few of the options that are available. Remember, we are made of 7,641 islands that it is simply impossible that you will not find one to fall in love with.