Monday, November 24, 2008

Cebu and a Piece of History

One of the biggest metropolis in the Philippines, Cebu is very accessible to local and foreign tourists. It has an international airport, and Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific fly to and from Cebu several times in a day.

Despite being a metropolis, it has maintained “balance”. It is a mixture of the laid back country lifestyle, and a buzzing city life. It has all the amenities of a city – big malls, big hotels, night life, and a whole array of eating places, yet the pace remains "country"-like, which is part of its charm.

I was there on a business trip, and managed to find sometime to explore the place. We stayed at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu hotel and I would say that the level of service that they provide, remains consistently high. The place is very cozy, although a bit far from the center of the city. They have a nice pool, jacuzzi, a cozy lounge and a spacious guest rooms. We likewise hosted a cocktail in the same hotel- and their service was perfect, as always!

On different nights, we tried the different dining places and our favorite, and I would recommend you to try, are Alavars and Golden Cowrie both located along Salinas Road. If you love grills, try AA Barbeque, where the price is very reasonable and the food is really good.

I also recommend you to try the spas in Cebu, not only are they good, but price is a lot less than what it costs in Manila. We tried Royal Spa along Salinas Road, and for PhP350, we got 1 1/2 hours of full body massage and 1 hour of foot spa. What a treat!

We found a bit of time to explore the city after all our meetings and workshops. We visited the Taoist Temple .It is located inside Beverly Hills. Here is where the Taosists (mostly Chinese) go to worship their God. It is a beautiful and serene place to visit. And I'd say, it felt like China in there. :-)

Next place we visited is an old church originally built in the 1500s (but the present structure was built in the 1700s), the Basilica de Sto. Nino. It has this very beautiful , antique, “golden” altar, which houses the different images of saints. It was difficult to take pictures though because it was a Sunday and the church was very crowded. After praying, we went to light some candles outside.

We then went to the kiosk outside the Basilica, which houses the cross that Magellan planted in the 1500s (the place is simply called "Magellan's Cross"). Magellan, who was the first European to come to the Philippines in 1521, made friends with Rajah Humabon, who was then the ruler of Cebu. They became friends and Rajah Humabon and his tribe converted to Catholicism. The cross was planted to symbolize the significance of this event. The original cross is now encased in a tindalo wood to protect it from people who chip it away for souvenirs.While in the kiosk, you would observe a number of old ladies performing rituals, which ranges from lighting joss sticks or candles, to dancing with an image of the Sto. Nino. Vendors tend to crowd the place as they sell all sorts of things to tourist.

Sad to say, the weather did not allow us (as this was the time of typhoon Frank) to explore the different beaches and islands. But I will definitely be back to explore Moalboal, Camotes and the other islands and beaches of Cebu.

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