Table for Two: Cebu

Today we’re starting with our Table for Two series, a roundup of our food picks from the places we’ve been to around the country. And it’s only fitting that we start with Cebu, no doubt one of the best places you can go to for a food trip. 
 

TWO2TRAVEL | Table for Two | Cebu

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River trekking in Cebu

The things we do for work.

I was thinking along those lines as I jumped from pebble to rock to boulder and back in Cebu, lugging two cameras, two lenses, a tripod, a flash, and my phone. A river was raging down below, the waters taking my wits away. I was doing this for an assignment but I didn’t have an inkling about what river trekking was, and how really stupid it was to be carrying as much as I did.

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CEBU!

How can we even begin to describe Cebu?

Of all the provinces we’ve been to in the Philippines, Cebu is that one place that always has something new to offer, no matter how many times we visit.

We love its food, its beaches, its underwater life, and the ease at which we can shuttle from one area to the next!

(Please click on the photos to navigate to their respective posts.)

FESTIVALS

Sinulog Festival

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Sto. Nino Procession

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

FOOD

Lechon Cebu

Our favorite so far: Cebu’s Original Lechon Belly’s spicy lechon belly

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Puso

Wrapped in coconut leaves, dangling from stalls – that’s how Cebu does its rice.

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel
Also see: Table for Two: Cebu

CRAFTS

Mactan’s handmade guitars

Before there even was the ingenious Loudbasstard, the classic Cebu pasalubong—apart from the food—would be these handmade guitars

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

ADVENTURE

River trekking within the city

ri

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Swimming with thresher sharks in Malapascua

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Swimming with whalesharks in Oslob

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Exploring Bantayan Island on a motorbike

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Places to stay in Cebu
Note: For a more comprehensive list of hotels, please check out Agoda. For some really cool alternatives (such as condos), head over and sign up at Airbnb.

This is just a summary of the places we, either together or on separate trips, have tried in Cebu. Some of the stays were paid for by us, some were made possible through travel assignments (referring to the expensive ones, which we apparently cannot afford).

MACTAN ISLAND
Abaca Resort and Restaurant – luxurious rooms and delicious food. There are only nine rooms in the whole property, so this is perfect for those who love peace and quiet. It comes with a price though, but it’s going to be well-spent for sure.
Crimson Resort and Spa – it’s a sprawling resort designed for families and big groups. Food is good too, and buffet spread is quite diverse.
Islands Stay Mactan – nice and clean, has big and comfy beds, and is right outside the airport. It’s good for any type of group since there are four kinds of rooms, from single to quadruple occupancy. Rates are quite affordable too.
Plantation Bay – stay here if you don’t want to go anywhere else. It has manmade pools (if you like that kind of thing), a dive shop, and bikes you can use throughout the property. Food is good, especially the lechon which they cook in the open, right by the poolside.

CEBU CITY
Hotel Elizabeth – good central location (just a couple of blocks from Ayala)
Quest – right across Ayala. Perfect for those in Cebu for business.
The Center Suites – good location; especially near Maxwell Hotel where we have our regular spicy lechon belly fix (because Mandaue is too damn far)
East Capitol Pensionne – very good value. Rooms are rather small but they’re very well thought out and are equipped with cabinets and corners in which to place your stuff so you maximize whatever space you have.

Life’s a Beach 3: Easy cruising in Bantayan

Summer ain’t over just because Holy Week is. Besides, our next destination–Bantayan Island in northern Cebu–is best experienced without the crowds.

two2travel cebu bantayan

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Sinulog sa Sugbu 2012

The carousel parade of the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City was the LONGEST we’ve had to take photos of: 10 grueling hours, more than half of which under the scorching heat of the sun!

Sinulog Festival, Cebu, Philippines

It also didn’t help that, although we had IDs, we were clueless about the best spots to position ourselves!
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Wow, Handuraw!

We were trying to give justice to the 12 inches of cheese before us one Saturday afternoon after having a field day around Cebu, but apparently Elizabeth Gilbert had better words:

Handuraw Pizza, Cebu City, Philippines

[…] before I left Rome he gave me the name of a pizzeria in Naples that I had to try, because, Giovanni informed me, it sold the best pizza in Naples. I found this a wildly exciting
prospect, given that the best pizza in Italy is from Naples, and the best pizza in the world is
from Italy, which means that this pizzeria must offer . . . I’m almost too superstitious to say it… the best pizza in the world? […]

Handuraw Pizza, Cebu City, Philippines

So Sofie and I have come to Pizzeria da Michele, and these pies we have just ordered—one for each of us—are making us lose our minds. I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair. Meanwhile, Sofie is practically in tears over hers, she’s having a metaphysical crisis about it, she’s begging me, “Why do they even bother trying to make pizza in Stockholm? Why do we even bother eating food at all in Stockholm?”

Pizzeria da Michele is a small place with only two rooms and one nonstop oven. […] There’s not a menu. They have only two varieties of pizza here—regular and extra cheese. None of this new age southern California olives-and-sun-dried-tomato wannabe pizza twaddle. The dough, it takes me half my meal to figure out, tastes more like Indian nan than like any pizza dough I ever tried. It’s soft and chewy and yielding, but incredibly thin. I always thought we only had two choices in our lives when it came to pizza crust—thin and crispy, or thick and doughy. How was I to have known there could be a crust in this world that was thin and doughy? Holy of holies! 

Handuraw Pizza, Cebu City, Philippines

Thin, doughy, strong, gummy, yummy, chewy, salty pizza paradise. On top, there is a sweet tomato sauce that foams up all bubbly and creamy when it melts the fresh buffalo mozzarella, and the one sprig of basil in the middle of the whole deal somehow infuses the entire pizza with herbal radiance, much the same way one shimmering movie star in the middle of a party brings a contact high of glamour to everyone around her. It’s technically impossible to eat this thing, of course. You try to take a bite off your slice and the gummy crust folds, and the hot cheese runs away like topsoil in a landslide, makes a mess of you and your surroundings, but just deal with it. ~ Eat Pray Love

Unfortunately we weren’t in Naples (or in any other country for that matter). We were somewhere along Gorordo Avenue in Cebu City in what looks like an old house outfitted to be a pizzeria, with really cozy interiors as well as an al fresco dining area. 

It considers itself having the best thin crust pizza in Cebu, and though we were unable to compare it with any other local pizzeria, it did go down in our books as one of the best we’ve had so far.

Handuraw Pizza, Cebu City, Philippines

Another reason to troop to Gorordo for your high-calorie fix: Handuraw is also known for its below-zero beer. Pair that up with their best-selling pizza and that’s just about as good as any Neapolitan pizza experience you could get. Handuraw, after all, is Cebuano for the power to imagine.

Now we know you’re hungry.

HANDURAW PIZZA

Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City (near UP Cebu)
10 minutes by cab or jeepney

Other branches

Pueblo Verde, Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan, Cebu
Corner J. Camus St., Quirino Ave., Davao City
2F Lexington Condominium, Xavierville Ave., Quezon City
3F Eastwood Cyber&Fashion Mall, Eastwood City, Quezon City
Unit 3 #3270 Armstrong Ave., Pasay City

This is not a sponsored post.

Wanna know more about our Cebu food picks? Click here!

A look into Sinulog’s pious side: Cebu’s Sto. Niño procession

This year, crowd estimates of the Sinulog 2012 festivities reached 3.5 million–a consistent high in festival attendance in the entire country. It’s no wonder Cebu draws so many people during the second weekend of January for the Sinulog–if there’s one place in the Philippines that knows how to play host to a big event, it’s gotta be Cebu.

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

There are mainly two sides to the celebrations: the merrymaking part which Sinulog has become very known for, and the religious side, through which the festival traces its roots.

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

We spent three of the six days we were in Cebu walking along the city streets during festival weekend. And once again we were reminded why we love going to local festivals–everyone’s in a merry mood, everyone’s extra generous and kind, and all the best the place has to offer is laid down before you in heavy abundance. 

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

But Sinulog’s other side amazed us just as much–the devotion of the people to the Sto. Niño, the festival’s central figure. The number of people who joined the procession reminded us of the Black Nazarene crowd in Manila, although not as, uh, aggressive.

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

During the procession, which happens on the Saturday afternoon of the Sinulog weekend, people bring along their Sto. Niño statues and hoist them up. 

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

Elsewhere in the city, particularly around the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, thick crowds gather for the hourly masses (the crowd had been too big we were able to pass through the church gates on our last day after two earlier attempts). We were not even able to enter the church itself because there were just too many people.

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

We managed to enter the church gates on our second attempt, two days after our first one.

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

Second and fourth photos from top left, clockwise show people praying around Magellan’s Cross, believed to be where the Portuguese explorer placed a cross, a Catholic symbol, to mark the Christianization of the locals. The place was boarded up when we went there so people threw coins and unlit candles through the gate voids instead.

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

Balloon vendors add color to the crowds at the basilica. There were more balloon vendors here than anywhere else we ever saw.

If you’re planning to join the next Sinulog Festival and would want to check out its religious part, remember the following: 

Sto. Nino procession, Cebu City, Philippines | Two2Travel

1. The Sto. Nino procession takes place every Saturday afternoon of the Sinulog weekend.

2. Osmena Boulevard is the most recommended place to take photos as it’s the widest area and may be less prone to overcrowding.

3. The Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino is accessible via the Sto. Nino jeepneys. You can drop off in front of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, a beautiful whitewashed structure, before walking three minutes to the Basilica. Magellan’s Cross is beside the Basilica too.

Sto Nino Procession, Cebu | Two2Travel
Sto. Nino Procession Photo Gallery