“Book a ticket now and just fly!” – This is what happened on 24th of May, 2014, my friends and I decided to explore several islands of Cebu, Philippines. Plane ticket booked. Next in line: Do the research. My little knowledge of the place gave me the enthusiasm to go online and start moving my fingers on my laptop keyboard for my research. What is the must-see, where to eat, what to do and how to go there are questions I have on my list.
Cebu is an island province in the Philippines consisting and several surrounding islands. It has a capital of Cebu City, the oldest city in the Philippines. With our nature lover characteristic, to mention being a beach lover and adventurer, we decided to see the sights of Camotes, Malapascua, and Bantayan Islands including a swim with the Butandings (Whale Sharks) at Oslob and a side trip to Cebu City. Santiago Bay Garden and Resort, Tepanee Beach Resort, Kota Beach and New Village became top on our list for accommodations. To add on, contact person Kuya Alfred, who is highly recommended by my friend as the untiring driver, guide, and photographer. Our draft itinerary was already prepared, and the weekly editing was done for our ideal exploration.
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FACING CHALLENGE OF NATURE
Six months of preparation and fortuitous event, Typhoon Haiyan (known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines) hits Visayas part of the Philippines. People were devastated by the catastrophe. However, with the tremendous support from several countries, Philippines were able to move forward and again see the beauty of the rainbow after a heavy rain. News flashed around the globe giving updates on Visayas region. Unfortunately, some people took advantage of the disaster for their own good; nonetheless, there were still good hearted individuals who created several projects to helped people conquer their trauma over what happened. Perfect examples were food relief operation, debriefing with the victims who lose their love ones providing them with the session to help them with emotional aspect, medical mission, livelihood program, and building of houses for their shelter. I was very lucky not being a victim but I cannot express my amazement to the victims for being brave, still able to smile and continue life despite the tragedy.
THE REAL MEANING OF ISLAND HOPPING
After few months of waiting and numerous things happened, February 25, 2014, came and this is it, our Cebu Exploration Day! With all our bags packed, we are ready to see the sights of Cebu. From white sand beaches to cliff jumping to city adventures, name it, Cebu has it! The first day started with a taxi ride going to port then ferry travel going to Camotes Island. This island was immaculate and has an organized community. People are sweeping their yard including the area near the public road and often greeted you with a smile. With a scenic view from Santiago Bay Garden and Resort, we enjoyed our one-day stay in this island paradise.
February 25 was another adventure day. We woke up early to the port for a ferry ride, bus and boat journey to Malapascua Island. With the warm greetings of Tepanee Beach Resort (For availability check their rates here) owners, Andrea and Silvia, together with their employees and guests, we felt like we are family and we comfortably make a conversation. The birthday celebration of Ted (my travel buddy) was the highlight of our visit to the resort.
We left Malapascua Island the next day to go to our next destination, Bantayan Island – one more island in the heart of Cebu. Cottages in Kota Beach were destroyed by the Typhoon Haiyan, and the management was in the process of restoring the cottages when we arrived. Despite being damaged by the typhoon, the island remains safe and excellent. Bantayan Island still has hidden nirvana; the Virgin Islands. We are the only group who visited the place that day, swam around the island and had a glimpse of the beauty of the school of fishes, corals, and seaweeds that were few steps away from the shore. What an extravagant feeling to own an island for a few hours! After the two hours of staying on the island, we need to go back to Kota Beach for our dinner. Enticing foods were ordered at the restaurant to satisfy our cravings.
February 27 was a long day trip. We arrived at Cebu City North Bus Terminal before lunch and immediately headed to South Bus Terminal for a trip going to Oslob, the southern part of Cebu. We reached Oslob at 8 PM, and we searched for an inn while traveling. Thank you to modern technology, we were able to find an inn, we reviewed the comments on TripAdvisor and booked an overnight stay at New Village Lodge in Oslob (For availability check their rates here.). Ate Merlyn fetched us at the public market. While walking, we came up with an agreement that her husband will take us to the Butanding (Whale Shark) attraction and a hidden fall next morning. Dinner was served, conversation with my travel buddies about latest updates in life took place and movie night completed our fourth day.
Everyone woke up early on February 28 and ready for an encounter with the gentle sea creatures’ butanding (Whale Sharks). All were excited, geared up and ready for the “swim with the butandings” scene. An introduction was conducted for the do’s and don’ts. People were jumping into the water for a picture perfect shots with our stars – the Butandings. A side trip to the hidden falls, lunch to satisfy our tummy before going to the city for an extreme night Adventure at Crown Regency Hotel & Towers (For availability check their rates here.) . We chose the Edge Coaster, approximately 4 minutes and Skywalk, about 10-15 minutes, tour around the outer rim of the tower and had a chance to see a breathtaking view of Cebu City at night.
BEING BLESSED AND THANKFUL
With the overwhelming experienced in Cebu, I am gratified that I had a chance to have a glimpse of a paradise and met courageous people that continue their life after Typhoon Haiyan through helping each other.
About the Writer:
Licelyn Labrador, a Filipino Business Analyst during weekdays and an Extreme Adventurer by heart every day. Her passion for traveling opened her mind to the reality that “There is always life after work” which strives her to continue her advocacy on travel. Adventure. Live. Extreme. Through this advocacy, she was able to encourage people around her to continue exploring. She aims to complete her “Libutin Ang Pilipinas Project” by the age of 35, and carry on to explore Southeast Asia then her Dream Adventure of Euro Trip by the age of 40. Check more about Ecel on Facebook and Instagram.
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