cebu - apo island - siquijor - dumaguete: cebu city

Apo Island Turtle Watching - Siquijor IslandDumaguete City
3 Friends, 3 Provinces, 7 Days

The truth? I don’t like packaged tours. I love researching, canvassing, planning, booking flights, accommodations, doing itineraries on an excel file, all the while imagining what the days would be like. The preproduction of an adventure for me is the build up of the story – of travel itself. It begins with the mind they say, and yes it does.

It began at 2am – I think it always did during our trip. I hired an uber who surprisingly arrived at our doorstep 15 minutes after I booked it. Groggy, I dumped my last stuff into my backpack. Once I greeted kuya driver, I knew I forgot the one thing I always forget during trips – my toothbrush. I. Swear. I always do. I arrived at an unfamiliar neighborhood and was greeted by my friend Nicole at their subdivision gate. There was little rain as we walked in the dark street, and somehow I wished the trip would be sunny. We slept for 1.5hrs which was a joke. What torture.

The domestic terminal was cramped with people (all waiting for either Kalibo or Caticlan flights as it was Laboracay – the ultimate summer event for partygoers which we, non-partygoers, don’t go to). Our flight to Cebu was early, thank God for AirAsia. We were walking towards the plane where there was an old woman, so we opted to assist her. Just then, her right slipper ripped. And my extra pair – my non-Havaianas, non-Ipanema, cheap flipflops saved the day! I was so touched that moment, I took it as a good sign for the trip.

Hotel Fortuna lobby
We slept through the one-hour flight and finally landed. We met Anna, whose flight was earlier, at Jollibee. Here we go with the two-piece chickenjoy. We took a grabtaxi (because there was no grabcar nor uber) to our hotel. Cebu City, as a first impression, is like Manila, but a lot closer to the sky. I don’t know, maybe the clouds were fluffier that day. Our cheapo hotel was in an area which was like Binondo or Old Manila. The structure, architecture is the same. I scouted the area alone when we were waiting for the check-in. The strangest thing is that I felt like I wasn’t in the Philippines, because everywhere I eavesdrop, I didn’t hear any Tagalog word, and kind of freaked out when I bought a scrunchie from a sidewalk vendor and when I asked how much it is, she said ‘Cinco’. Well, at least I know street Spanish. :P

Bicol Express y'all

First in order of the day would of course be the lechon. We ate at a Rico’s branch where we got the last serving of lechon for lunch. Spicy lechon by the way. One bite, and expectations were let down. But nothing’s not tasty for the hungy, so on we munched til our eyes watered from too much spice. Maybe it was the last serving, or maybe it’s the way it was cooked, or maybe we just expected the crunchy skin of lechon – but yup, we’ve eaten better.

Magellan's Cross

The sun was scorching hot and we hired a cab to Magellan’s Cross. I really tried to keep my eyes open, but with the traffic and two unfair friends already snoozing, I succumbed to dreamland. There were a lot of sleep jerking awaking the other which was fun, haha!

Amazing ceiling frecoes

We walked to the cross, then to Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. It has the grandest frescoes on the ceiling. I stared at it for a quite good while.

Free guided tour

We asked a fishball vendor where Fort San Pedro is and walked about for 10 minutes. There was a free guided tour inside by tourism students as part of their internship so we got one. It was there when we were reminded that Magellan wasn’t a Filipino and that the first Christian, Rajah Humabon wasn’t one too. Mind-boggling. I wish my Sibika/Hekasi class were done in field trips.

The normal jeepney

We went to a nearby 7-11 where I finally bought a toothbrush (which I will add to my collection of travel toothbrushes). The hotel felt like home afterwards and we drifted off to sleep at 7:30pm – as it always did during our trip.

Expenses and Itinerary


Flight from Manila
Booked 6 months in advance via AirAsia

Hotel Fortuna booked via Agoda

8AM, arrive at Mactan Cebu International Airport, grabtaxi Php 100
10AM, arrive at Hotel Fortuna (due to traffic, ongoing road constructions)
2PM, lunch at Rico’s, Php 255/person
3PM, DIY Cebu City Tour
6PM, back at hotel

  • Book a hotel near South Cebu Bus Terminal if you are have Badian / Moalboal Canyoneering or Oslob Whale Shark Watching in your itinerary
  • Go for gold and go early if you want fresh lechon!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for directions. People in this city are pretty cool actually despite the dialect difference.
  • Take lots of photos
  • Sleep early
  • Don’t forget your toothbrush, okay?