Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Around Cebu in Minutes

A lot has been written and said about Cebu's top tourist destinations, including its sugary-white sandy beaches, the historical Magellan's Cross, Fort San Pedro, and the Sto Niño Basilica.
But more than those places, Cebu still has a lot more to offer than you think. When you come to Cebu, you might want to visit the following places for a change:

The first of its kind in the Philippines, the Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary is an all-natural haven of butterflies with no enclosure. It exists since 1974 as a result of a personal passion of artist Julian Jumalon. You can find 53 kinds of butterfly species flying freely around the garden sanctuary including the beautiful Daedalus with a least 10 to 15 kinds guaranteed to be spotted within a day.

The garden has at least 100 kinds of butterfly food plants, the source of attraction for these graceful creatures. The sanctuary also houses complete life histories of butterfly species - a precious tool for biology students working on their theses - and the oldest existing collection of butterflies with specimens dating back to the 1930's and some of the most wanted butterflies in the world.

The sanctuary also has an Art Gallery featuring a description of artist professor Julian Jumalon's dedication to art and a collection of the paintings including a number of his lepido-mosaics, cottages utilizing butterfly wings as its medium. The sanctuary and gallery is located along the Basak Elementary School Side Road in Basak, Pardo, Cebu City.

Witness the deep faith of the Cebuanos as they line up to enter a little cave and cover their heads with Our Lady of Guadalupe's blue veil to heal their sorrows. The story of the image found in the cave narrates that Cebuano forefathers hid the image there for fear that it will be taken back by the Spaniards or dishonored by non-believers. The image in the cave was eventually forgotten until a local trapper of wild chicken accidentally found it. The image was placed in a chapel where the present Guadalupe Parish Church now stands.

For many years, the cave was left unattended until an unknown benefactor offered to renovate it. On December 8, 1977, parish priest Rev. Msgr. Esteban S. Binghay had it blessed. Dripping water from the cave is said to possess healing powers and pilgrimage to the cave is said to grant a believer's wish. The Guadalupe Cave is located at Langub, Kalunasan, Guadalupe, Cebu City.

A pride of USP President Dr. Ronald Duterte, the University of Southern Philippines Museum showcases original personal belongings of Philippine National hero Dr. Jose Rizal. 1890 Cerrada coats, undershirts, summer clothes, polo shirts, pants, socks, and a classic sketchbook, featuring Josephine Bracken as his model, were all donated by Doña Trinidad Rizal during her visit to the USP-Mabini branch in February 1951. The museum also has and original KKK Flag donated by Doña Marcella Agoncillo.

Other priceless collections are also on display like the original letters of Josephine Bracken-Rizal, a report card of Doña Trinidad Rizal, 1899 and 1900 copies of the classic books Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo with its original receipt from the Chofre Printing Company, a complete set of 1906 Jose Rizal Memorabilia postcards, a 1906 handkerchief with prints of the song "Canto Patriotico de Maria Clara", and photographed manuscripts of Noli and El Fili. You may visit the museum at the USP Campus along Salinas Drive in barangay Lahug.

A 19th century ancestral house formerly owned by the Gorordo Family and acquired and restored by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. in 1980, the Casa Gorordo Museum offers a collection of fine antique furniture, small and life-size statues of saints and other effigies as well as the historical grandeur of the house itself.

Upon entering the museum, one is transported into the 19th century with the nostalgic architecture and house design, rooms with specific ancient lifestyle functions and furniture types. Among the generations of Gorordos who lived there was Bishop Juan Gorordo (1862-1934) known to be the first Filipino Bishop in Cebu.

Located at 35 Lopez Jaena Street, Cebu City, the Casa Gorordo Museum is also host to a varied array of cultural events and exhibits.

A general museum of local artifacts and antiquities, the Quijano Museum carries an interesting mix of displays that is sure to be of interest to any local or foreign tourists. It showcases old wooden implements like the duwang, old lamps, and cavans. It also holds authentic old ethnographic materials like gongs and jewelry.

The museum also offers a collection of priceless memorabilia of World War II like American and Japanese troop canteens, helmets and medicine boxes, even ammunitions and a bomb. It also offers memorabilia of former Philippine President and Cebuano Sergio Osmeña Sr., like the original photos of the grand old man himself and his son Serging. Paintings and sculptures can also be found at the Quijano Museum, which is located in Cabancalan, Mandaue City, Cebu.


Cebu's Beach Resorts Still The Best

I had one of the best experiences last weekend. Imagine, I was able to dip into two of Cebu's best beach resorts - the Plantation Bay Resort & Spa and the Maribago Bluewater Resort - all world-class and five star resorts located in Mactan Island.

I have visited Plantation Bay in the past but it was only last Saturday when I brought my swimming trunks and swam into the resort's various swimming pools and man-made swimming spots. If you want salt water, you can choose from any of the swimming spots scattered in the property's 11-hectares of splendor.

If you want fresh water, gather your trunks in the different swimming pools. Much more, if you want a relaxing session, go to the spa and I promise you the experience will surely linger in your memory for so long.

Plantation is a bit expensive, $150++ per night for standard rooms, but the amenities are par excellenti and the fun and exciting activities in the property are really outstanding. I wouldn't mind shelling out my hard-earned money in exchange for a day or two at the Plantation Bay.

After lunch, I headed to the nearby Maribago Blue Water Resort. Admittedly, it was already more than a decade since I last visited the resort and I should say that the management has made an outstanding move in making the resort world-class.

The place speaks for its name. Bluewater, white sands, peaceful surroundings, a really perfect sanctuary for those who are looking for a memorable place under the sun. No wonder I saw a lot of Russians and Koreans sunbathing in the area. For those who are living in cold countries, Maribago is indeed "paradise".

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