Our second day in Cebu started off well—and we managed to visit some of its popular tourist destinations. Thankfully, we now had one full day to explore the city. Starting off our day was a breakfast buffet at our hotel; I enjoyed two plates of rice and a bowl of cornflakes – more than enough with our itinerary of historical landmarks. CJ and I rode a jeep towards the downtown district after preparing to leave. The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral was our first stop for the day, as we needed to thank the Lord for a safe landing. There was a mass going on, so we decided to participate.
A short introduction: the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is the ecclesiastical seat of the Archdiocese of Cebu. This is the Cebuano equivalent of the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros. Its construction was halted multiple times, with shortage of funds and other unexpected situations causing the stoppage. Had its building progressed without interruption, it would have been completed in an earlier period. I took pictures of the cathedral before we left, then we walked a few blocks to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino in order to pay respects to the Holy Child. The Santo Nino is Cebu’s patron, deeply rooted in its history and paid homage to in the yearly Sinulog festival. Even the basilica’s history is entangled with the Holy Child; it was built on the spot where its image was found after the Spanish conquistadors raided a village. I wasn’t able to take a picture of the structure as the security officers approached anyone who attempted to do so—even the Korean tourists were not exempt. We went out of the church grounds and had pictures at the Magellan’s Cross a few steps away from the basilica, since it was jam-packed with a lot of people due to the Friday devotion there.
We had lunch at CnT Lechon, my first taste of their noteworthy roasted suckling pig. This was the lechon we were supposed to try out at Ayala Center Cebu, but we backed out as it wasn’t fresh anymore. They had run out of puso (rice packets) by the time we arrived, so we settled for regular rice. CnT Lechon is one of the familiar lechon Cebu brands around, alongside Zubuchon and Rico’s Lechon. After our meal, we crossed the street at SM City Cebu to ride a multicab to our next destinations in the Parian area: the Cebu Heritage Monument and Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House.
The Parian area in Cebu was about a 30-minute ride from SM City Cebu. We went off the jeep and proceeded to take pictures of the Heritage Monument, depicting the island’s contributions to the nation’s story. Among the panels were that of the Age of Exploration, early trading with Chinese merchants, and a procession honoring the Holy Child. Personalities also had their own scenes, like president Sergio Osmena and Saint Pedro Calungsod. The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House was nearby, so we decided to pay it a visit after the monument. Entrance to the house costs P100 per person, but the experience is like stepping inside a living museum. You can have pictures at all the spots in the house, and the caretakers / tour guides will even direct the shots for you. Would you believe me if I told you that this house has served eight generations of the same family? I kid you not—even the current owners sleep there on weekends!
It was already 3:00 in the afternoon when we ended our tour of the ancestral house, and we decided to buy some pasalubong (return gifts) for our families when we come back. The caretaker told us that Shamrock Otap was straight ahead and we could walk there from our current location—so we took his advice. Anyone who visits Cebu doesn’t leave without trying out their delicacies—otap, hojaldres, rosquillos, and dried mangoes. After Shamrock, we took a cab to Taboan Market to buy dried fish; danggit is a local specialty, but other types of dried seafood are also available. A word of caution: make this your last stop as the smell of dried fish will stick to your clothes.
Taboan Market was our last stop for the day; we returned to our hotel afterwards. Resting a few hours after a whole day under the sun, we took a dip in their swimming pool before preparing for our dinner-slash-nightlife adventure at Cebu IT Park. It’s a lot like Eastwood City in Libis, with business process outsourcing (BPO) offices and food spots for employees. Our first stop for the night: the Mexican-inspired Mooon Cafe. We managed to find good seats, despite the place being packed with Korean tourists all around. Mooon Cafe serves Mexican cuisine at affordable prices, cheaper than what you usually find here in Manila. I tried out their fish tacos, while CJ ordered their Monte Cristo sandwich—a unique twist to your regular sandwich.
We didn’t eat a lot on purpose so we still had room for our next stop: Zubuchon. Failing to find this during our first evening made this meal more memorable. American food author and TV host Anthony Bourdain once had a taste of Zubuchon, leading him to remark it as the “best pig ever”. These three words are what the restaurant is capitalizing on, and I can say that Bourdain was right with this one. The skin was crispy and the meat was flavorful, but not too savory. Unlike common lechon that is served with liver sauce, Cebu lechon is served with a mix of chopped kamias, tomatoes, and onions that cut the richness of the pork. Not exactly good for people with high cholesterol, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience if you ask me – so it’s worth every bite.
To cap off our dinner and our last night in Cebu (we were to leave the next day), we stopped by La Marea. This dessert cafe serves a yummy must-try: warm brownie cups with vanilla ice cream. One cup was enough for me as it was rich and light (sans any eggs, mind you). Plus, you can customize your brownie cup with a lot of different toppings such as peanut butter and yema (custard candy made from egg yolks and condensed milk). Right after we finished our dessert, we took a cab back to our hotel and called it a day.
I’ll stop here with my entry for our second day in Cebu; stay tuned for the last entry in this series. Until the next post.