A few years back, I decided to pack my bags (whole closet, that is) and left my hometown down south and flew to Cebu City. Being a small town girl, I have always wondered how it would be like living in a big city and in a place where you don’t know anybody and nobody knows you. Multiple trips from the past had made Cebu a familiar yet mysterious place for me. I had always been intrigued by its history, way of life, people and of course, its food. One day, a friend asked me if I would be interested in joining her in Cebu where she would be relocated. Because I was quite young and crazy then, I booked a one-way ticket and voila, the next thing I knew I was in a cab with my luggages and carry-on making my way to my new home in the Visayas. After almost a couple of years, armed with new experiences, new perspectives, a whole lot of friends and Facebook ‘friends’, I decided to come home and begin another new adventure. However, there are just so many things I missed about the place. In this post, allow me to share with you the many things I missed about Cebu, hoping that these, too will inspire you to pack your bags, fly and allow this beautiful island to bring you to an experience of a lifetime.
Lechon CebuOkay, talk about priorities. Even before living here, I’ve heard people gushing over how tasty their charcoal-pit roasted pig is. In Cebu, lechon is a quintessential food that you should never miss. Different roasters have different take on this Filipino favourite. I like my lechon to have a kick on it so my usual choice would be the spicy lechon by Rico’s Lechon Restaurant. Since they always run out before I get an order for myself, then my best alternative was CnT lechon whose stalls are easily found in the shopping mall food courts. If I was feeling a little fancy, Zubuchon is a famous local restaurant who gained extreme popularity when the famous food chef, author, frequent flyer and TV personality Anthony Bourdain called their lechon as the “best pig ever”.
BeachesThe next thing I missed about Cebu City is its proximity to many great beach destinations. You see, Cebu the province is quite big. Whether you prefer to cover the north or the south, there are plenty of beaches to choose from. The first place I went to with my office colleagues was Bantayan Island in the Northern part of Cebu. The journey may be long, but swimming in the clear blue waters of one of the resorts of this island was unforgettable. I swear, I was swimming with small fishes hanging around just a few feet away the whole time!Badian is found in the south and is also home to beaches, many of which are open to the public. What I loved about this place aside from the clean waters was the fine white sand making its shores an ideal place to frolic around and to enjoy sunbathing.If you don’t want to travel far but still want to experience great beaches with world class amenities, take a trip to Mactan Island where arrays of great hotels are available. Shangri-la Mactan Resort and Spa and Mövenpick Hotel are known for their wonderful services so booking a night or two is worth it.
NightlifeCebu is fast-becoming a haven for partyphiles and nightowls. Although I am not much of a partygoer myself, I have seen how places such as IT Park, Mango Avenue, and Crossroads transform from busy business districts by day to lively joints where young (and not-so-young) frequent to during the weekends by night. Cebuanos know how to live and have fun so it comes as no surprise that coffee shops, restos and pubs are usually packed in the evenings and especially during holidays. Vudu, The Distillery and Alchology are some pubs where Cebuanos and foreigners frequent to if they are into dancing and having a crazy fun night. But if you are like me who wants to spend a chill and quiet evening catching up with friends or just getting a dose of lovelyvino, La Vie Parisienne in Lahug is a personal favourite (they have the best croissants and wine selection, too).
JeepneysFrom where I came from, jeepneys are not king and cost and ease of transport is something to eyeroll over. In Cebu, Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJs) are widely used in commuting and at a manageable cost. You can easily ride a PUJ to go from point A to point B. Drivers and dispatchers are often friendly and helpful (especially if you look like a lost child which happened to me quite a number of times back then). In my first few days in Cebu, I rode the jeepney and went into various routes so I can be familiar with the city. It proved to be a great experience as I saw Cebu through the eyes of a local. Cabs are easily available but can obviously cost you. But if you are not much into public transport, getting an Uber ride is also possible.
Carcar ChicharonCarcar is a burgeoning city about 40 kilometers South of Cebu City. It is often called the “Heritage City of Cebu” because of the existence of many Spanish and American colonial structures that are preserved until today. It’s a charming little town with the chillest people on earth. Whenever I came here, the first thing I went to is the public market–a mecca of the best pork cracklings and other delicacies such as banana chips and bucarillo (caramelized coconut strips). Let’s get this straight. Not all chicharon are created equal. What sets Carcar’s chicharon apart from others is that it does not only have enough crunchiness and saltiness (which are quite basic to all chicharons), there are portions which you can still see the meat of the pork hanging onto the skin! When you bite into it, it’s like hearing angels sing “Hallelujah”! Whether you prefer dipping it with vinegar or none, you’ll always get the same satisfaction. It is that good! There are more things I love about Cebu I would love to mention but I hope this post is an enough clincher to inspire you to come here and stay for awhile….or for good. So what are you waiting for? Keep those itchy feet moving!