Monday, January 20, 2014

THE QUEEN CITY OF THE SOUTH

aerial view of Cebu featuring the Mactan bridges 
I have recently developed an affinity to a known city in the Philippines.  Less populated, manageable traffic, honest and reliable taxi drivers, good-looking and friendly locals, pristine beaches, gastronomic feast of all sorts of cuisine and remarkable tourist attractions not to mention culturally significant, that is, Cebu City.

In the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Cebu City will be our family's second home.  With this, every nook and altitude of the queen city of the south is expected to be passed by my tsinelas (slippers).

Let us then explore and make an initial discovery of the City of Cebu.


Dialect

The Philippines has a hundred of languages/dialects which may pose as a communication barrier on all travel interactions.  In the case of Cebu province, Cebuano is their local dialect, which is relatively understood on most parts of Visayas and even Mindanao.  Though, I am unable to speak the Cebuano dialect, I can clearly understand the basics as some Waray words have resemblance to the former. My parents and some siblings can fluently speak the dialect, thus, they can be my tour guide at times.  As per my friends based in Cebu, they prefer to speak English rather than Tagalog.

But no matter what the dialect is, it is the gesture and the pleasing personality that matters when communicating.  

Transportation


Cebu, being an international destination will not pose any problem on modes of transportation as all sorts are available to every visitor although the fastest way is through plane.

Daily flights from major airlines of the country are available with routes coming from major cities of the country.

Getting around the city is likewise manageable.  Cebu City is one of the few cities in the country where taxi drivers give back a change in the fare to the last centavo, unlike in Metro Manila where arrogance flows in the system on some of the taxi drivers.  You will feel indebted if you ask for your change in fare in Metro Manila as rounding-off is the name of their game.  Surely, this is one thing I admire of Cebu City.

Roasted Pig (Lechon)


As most lechon stalls in the country always make a reference to Cebu City as its origin, a taste of Cebu City's lechon will surely make you brag of what authentic lechon should be defined.  Lechon is a popular pork dish in Spain and its former colonial possessions throughout the world including the Philippines.  And Cebu City being one of the cities in the country where Spanish influence and heritage is still existing, no wonder lechon authenticity is equated to Cebu City.

Where the best lechon in Cebu is?  Here are some of the recommended places based on my personal taste.

CEBU'S ORIGINAL LECHON BELLY
Location:  Parkmall branch, 158 Ouano Avenue, Mandaue reclamation area, Mandaue City.


As the queue in this stall that sits in the corner of a mall becomes unending, we knew that the recommendation of my brother based in Cebu was correct. The lechon belly was indeed perfect that no ample time for conversations were made as we dine and consume the two (2) kilos that we have ordered , both spicy and regular, complemented by steamed rice cooked inside a heart shaped woven coconut leaf wrapper.  (puso in local dialect)



Diners are encouraged to eat with their bare hands.  Truly, a recommended dining experience.  Ordering is as easy as counting 1-2-3, just queue in the line, state the weight of lechon belly to be ordered and as many puso as you want.  It is the stock of lechon belly that would be the main concern, just pray that those who are ahead of you in the line won't consider "hoarding" for their personal consumption.

ZUBOCHON



Location:  One Mango Mall, Gen. Maxilom Avenue
Note:  there are still other branches scattered across the city

Zubuchon lechon


Zubuchon in the city of Cebu is like a mushroom that sprouts in the metropolis.  You can judge all you want by saying that the people might not be mindful of their health and diet.  But contrary to the physical appearances of the Cebuanos, truly, there is still a market in the city for lechon and we begin to wonder how unfair their metabolism is.  Dinuguan (pork blood stew), a by-product of lechon, is likewise a must try for pork lovers.  Aside from the lechon and dinuguan, the cassava cake will balance the fat and cholesterol intake for a dine in.

Larsian

Cebu City is known for this numerous stalls located at Fuente Osmena offering varied grilled barbequed pork, chicken, fish and other sea foods.  


Customers can choose from a variety of stalls from which to order the food to be grilled.  And the common grilling area is situated at the center.  Honestly, there would be no substantial difference on the stalls, just the discount and the ambiance from which diners will be situated.  Should you place large orders, you can actually request for a free bottle of soft drinks enough to quench the thirst of the group.






Diners are also encouraged to eat with bare hands.  This is a no posh restaurant but the dining experience is something one should experience even once in a lifetime, especially when one is in Cebu.

Santo Nino de Cebu


Santo Nino is considered the patron saint of Cebu.  And the Basilica del Santo Nino is the home of the said saint, said to be the oldest church in the Philippines.  During my recent visit, unfortunately the basilica has been closed to the public due to the 15 October 2013 7.2.-magnitude earthquake which partially destroyed the structure.  Nevertheless, the confession of faith is still overwhelming despite the destruction of the church.

And these are the things we can say "Only in Cebu."

While it may be for tourism slogan purposes only, Cebu City tagged as the Queen City of the South is indeed something and made for a purpose.  As the queen only maintains its beauty and continue on its quest for existence, there is a king that nourishes, flaunts and supports its beauty, and I say, we, the visitors and even locals of Cebu, are the kings of our own.

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