Cebu, Philippines

Jeepney, Cebu
Jeepney, Cebu

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t particularly want to go to the Philippines. I was told before I went – even by Filipino’s- “don’t do it! You might not come back!”

My parents decided we were going on a family holiday, and that was that. No, I didn’t get dragged kicked and screaming on the plane, but I was scared. Arriving at Cebu airport, it was very basic. Hot. Crowded. Baggage carousel etiquette? When you glimpse your bag from the 18th row back, point and scream – in English, Tagalog, doesn’t matter; if you make enough of a show the entire crowd will work to get that bag off the carousel and get it to you. That was my first warm experience of the Philippines.
Cebu Airport
Cebu Airport

I was told there was good shopping to be had, and we promptly went to the nearest shopping centre. As I haven’t traveled outside the island of Cebu I can’t say if it is normal for the country or just a rare gem, but the shopping centre is called Ayala and it is huge. And I mean HUGE! It makes anything I’ve seen in Australia look like a flea market. Brand new, beautiful. Upon arriving at one of the many entrances you are required to present your bag for inspection, and step through a full-body metal detector. There’s not much room for argument as the 2+ guards at the door are heavily armed. It sounds very off-putting but it made me feel quite safe.

Ayala Shopping Centre, Cebu
Ayala Shopping Centre, Cebu
Ayala Shopping Centre, Cebu
Ayala Shopping Centre, Cebu
Ayala Shopping Centre, Cebu
Ayala Shopping Centre, Cebu

There is a stark contrast between social class in Cebu, from the all-you-can-anything and the big fancy shopping centres, to the tin shanties on top of each other for houses across the road. It did seem as though no matter what your social standing, you have a brand new car. Even if it is parked outside your tiny shanty.

We did a fair amount of exploring in and around Cebu city, but were warned away by the locals from going too far downtown where pick-pocketing is rife, and kidnapping is not unheard of. So we took a trip up to the town of Danao. I went snorkeling at the severely littered beaches and was stung by a giant school of jellyfish, which wasn’t the greatest time of my life, so we spent the rest of our time there relaxing at the hotel (Elsalvador Beach Resort – sidenote: they make the most.amazing.ever. watermelon shake, see below) and venturing out to the local market precinct via motorbike-sidecar.
Elsalvador hotel's welcoming sign...
Elsalvador hotel’s welcoming sign
... is easily forgotten with a view like this
… is easily forgotten with a view like this
Just enough room for me to move in
Just enough room for me to move in
Danao, Cebu
Danao, Cebu
Danao, Cebu
Danao, Cebu
ohhh watermelon shake
ohhh watermelon shake
What I consider to be the National Dish of the Philippines, I present to you the HaloHalo
What I consider to be the National Dish of the Philippines, I present to you the HaloHalo
Danao, Cebu
Danao, Cebu
If you can, it's all-you-can
If you can, it’s all-you-can
After a couple of days in what felt like paradise (inclusive of an array of stray cats, which totally works for me considering I had to leave my 2 fur babies in the care of someone else), we headed on to a little town called Moalboal. I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves here.
Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal, Cebu

I am so glad my parents coerced me into this trip, as it was such an extraordinary, beautiful and touching experience. I can’t comment on the general safety of the country as we were limited to one island, but nothing bad or even remotely bad happened to us (other than getting a lot of stares, particularly to my blond-haired, blue-eyed mother & brother and me with my facial piercings) and I often day-dream of returning to Cebu… and not coming back!