Captivating Cebu

This is the beginning of my ode to Cebu—to my first plane ride destination, to my first trip outside of the Luzon territory, to the place that opened my doors to the world.

I feel butterflies in my stomach as I wait for our flight number to get called. I pace back and forth, anxiously anticipating the inevitable. Having trust issues is not making this easy for me and I know riding a plane would mean that I would have to entrust my life to someone I don’t personally know. A part of me wants to call my Mom but this growing fire in me is telling me to suck my gut and just enjoy the ride.

The cabin crew slowly walk in front of the center aisle. I intend to really listen because my paranoia will haunt me along the whole course of this flight. Remembering what to do is not really hard but a panicky person like me will probably just scream until someone gives me help.

The you-can-now-take-off-your-seatbelt light turns on. I immediately hurried to the lavatory to wash my face. Looking at myself in the tiny mirror beside the door gob smacked me—I am a thousand feet above the ground and I just need to relax. If I want to travel the world, I should start making myself comfortable in rides like this.

I sit back and look out the window—that’s when I knew that I am meant to live for this view.

We arrived at Mactan-Cebu International Airport a few minutes before midnight. We make our way to the taxi bay and surprisingly, all taxi drivers are already there, seemingly expecting us to be there. They are wearing this tired smile, but still from ear-to-ear.

Lines of bokeh lights welcome us as we drive to the city. It feels so surreal—almost infinite.

I hit the sack as soon as we reached Sampaguita Suites. My physical body feels so tired but my mind is still somehow wandering off.

We decided to drop by Basilica del Menor Santo Nino before starting our Cebu day trip. Hearing a few parts of the mass and my mind once again starts to wander. I am physically in the church but my mind is already itching to uncover Cebu.

Outside the cathedral lies Magellan’s Cross, where a number of unfamiliar ladies bombard us with colorful candles. In a moment of a knee-jerk reaction, I bought all colors available.

With nothing but these not-so-handy printed itineraries in our hands, we set foot on the most incredible walkathon of our lives, yet.

Clearly, we have not thought about getting around this massive city. The public vehicles are marked with some kind of a route identification.

So, in the spur of another knee-jerk decision, our group has come down to an agreement to just walk it out.

The sun feels so unforgiving while the wind seems submissive. I feel like all the water inside my body are slowly flushing all over my shirt… and shorts.

Passed by University of San Carlos on our way to the Cebu Provincial Capitol building.

We are now standing in front of the Cebu Provincial Capitol under the scorching summer sun—a tall, pearly-white building on top of an uphill road. There’s a ceremony that is currently partaking on its grounds, so we decided to go and have our lunch. We are so parched and famished at this point that there’s no place I would rather be than a restaurant.

Larsian sa Fuente is nestled strategically located in the heart of Cebu City. A huge signage welcomes everyone that wants to have good food at a very low price.

We enter the famed food place and evidently its major edge is the numerous bbq and seafood you can avail. We also tried “puso” which is just rice wrapped in a triangular-shaped woven coconut leaves. I think if you are a tourist coming to Cebu, then consider Larsian sa Fuente a must-visit. Aside from the scrumptious, inexpensive meals, eating in a setup like this makes you feel like knowing Cebu City in a more immersive way.

We are just halfway through the day and we are planning to see two more tourist destinations before going back to the hotel.

A taxi ride to Cebu Taoist Temple reenergized me from the extensive walking we had earlier. I ask the driver if I can open the window so I can wave my arm as we drive uphill. The wind passes in between the gaps of my fingers as I try to catch it.

A lot of cars are still waiting outside the renowned spot as the sun starts to mellow down. I notice that the warmth in the atmosphere is slowly getting colder.

The temple is stunning in its contrasting green roof and warm wall tones. Sculpture of dragons look like gargoyles—guarding the temple from bad spirit, or so I think. There is stillness in the whole time we are here. It feels like time has slowed down to help us appreciate this trip. There are instances where I am still in awe of the things my eyes are seeing. Those certain moments of seeing tangible things that will soon turn into intangible memories.

Our driver leads us to our last destination for the day, Temple of Leah—a museum built to celebrate undying love. Consider it the Taj Mahal of the Cebu City. This massive structure is solely dedicated to Leah Villa Albino-Adarna. I find it really amusing that love can drive us to doing larger than life things. True love can really be the bridge to eternal life.

Temple of Leah is roman-influenced, with its elaborate detailing from the roof, to the pillars and even the statues found randomly across the vicinity. You can also see a glimpse of downtown Cebu from up here. It reminds me of my nights in Antipolo City where we park our car on a hilltop just to see Metro Manila lights flickering faintly from a distance.

We drove back to the hotel feeling content of our first day adventure here in Cebu City. The stories are just starting to unfold and I know that in the coming days, I will be able to uncover more of this captivating city and more importantly, myself. Unraveling new layers of myself is the most surprising discovery I have made here, so far.