Fun Friday: Vacation and Sightseeing in Cebu

Third Friday of the month:  Travel / Recreation

This post is long overdue. Rainy season na, so I'll just reminisce on our memorable trip to the queen city of the south as we explored the city and relaxed on the island resort. We spent the last weekend of May in sunny Cebu and it was a special treat for the kids as well since it's their first plane ride. Our destination of choice is rich in history and a melting pot of people and culture.

While it's a first for these two to travel to Cebu, J and I had been to this part of the region a few times in the past when we were both still single. For our second wedding anniversary, we took a trip and stayed in Shangri-la Mactan Resort. It was November of 2004. The boy just turned one before we left and that was the last time we were in Cebu.

Day 1:  May 27.
After almost 12 years, we went back to Cebu and this time with the boy and the girl in tow. I wanted to go to Bohol at first, but J thought it would be best to go to a familiar place since it's our first time to bring the kids. So off we went for our summer getaway!

Our goal was to do some sight-seeing in the city and explore the historical sites so the boy can visit the places he read about while studying Philippine history. Field trip time! =)

We stayed at The Henry Hotel on our first day so we can tour the city. The Henry is a quirky, modern boutique hotel located in Paseo Saturnino. It has all the basic amenities for a comfortable stay, and breakfast was satisfying as well at the cafe. 

Our game plan for the day was to rent a car upon check-in and tour the city in the afternoon. We arrived before noon so we left our bags at the hotel and had lunch first. Standard check in time is 2pm but we still waited for an hour since our room/bed was not ready. That was a bummer since we wanted to rest longer before our tour. Anyhow, that was the only glitch at the hotel. We booked a car with driver for 3 hours to take us around.

The objective was to see Magellan's Cross. On our way there, we passed by a plaza and a Fort. We were still undecided if we wanted to visit those places so we proceeded to the cross first.

First stop -- Magellan's Cross
The most famous landmark in Cebu City, the cross is housed in a small chapel situated across the City Hall, beside the Basilica del Sto. NiƱo Museum on busy Magallanes Street.

Engraved at the base of the cross:
"This Cross of tindalo wood encases the original cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan on this very site. April 21, 1521"

The kids didn't want to go to the museum anymore so off to the next stop: Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House.
On the entrance billboard:
"Built during the 17th Century by the Chinese merchants residing in Parian, this was the house of Maria, Eleuterio and Consolacion Yap.  The eldest daughter Maria Yap later on married to Don Mariano Sandiego, a Cabeza de Barangay of Parian late 1880s.
At present this ancestral house is in the custody of Mr. and Mrs. Val Sandiego."

The centuries-old house is made of wood and coral stones located in the Pari-an district of Cebu City. It is considered as one of the oldest houses in the Philippines. The furnishings were mostly wooden, now considered antiques, and are still in good usable condition.

During our visit, we were fortunate to meet the descendant who now manages and maintains the heritage house, Mr. Val Sandiego. He told me that the structure is 95% original. He is part of the community that is helping restore and promote the historical Pari-an district.  There is a minimal entrance fee (P50 ata... I forgot how much I paid.)

He also invited us to join the festivities that evening -- the Gabii sa Kabilin (Night of Heritage) where the cultural sites and museums will be open for public viewing until late in the evening.  Too bad we could not stay for the celebration.  

Several meters away from the Yap-Sandiego house is Casa Gorordo Museum. It was being set up in time for the opening of Gabii sa Kabilin so we were not able to go inside.  Also a heritage house from the 19th century, it's was the residence of Juan Gorordo, first Filipino Bishop of Cebu. 

We made our way back to the Fort as our final stop. We also passed Colon Street with the famous Colon Obelisk - a historical marker and sundial. Colon is the oldest street in the Philippines built by the Spaniards in 1565!

Third and last stop -- Fort San Pedro.

Printed on the QR Code scanner: 
"Fort San Pedro is the oldest and smallest fort in the Philippines. Built by the Spaniards to repel sieges by hostile natives and pirates, the fort was deemed finished in 1738, some 200 years after it started construction.
A triangular bastion made of logs and mud... with Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi breaking ground for the structure, naming it for his flagship on which he sailed the Pacific Ocean in that same year."

The three bastions of the fort are La Concepcion, San Ignacio de Loyola, and San Miguel.

Fuerte de San Pedro, the triangular fort, is located near Plaza Independencia and the pier of Cebu City. We were there until sunset and the center plaza and promenade were also set up for the Gabii sa Kabilin festivities. The garden was lit up and the whole place looked really romantic.

That evening, we had an authentic Cebuano dinner at a sugbaan, or ihaw-ihaw before retiring to our hotel.  Pagoda!!! It was sweltering that day and traffic too! We really made the most out of our first day and it was an educational tour for all of us. =)

Day 2:  May 28.  
The kids did not swim anymore and instead enjoyed a late breakfast. We checked out of The Henry and had lunch at a nearby Japanese resto before heading to Mactan island. Uber and Grab taxi car services were very efficient in Cebu.

Ahhhh... hello Shangri-la!

We all went slow and easy on the second day. We booked a room at Shangri-la Mactan Resort for the next two nights. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the room, roaming around the hotel, playing in the kids' activity center and game room, swimming and chilling.

I can't believe that I did not take as many photos as I wanted to during this trip.  Relax lang talaga all the way!


Day 3 and 4 continued here: Vacation in Shangri-la Mactan Resort

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