The journey continues into Day 3, which was accidently spent at one of the nicest resorts on Mactan Island. We knew that we would have to pay to use the beach where ever we went, so we decided to check out the highest ranked beach on the island. Unbeknownst to us, these resorts charge an absolute fortune to use their “facilities”, which includes the beach, the lunch buffet, the pools and the gym. After some deliberation, we decided to be fancy people for a day and use our holiday bonuses to subsidize a day at the most relaxing beach in Cebu.
And that was how we spent the entirety of Day 3.
For Day 4, we decided to explore Mactan Island, also known as Lapu-Lapu Island. The island has some interesting historical significance- it is the site of Magellan’s murder at the hands of Lapu-Lapu, the chief of the Filipino native islanders. There is a curious little park that houses three monuments commemorating this event; a large obelisk-looking thing that honor’s Magellan and credits him for circumnavigating the globe, an enormous statue of Lapu-Lapu, and a large painting and plaque dedicated to Lapu-Lapu and the island people for successfully fighting against Magellan’s Spanish invasion. So…I’m confused.
After the park, we attended the street fiesta. Mactan Island’s patron saint is the Santo Nino, and we happened to visit during his sacred day! The heat was absolutely blinding, but the food was worth it.
We ate BBQ at a local joint- you pick your meat and they throw it on the grill right away. It was extremely delicious, as were the green mangoes with salt.
Basically, we tried to do locals things while looking as foreign as possible. People were extremely friendly and welcoming; they introduced us to babies and puppies, they showed us how to properly eat their food, and they commiserated about the heat. It was one of my favorite experiences.
Day 5 would be our last in this tropical paradise, and we decided to visit the sites of Cebu City. We went to the historic basilica, first built by the Spanish.
It’s obvious from the architecture that the Spanish were trying to import a little bit of home to the Philippines.
This area was hit hard by the earthquake in 2013, and the basilica exterior needed major repairs.
We also visited one of the city’s main markets, which was one of the most eye-opening parts of the trip, as it exposed us to the harsher realities of poverty in the Philippines. It was strange going from the opulence of the resort on Mactan island to the extreme hardship that many people who work at the market face every day.
It was a sobering way to end our trip, but I don’t regret it. To travel means to really experience a new place, not just the most palatable parts.
So we said goodbye to a beautiful, mystifying, intriguing, and altogether amazing country. Hanggang sa muli! (Until we meet again!)