Affordable rooms along Cebu’s Sinulog routes

One of Cebu’s most anticipated events, the Sinulog Festival, is drawing close and there is a certain buzz in the island in anticipation of two festival main events – the Solemn Procession and Grand Parade.

Since major Cebu City streets will be closed during these two activities and travel by vehicle difficult, a good option for visitors would be to stay in hotels or inns near the procession and street dancing routes.


Magellan’s cross symbolizes conversion

This small octagonal structure in downtown Cebu City may appear unimpressive, but it houses a valuable relic and marks an important spot for Cebuanos.

Enclosed in tindalo wood inside the octagonal kiosk is what is left of the original cross that Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted in Sugbu (now Cebu) some 490 years ago.

The cross, or what remains of it, had to be preserved inside another wooden encasement after Catholics, believing it had miraculous powers, chipped away parts as souvenirs.


Colon, oldest street in the country

Colon Street
COLON STREET. This thoroughfare in downtown Cebu City is the oldest street in the Philippines. The undated photo of the old Colon Street above was taken from the book City Of Cebu, which was published by the Cebu City Government in 1970.

It may look like any ordinary street but this crowded stretch overflowing with shops, stalls, sidewalk vendors, people, and passenger jeepneys is, believe it or not, the oldest in the Philippines.

This thoroughfare in downtown Cebu City known as Colon Street existed way back in time, since Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi commissioned its creation in 1565 as part of a settlement called “Villa de San Miguel (St. Michael’s Town)” that also had Fort San Pedro as its nucleus.


Parian monument depicts Cebu historic events

Cement, iron, and steel come together to form the towering Heritage of Cebu Monument built right on the original Plaza Parian in Cebu City.

Conceptualized by multi-awarded sculptor Eduardo Castrillo, the mammoth structure depicts significant moments in Cebu’s history beginning with that fateful fight of April 21, 1521 in the island of Mactan where native chieftain Lapu-Lapu killed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.


Kawasan Falls continue to attract visitors

Cool and refreshing is how best to describe the emerald water of the Matutinao River that forms what is commonly known as Kawasan Falls as it follows its meandering course to the sea.

The river creates no less than eight waterfalls of varying heights but it is only in five that bathing is possible.

Kawasan Falls in the village of Matutinao in the Cebu town of Badian, a three-hour bus ride from Cebu City, are popular with locals and tourists.

Kawasan Falls, Badian, Cebu
Visitors ride on a raft to underneath one of Kawasan’s waterfalls for a different kind of shower experience.

They don’t mind the long walk along a rocky and uneven trail to the falls, the first one of which is 1.5 kilometers away from the main highway where the buses make their stop.

The first waterfall travelers come across from the road is the biggest and tallest and also the most popular. Visitors usually stop here to enjoy a dip in the clean water or just enjoy the sight and sound of the falling sheet of liquid from the open cottages built along the riverside.

More adventurous tourists take a ride on a raft to under the waterfall for a shower under the gushing water. Ten people can fit in the raft and need to pay only P300 plus another P50 each for the life vests they are required to wear.

Jumping from any of the falls has been prohibited starting in 2008 when a tourist was killed and a few others injured when a jumper landed on the raft they were on.

Other falls

Visitors who intend to go up to the other waterfalls will have to climb steep steps carved on the mountainside and continue on a narrow trail that goes up or down in some areas and across dry riverbeds or makeshift bamboo bridges in others.

Dense vegetation grows by the side of the trail. The further upriver one goes, the fewer people and the more private the scene. At least two smaller waterfalls form a pool of shallow water that is safer for children.

The farthest waterfall is what locals call “the source.” Willie Lastimoso, who lives close, said beyond the source is the beginnings of the Matutinao River. The view is spectacular upriver but tourists will need a local to bring them there.

Lastimoso said he has been renting out huts at the source since 1989. Back then, overnight stay near this topmost waterfall is possible at the wooden house owned by a German national but the structure had long been demolished.

“Nabuang man to siya. Mogawas ra man to kalit maghubo, mangahadlok ang mangaligo diri,” said Lastimoso. (The German went crazy. He would go out of the house naked, scaring the bathers.)

It is a 2.3-kilometer walk to the topmost waterfall and the sight of the short and narrow gushing water that is the source could turn off visitors. Tourists who brave the slippery and difficult path to reach it though can take the comfort in the fact that water is cleanest there.

Overnight stays

Rooms are available for overnight stays at areas near three waterfalls. Regular rooms for two range from P900 to P2,500 while bigger rooms that can fit five to 10 people cost P3,500.

Open cottages are also available for day use at only P300.

At Willy’s, which is built near the first waterfall, fan rooms are priced at P1,200 and P1,500 and air-con rooms are at P2,500, with two beds, and P3,500, which is good for 10. For inquiries, call 0927-5456061.

The Kawasan Nature Park Multi-Purpose Cooperative also has accommodations nearby. Call 032-5161781 or 0926-4057141 for bookings or reservations.

Rooms are also available at the waterfalls farther upriver at more or less the same rates.

A concerted effort by the immediate community and the local government of Badian has ensured a Kawasan free of trash and pollution. They were also able to preserve the river’s forest cover and dense vegetation.

Sore thumbs that stick out during my visit are people doing laundry in shallow parts and the concrete structures built near the falls.

Getting there

A swim in the cool water or a shower under the falls is worth every second of the tedious three-hour journey to Badian.

Buses at the Cebu South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Avenue in Cebu City leave hourly for the town. The terminal is 20 minutes by cab from the uptown area, and drivers pass on to passengers the entry fee of P10.

Each terminal user is also charged a P5 fee.

At the terminal, ask for the Ceres bus to Badian. It is bigger and seats more comfortably than the other buses.

Tell the bus helpers to drop you at the church in Kawasan near the walkway to the waterfalls. The Badian town center is a good eight kilometres from Kawasan and you shouldn’t stop there.


Suroy-Suroy Sugbo goes to 22 southern towns

Church of the miraculous Virgin Mary in Simala, Aragao

Cebu southern towns prepare food, songs, and dances for guests who joined this year’s Suroy-Suroy Sugbo Southern Heritage Trail tour that kicked off today from the Provincial Capitol.

The first stop of the three-day tour was the town of Minglanilla, where visitors had their fill of Cebuano food specialties budbud pilit paired with ripe mango as well as danggit.

Events Feature

BPI museum traces history of banking in Philippines

Ever wondered how and when banking started in the Philippines? The oldest bank in the country, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), tells the story through its newly opened museum in Cebu City.

Gold coins of 1861. (Click to enlarge)

On display at the museum are gold coins that started circulation in 1861, 10 years after the El Banco Español Filipino de Isabel II that we know today as BPI was established.

Events Uncategorized

Levi’s launches biggest fashion party in Cebu

Levi’s brings to Cebu the most rocking summer dance party with two of the hottest DJ-supermodels in the world.

The Levi’s Roadwear Party featuring DJNile and Catherine McQueen is happening this April 30, 10 p.m., at the Penthouse in the Asiatown IT Park in Cebu City.


Oven fresh pretzels at Auntie Anne’s in SM Cebu

They shape the dough right in front of your eyes into a symmetrical loop shaped like a knot and bake it in the oven while you wait.

As a result, you get your pretzels at Auntie Anne‘s in SM City Cebu fresh and hot. They’re crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and, in my case or at least the flavors I choose, sweet.

I used to ignore this pretzel shop before, but I was tempted to buy one just recently when I saw a member of the crew cut the dough and shape it into a pretzel before putting it in the oven.

Auntie Anne's pretzel in SM City Cebu
FRESH AND HOT. Auntie Anne’s in SM City Cebu serves fresh and hot pretzels while you wait.


CMG footwear complements runway’s feminine looks

CELINE Mix Group (CMG) takes inspiration from the Spring 2011 runway by bringing the fresh and feminine into its footwear.

Wooden clogs, strappy sandals, and sky-high wedges are making their way back into CMG’s closets to complement this season’s biggest looks: cropped 70’s sophisticated glamour to 60’s ladylike dresses that foster femininity and accentuate women’s curves.

Hong Kong brands Staccato, Oro Nero, Matthews, and Lewre take the spotlight at CMG stores to complete Spring 2011’s loungewear motif.

Feature Food

Wellness in a Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt cup

With cherries on top, or cereal, or syrup, or all of the above and more, you get to decide what to put on your cup.

It has impressive health benefits, but yogurt’s natural sourness can turn off some people. If you’re like me who can stand only a few mouthfuls of the regular stuff, you can get your daily dose of healthy from frozen yogurt.

Aside from frozen product being smoother in texture, it also only has a little of the sourness and tanginess of regular yogurt.

One of the establishments that I regularly go to for my frozen yogurt fix is the Tutti Frutti branch in SM City Cebu.

It sells the stuff in eight flavors: original (always available) and seven others. Yesterday, Tutti Frutti also had taro, strawberry, chocolate, coffee, grape, French vanilla, and pina colada. They change flavors every 15 days, though, so you might have a different selection when you do get to visit.

Plus, the establishment allows you to decide how much of the stuff you would like to eat by letting you dispense the frozen yogurt yourself and provides you access to a variety of toppings: fruits, jelly, chocolate, candy, crackers, cereal, syrup. You can have one or five flavors of yogurt on your cup and mix and match toppings, and the charge remains the same at 20 pesos per ounce.

Events Lifestyle

Etam Cebu unveils 2011 lingerie collection

Etam Lingerie
Stylish and sexy brassiere and lingerie available at the Etam branch in Ayala Center Cebu.

Imagine brassiere or lingerie in the sheerest lace or softest satin that you can wear with a blazer to the office or for a night out on town. Check out a lacy black number that is the ultimate party dress or a blue off-shoulder piece that is the epitome of glamour and chic.

Europe’s number one lingerie brand, Etam, unveils at its Ayala Center Cebu branch its Spring/Summer 2011 collection, which carries pieces that “reflect the timeless class and sophistication found only in France.”

Etam lingerie offers style and function and is for the modern Filipina who is not afraid of mixing and matching her innerwear with outerwear, said Frank Briones of Thinline, Etam’s marketing partner.

Briones and Etam branch manager Kim Reyes presented on Thursday the brand’s swimwear and lingerie as well as loungewear and sleepwear collection that comes in simple and plain designs, playful and feminine forms, or elegant and sexy cuts.


Sinulog 2011 schedule of activities

This photo by Mikhael Arrogante is the grand winner of the 2010 Sinulog photo contest. Photo courtesy of the Sinulog foundation.

THIS year’s month-long Sinulog celebration starts with a fun run on January 2 at the Cebu City Sports Center, and its religious opening salvo is the “Walk with Jesus” — a solemn parade that starts from Fuente Osmena and ends at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino.

Sinulog 2011 activities are a mix of religious, cultural, sporting, and modern events and contests. Major Sinulog festivities include the: Walk with Jesus (January 6, 4 a.m.), Sinulog sa Kabataan-Lalawigan (January 8, 1 p.m.), Sinulog sa Kabataan-Dakbayan (January 9, 1. p.m.), Cebu City Marathon (January 9, 4 a.m.), Miss Cebu coronation Night (January 12, 7 p.m.), Walk with Mary (January 14, 4 a.m.), Sto. Nino image solemn procession (January 15, 2 p.m.), and Sinulog Grand Parade (January 16, 9 a.m.).


Plan your 2011 with any of 3 power planners

Get your 2011 planner with your coffee purchases, either at Starbucks or Bo’s.

At any Starbucks stores in Cebu, customers are offered a sticker pamphlet that they must fill up to be able to redeem any one of three planner designs.

There are 17 sticker slots that need to be completed: nine from buying the Starbucks Christmas edition beverages such as Toffee Nut Latte, Peppermint Mocha, and Praline Mocha and the remaining eight from the store’s regular drinks.


Parkmall offers scary experience in horror booth

The room was pitch black, and eerie music was playing from somewhere. We can’t go back so we must push on. A few meters away, we can make out a shape in white coming slowly towards us.

My 7-year-old son pulled back in fear and screamed. My other son, 12, was no better, gripping my arm and mumbling “Don’t scare us. Don’t scare us.”


280-year-old Jesuit house in Cebu

In the hustle and bustle of Cebu City are houses so old, they’ve stood for about 300 years.

One of these structures is located between Calle Zulueta and the narrow side street of Binakayan in downtown Parian, the old Chinese district of Cebu.

It’s a two-storey house of cut coral stone walls, tugas hardwood floors and posts, and terracotta roof connected on its second floor by a walkway to a smaller house believed to have once functioned as the kitchen or an azotea.


Taboan buwad (dried fish)

Nothing compares to the danggit (salted dried fish) produced in Cebu, and the Taboan market is the cheapest source of this specialty food in Cebu City.

Danggit is just one of the many kinds of buwad (dried fish) sold in Taboan.

A kilo of danggit in Taboan ranges from 400 pesos to 500 pesos, depending on the size of the fish. Since the fish is already dried and de-boned, a quarter of a kilo of danggit could already last several days. Aside from the salted and unsalted kinds, Taboan stalls also sell the tocino and tapa variants of danggit.


Branded clothes, shoes at SM’s Northwing

If a P3,495 dress doesn’t faze you, you’d feel right at home shopping in SM City-Cebu’s Northwing.

The Northwing is home to brand shops selling imported clothes, shoes, bags, accessories like Mango, NafNaf, Onesimus, Montre, Aldo, F&X, Accessorize, Espada, Skinfood, Kipling, Osh Kosh B’Gosh, Traffic, Bayo, Promod, Regatta, and Levis, among others.

Bohemian bags in Accessorize sell from a little over a thousand pesos to P3,000 plus, scarves from P1,000 to P2,000 plus, bracelets and necklaces from P600 to P1,000 plus.

Accessorize products have the equivalent cost in Euro and British pound in their tags.

At Promod, an ensemble consisting of a summer dress, a cotton jacket, knee-high suede boots will make you poorer by P13,000.

Montre carries brands like Issey Miyake, which has a watch priced at around P20,000, and Tissot, with a silver sports timepiece costing P42,000.

Watches in another shop, also at the Northwing, range from P7,000 (Ann Klein) to P14,000 (Dior).

Aldo pumps sell at close to P5,000 and flats at P2,000 plus.

Kultura, a shop featuring Philippine products, sells breezy dresses for a surprisingly low price of around P500 each, though these can be had for P200 a piece at Tabo sa Banay.

Take a break from shopping by dining or relaxing at any of the restaurants and coffee shops in the zone. Gerry’s Grill, Laguna Garden, Tempura, Chikaan, Flavours of China, Bigby’s, La Mesa Grill, Cabalen, Leona’s, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and Starbucks have branches at Northwing.

SM City-Cebu opened the Northwing on November 30, 2007, dubbing it the “ultimate lifestyle center of Cebu.” The whole Northwing is Wi-Fi-enabled and offers free and unlimited Internet access. SM is 15-30 minutes away by taxi from any point in Cebu City.