After planning this trip for a year, it finally happened! We booked our flight seats in 2017, and after tedious planning and what seemed like an eternity of pre-paying for our Airbnb and transportation fees, our Cebu adventure finally came true. We were all really excited and we have always known this is gonna be something BIG. This is the first time that we are flying out for a trip all together. We haven’t even gone on a lot of road trips in the past. To be honest, going out of town is not something that we usually do together. We also knew this will be the most treasured memory we have of each other. And it turns out, we were absolutely right. We cannot be grateful enough for this trip.
Anyway, here’s a rundown of what went down in Cebu (after spending a day in Bohol):
Day 1 – Badian
- Kawasan Falls
We were supposed to go to the Simala Shrine in Sibonga first, but since we were already running late, we decided to just visit Kawasan Falls for the day. We spent almost four hours in transit–which was composed of mainly sleeping, playing my Spotify playlists, a little bit of sight-seeing, and more sleeping. By the time we arrived at the jump-off point, we were famished.
After almost an hour of walking, we decided to stop by the eatery to have lunch. This was when we realized we should have brought packed lunch. After waiting for more than an hour, our food arrived but all our orders were either inaccurate or cancelled (because apparently, they were unavailable and we weren’t even told earlier). We regret stopping by and deciding to have our lunch at the place, but we had no other choice. It was the only one there.
We resumed walking for about ten more minutes before finally reaching the falls. Kawasan falls was so beautiful in person. The water was really cold but that did not stop us from swimming in the natural blue pool. There were a lot of tourists at the time so we did not stay for long. After leaving Kawasan Falls, we journeyed our way to Oslob where our Airbnb for the night awaits.
Day 2 – Oslob
Our trip from Kawasan Falls to Oslob took another three hours and two bus rides. We had some trouble finding our Airbnb but with the help of the kind locals, we were able to settle in just in time for dinner. I was feeling out of sorts that night and I wanted some fresh air, so I decided to go to the Poblacion with Jemmie and have our dinner there. Upon getting back, my friends and I hung out out by the pool. I was not in the mood for a swim so I just watched them from the side. At midnight, I decided to call it a day while most of my friends stayed and make the most out of the night.
- Whale Shark Encounter
As expected, we were once again behind our schedule. We left at around 8:00 AM and we had a long day ahead of us. (We even tried to squeeze a quick stopover at Simala Shrine on our way back to the city but we unsurprisingly failed to do so.) Anyway, first thing in the morning, we hired a tricycle that will bring us to the Whale Shark Encounter Area. Our driver was kind enough to refer us to his daughter, a tour guide, who happened to be very accommodating and hospitable. She provided us with everything we needed and she made sure to assist us from the moment we met her until it we left. After dropping off our stuff, we had a quick breakfast, then we went straight to the briefing area.
The encounter was a bit underwhelming. First off, our guide was not helpful when it comes to assisting us. Another thing that turned me off was how the Oslob whale shark encounter has been controversial over the years. As a tourist, I cannot help but research about the places I’m about to see and the activities I’ll try. Basically, I came across multiple articles about Oslob and the negative effects of the whale shark encounter. I was really hesitant to do the activity but we were traveling as a group and I wanted to make the most out of the trip with my friends. Based on the write-ups I have read, most of the tourists don’t follow the whale shark interaction code of conduct. It’s true that the guidelines are discussed repeatedly at the briefing area, but the boatmen who look over the encounter cannot assure that the guidelines are being followed by the tourists. Sometimes, tourists tend to accidentally kick and touch the whale sharks. This can, of course, cause injuries or inflict pain. During the few times I tried to go underwater and see them up close, I tried to keep my distance–mainly because I do not want these gentle giants to get hurt. Participants who breach the guidelines given during briefings are not even penalized.
Also, the contact is initiated by the feeders who sometimes touch the whale sharks. The feeders have also been observed to occasionally stroke the sharks and push them away in an attempt to discourage the shark from feeding because they want to conserve the food for the next group of guests. And because of these procedures, the feeding teaches whale sharks that seeing boats and humans mean food and they are now observed to actively approach the boats instead of avoiding them. This behavior might have risks for whale shark, who are normally migratory species, as they might travel outside of protected waters and wrongly approach shark fishing boats.
One more thing: Because whale sharks are migratory species, they are known to migrate great distances. But as feeders continue to feed whale sharks in Oslob, the whale sharks are now staying in Oslob for much longer instead of moving to other regions. This change in migratory patterns could affect the future breeding prospects of the whale sharks as they are prevented from fulfilling their biological purpose. Many people wrongly believe that there are no negative impacts on the whale shark interaction but there are and it’s the main reason why I regret doing this activity. I’m all for the promotion of our tourism but I do not support this activity. It was amazing to see the whale sharks up close, though. They are all so beautiful.
- Sumilon Island
Sumilon Island has got to be–so far–the best island I have ever been to. It’s surrounded by crystal clear and pristine blue waters. The sandbar experience was just wonderful. Imagine walking barefoot along powdery white sand as the waves crash on your feet. We had our lunch at the island after that, we went down to take photos and enjoy swimming around the area. I also took a few moments to sit in silence and take everything in. The vibe was super chill.
After an hour or so, we decided to head back to the mainland since we still have another destination to tick off. It took us a while to reach the mainland since our boat took a lot of turns which we were not able to comprehend what was happening at the moment because we were all tired and sleepy. Anyway, after going around Sumilon Island for what seemed like forever, we finally headed back and went on with our day.
- Tumalog Falls
As I have mentioned, our tour guide (I forgot her name) took care of everything we needed–from food to transportation–so we did not have any trouble going around Oslob. We rode a multicab to the jump-off point of Tumalog Falls. From there, we took a two-minute motorcycle ride. The view that welcomed us was breathtaking! It definitely seemed like Tumalog Falls was a hidden gem tucked in a magical forest of something. It was enchanting–fairytale stylez! (Sorry for the Brooklyn Nine-Nine reference. No wait, I take it back. No regrets.) It was really a sunny day and we were all sweaty and hot but when we got to the falls, the ambience totally changed. It was like the temperature dropped and we were transported into another dimension. The natural pool beneath a high curtain falls–it was so beautiful!
We headed back to the beach where we rented a room. We cleaned up then had our last meal before heading back to the city. We caught a bus right before sundown and the ride took about four hours. When we reached our Airbnb, we were exhausted. However, we did our best to make the most out of our last night. We shared conversations over beer and played non-stop Mafia (a.k.a. our new found obsession). We sang along to our teenage anthems and got in trouble for being too loud. The night was memorable.
Day 3 – Cebu City
Our streak was unbeatable. We were consistent for all the days of our trip–we were unsurprisingly late and suuuuper behind the schedule. We left our Airbnb at around 11 AM, had lunch, then proceeded with our Cebu City day tour. The day was kind of a bliss–hopping from one attraction to another, taking numerous naps in the van, eating snacks, taking countless photos, getting pissed at the Temple of Leah for charging us Php 50 and discovering the main building was under construction, getting disappointed at Sirao Garden after looking for the social media famous colorful flowers they realizing they were indeed in front of us, just not in full bloom, buying souvenirs, and ending at the day at the airport. It all went so fast so I’ll just dump my favorite photos from here on.
- Magellan’s Cross
- Basilica of Sto. Niño
- Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
- Fort San Pedro
- Sirao Garden
- Temple of Leah
- Cebu Taoist Temple
DISCLAIMER: Some photos are taken by my friends.
I’m gonna end this post with something I wrote at the airport in Cebu.
int. airport. night.
currently waiting to board our plane back home. some realizations: tough days are inevitable. also very unpredictable. some days, i show up. some days, i dont. there are days when i want to show up but i cant. but the hardest to deal with are days when i am already there—present with the people i care for, i showed up and i truly wanted to be there—but i just couldnt participate. the horrible sinking feeling—it does not discriminate, it does not choose when and where it decides to attack. you can be swimming in crystal blue waters, at the side of the pool with your friends drinking through the night, at night when youre about to sleep, in the morning during warm showers, in the middle of bursting into your teenage anthem, watching your friends have the best conversations, looking for the perfect playlist before the plane takes off… it would still penetrate through your laughter and smiles. a sudden wave. it will take you by surprise. i see them wondering, i can feel them worrying about me. some were even nice enough to ask me if i was okay. i nod. i always nod. i cant tell them i wasnt really okay because i didnt want to spoil the fun. besides, im not sure if everyone would understand. i couldnt tell them that i am grateful and i am happy for the gift of our friendship, i just couldnt be involved at that particular moment. but i wish i could. i wanted to be in the moment, too. sometimes, i just wish i can be just as happy as they are in the moment.
the past few days have been so much fun. i will always relive the memories. i will never get tried of talking about them. i am very thankful for this chance to experience new places with my best friends. although i may be disconnected at times, i will always cherish every bit of this trip. until the next one.
i spent almost half of my time obsessively repacking my stuff, cleaning my hands and feet with alcohol, worrying about forgetting something important or losing a gadget, and thinking about my journals back home. “it” was giving me a hard time. i was uneasy and uncomfortable. i don’t know how to deal with it properly because i wanted to enjoy the trip with my friends. it was tough but i got through. BECAUSE the memories i’ve had with these wonderful bunch of human beings outweighed every little detail that tried to ruin this trip for me. forever grateful.