All Hail Cebu: The Queen City

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Do you know that feeling you get when a place is more than just a destination to you? It’s the little fluttering in your heart as soon as you take your first breath and the warmth you feel with every step you take. That’s what happens to me. You’d think I was talking about a stroll through Central Park in New York or burying my little toes in the white sands of Maldives. No.

I’m talking about my beloved Cebu.

I’ve left footprints in many places and taken countless photos, but going through them all made me realize that the smiles were warmest on my face when I was either hopping on the next bus to the South or just spending a quiet weekend at my grandfather’s place in Oslob.

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Cebu is very dear to me. It’s where I spent almost all the summers of my childhood, and the reason why I was so tan growing up. I’d always be at the beach, swimming and collecting shells during low tide and climbing up trees for some macopa. It’s funny how I learned to ride a bicycle one summer when I never had one because my protective father never allowed it. But in Cebu, all I had to do was knock on someone’s door and borrow a bike. I also have childhood friends who came to be my closest friends in life. Every year, when I come back to Manila in June just in time for school, I remember my dad being so angry because I couldn’t speak Tagalog anymore.

Oslob

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Cebu is a treasure trove of nature’s wonders almost always within a boat ride’s reach. Ever wanted to know what swimming with whale sharks is like? Or find peace and serenity just listening to the crashing of waterfalls as it makes a rainbow in the air? In the early mornings of Tan-awan and in Tumalog, you can have both. To say that the feeling is amazing would not be enough. You don’t always get the chance to be one with nature in such a fashion, and when you do, the feeling can be a bit overwhelming. To get to this piece of paradise, hop on one of those buses that depart every hour from Lapu-Lapu City to Oslob.

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I have actually lost count of the times I swam with the whale sharks in Oslob. I just don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing the view. When I was about five or seven, my grandfather would joke about these gentle giants, that when he was swimming deep in the waters in his young age, he saw one as big as a bus. That’s why I thought it was definitely just a myth. It’s really a feast to see them wandering around the vicinity. I hope someday all of you will be able to share this joy with me. They’re really friendly, I promise.

Tumalog Falls

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I remember the time I first saw Tumalog falls. To say that it was beautiful would not be enough. There was a rainbow covering half of the falls, and all I could ask was, “How come some people question the existence of God?” There I was experiencing right before my very eyes something man couldn’t possibly ever do. And so I fell in love with nature more because it just made my faith in the Lord stronger. I couldn’t stop praising God for how beautiful He created this world for you and me.

Sumilon Island

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Sumilon Island, the birthplace of my childhood memories, was once a virgin island where my family and I spent time together. Once you discover the beauty of sleeping to the ocean waves and the chirping of the birds, no other lullabies come close.

The Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort offers wonderful vacation packages as well as day trips to the island. A trip to Cebu will never be complete without a visit here.

Aguinid Falls

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If you still have the time, or are just really enthusiastic to go on a trek, head on next to Samboan, a town slowly rising in popularity because of Aguinid Falls. It is a family of five waterfalls fed by the Tangbo River.

I’ve always been so excited to trek the falls since my little sister ticked this off her list. Captivated by the photos she took and the stories she told, I knew I had to see it for myself. It was really just fulfilling to be able to reach one level after the other. Each waterfall level has a unique beauty of its own, and there was an inimitable sense of enjoyment for the scenery you see on each level.

Sinulog Festival and Busog

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If you schedule your itinerary to Cebu in January and crave the chance to meet and have fun with many people, you’re going to be in for the most colorful event of your life! It is during this time that Cebuanos, who are faithful Sto. Nińo devotees, celebrate their faith for the young Jesus in the Sinulog festival. I had the chance to witness a portion of the grand parade, which lasted nine to twelve hours. I found myself bouncing along to the captivating rhythm of the drums, trumpets, and native gongs while participants from different parts of the Philippines danced in their bright costumes and livened up the streets and the day of the tourists.

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Sinulog has given me crazy memories. From dancing in the streets to having painted faces and clothes. I’ve made some really good friends along the way. It was definitely one for the books.

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Lastly, no one can leave Cebu without a full stomach. I mean, Cebu’s lechon is famous nationwide for a reason. I particularly love my grandpa’s homemade lechon he himself roasts in the backyard. Since my grandpa isn’t always available, you can always go for Zubuchon Lechon in Escario or Rico’s Spicy Lechon in Cabahug. Also, if you haven’t been to Larsian in the Capitol Site, I highly suggest you make it a part of your itinerary. It’s a 24-hour barbecue place–no other reasons are needed. If you’re looking for something more than that, visit STK TA Bai. It’s my go-to restaurant in the city.

But why stop there at all? Bohol, Dumaguete, and other parts of Visayas are waiting to be discovered via RoRo at the Liloan Port in Samboan. Hop on the next boat to bring you across to the other islands. Think of it as finding the key to the doors of other equally wonderful places you should be marveling in.

Why do I love Cebu?

What is not to love?

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AIRA MEDINA is an adventure seeker and a traveler by heart; ½ of Neon Island, a Filipino clothing brand that uses hand-drawn prints and supports local communities; and a young entrepreneur who manages the family business when she’s not hopping from one place to another. She goes where her feet take her tagging her camera along so she can share a piece of her adventure.

This article was originally published in EXPLORE Philippines Magazine October – November 2015 Issue.

Have you been to a destination worth featuring lately? Email your story and high resolution photos with subject: “Submissions” to editorial@stark-publishing.com for a chance to get published on livetoexplore.projectdemosite.com or Explore Philippines Magazine. 

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