Last month, I traveled to Cebu for an exam–a French exam. It wasn’t my first venture to the same province and it wasn’t my first unsupervised travel either. Unsupervised? Well, yes. Meaning, I had no older-adult supervision. I felt quite grown-up (which is quite redundant since I’m in my late 20s) and responsible. In fact, I had learned to be quite thrifty despite my shopaholic tendencies, and being street smart.
I traveled with my classmate (from French class) via Cebu Pacific Airlines. It was a comfortable 20 minute flight from Iloilo International Airport to Mactan International Airport. From Mactan Island, we took a cab (I had immediately regretted this decision) to our hotel, the West Gorordo Hotel, located at the Ayala business district.
The moment I stepped into the lobby, I felt relaxed. The atmosphere was quite laid back and the decor is mainly made up recycled and upcycled materials. It was as if the hotel wasn’t located within the busy business hub. The hotel staff were very friendly and accommodating. I was happy that they speak Tagalog (since most tend to answer back in the local dialect). They still use keys, as opposed to key cards, and are attached to this large key chain bearing the hotel’s name which was fine by me. At least, I know that I won’t lose it within my room.
We had our own separate rooms. I had a room on the third floor while he was just a floor up. I adored my room and they have hot/cold showers! Ah, the luxury of a hot shower!
On day 1, we spent a few hours recuperating from the rigors of travel. After which, we proceeded to locate our exam venue, La Maison Rose. It was just a short jeepney ride away from the hotel. It was named as such because, well, it’s pink. La Maison Rose translates to, literally, The Pink House.
After making some inquiries at La Maison Rose, we proceeded to tackle our next dilemma: Where to buy food/dine cheaply. We could eat at the exam venue (for it doubles as a quaint French restaurant) however, we were on a budget and we were staying in Cebu for 4 nights. That was were Google Maps came in. *rubs cheeks to mobile phone and giving it a kiss*
Transportation and getting around was not much of a problem. For those who have already visited Cebu would agree with me on this: You may think it’s difficult/hard to travel by jeepney, but its actually not. The jeeps are numbered, and specific numbers have specific routes. The numbers are easier to remember than the names of the routes painted at the side of the vehicle. Since, the hotel is located near Ayala, we chose to walk instead.
From time to time, I get irritated with my travel buddy. He is terrible with directions and sometimes doubt me whenever I say that we should take an alternate route. He doesn’t take note of the places/stores we passed, of the minuscule changes in the environment (happened too many times at SM City Cebu), and he walks too darn fast! I’m a little woman with little legs and it’s hard to keep up with him.
Frustrations aside, I got to explore Cebu a bit better than I had last year (2014) because my stay was longer. We got to visit these historical places places: Basilica del Santo Niño de Cebu, Magellan’s Cross, and Mactan Shrine. And we shopped ’till we dropped here: Ayala Center Cebu, and SM City Cebu.
While on a visit to the Basilica, we had to wait in line to be able to pray up close by the holy statue of the Santo Niño. I wanted to take a photos of me and the devotees that falling in line to pray but I reconsidered. I think it was in poor taste to do so. What I liked about the visit was the inner courtyard.
Magellan’s Cross is not far away from the Basilica. In fact, it is just across the street. A visitor would probably be confused at all the different colored candles that are offered at the base of the cross. They are truly offerings. Each color represents an aspect of your life: family, friends, love, business, career, etc. There are a few old ladies (representatives?) that, for a fee, would pray over/bless the candles then would give them to you. You have a choice whether to lay them down at the base of The Cross or to light them up inside the church.
Mactan shrine was farther away and located at Mactan Island. We had to take 3 trips in order to reach the shrine. It was an impromptu sojourn; a whim. It wasn’t in my personal itinerary but my buddy wanted to visit.
We returned home Saturday morning. Upon checking out, the hotel gave us handmade bracelets as souvenirs. This time, instead of taking a cab to the airport, we rode a jeepney and a public van. I regret not being able to visit the Taoist Temple, Fort San Pedro, the museum at the Basilica, Museo Sugbo, the Jesuit House, and many more.
As the the plane rolled down the tarmac and took off into the stratosphere, I felt that I left my heart in Cebu. I felt that I needed more time. I shall visit again one day and hopefully unearth some more of Cebu’s hidden delights.
Basilica del Santo Niño de Cebu and Magellan’s Cross