Archive for March, 2010
Cebu was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan who, having sailed into the harbor of Mactan, was slain by Lapu-Lapu, the cheiftain of Mactanisland. Years later, the Spanish conquistadors returned and established it as the seat of Christianity in the Philippines. What once was a fishing village and busy trading port in 1521 has evolved into a highly urbanized metropolitan center which now serves as a focal point of growth and development in southern Philippines. Up until today, Cebu is still referred to as the “Queen City of the SOuth.”
Three million people reside in the province of Cebu. The main language is Cebuano, although a fairly good number of locals can speak conversational English as well as Filipino. Cebuanos can be quite friendly and hospitable, but most are known to be very economical in their spending.
The weather in Cebu is best from December to May, when it isn’t wet or too hot. The coolest period is from December to February, the hottest from March until May.
How to Get There
Cebu is 365 miles south of Manila. To get there, one can either take the plane or boat. Local airlines fly there several times daily. Traveling by air takes one hour. Taking the boat is takes one hour. Taking the boat is generally less expensive, but the trip takes about 20 hours aboard a local cruise liner or slowboat. The popular domestic airlines are Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. International airlines also fly to and from the Mactan International Airport. Supperferry and Sulpicio Lines are the bigger slowboats that sail to Cebu almost everyday. Arrival is at the port of Cebu in the North Reclamation Area of the city. For trips outside Cebu. fastcafts are available for journeys to neighboring islands and provinces.
Magellan’s Cross – is Cebu’s most popular tourist destination. Being the cradle of Christianity in the country, the kiosk behind the Sto. Niño Basilica in downtown Cebu enshrines the famed cross that made believers of the Filipinos. It is a historical landmark that serves as a reminder of the power and pervasiveness of the Catholic Church in the Philippines.
Still in downtown Cebu is Fort San Pedro, another historical landmark that showcases Spanish memorabilia left over from the Spanish colonial perion. It was once a bulwark of Spain’s power in Cebu. Today it serves as a vestige of past colonial command. Because the Spaniards were the most enduring colonizers in Philippine history, it is their influence that is most apparent in society.
Casa Gorordo – is a testament to Spanish cultural influence, being a museum of artifacts of old that have carried over into centuries of use and adoption. This house-turned-museum gives a glimpse of life during heavy Spanish influence. People are quickly realizing that Cebu’s best beaches are actually three hours away from Cebu City and are found in Bantayan and Malapascua islands. Both beachfronts still carry a virgin quality that appeals to many travelers, and so in recent years they have ironically been subjected to progress and development. Located north of Cebu, these neighboring paradise getaways have but a few resorts just yet, which nonetheless attract a bevy of beachcombers and vacationers.
The measure of cosmopolitan capitalism should be Starbucks, something Cebu acquired in recent years to ride the wave of booming commercialism. Its first branch just opened outside of the Ayala Entertainment Center. Annexed to the Ayala Mall, the Entertaiment Center is an area full of bars, restaurants and other late night joints where the partying begins as soon as dinner ends.
Crossroads in Banilad offers the same mix dinner and dancing, but with a different flavor. The bars there carry a steadier groove, and the coffee shops are more appealing to the younger crowd because of the social leverage they serve, rather than the coffee.
The Village – in Lahug has a courtyard in the middle of a block surrounded by bars, restaurants and coffee shops. Bands perform regularly in the courtyard, while other establishments attract customers with breezy outdoor set-ups. The latest to join in the Cebu nightlife directory is the Banilad Town Center, a commercial complex that includes a gym and boutiques in its lineup of bars and restaurants.
One of the better options Cebu’s nightlife offers is the backdrop of a breathtaking nightscape amidst a round of drinks. Drinking stops, hangouts and lookout points dot the elevated setting of Busay Hills, making it a great place to chill and catch the breeze under a brilliant nighsky while appreciating the expanse of Cebu’s horizon.
Not all of Cebu’s nightime joints are congregated together, in fact some of the better ones are in a place all their own somewhere in the heart of the city. Most of them can be spotted alongside city streets-just look for bright lights and a crowd.
Filipinos have a penchant for enormous shopping malls, and Cebu certainly isn’t exempt from this surfeit of merchandising madness. SM City is one of the many gigantic shopping malls of the SM line in the country. Ayala Center is another representation of yet another of the Philippines’ mall magnate’s metropolitan fixtures. More known for its department stores are the Gaisano branches, with its Metro Ayala branch being the most popular and convenient source of inexpensive and imported goods.
Shopping for local products and delicacies will take the earniest traveler to the unglamorous marketplaces of Cebu. Carbon market is located in downtown Cebu, and it consists of a number of streets that are packed with street vendors hawking everything from used clothes to vegetables. It’s cheap place to buy the famed Cebu mangoes and the well-reputed Cebu guitar. Tabu-an is a separate area that sells anything and everything dried under the sun. Dried salted fish, popularly known as dangit, is cheapest in Tabu-an market.
Cebu is renowned for its exceptional dive spots. Many hotel guests of Mactan resorts dive in and around the area, particularly in the nearby marine sanctuary of Gilutungan and Nalusuan. A few hours away from the city, there is Moalboal Reef -famous for its colorful coral reefs and cave diving. To the north of Cebu is Malapascua Island, a favorite among more adventurous divers because of the roaming thresher sharks.
Since Cebu is an island, there are all sorts of water sports and activities offered in the different beaches and resorts. One can go kayaking, water-skiing, parasailing, banana-boating, snorkeling or just plain swimming in the beach. The seabreeze around Mactan makes winsurfing a popular sport among tourists.
Smaller islands surround the main island of Cebu, and some of them are definitely worth visiting. Taking a banca (outrigger) from Mactan island is ideal as it makes visiting the neighboring islands accessible and easy. Sandbars, rock islands, mangroves and other marine treasures can be seen while riding the waves along the coastline. Island hopping is particularly fun with food and drinks inside the boat, and one has the luxury of swimming wherever and whenever the water is clear and enticing.
Hiking, rappeling spelunking and all those adventurous activities can be arranged with the right contacts. The hotel concierge should be able to help out in arranging for a licensed or freelance guide to show off Cebu’s rich natural wonders. The south of Cebu has caves, mountains, springs and waterfalls that are exciting to explore and discover.
The island of Camiguin is said to be “born of fire,” pertaining to the seven volcanos located on this 238 sq. km. patch of land sits across the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro. In 1953, Mt. Hibok-Hin=bok erupted violently enough to spew bith lava and land that later cooled down to form an extended part of the province. A circumferential raod now runs through the entire land, embracing the parts that created the “underwater cemetery” and forming underwater canyons now inhabited by a wealth of marine life.
Camiguin is an island where nature runs aplenty. It boasts an impressive list of tourist attractions and activities, and it is an inviting escape for a nature lover who can escape for a nature lover who can trek to waterfalls, bike to springs (hot and cold), lounge on a sand bar, dive, climb, and just breathe in the fresh mountain air.
The entire island is inhabited by about 80,000 people, and it takes just one and a half hours to go around the island on a well-paved road that takes you from architectural relics rife with history to lush clearings facing the open sea. Small and developed just enough to be comfortable, Camiguin could very well be the perfect island to travel to for a few days of adventure and exploration.
How to Get There
Camiguin is accessible by plane, but only if you’re leaving from Cebu. SEAir files direct to Camiguin three times a week. Planes to Camiguin are 14-seaters, and the flight takes only 30 minutes.
Most people get to Camiguin by land and sea travel. Slow boats leave from Cebu and travel overnight. Another option is take a hired van or bus from Cagayan de Oro city to Misamis Oriental, where you can take a ferry to Camiguin. Leaving from Cagayan de Oro City takes three hours to get to Camiguin. Ferries from Misamis Oriental leave hourly.
How to Get Around
Getting around the 64-kilometer circumferential road of Camiguin is easiest by hiring a van and driver from the resort you are staying in. Motorcycles for hire, called habal-habal, are another way of exploring the island.
You can opt to get a motorcycle driver to show you around, or you can hire the motorcycle for P200/day, fuel not included. Getting hold of a bicycle is another great way to get around.
Camiguin has five towns, with Brgy. Mambajao as its capital and main center of commerce. Banks, a market, the airport, and small shops are located in Mambajao.
White Island – an uninhabited strip of white sand just a few kilometers away from Camiguin. It’s best to go early in the morning as there is little shade on this solitary islet. Mostly everybody makes their way to this sand strip instead.
Katibawasan Falls – a resplendent 60 meter waterfall, with a pool good for lounging around nature.
Ardent Hot Springs – this natural hot tub is more defined by the activities that go on around it. The hot spring itself encompasses only a small area while its surroundings plays host to concerts, cookouts, and campouts. A resort sits beside it.
Mount Hibok-Hinok – it is the tallest mountain in the province. It remains as one of Camiguin’s active volcanoes.
Sto. Niño Cold Springs – a bubbling pool of refreshing water that draws in crowds beacuse of the commercial setuo around it (karaoke joint, shops, and resorts).
Underwater Cemetery – a highlight of Camiguin, this cemetery became a watery graveyard in 1871 when the Old Volcano on the island erupted and changed the landscape. A white cross juts out from the sea, a mere replica of the original that is actually farther out and completely submerged.
Moro Watchtower – a former lookout point for Muslim crusaders who reportedly invaded Camiguin repeatedly to take its women. the watchtower was more massive in size, as women and children took refuge there while the men battled against the pirates. Now only a small section is left as a huge part of the watchtower was torn down to make way for the school that now surrounds the relic.
Enigma Art Gallery – this eclectic, eccentric art gallery cum guesthouse adds much character to the island. Filled with curios fashioned from the most improbable materials, this art house is a veritable gathering place for the creative energies that run through the island.
Soda Water – pool filled with fresh, clean, sparkling water. The Soda Water pool is surrounded by mountains and is a refreshing stop that’s cut away from the main road.
Mantigue Island – a four hectare white sand islet with a forest in the middle. It is four kilometers away from Barangay Mahinog, a popular dive spot.
Davao probably derives its name from the ancient Bagobo word “daba-daba” or fire, which the tribe used for its rituals. The Tagbua tribe, on the other hand, called the river bisecting the region “Daba” and the Guiangan tribe, “Davoh.” Situated in the typhoon-free southern area of the Philippines, Davao is a city of diverse sights, sounds and tastes. It is a melting pot of both immigrant and highland cultures that blend in the colorful, exciting tapestry of ethnic heritage and modern lifestyles. Davao is the most progressive city in Mindanao and is the center of economic activity in Southern Philippines. It is now a fast emerging gateway to the evolving East ASEAN Growth Area including Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia – a re-emergence of trade cooperation by the four countries during the 17th century.Davao is one of those places where urban relaxation is possible. It has wide, well-lit streets, beautiful buildings, great resorts, the friendliest people and the freshest fruits, vegetables, and the day’s catch from the sea. While you find malls, a five-star hotel and nightlife, you can still feel to the wildflowers, long blades of grass, beaches and the towering Mt. Apo.
Indeed, Davao is touted as one of the most beautiful cities in Asia. From an airplane at night, it looks like an inverted universe with its billion dancing lights shining from wide, well-lit structures, streets and establishments.
How to Get There
There are regular flights to Davao from different key cities all over the Philippines – Manila, Cebu, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo. From Davao one can also directly fly to Singapore. Travel time is one and a half hour. Check with Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific for schedules. By ship, WG&A and Sulpicio Lines go to Davao regularly. Check schedules with their offices located at the Port Area. By land, take the bus. Philtranco has scheduled trips to Davao daily. Travel time is approximately 48 hours.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys and tricycles are available in the city proper. Motorcycles for hire, called habal-habal, are way of exploring the islands.
Davao Museum – Located at the Insular Village in Lanang, it is a repository of tribal art, costumes, jewelry, handicrafts and others. Paintings, sculptures, and ceramics are also exhibited. Eden Nature Park & Resort – A mountain paradise where one can commune with nature. This place has numerous recreational activities for visitors and a restaurant located in the mountains. Guests can stay in mountain cabins and camping sites.
Samal Island – Nestled within the cradle of Davao and the sea is the island garden of Samal. In the past, Samal Island housed the Aguinaldo Pearl Farm where cultured pearls were created using the latest Japanese technology. In its place now is the exclusive Pearl Farm Resort with a row of beautifully crafted nipa huts, some of which are two to three stories high. The Samal houses are elevated from the water by the use of stilts so you can easily go down from the house and snorkel in the crystal clear waters with a variety of marine life. Another attraction is the Mandaya Tribe. Usually two women and kids from this tribe spin the cloth that made them famous.
Malipano Island – Here you get a spectacular sunset touching the waters and white sand with the red and gold of the sun. You can kayak to and from here, and it has seven storeys high, built and designed with an old Spanish era theme.
T’boli Weaving Center – It is located at the Waterfront Hotel. Products famous here are woven materails like the yakan cloths and those woven by the Mandaya tribe and other T’boli handicrafts like traditional wedding hats, bamboo and coasters made from abaca fabric.
Dabaw Etnika – It is located inside the insular Hotel. Mandaya women weave their cloths which are not only made into clothes but also into table decorations, bags, beadwork jewelry, belts and other accessories.
Philippine Eagle Camp – This well-maintained camp is a sanctuary for the Philippine Eagle and other animals native to the Philippines.
Puentespina Orchid Garden – You will want to have your own variety of flowers, especially the orchids, cattleya, yland-ylang and waling-waling (Vanda Sanderiana for the purebreed). Puentespina gives pamphlets on how to grow orchids, and is open Monday to Saturday. If your purchase is above P500, you’ll get a free box. However, if you didn’t buy that much and your orchids are to travel by air or ferry, shell out a little extra money to put these in a box. The airport charges per box and you’ll recieve a permit from the DENR.
Lola Abon’s Durian Factory and Mindanao Industrial Confectionary – These are factories south of Davao City where you can watch durian fruitsbeing processsed into jams, candies, and other processed products.
Lon Wa Temple – It is a Chinese temple only four kms. from the airport where you will see the Buddha with the Thousand Hands inside thisgolden marbled pavilion. You may also opt to have your fortune read by the monks from the paper you pick from the incense sticks.
Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague – Found at Matina Heights, Davao City. Even non-believers can enjoy a quiet stroll on its serene and expansive grounds.
Talikud Island – Near Samal Island, this has beautiful beaches where you can go snorkeling/diving. Caves with resident snakes and has batscan also be found here.
Tagum – Various places of interest can be seen in Tagum. At the Dalisay Village, there is a citrus plantation, with exotic orchids and other plants, a Japanese tea house, and modern sports facilities. The Davao Penal Colony was once a World War II concentration camp for war prisoners. Now, it has turned into a plantation for rubber, cacao and abaca, and a botanical garden and a zoo, which are maintained by the inmates. Visitors can also buy a variety of wood carvings and stay in the guesthouses. At Carmen, you can swim at the famed White Sand Beach. Northwest of Tagum, you can go to Tibi-tibi in kapalong where there are hanging bridges and waterfalls, and native tribes of the Matigsalug, Talaingod and Langilan. Lake Ampawid in Asuncion has great marble quarries and banana plantations. Southeast of Tagum are waterfalls, the Mainit Hot Spring National Park near Mabini and the Tagnanan Beach with its white sand. Brqy. Mabini has the Maputi Hot Springs, the Cawacawa Waterfalls and the darkly mysterious Masara Mines. The Nabunturan area is where the endangered Philippine Crocodile is said to swim.