Remembering Davao as the summer began

It may be a tough start for us but it surely was the most memorable adventure we had to date. And what made it more exciting was the fact that even if my friends went to Davao for the first time, still we chose to begin our first day with a ‘risk-on-risk’ activity – the ‘white-water rafting’ at the Davao River. From the Davao International Airport, we went straight to the Davao Crocodile Park where the Davao Wildwater Adventure is stationed. After gathering our gears, collecting our lunch on the road, and undergoing orientation of the safety measures, we then just allowed Davao River change the rest of our lives.

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After having the chance of finally seeing the albino python, the tamaraw, and the Philippine Eagle, we filled ourselves with the most ‘exotic’ food we could find that day. We ate crocodile and ostrich burgers. And it didn’t end there! We also tried the ostrich vanilla icecream and the crocodile pandan icecream. And it does taste and feel unique on the palate (you really have to taste it yourself!).

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And we capped our first day in Davao City with a jaw-dropping fire dance by the Tribu K’Mindanawan, also at the Davao Crocodile Park. They perfected each stunt with their choice of element, solution, and material. Both the locals and foreigners alike were just amazed of this wonderful spectacle.

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With a short ferry ride to Samal Island, we basked ourselves with lots of photo shoots and poses. We went to see the Montfort Bat Sanctuary, the Hagimit Falls, and finally, experienced the nerve-racking 40 meter water slide and do ‘cliff-diving’ at Maxima Aqua Fun. With it, make it hundred times the photo shoots and poses as well.

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An evening dinner in Davao wouldn’t be called as such without visiting Jack’s Ridge. And true to what my friends would say, the place haven’t lost its charm. It’s already my second time visiting the place, but the experience is as breathtaking and memorable as my first time. We didn’t miss listening to the classics of the 80s during dinner and concluding it with durian cheesecake and durian coffee for dessert.

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It was rather hard for us to leave Davao as we traversed through breakfast of chicken ‘inasal’ and grilled tuna ‘panga’ at Luz Kinilaw Place, specimens of D’Bone Collector Museum, historical and cultural artifacts of Museo Dabawenyo, Shrine of the Infant Jesus, Aldevinco’s souvenir shops, and sweets of Lola Abon and Apo ni Lola (and I love the latter), and the discipline and pride displayed by the People’s Park. Truly, Davao City is an icon in itself – a place you wouldn’t mind going back to over and over again.

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23 Photo Picks of 2013

Photos that I’ve taken that left a memorable moment of my 2013.  Some marked ‘first-times’, adventure, love, and even social relevance.

Photo pick #1: Good morning, sun, road, and dear! (March 2013) – on my way to work, I decided to take a photo of one of the blossoms that I managed to preserve from my first Valentine’s day bouquet from my dear.

3rd monthsary greeting

Photo pick #2: Summer is for everyone! (March 2013) – lying by the beach of Bantayan Island, Cebu wishing time would just stop even for a little while. Everything so clear, blue, warm, and summer!

Basking under the sky

Photo pick #3:  Highschool is a lifetime (April 2013) – even as the host, me and my highschool friends ‘crashed’ a party with cakes, chips, pasta, and lots of drinks and singing!

Together

Photo pick #4: Ready, set, hit! (April 2013) – covered my grandson’s birthday at the time. There is so much joy when you watch kids play.  No doubts, no setbacks, just YOLO (you only live once) moments. Here they are about to play “Basagang Palayok”. Funny how I realized that the kid in front still smiled even with a blindfold on.

Basagang Palayok

Photo pick  #5: Tourist (May 2015) – While walking around the shores of Boracay Island, I noticed the lady tourist with a local helping her to take her photos. She got the apparel, the looks, and the background. Solo traveling for her seemed ideal.

Tourist

Photo pick #6:  Fire dance (May 2015) Now a typical evening tourist attraction in Boracay island. Just imagine how fast these youngsters turn the fireball chains. It’s risky but that’s what made it a hit.

Fire dance

Photo pick #7:  The local (May 2015) – Behind the night lights, buffets, souvenir shops, white sand, and fire dances in Boracay, there are the locals who have the meager means to make a living. The man has amputated legs, while the child appears to have inherited the same impoverished state as his parents.They both ask alms especially in the evenings, garnering sympathy and apathy among tourists and locals at the same time.

The actual attraction

Photo pick #8: Goods (March 2013) – My Tabo-an Market experience in Cebu City.  It was not as crowded as it used to be that time. Almost all types of driend seafood products can be found here.  Smelling something fishy means something sumptuous.  And yes, the danggit is my favorite! But take note, if you are looking for affordable souvenirs, this is the best (and really bargain-best) place to be. I was able to find quality and affordable chicharon Carcar and dried mangoes IN BULK.

Market

Photo pick #9: Bride and Bloom (June 2013) – A momentous wedding event of a friend I managed to cover. Of course, shooting moments with the bride is my favorite.

Bride and Bloom

Photo pick #10: Jogyesa Temple (February 2013) – This is my first time to enter a Buddhist temple and what more, it was during my tour in Seoul, South Korea with my family.

Spiritual

Photo pick #11: Seoul eats (February 2013) My family and I fought the winter cold with tteokbokki and soondae and good old fish stock.

The real food

Photo pick #12:  Korean food hangover (March 2013) Just weeks after our Korean trip, my brother and I headed to Don-Day Korean Restaurant in Maginhawa St., Teacher’s Village in Quezon City (the other one is in Timog) for a samgyupsal (grilled pork) fix.

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Photo pick #13: Dinners and conversations (March 2013)  It really feels great when you manage to catch-up with your friends you haven’t seen for quite a while.  My friend here treated me for a Japanese food dinner.

dinner with friends

Photo pick #14: Best buds (December 2013) I like to share how my best buds (featured here is Bambi, an Aspin) make me come home everyday, smiling. Unlike you, for them, you are their world.

Loyal friends

Photo pick #15: First finisher’s medal (February 2013) This will forever remind me that to do the impossible is also starting small. And from then on, running changed my life forever.  I began running for 10K’s and vied for a 15K where thankfully, I managed to get my first medal.  Whenever I look at this, I just can remember the struggles I had with my legs and feet and how God guided and protected me in every step of the way. Just thankful!

1st finisher's medal

Photo pick #16: 27 years (December 2013). Our family celebrated my parent’s 27th wedding anniversary.

27 years

Photo pick #17: Best tourist attraction (July 2013) That moment when your tour guide just told you jump and you just followed. That moment, however felt crazy, just felt great.  Me, my friends, and my dear, made goofy expressions as we stole Mt. Mayon’s moment in the background.

Jump

Photo pic #18: Kaedee smiling (December 2013) This sweet child just made everyone smile when she joined our office Christmas party.

Kaedee smiling

Photo pick #19: In the moment, in style (December 2013).  This is just me and my office friends tag along the Winter Sonata Christmas theme. It’s just a beautiful sight when we see each other pouring those efforts in and making the most out of it.

Winter Sonata Christmas party

Photo pick #20: The arrival of the Nifty Fifty (November 2013). And my dream of capturing those moments full of color, expression, and story came to life when I was able to buy my dainty 50mm prime lens.  Just loved playing with it.

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Photo pick #21: Romance captured (December 2013). Think of my lens still open, and my eyes roaming around the crowd. There, captured!

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Photo pick #22: Siblings (November 2013). Left alone with our parents on official travel, my brother and I celebrated his birthday over his favorite pizza, fried chicken, and cookies and cream icecream. And thank you, tripod!

Siblings

Photo picks #23: Maayo (July 2013) My favorite shot as it was my first travel with Dear and my first time to see the beauty of the famous Mt. Mayon. Truly, maayo!

The couple

Just like a debut of memories, the 23 photo picks marked new beginnings and realizations in life.  With that, I am more eager to experience 2014 as it continues to unravel another set of memories.

Food feature: Lemon cucumber shake with ginger foam

With the benefits of lemon turning drinks into alkaline concoctions which is very beneficial to the body becoming quite a buzz among health enthusiasts, I turned my health drink up a notch with a hint of ginger. For another, my family  have strongly considered stocking up on lemons or its more economical counterpart, on calamansi, as well.  It was explained by many dieticians that increasing alkaline consumption aids metabolism; boosts the immune system; helps fight hunger cravings (definitely a plus right now); and flushes out toxins.   So, I thought of combining this with the healing benefits of ginger which is a key to colon cancer prevention and inhibits fatty deposits from the arteries.  No wonder, too, that ginger is being processed into various forms for ease of use and being used in appetizers, to main dishes, to drinks, and even to desserts.

A known ginger product is the salabat or ginger tea.  It is one of the widely used herb tea in the Philippines.  Known for healing sore throat or stomach ache, salabat has been more accessible to Filipinos especially that ready-to-mix powder have been introduced in the market as well.  Hence, no need to crush and boil ginger or look for other herbs to blend with it.  For most people however, ginger is usually used in warm dishes or drinks (well, a gingerbread is quite an exception).

Matching my desire to manage my cravings and putting-up better food options, I was able to come-up with this drink which was a hit especially to my parents (and surprisingly, even to my office mates) .  None of us actually thought that ginger can blend well with citrus fruits, let alone with milk, and can end up as a refreshing cool drink.  From a dinner brew, the shake was extended to a next-day afternoon refreshment.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 piece lemon (squeezed)
  • 1 piece cucumber (sliced for the food processor)
  • 1 cup of fresh milk or 3 tbsp of milk powder for the shake; 2 tsp of milk powder for the ginger foam
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 800 ml of water for the shake; 1 cup of water for the ginger foam
  • 3 tsp of salabat or ginger tea powder for the shake; 1/2 tsp for the ginger foam

What to do:

(drink)

  1. Slice the cucumber; blend all ingredients in a blender/food processor; and
  2. Pour into glass/cup.

(ginger foam)

  1. Using the food processor, whip in the milk, water, and salabat until the mixture becomes a foam;
  2. Scoop it to the drink; and
  3. Sprinkle with salabat powder and brown sugar.

Tip:

If you want to choose an actual ginger, try using a small amount at first.  Grate the ginger into the food processor before blending all of the ingredients.

See how ginger can be blended in cold drinks as well.  Let me know what you think.

Food feature: Ensalada in ‘Bagoong Padas’ and Calamansi

I’ve been in love with vegetables especially the ones found in the Philippines ever since I could hardly remember.  Probably because of my Ilocano roots.  To think of it, I’m a quarter Ilocano (from Naguilian, La Union), a quarter Tagalog (hailing from the alleys of Tondo, Manila), an eighth of being Pangasinense (because my grandmother is from Urbiztondo, Pangasinan), and the rest of being matakaw (“gluttonous” in Filipino – this explains it).

And I just have to give-in with homemade and guilt-free dishes.  Besides, cooking with vegetables are very economical while there are various ways to cook it (for vegetarians and for those undergoing naturopathy, they would even prefer eating vegetables raw).

What is appetizing about this dish, especially for Ilocanos, is the use of ‘bagoong padas’ – fish sauce made by fermenting fish with salt.  The ‘padas’ fish (comparable to anchovies) found in the sauce provides texture and stronger saltiness in the whole blend – a twist most of us look forward to in every dip.  This fish sauce is frequently paired with tomatoes, calamansi, as well as grilled fish.  The sauce is the ultimate counterpart of soy sauce in Chinese cooking.  The Ilocano pantry cannot go empty of ‘bagoong’ or ‘bagoong padas’.

Ingredients:

(for blanching)

  • eggplant
  • okra
  • stringbeans
  • kangkong (any variety)

(for ensalada sauce)

  • tomatoes
  • shallots
  • calamansi
  • ‘bagoong padas’

Note: Any locally found vegetables would do. Options like ar-arosep (or fresh seaweeds), malunggay, or even sweet potatoes can be used for this dish.

What to do:

  1. Clean and slice vegetables.
  2. Blanch the vegetables separately or according to density such as kangkong cooks faster than okra and eggplants.
  3. On the side, slice tomatoes and dice the shallots.
  4. While the vegetables cook, prepare the ensalada sauce. Mix in the tomatoes and shallots in a large bowl. Add a tbsp of ‘bagoong padas’ (more or less according to the amount of vegetables to flavor). Squeeze at least 2 calamansi with this amount of ‘bagoong padas’.
  5. Toss in the blanched vegetables into the sauce.

Tip:

  • Only toss in the vegetables if you are ready to eat them.  Dishes with tomatoes and shallots need to be consumed immediately, else the rest will spoil instantly.
  • Try sprinkling it with unsalted peanuts for a more filling and earthy taste.  Best enjoyed with grilled fish or just with warm rice.

See how mouthwatering yet inexpensive dishes can be? Try this now and let me know what you think.

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The “uragon” trail

“Uragon” (sometimes spelled as “oragon”), is a Bikolano slang for someone who is feisty, determined, principled, fighter, unafraid of consequences, and one who stands up for his principles.  No wonder other ethno-linguistic groups like the Tagalog would look them up as brave and determined yet warm and graceful like the Mayon Volcano, their most-sought ‘Bicol Express’. and their thirst for waves and adventure as exemplified in their world-renowned CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC).

I really have proven that it’s always the journey and not the destination.  So even if I already went to the same place twice, I definitely had a brand new experience. This is my travelogue as my friends, my boyfriend, and myself traversed Naga and Legazpi in three (3) days.

In this visit in the region, we gave ourselves a little push, to have a taste of the “uragon” blade.  Kami na ang matapang!

Day 1 – Naga: Bigg’s Diner, Church Heritage tour, and Wakeboarding at CWC

A flight through PAL Express (formerly known as Airphil Express) seat sales, however delayed, did not keep us from enjoying the NAIA terminal.  Thanks to my travel buddies namely Feo, Myc, and Karl, I experienced for the first time to really shoot at the terminal.  Talking about maximizing the use of the Php 200.00 terminal fee!  And so, we are off to Naga for a jumpstart.

At the terminal

We chose CBD Plaza Hotel.  They have good facilities for a budget hotel – from economy room to suites.  For a good price of Php 2,400, we get to have airport transfers, request for early check-in and late check-out, and daily breakfast.  They have clean rooms, toiletries, slippers, and located right beside SM Naga, Naga City Terminal, and food and convenient stores.  It is also some 20 minutes away from the CWC (commuting would never be a problem as well).

Speaking of commuting, the best way to roam the City is the traysikad (known as tricycle in the metro).  for Php 8, you get to go to your destination.

Traysikad around Naga

After check-in and packing our stuff for wakeboarding later that day, we are off for lunch at the Bigg’s Diner – known as the biggest foodchain in the Region. Inspired by the 50s, you can just see vinyl records, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, the Radio Flyer, and black and white tiles, among others, adorning the place.  Enjoy it with their Extreme Cheeseburger and fries, you’ll be back for another for sure.  The Diner is located at Centro Naga.

50s at Bigg's Diner

Full for the rest of the day, we began our Church Heritage Tour.  Just across the Diner, we walked passed the Plaza Quince Martires.  May I say that their plaza is really clean (so is the rest of the City).  We then arrived at the San Francisco Church.As a practice, I would wish and pray as I enter the Church and knock on the wooden doors as I leave.

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Even walking was an option, we rode to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral.  Also there to amaze us the Porta Mariae – a triumphant arch inaugurated in 2009 to commemorate the devotion of the people of Naga to the Lady of Peñafrancia.

The Cathedral

Porta Mariae

The arch (Porta Mariae)

Then we had the chance to witness a wedding and be amazed by the size of the Basilica Minore de Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, home of the blessed image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.  The best place to cap our Church Heritage tour.

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Naga wouldn’t be more famous, if it’s not for the CWC.  We are fortunate enough to really learn how to wakeboard.  It is definitely safe and enjoyable for beginners.  Not only you get to wear safety gears, but also to get proper guidance from local instructors.  Lucky for us, it was a Sunday and we were just few. So instead of a 2-hour wakeboard, we get to have an hour and a half more to enjoy to place.

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And we dared ourselves not only to try the CWC Restaurant classic pizza but it’s Bicolano Pizza (laing pizza) as well.  And may I say, it was really hot but definitely delicious!

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Too tired to do extra stuff after arriving at the hotel at 9:30 PM.  We were set for another adventure the next day – Legazpi, Albay.

Day 2: Legazpi City day tour

We took the better option to ride a UV Express van for Php 140 for a 2-hour trip to Legazpi.  Oh my, instead of leaving at 6:00 AM, we left at almost 10:00 AM. We fell in-love way too much with our beds.  And did I mention, us girls are already feeling our muscles ache because of the wakeboarding?

Arrived in Legazpi and our first stop for our itinerary is lunch.  So expected!  The moment we mentioned sili icecream to our trusted tour guide (Legazpi City can be toured through commute, but it’ll definitely be more comfortable if you hire a van.  Fortunately, Mr. Diego Montessor, Jr. of Easy Travel, proved it easy for us.), immediately dropped us at 1st Colonial Grill.  It offers all types of Bikolano dishes.  Featured here of-course is the most-sought sili icecream, pili icecream, tinutungang ice cream (roasted rice grains that added much flavor and aroma), and malunggay icecream.  I left the main the dishes for your imagination.  These desserts were definitely the best sellers.

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For our tour, we went to Daraga Church.  And by the time that we went there, we also did not miss the opportunity to mesmerize ourselves with Mt. Mayon as well.  This centuries old church was built by the Franciscan missionaries in 1773 in honor of the patron saint of Nuestra Senora dela Porteria.

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Next stop is the Cagsaua (commonly spelled as Cagsawa) ruins,  which was also built by the Franciscan missionaries in 1700s.  It displays the famous bell tower which completes the view of Mayon in history books.  A tour guide (who also acts as the photographer of the group) would tell us the story of the place and show us different creative shots.  Tourists also have the option to try the ATV lava bed adventure tour with Php 599 (per hour, I think) as minimum cost.  There are a lot of souvenir shops stationed there as well.  We bought bell tower carvings made of granite at Php 150 – certified hand-made at a good price.

The Church of Cagsaua (commonly referred to as the Cagsawa Ruins)

creative shots

Mini bell towers (and knife sharpeners hehe)

Legazpi would not be complete without the Lignon Hill.  This place is a famous viewing deck for Mt. Mayon and the rest of the city.  Further, it is a home of various adventure activities like zipline, rappelling, and hanging bridge cross.  For our group we tried the zipline (a beginner feat) and hanging bridge and was aiming for the Japanese Tunnel afterwards (though, we didn’t have the chance to go inside the Japanese Tunnel as it was already closed by the time that we got there).  When done in groups, you’ll definitely feel adrenaline rush from your toes to your temple. You can request the staffs to take your pictures by the way.  They can print copies and save it on a CD as souvenirs.

The viewing deck and the zip lines

Hanging on at the hanging bridge

Japanese tunnel

Lignon Hill

Capping our tour is a cool evening walk at Legazpi Boulevard and Embarcadero.  I remember very well those cool and clean sea breeze blowing towards us as we stroll and take pictures of the boulevard.  We even had the chance to stand at the breakwater. This is also a place for joggers and triathletes alike.

Posing at the Boulevard

After the tour, we were dropped off at the Legazpi Central Terminal to catch the last trip back to Naga City.  We only had a quick dinner at Savemore before we hopped on the van.

Back at our hotel again at 9:30 PM, but this time craving for an evening snack, we feasted on some chicken and I-can’t-remember-what-else.

Feasting at CBD Plaza Hotel


Day 3
– Church Heritage tour continues, photowalks, Geewan, and souvenir shopping

We initially planned to Malabsay Falls that day.  But since I cannot really tell how far it is from our hotel and we were definitely tired with all our adventure during the past two (2) days, we resorted to continuing our Church Heritage tour, do souvenir shopping, and have lunch at Geewan.

Visiting the Penafrancia Church

I didn’t miss lighting a candle and saying a prayer for INA (as the people of Naga also called Our Lady of Peñafrancia).  I also noticed the statue of Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias who promoted the devotion to INA.

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We also had the chance to check the Museum of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.  We have witnessed how the devotion began and continued up to this day.  Much can be learned from this Museum.  Every diorama, aureola (twelve stars), crown, and “manto” (cloak), tells a story.  It is definitely a must-see for tourists and lay persons alike.  We are even blessed enough to step on the actual float being used for the annual fluvial parade (held during September).

The Museum

For Bikolano goods, we went back to Centro Naga.  For pili nuts and other goods, RPM must be the choice.  We discovered Tribu Bikolano shirts for quality souvenirs as well.

RPM and Bikolano shirts

Also, we did not miss shooting at the Plaza Rizal before heading for lunch.

Plaza Rizal

Then to cap it all, we had our hearty lunch at Geewan.  Bikolano dish, known or not to others, will be seen here.  From left, we had pinangat (porked wrapped in gabi leaves and cooked in coconut milk), kandingan (Bikolano bopis), and tinutungan (fish cooked in vinegar, malunggay, and coconut milk).  After lunch, we headed back to the hotel, in time for our travel to the airport for our flight to Manila.

Geewan

This travel was definitely a memorable one especially to our muscles, taste buds, and hearts (but, of course). All credits to my friends and my Dear.

My travel buddies and my Dear

Reflection on “Alms”

As I was doing an evening photowalk in one of the most famous tropical destinations in the Philippines, I can’t just disregard the fact that poverty and vulnerability is present in the area.

There I saw a man, less his limbs and probably his dreams; worse, a child less his childhood.  Having and sharing this picture may emanate mixed reactions.  But one thing would be definite among these, there is something wrong and it is disturbing.

Shots taken last May 2013 – a summer in Boracay.

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Full gallery at projectsbyjennifer.wordpress.com.

Cebu at a pace for two

It has been a while since I got to travel on a vacation and get some good shots.  And it is my first time to travel in a very small group.  By means of small, we are only two.  It started in one of those “seat-sale” moments that sold at Php 0.99 per way in all domestic destinations.   It was actually quite a long shot because the promo was about to close when my friend saw it.  And since we were the only ones that can be contacted easily that time, the plan of a random vacation was left to us. I was in-charge of the booking and my friend was for hotel reservations and itinerary.  With 6 months to prepare, we did not worry that much.

Then 2 weeks to our travel, we almost did worry, but since we set our minds that this will be in a budget and at a slow pace, we did not mind preparing too much.  It’s just like planning a sleep-over in one of my barkada‘s place (I haven’t done this yet, I think).  What we had was a 3-day-2-night vacation in Cebu.  The general plan is to get tanned on a beach and do a Cebu City tour plus hoard for pasalubong and  give thanks to Sto. Nino de Cebu.  So we need to fit all these on a budget (I gave myself a Php 4,000 allowance less the roundtrip ticket cost of Php 900) and in not more than 72 hours. So here’s our version of Cebu at a pace for two.

Day 1

Fortunately, our travel began smoothly: the plane leaving on-time at 9:10 AM for Mactan International Airport.  Keep in mind that traveling to Bantayan Island will be long. So from the Airport, we immediately headed to Cebu North Bus Terminal.  For a backpacker’s tip, take taxis at the departure area and not those parked at the arrival area.  They have different price range similar to white taxis and airport taxis back in Metro Manila. We took the one with a flag-down rate of Php 40.00 compared to the one that has a Php 75.00 flag-down rate. We spent a good Php 120.00 for the taxi.  Buses (aircon and non-aircon) to Hagnaya port leaves at 30min to 1 hr interval.  We chose to take the aircon bus for Php 270.00 for a 3.5 hour travel.  Luckily, by the time that we get there, the bus still has a good amount of space while we still had the time to eat our packed lunch. By the time that our bus is about to leave, we have eaten our lunch and are ready for a site-seeing and eventually, a good long afternoon nap. And I must say, travelling with a full stomach is the best decision we had which jumpstarted a great adventure for both of us and helped us overlook some difficulties. It was roughly a 4-hour travel to Hagnaya. Then from Hagnaya port, we took the 3:00 PM ferry to Sta. Fe port in Bantayan Island. The ferry costs Php 150.00. That was another hour travel.

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We have reached the Beach Placid Hotel which my friend reserved for us roughly three (3) weeks before we set for Cebu. For Php 1,800.00 (which requires 20% reservation through bank deposit or credit card), we get to stay at a beach front room for two (2); land transfers to-and-fro the port; and basic amenities.

For our night at the Island, we rented a bicycle (Php 30.00 per hour) which we used in roaming around the market and food center and buy our dinner. Inihaw (barbeque) and much of the Filipino cuisine as well as Italian and Persian cuisine can be found.  But since both of us are girls and obviously not from the area, we just contented ourselves to be mindful of our whereabouts as the time moves further into the night. We then only had to take-out home-cooked meals and just eat them back in our hotel (actually, as we listen to the waves and feel the sea breeze that evening).

Day 2
We spent our morning in cycling around the island especially near the market and spent shooting photos at almost anything.  It’s great to roam around and just beam on the locals’ ‘hellos’ after enjoying sauteed shrimp in chilli sauce for breakfast.  And I remember that my friend just loved the breakfast we had.  We also had the chance to visit the Church of Santa Fe.  After which, we just had ourselves tanned until noon by altering taking a nap by the beach, swimming, and doing jump shots.  We had the long beautiful shores of the Island almost all to ourselves.  We then had our lunch just in time for check-out.

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And since we were planning to leave by 3:00 PM, we chose to go to the central market where  Cebu’s most sought dried seafood delicacies are its freshest and cheapest.  We traveled by tricycle at Ph 25.00 per way. To be honest our travel took longer than our shopping time.  But it offered what it promised.  We got danggit at least Php 200.00 cheaper compared to what you can buy in Cebu City. For those who plan to stay longer in the Island, they can do island hopping and have lunch at Virgin Island with freshly-cooked seafood and just finish the tour in the afternoon at Php 2,000.00 for 6 to 10 pax.

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By the time that we took the 4:00 PM ferry to Hagnaya Port, our travel took long enough to catch the last bus to Cebu City.  It was a long 3-hour trip back, enough for us to sleep. After dropping off at the Cebu North Terminal, we immediately headed for SM Cebu which is also a public transportation hub to various places in the City.  Also, it is a good place to look for dinner for hungry backpackers at almost dead of night.  We satisfied ourselves with La Paz Batchoy then took a jeep to our hotel. We were able to check-in at the hotel at almost 10:00 PM.  Check for Sugbutel which is perfect for budget travelers. They have male and female dorm-type rooms as well as offers single executive, double, and family rooms. For only Php 1,200.00, we were able to stay to a standard twin room, complete with clean linens, toiletries, 2 single beds, and cable T.V, plus free use of the baggage deposit area.  Though it does not include free breakfast, there is a canteen located inside the building where we brought our meals.  If  you have packed food, you can eat it there as well.

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Day 3

Such a long day it would be for us so we chose to check out first before we roam the City.  Good thing, we can still deposit our luggage and the sites are very accessible through jeepney.  We did not worry much of time since we are just an hour away from the airport and we will be taking the evening flight. Remember, no need to spend so much in transportation by taking a taxi or renting a van.  Not only are Cebuanos are very accommodating in your query (including the drivers) on the street but the jeepney transportation system are very easy to understand.  Not only destination sites are placed on their windshields but alpha-numeric codes were written on the top of jeepneys so from afar, one will immediately know where it will go.  Take note that different points in Cebu have different codes.  I promise that these are easy to learn.

Since it was  a Sunday, we prioritized hearing mass and taking the tour at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño which houses Señor Sto. Niño where millions of devotees would celebrate and give thanks especially during January.  Devotees and spectators alike would assemble on the streets and watch the streetdance competition at the amphitheater. However, since we were in awe with the devotion of the Cebuanos (we even queued to personally touch the image) and the size of the the Basilica that we forgot to drop by the Magellan’s Cross and Lapu-Lapu shrine which was also in the same area.

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We headed then to the famous Tabuan market. My friend just received requests to buy additional danggit while both of us hunted for dried mangoes, otap, and chicharong carcar.  Shamrock otap are easy to find as they are retailed in all souvenir stores even outside the market (though nothing beats the Php 10-50.00 difference when you buy directly to the Shamrock shop so we really did).  We then had our lunch to another ihawan stop (and drinks and pulutan at night) which was the Larsian.  Almost every type of meat can be found for barbecue.  Combine it with bulalo, papaitan, or sinigang (all famous Filipino soup dishes) and puso (rice cooked in weaved banana leaves), you’ll surely bloat full.

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We only missed the Skywalk at the Crowne Plaza by half because my friend is not exactly fond of heights.  Instead we took a break at Starbucks and checked the featured rides and tourist centers at the 32nd floor.  Their activities do seem thrilling.  For a price of Php 700-800 per pax, you get to do the Skywalk among other activities.

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For our final rounds in Cebu, we bought a couple of kilos of “cholesteroliffic” Cebu lechon at CnT lechon.  This is only one of the many known lechon stores that made the City even more culinary famous.  And I do remember how it was consumed so quickly by the time I came home.

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And looking back to what happened, given this much detail, I really say I did enjoy Cebu at a pace and I’m sure, my tired feet and my full tummy will definitely agree as well.

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