Category Archives: Places

Magellan's cross

Highlights of Cebu

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Highlights of Cebu

Cebu City is the capital of the province Cebu, and regional center of the Central Visayas. The surrounding metropolitan area, known as Metro Cebu, is the largest in the Visayas, and one of the largest in the country, with a population of 2.3 million. It is the economic hub and the main port of entry of the Visayas.

Cebu City was the original capital of the Spanish East Indies. Later they moved the capital to Manila.

Metro Cebu is well equipped for tourism: There are beautiful white beaches on the coast, hotels, restaurants and resorts to suit any wallet, historic landmarks, bars and discos, cinemas and theaters, and everything else you need for your holiday.


Taoist temple

Detail of Taoist temple of Cebu
Taoist temple (detail)

The taoist temple, also known as the Chinese temple, built for the Chinese community in Cebu. It is open to anyone, as long as you abide by their rules. Photography is allowed outside the building, but not inside.

The temple is built on a hill, and when you walk around the temple you will also have a few nice views of the city.


Magellan’s cross

Magellan's cross
Magellan's cross

Explorer Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to arrive in the Philippines. According to tradition, he placed a Christian cross in what is now Cebu and converted a local tribe to Christianity. It is unclear whether Magellan’s cross survived, but according to many the cross is here in this chapel, encased in wood to protect it against the elements and against tourists chipping away small pieces.

Magellan, by the way, was killed in Cebu by a leader of a competing tribe. His crew went on and became the first people to sail around the world.


Fort San Pedro

Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro

A triangular fort, originally built by Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi in the 16th century, to protect the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines, but improved and expanded in later centuries.


Heritage of Cebu monument

Heritage of Cebu monument
Heritage of Cebu monument

This monument, created in the late 20th century, celebrates highlights of Cebuano history and heritage, such as the first catholic baptism, the battle of Mactan (in which Ferdinand Magellan was killed), the major churches of Cebu, a Spanish galleon, and a catholic mass.


Santo Niño Basilica

Altar, Basilica of Santo Niño, Cebu
Altar of the Basilica of Santo Niño

This church was built in the 18th century, at the spot of an earlier, 16th century, church, and elevated to the rank of minor basilica by pope Paul VI.

Inside the church is a museum devoted to the history of Christianity in Cebu.


Ayala and SM megamalls

Ayala mall, Cebu
Ayala mall

If you like shopping, head to one of the two megamalls in Cebu. Both seem to have every kind of shop and boutique, plus many bars and restaurants.

The malls are airconditioned to such an extent that you should consider wearing a sweater or a jacket.


Bohol Beach Club on Panglao Island

Highlights of Bohol

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Highlights of Bohol

The island (and province) Bohol is famous for its Chocolate Hills, but it has a lot more to offer – like beautiful beaches, cute tarsiers, floating restaurants, or old churches.

Chocolate Hills

Chocolate Hills of Bohol
Chocolate Hills

Bohol may have a lot to offer to its visitors, but it is famous for only one thing: The Chocolate Hills.

These hills are usually green, but they become chocolate-brown in the dry season. When they are brown, they look like giant chocolates – hence the name Chocolate Hills.

Unfortunately, when we visited the dry season was over, and the hills were green again, albeit with a few brown spots.


Tarsiers

Holding a tarsier on Bohol Island
Tarsier

Tarsiers are small nocturnal primates with large eyes. They are hard to spot in the wild, as they are shy and are only active at night.

If you want to see tarsiers, your best bet is one of the tarsier parks on the island. Here you are not only guaranteed to see them, you can even hold one.


Floating restaurants on Loboc River

Lunch on a floating restaurant on Loboc River
Floating restaurant on Loboc River

A popular attraction on Bohol are the floating restaurants on Loboc River. Board one of the many river vessels and enjoy lunch or dinner while floating on the river. Pictured is a Filipino buffet lunch on one of the vessels.

There is entertainment along the river in the form of traditional Bohol folk music and dance. Most boats will stop at one of these entertainment groups so that you can enjoy the show, take a few beautiful photos – and leave a generous tip, as these people entertain you for a living and are paid by tips.


Beaches on Panglao Island

Bohol Beach Club on Panglao Island
Bohol Beach Club, Panglao Island, Bohol

Panglao is a small island near Bohol. You can reach it by bridge. The island has beautiful sandy beaches, and a range of resorts, restaurants and bars to keep you entertained. It is also a good place for many water activities.

If you are able to get up (very) early, you should go dolphin watching! Your hotel or resort can probably make arrangements.


The church of Baclayon

Church of Baclayon, Bohol
Church of Baclayon

There are many old churches on Bohol. The oldest on the island, and one of the oldest of the country, is the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon.

If you have time, visit the convent next to the church: It houses a small but interesting church museum.


Blood Compact Monument

Blood Compact Monument, Bohol
Blood Compact Monument

In 1565, Spanish colonizer Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and local chieftain Sikatuna signed a treaty that is now known as the blood compact. According to the locals, this was the first friendship treaty in the world between people of different races.

The treaty is still celebrated annually with a festival.


Sailing around Boracay

Boracay

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Boracay

Boracay White Beach
White Beach

Boracay is the beach capital of the Philippines. White sand, palm trees, a clear blue sea, Boracay has everything you expect from a tropical island except tranquillity.

The long western beach, appropiately called White Beach, is where all the action is. Hidden behind the palm trees are the hotels, clubs, restaurants, cafes, bars and souvenir shops.

There are no high-rise appartment blocks of the kind you find at Cancun or the Spanish costas, but it has all the facilities you’d expect of a beach resort.


Sailing around Boracay
Sailing around Boracay

Boracay is a perfect spot for swimming, diving and snorkeling (the island is surrounded by reef), sailing, surfing, or any other water activity. You can rent or buy almost everything you need for water sports, including instructors.

Accomodation is available in every price range, from budget to luxury. Most hotels and resorts are along white beach, but there are numerous hotels scattered around the rest of the island too.

There are plenty of restaurants along white beach. As always in the tropics, be careful with the food stalls, ambulant food vendors and cheaper restaurants, especially with their seafood – it’s probably safe, but it might have been lying in the sun for a few hours.

Tropical fruits, juices and shakes are available anywhere along white beach. Again, be careful with the wares of food stalls and ambulant vendors.


Getting there

Flying over the Visayas
Flying over the Visayas

The easiest way is to fly to Caticlan. Alternatively, fly to Kalibo and travel overland to Caticlan. From Caticlan you can take a short boat trip to Boracay. Many resorts can arrange transfers for their guests from Caticlan airport or Kalibo airport.


Photos

Sailing around Boracay
Sailing around Boracay
Tropical drinks on the beach, Boracay
Tropical drinks on the beach
Girl on the beach, Boracay
Girl on the beach
Flying over the Visayas
Flying over the Visayas
Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum

Highlights of Tacloban City

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Highlights of Tacloban City

Spire of the Santo Niño Church
Spire of the Santo Niño Church in Tacloban City

Tacloban City is the capital of Leyte, and the regional center of the Eastern Visayas. It is by far the largest city in the area.

Though tourism is underdeveloped in Tacloban City, as it is throughout the Eastern Visayas, the city does have a lot to offer to the visitor.


Santo Niño Church

Spire of the Santo Niño Church
Santo Niño Church

The Santo Niño Church, the largest church of the city, dominates the skyline of Tacloban City. With its distinctive color you can see it from afar, even from the plane just before landing.

The church has daily masses in English and in several Filipino languages.


Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum

Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum
Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum

The Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum, also known as Romualdez Museum, is a mansion built for the then first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

The Marcos family never used it, though, and after President Marcos was ousted the villa was opened to the public.


Stations of the Cross

First Station of the Cross
Stations of the Cross

Just outside the city, on a hill aptly named Calvary Hill, are groups of larger than lifesize statues depicting the stations of the cross. You have to climb all the way to the hilltop to see all the stations, so visiting them is not for everyone.

You can see all the stations in the blog article Stations of the Cross.


Capitol

Capitol, Tacloban City
Capitol

The white Capitol landmark houses Leyte’s provincial government.

When you visit the Capitol, don’t forget to have a look at the beautiful reliefs, on either side of the building, depicting scenes from Leyte’s history.


Madonna of Japan and Japanese Peace Park

Japanese Peace Park
Japanese Peace Park

The Japanese peace park houses the statue of the Goddess of Peace, also known as the Japanese Madonna. The statue was a gift from Japan, as a symbol of peace and friendship.

The park is a popular destination for young, courting couples.


Nearby attractions

San Juanico Bridge
San Juanico Bridge

There are many more attractions in the direct vicinity of Tacloban City. Popular sites include:

  • The McArthur landing memorial in Palo.
  • The San Juanico Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the country, connecting Leyte with neighboring island Samar.
  • Rafael Farm, a landscaped park with a restaurant and function rooms.


Villa Calicoan, Samar

Three resorts

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Three resorts

Three resorts

The road to Sulangan
The road to Sulangan

It’s a long way from our base in Tacloban City to the church in Sulangan. When we visited Sulangan, we started our trip at 4am, to be in time for mass, and even though we had breakfast and snacks in the car, we felt quite hungry after the mass. So when we passed a few resorts on our way to Balangiga we decided to stop at one of them to have an early lunch.



Villa Calicoan, Samar
Villa Calicoan

We stopped for lunch at Villa Calicoan, a small coastal resort. We were soon joined by other pilgrims, on their way back from Sulangan to Tacloban City.

Villa Calicoan is a very small resort, but it has several spots with a beautiful view over the ocean. While waiting the ladies in our company (that means everyone except me and the driver) roamed around to find nice spots to pose and take photos of each other, and I also took a few photos of the views (and of the ladies).

The Surf Camp is a luxury resort, almost next door to Villa Calicoan. The ladies wanted to have a look, and as there were no guests at the time we received permission for a short visit.



Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort

From the southern tip of Samar back to Tacloban City is a long trip, so we had another stop-over for a drink, a walk, a rest, and another photo shoot – this time at the Caluwayan Palm Island Resort.

Villa Calicoan and The Surf Camp are in the municipality Guiuan, province Eastern Samar, at the extreme southern tip of the island Samar. Caluwayan Palm Island Resort is in the municipality Marabut, province Samar.


Photo Album

The ocean at Villa Calicoan, Samar
The ocean at Villa Calicoan
Villa Calicoan, Samar
Villa Calicoan
Girl overlooking the ocean, Samar
Girl overlooking the ocean at Villa Calicoan
Swimming pool and ocean at the Surf Camp, Samar
Swimming pool and ocean at the Surf Camp
Surf Camp, Samar
Surf Camp, Samar
Surf Camp, Samar
Surf Camp, Samar
Beach and ocean at the Surf Camp, Samar
Beach and ocean at the Surf Camp
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort