Following my late night exploration of the city, I woke up early the following day with two agendas in mind: feel the heritage of Cebu City and taste Carcar’s famous lechon.
So, after enjoying my hearty complimentary breakfast at Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I asked the hotel’s receptionist how I could get to Carcar. After getting my much-needed information, I went out to Osmena, took a jeepney ride (yes, I do as the locals do), and headed off to Magellan’s Cross. At this moment, I could not be any more of a tourist.
Propped with my camera, backpack, and phone on a selfie stick, I took as many photos as I could of this historical landmark. I grew up just reading and seeing it on textbooks but it is a completely different experience to see it and be in it in real life. I did not escape the eyes of peddlers with my tourist get-up. It was not long before I was offered different items- necklaces, pearls, keychains, and colored candles.
Part of my local traveling advocacy is to help the local industry. So, without compromising my allotted budget for souvenirs, I bought some keychains, a pearl necklace, and my mom’s request- a Sto Nino item. A woman offered me a set of colored candles and said that she will dance and pray for me at the church after purchase. I am no Christian but I still gave in to the offer. It felt good at the time. I then grabbed this opportunity to admire Magellan’s Cross.
Soon after, I visited Basilica Minore del Sto Nino which was just next to Magellan’s Cross. It was a Tuesday yet still crowded with locals and tourists alike. Much to my surprise, there was also a mass going on. After giving some prayers and asking for guidance for this trip, I explored the old corridors of the church. It was teeming with stories dating back to the 1700s. Walking through it was a surreal experience.
Following my spiritual tour of Cebu City, I headed off to Carcar. Carcar City is 40kms from Cebu City and is accessible by bus. So, I took a non-airconditioned bus from the Cebu South Bus Terminal. It was almost lunch time when the bus took off and knowing that the travel time would be around 40mins, I started worrying that there would no longer be lechon at the Carcar Public Market.
It was past one when I reached my destination and much to my surprise, lechon are served all day long! The server even told me that I can come in anytime to try their best-sellers. Disclaimer, though: these lechon are served in a public market. Very much unlike the ones found in enclosed restaurants. But hey, there’s no need to worry as the area is kept clean, or at least looks like it. Challenging the cowboy with a huge hunger that I am, I ordered quarter of a kilo and a few grams of fried isaw (intestine and innards).
Here’s a tip, you can buy lechon from the vendors and eat it at the carinderias on the side. They will not charge you for the service, all you have to do is to order something from them. I had 3 puso, a bottle of softdrinks, and of course, FRESH lato. Yes, Cebu easily earned a spot in my heart for its fresh lato. And damn, Carcar lechon are the bomb! Tasty and juicy, I am craving for it as I am typing this.
After pigging out, I roamed around the public market to fulfill my dad’s request- different types of daing or dried seafood. Luckily, it was easy to find as the smell took me to it. There is a designated area in the market for these goods. And travelers need not to worry as they will pack the goods in a sealed plastic bag for customers who will be traveling by plane. I then concluded my Carcar City experience by securing pasalubongs such as bocarillo (sweet young coconut chips), rosquillos, rice crispies, and peanut bars.
I was just in time for dinner when I returned to Cebu City. But following my pig-out session at Carcar, I am nowhere near hunger yet. So, I explored Fort San Pedro which is at the far end of the city. Think of it as Cebu City’s Intramuros. Much like Manila’s Intramuros, it also played a big role in shaping up the country’s history. And with that in mind, I gasped in every bit of history that I could get from this historical landmark. This triangular fortress was a good spot to stay in at sunset because visitors can get both the view of the sea and the park next to it.
After about an hour of enjoying its heritage and taking photos, I returned to the hotel. Realizing that I still have time to spare, I dropped by a Shamrock branch at Fuente Osmena Circle. As expected, it was packed even on a weekday. I grabbed the usual pasalubongs except for dried mangoes which were unluckily out of stock at the time. It was not long before I returned to the hotel, do the usual check-out routine and grabbed a ride to Mactan International Airport. My flight back to Manila is at 2 AM.
I may have a quick stay in Cebu City but I have fallen in love with the place. It is a stone’s throw away from the bustle of Manila but there is something about its simplicity that caught my heart. Without sounding too melodramatic about it but whenever I travel, I indulge myself in a place’s culture and experience as much as the locals do. Before the plane departed Mactan, I promised myself that I will return to this lovely place and explore its beach resorts.
That’s all for now, Cebu City!