Cebu – Backpacking in the South

Cebu is known as the Queen City of the South. Probably the most popular place to visit in Visayas next to Boracay Island in Aklan. Cebu for me is place of bountiful culture and history. We can never let our grade school days passed without visiting pages of history books with Cebu as the prime destination. This is all where Christianity started, a place where inherited religious beliefs and of course Spanish culture begun.

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It was a stormy week when I backpacked to Cebu last year as Tropical Storm Samuel approached the islands. It was my first time to do solo backpacking in Visayas. The last time I was in Visayas was with my Mom when we travelled to Leyte and Biliran.

I spent 2 days roaming around this classic city.  It might be a short stay in Cebu yet I got the chance to relax and just worry nothing (somehow). I got no plans in visiting any famous beaches, falls or do this canyoneering. Literally, I just want to be in Cebu to sleep and enjoy the weather that welcomed me. 🙂

How did I get there?

I booked my flight via Cebu Pacific Air last March 2018 for less than Php 400. It was definitely a steal! Haven’t got any moments to ask friends or my family if they will be available on the travel period I chose so I immediately booked another solo flight, this time in the South!

How did I get around the city?

Jeepneys in Cebu like in Manila is the cheapest transportation. These public transport might be simple but the number signage are complex!

One wrong jeepney number and you will be routed to another place. I asked my AirBNB host how can I get to their place and as a backpacker, I chose to commute from the airport to the city. It was quite easy at first. Yet, I rode a wrong jeepney number that let me lost in the city. HAHA. Be mindful of the numbers!

You can also opt for MyBus, tricycles or even Grab! Yes, Grab is available in Cebu! But same as Manila, please brave the heavy traffic.

Where did I stayed?

I booked a dormitory bed via AirBNB. The condominium is located near convenience stores, fast food chains, restaurants and pharmacies. I even had a glimpse of one of the branches of my work project. A big boo for me! HAHAHA.

The room I had was designed with double deck beds. A common area and kitchen is available. There were shared bathrooms. All in all, I had a great experience in the place I booked.

Where are the places I traveled?

Magellan’s Cross

Magellan’s Cross holds a big part of the history of Cebu or may I say the entire Philippines. It is believed to be a Christian cross made by the Portuguese and Spanish explorers headed by Ferdinand Magellan. It was planted upon their arrival in Cebu on March 15, 1521. This day also marked the birth of Christianity in the Philippines.

Who will not stumble the pages of our history books without this information? As you know, I am history geek and this part of Philippines’ history for me is very much golden. This is when everything starts.

Since heavy traffic cost me a lot of time, I got to visit the famous Magellan’s Cross by evening. Good thing, I still have 30 minutes to take photo of this mystique!

Note that Magellan’s Cross can still be viewed 24 hours yet if you want to look at it closer, gates will be closed by 7 PM.

Sto. Nino Cathedral

Few steps away from Magellan’s Cross is the Sto. Nino Catheral. I have been blessed to let me get inside the Church as mass just ended. The magnificent altar and ceiling welcomed me. As we all know, Cebuanos celebrated Sinulog Festival and this place held a lot of value for them. Sto. Nino Cathedral is like the Quiapo Church in Manila that evidently prove that Christianity in the South is very much valued.

I had few moments inside the Cathedral as the last mass ended. Truly, this place is holy with all the religious figures and items. They even have some relics of Saints!

After visiting the Cathedral, rain still fell. I had a long day on the road and need to recharge for the next day.

Sirao Garden

Braving the rain on my second day in Cebu, I rented a taxi to visit Sirao Garden. Outside my condo is a taxi terminal. I haggled with drivers to take me to Sirao and Temple of Leah. It was actually one of the reasons why I wanted to visit Cebu yet it was raining. Nevertheless, I still went for it! Sirao Garden is about 30 minutes away from town proper. It might be easier to rent a “habal-habal” or a motorcycle but I don’t want to sacrifice comfort this time.

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Since it was early in the morning with light rain shower, I was the only one in the garden. A bit muddy and slippery, it was still a different experience for me to be surrounded by beautiful flowers.

Sirao Garden is breath of fresh air after all the bustle in the city. I spent more than 30 minutes in this place, admiring and owning a bit of time when the sky is clearer.

It could have been better if the sun was shining. But being in this Garden is a delight as God took me there.

Temple of Leah

Built in 2012, Temple of Leah is dedicated for Leah Albino Adarna. She is the wife of Teodorico Adarna, one of the most elite personality in Cebu. Temple of Leah is built to celebrate Leah’s life thru her collection of antiques, books, and memorabilia from her travels. Leah is described as Teodorico as a beloved wife and mother of his children. Leah was also chosen as the Matron Queen of her Alma Mater, University of Southern Philippines.

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The whole area can be visited in 30 minutes. However, I spent an hour here and it might be longer if all chambers are open. Back when I was there, some parts in Temple of Leah were still under construction yet its different beauty blew me away!

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I felt I was transported to another place! The halls and decorations are very elegant! Indeed, mayaman nga sila! HAHAHA. All of the items you can see in the windows of each chamber seems really expensive and luxurious. I wish to return here once all of the constructions are done. 🙂

From the top, you will see the entire Cebu City. Magnificent in it’s own way, the Adarna Family gave me a different experience on how to travel the world. It was a glorious experience!

After my short trip in Sirao Garden and Temple of Leah, I asked my cab driver to drop me off at Elizabeth Mall or famously known in Cebu as E-Mall. Beside the mall is the bus terminal going to South Cebu and other prime destination in the province including Simala. After a quick lunch at E-Mall, I headed to the bus terminal. Similar with my experiences in riding a public transportation in other provinces, I have waited for more than 30 minutes to fill all the seats in the bus.

Simala Cathedral or Lindogon Shrine

After 2 hours, I reached the road of Simala. I rented a tricycle for Php 150 to take me to Simala Cathedral. It was about 15 minutes from the highway to reach Simala Cathedral. Luckily, my driver agreed for a round trip ride.

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By surprise, rain stopped to fall. It was a perfect way of God to let me visit His place. Simala put chills in me! It was like Cathedrals in Europe that I used to see in television programs. It is massive! Each corners, halls, floor were adorn beautifully. It felt very right to be in this place.

It is said that an old man named Ireneo Villamor, famously known as Ingko Niyong, had a vision that the Marian Hills will become a sacred place to praise Mama Mary. After many years, this vision came true. It is now, one of the most sacred cathedral in Visayas.

The Lindogon Shrine is visited to pay respect and devotion to Mama Mary. It is said that Lady Lindogon is miraculous and let ill people be healed. As a proof of faith, there is a hall in the Shrine where the crutches, wheelchairs and other medical apparatus are displayed. These items are donated in the Shrine proclaiming that all of the people used these instruments were healed by Mama Mary. There were also testimonials from all over the Philippines gratifying the miracle of the Lady for letting them pass in different kinds of Board Examinations.

You will never run out of faith in this place. There are halls to with different images of our Lady from the different parts of the world. Truly, this Shrine is a manifestation of faith and love.

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I was very much blessed when God gave me some time to enjoy this place without rain. It was indeed a joy to praise Him and be with Mama Mary.

After more than 2 hours in Simala, I went back to Cebu City proper. I wanted to stop by Carcar where there is these famous chicharon (crispy fried pork belly or rinds) but I am afraid that I cannot return on time in the city. It is getting dark and I was not sure if there were still public transportation going back to the city. It was also a long day, so I just went back to my rented condo.

It might be a short backpacking stay in Cebu but the places I wanted to visit are ticked off. Nonetheless, my first time to go on solo backpacking in Visayas is a bit of a glimpse of Manila yet enticing in many ways. Getting lost in this city is like losing it up in a good way. I believe I will still go back to Cebu as there are many places I have never been to. Moreover, it was a thrilled experience at the Queen City of the South!

Next stop is Bohol! ❤

6 thoughts on “Cebu – Backpacking in the South

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