Philippines: Day 9 – Cebu: Fort San Pedro, Basilica of Santo Niño, Taoist Temple

Date: April 25th 2011

I woke up really early today as I had to catch my AirPhil Express flight to Cebu at 7am. I checked out of my hotel and took a taxi from Pasay to the airport. It cost ₱70 ($1.6/€1.2) but I reached the airport in under 20 minutes and there were long queues because of the security checks. I checked in, got my window seat and whipped out my phone to take a few snaps.

NAIA Terminal 2 Manila airport
I paid the airport user fee of PHP200 ($4.5/€3.4), which Aimee told me is something every airport in Philippines makes travellers pay
Ninoy Aquino bust airport Manila Philippines
Philippines' main airport is named after this revolutionary
Ninoy Aquino history Manila airport
And this is his story

My flight was unfortunately delayed by nearly 45 minutes due to poor weather conditions (apparently), but it was better than hearing some flights being cancelled, leaving passengers frustrated.

Aerial photography cloud mountain Philippines
I asked for a window seat because I read online that one could see Mount Pinatubo on this route. Though I feel I ended up on the wrong side.
Aerial photography valley road Philippines
Not that the views were disappointing or anything

Aerial photography Cebu green plateau PhilippinesPhilippines islands Cebu flights

Cebu city aerial photography Philippines
An hour later, we were above Cebu
Cebu shallow waters coral marsh Philippines
Shallow waters along the coast of Cebu

Aerial photography Cebu shallow waters

Cebu airport Airphil Express flight landing Philippines
A little late, but the weather seemed perfectly fine

I called Aimee and informed her about my arrival and she told me where to get a taxi from.

Cebu airport ramp Philippines
Though there were taxis available where I was standing, Aimee told me to get a regular cab from outside this other building
Bridge to Cebu city Philippines
It cost ₱160 ($3.6/€2.7) from airport to where I needed to go

I had reservations at Sugbutel Bed & Bath for two nights. I chose this place because, as per the map, it was close to the pier. I needed it to close to the pier because tomorrow morning, I was to go to the island of Bohol by ferry. But when I arrived at Sugbutel, I must say, I had the look of disappointment on my face. It was bang opposite the pier, sure, but there was little else around it. No restaurants and it didn’t look like it was within city limits. Anyway, I checked in, paid ₱700 ($16/€12) for my dorm bed for two nights and went upstairs.

Sugbutel dorm bed Cebu Philippines
I got an upper bed. It was clean and had all the essentials - universal plug point, night lamp and an air-conditioned room. If you like shipping containers, then the view is fantastic!
Sugbutel dormitory floor Cebu Philippines
This is the dorm floor. Toilets are clean and large enough.

Since today was the only day I had to check out Cebu city, I wasted no time and took a jeepney straight to the first attraction on my list, Fort San Pedro.

Road to fort San Pedro in Cebu Philippines
The ride from Sugbutel took just 5 minutes (cost around ₱7)
Cebu pier ferry Philippines
I walked all the way to the pier to find out when the first ferry to Bohol was
Cebu pier ships Philippines
There are several ferry companies plying daily to the neighbouring islands

Cebu Mariners court Philippines

Fort San Pedro Cebu Philippines
I walked to Fort San Pedro, which is very close to the pier

Cebu tree in front of Fort San Pedro

Fort San Pedro Cebu Philippines entrance
There is an entrance fee of ₱30 to Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro Cebu Philippines flag
Fort San Pedro, built by the colonial Spanish in 1783, is one of the oldest in the country

The Founding of Cebu Fort San Pedro Philippines

Fort San Pedro lawn Cebu Philippines
Didn't look very promising from here

Fort San Pedro steps railing Cebu Fort San Pedro wall red flowers Cebu Fort San Pedro domes Cebu Fort San Pedro wall Cebu Philippines Fort San Pedro lawn Cebu Fort San Pedro cannon Cebu Philippines Fort San Pedro wall facing Cebu port office Fort San Pedro shed Cebu Philippines Fort San Pedro gardening Cebu Fort San Pedro corridor pillars Philippines Fort San Pedro lawn Cebu Philippines Fort San Pedro boy fish statue garden Cebu

Fort San Pedro exit Cebu
And that was it! I was done with the fort in 10 minutes.

I felt it was a bit of a waste of money. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen countless forts, both in India and in other places like Malaysia. After a while, they all start to look the same.

Cebu sea near pier
I walked on
Magellan's cross Bank of Philippines islands Cebu
Next up, Magellan's cross

Ferdinand Magellan was a famous Portugese explorer who became the first European to land in the Philippines. He ordered this cross be placed here signifying the arrival of the invaders explorers.

Magellan's cross chapel Cebu Philippines
The cross is housed inside this chapel
Magellan's cross Cebu Philippines
Magellan's cross, it marks the spot where the first Christian Filipinos were baptized
College St .Nino Cebu Philippines
It's right in front of this college
Cebu bakery sweets pastry
I got distracted by the sweet smell coming out of a bakery/eatery/other junk college kids eat/stationary shop attached to the college
Cassava cake Cebu Philippines
Ordered a Cassava cake as it sounded interesting to me. It was quite yummy, though I felt they used a little too much condensed milk for the sweetness
Basilica del Santo Nino church Cebu Philippines
I walked towards Cebu's most famous attraction, the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, the oldest church in the Philippines
Basilica del Santo Nino red candles Cebu Philippines
Saw a lot of worshipers near these red candles

Basilica del Santo Nino church red candles praying PhilippinesBasilica St. Nino candle holders Cebu Philippines

Basilica St. Nino candles Cebu Philippines
That's a lot of wax...
Basilica del St. Nino candle wax Cebu Philippines
...which is recycled to make new candles I presume

Basilica del Santo Nino saints statues Cebu Philippines

Basilica St. Nino candles fountain Cebu Philippines

St. Nino Basilica church Cebu Philippines
I walked towards the church

Basilica del Santo Nino Cebu PhilippinesEntering Basilica del Santo Nino Cebu Philippines Basilica del Santo Nino church arch Cebu Philippines
Basilica del Santo Nino baby angels Philippines
Basilica del Santo Nino man praying Philippines
Basilica del Santo Nino chairs Cebu Philippines
Basilica del Santo Nino chandeliers Cebu Philippines

Basilica del Santo Nino golden Cebu Philippines

Basilica del Santo Nino Jesus cross Cebu Philippines

Basilica del Santo Nino church figure Cebu PhilippinesBasilica del Santo Nino conversion of locals Philippines

Basilica del Santo Nino ceiling paintings Philippines
Ceiling paintings
Basilica del Santo Nino Cebu Cathedral ceiling
The main ceiling

Basilica del Santo Nino gated hall Cebu Philippines

Basilica del Santo Nino prayers Cebu
It was time to leave
Basilica del Santo Nino Cebu cathedral open hall
Some courtyard right opposite the church

Basilica del Santo Nino christian statues Cebu Basilica del Santo Nino Cebu stone artBasilica del Santo Nino visitors Cebu

Osmena Blvd Santo Nino Jollibee Chowking Cebu
Across the road was a Jollibee (of course) from where I had lunch from

As I sat there, eating my burger, I wondered what to see next. It was only the afternoon and I… felt bored already. Maybe it was the lack of sleep. Anyway, I hopped on a jeepney and decided to go towards Robinsons Mall.

Osmena blvd traffic afternoon Cebu Philippines
I just hopped into any one going straight up the road
Osmena Blvd jeepney name Cebu Philippines
The names of some of these jeepneys 🙂
Cebu city North district pedestrian overbridge
I got down here
Robinsons Place mall Cebu Philippines
And this is Robinsons Place mall. Closed. Like, for good/for renovation/for demolition kind of closed.

I walked around some more, since I didn’t know what else to do.

Cebu Mango Avenue nightlife road Philippines

Robinsons Cybergate Osmena Fuente Cebu Philippines
Robinsons Cybergate is an office building

After converting some dollars at a nearby plaza, I got into another jeepney and decided to head towards the Philippine Taoist Temple.

Cebu provincial capitol building Philippines
Cebu provincial capitol building; take a right from here

The Maxwell hotel Escario street Cebu

Escario street Cebu Philippines
I got down a bit further ahead

From the main road, I was instructed to cross over to a road on the other side.

Entrance to Beverly Hills road Cebu
There were bike taxis (licensed or not, who knows) who offered to take me up for 10 pesos. Since I didn't feel like walking uphill and not knowing how much I would have to walk, I got on.
Road to Philippine Taoist Temple Cebu
Took this sitting behind the driver

It was only a short drive and the driver dropped me at a guarded entrance from where on, he told me, I would have to continue on by foot.

Beverly Hills road Cebu Philippines
Apparently it's private property from here on and so, bike taxis aren't allowed
Beverly hills road Cebu Philippines
Guess what this locality is called -- Beverly Hills 🙂
Philippines Taoist temple from afar Cebu
And that's where I needed to get to
Beverly Hills junction to Taoist temple Cebu
Took the left

Beverly Hills road to Taoist temple Cebu

Beverly Hills uphill road to Taoist temple Cebu
It's a good 10 minute walk

View from Beverly Hills Cebu

Philippine taoist temple entrance Cebu city
The entrance
Philippine Taoist temple garden Cebu
There is no entry ticket or anything

Philippine Taoist temple steps CebuPhilippine Taoist temple lion statue CebuPhilippine Taoist temple drum CebuPhilippine Taoist temple hall Cebu

Philippine Taoist temple prayer hall Cebu
The prayer hall is to the left, but photography of the hall and the idols aren't allowed
Philippine Taoist temple red staircase Cebu
I went up

Philippine Taoist temple inside CebuPhilippine Taoist temple door design Cebu

Beverly hills neighbourhood Cebu
Pretty posh neighbourhood
View from Philippine Taoist temple Cebu
The view from up here

Philippine Taoist temple dragon statues roof Cebu Philippine Taoist temple fisherman statue Cebu

Philippine Taoist temple steps down Cebu
Went back down

Philippine Taoist temple bell Cebu Philippine Taoist temple design CebuPhilippine Taoist temple dragon CebuPhilippines Taoist temple office Cebu

Philippines Taoist temple Cebu panorama
Panorama comprised of 6 shots
Philippine Taoist temple exit Cebu
I was done
Philippine Taoist Temple Inc. second entrance Cebu
I know this temple was built by Chinese businessmen but '... Temple Inc.'?
Cebu Beverly hills stone wall
A lot of rich people live in Beverly Hills, though I wonder which came first -- the name of the hill or the residents?

Road behind Taoist temple Beverly Hills CebuBeverly Hills afternoon sun shadow Cebu PhilippinesWoolbright drive Beverly Hills Cebu Philippines

Villa Beverly Hills Cebu
Nice looking pads
Beverly Hills road downhill Cebu
Walked all the way back down
Cebu Beverly Hills horse riding Philippines
Rich people = own horses
Cebu Beverly hills slum shanty homes Philippines
But just like India, regardless of any fancy name, it doesn't take too long to come back down to the reality of the majority in Cebu
Locals near Beverly hills Cebu
I bought some credit ('load' is the term in Philippines) for my phone and had a drink from here

The bike taxis approached me again and asked me if I would like to go to a higher viewing spot, which was a bit further up from here. They said I could watch the sun set from there. I was honestly bored, so I said “No thanks” and just walked on.

I stepped into a nearby mall, mostly to get some air-con. I dropped by a travel agency and asked them how much a tour to Bohol island tomorrow would cost. They quoted just over ₱3500 which I knew was exorbitant, since I did look it up online and had a fair idea as to how much the tours approximately cost.

I messaged Aimee telling her I was bored in Cebu and she told me to go check out Ayala Mall. So I got into a jeepney and headed to Ayala.

Cebu business park Ayala Philippines
Got down at an area that looked like a business park
Cebu business park IT office building
A lot of IT offices here
Wipro Cebu office Philippines
Well look who's here! (Wipro is an India IT/BPO major)
Ayala mall interiors shops Cebu Philippines
Anyway, this is air-condi... I mean, Ayala Mall
Ayala Mall Convergys call center hiring banners
Call center hiring is all over the mall

30 minutes of store-hopping, got bored (again) and left. I was pretty sleepy by now and decided to just take a taxi back to the pier instead of a jeepney.

Cebu pier at night
This was at 7pm
Supercat office Cebu pier Philippines
Came to the pier for Supercat's office & to know when the first ferry to Tagbilaran (Bohol's capital) was

The tour of Bohol when purchased from Supercat themselves cost around ₱2800. I opted not to buy the tour package and instead, decided to do it myself.

I left the pier and walked back to the main road. As soon as I got to the main road in a minute, I realized why I booked at Sugbutel. You can literally walk to Supercat’s terminal from here.

Pier road Sugbutel Radisson hotel at night
If you don't like Sugbutel's budget offerings, you can move up to the Radisson up ahead

I dropped my camera bag back at the dorm and stepped out again wondering where I could have dinner. There are hardly any eateries outside Sugbutel.

Pier area at night Cebu
The surroundings aren't exactly what you'd call 'great'

But walk all the way up to the Radisson Hotel and right next to it is one big-ass mall!

SM City cebu mall restaurants
Felt stupid just wondering a few minutes back, where I could get some decent food! No dearth of options here.
SM City Cebu mall Philippines
SM City is the biggest mall in Cebu!
SM city Cebu mall foodcourt
I ate from here
SM City Cebu mall shops
Walked around the mall a bit. It was past 8pm and many stores were done for the day.

I walked back to Sugbutel, freshened up and hit the bed early. Tomorrow was going to be another early wake-up call.

I know Cebu residents will be going “Oh, there’s more to Cebu than just these sights you saw!” and you’re probably right. Aimee told me if I headed up north in a vehicle, I could have explored the beaches and other sights Cebu has to offer. But I’m keeping all my “beach and sea” experiences for Palawan, which is why I only used Cebu as a stopover point to get to Bohol and then fly to Palawan.

Previous posts in this series:

Philippines 2011: Day 8 – Manila tour: Rizal Park, Intramuros, Manila Cathedral, China Town

Philippines 2011: Day 7 – Leaving Angeles City for Manila, Mall of Asia

Philippines 2011: Day 6 – Good Friday in San Fernando, San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites

Philippines 2011: Leaving Sagada for Baguio, and arriving in Angeles city (Days 4 & 5)

Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Sagada’s Lumiang burial cave, Sumaguing cave, Hanging Coffins of Echo valley

Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Banaue town; heading to Sagada via Bontoc

Philippines 2011: Day 2 – Banaue rice terraces; trekking to Batad village

Philippines 2011: Day 1 — Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Fort Bonifacio

Philippines 2011: Flying over South China Sea for the first time

Other posts in this series:

Philippines 2011: Day 10 – Bohol tour: Chocolate Hills, Loboc river cruise, Tarsiers, churches

Philippines 2011: Day 11 – Arriving in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Day 12 – Puerto Princesa Underground River tour, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Day 13 – Puerto Princesa to El Nido by bus

Philippines 2011: Day 14 – El Nido island hopping tour A and sunset at Las Cabanas beach, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Back to Manila, shopping, and my final thoughts about the country  (Last post)

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  • Frank


    No, I’m from Cebu and I want to say you got everything right. Cebu is just about as boring as you make it out to be, unfortunately. -_-

  • Berniemack Arellano


    I lived in Cebú for more than a year and a half, worked at an outsourcing company, after that a university (a lot of them in Cebú actually, one business park there is dedicated to outsourcing and IT). Indeed, there is still a lot of things that Cebú can offer. But going there on the third weekend of January meant that the whole city is closed due to street dancing mardi-gras festival called Sinulog, the feast of Santo Niño.

  • doi


    you’ll definitely get bored if you only stay within the city of Cebu. to get to know more of this province, you have to be willing to travel north and south to check out its beaches. Cebu is also home to one of the best diving spots in the country due to its rich marine life. one thing you could also do is go on a food trip as Cebu is home to the best tasting lechon (roasted pig) in the country.

    as for Sugbutel, there’s really nothing you can see within that area except being near the ports leading to other islands in the region and SM as that area is far from the city center.

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    I know Cebu has a lot to offer in its surrounding waters but I just didn’t have the time to spend in Cebu. I stayed in Sugbutel mainly for the easy access to the ferry terminal to go to Bohol.

    doi Reply:

    that’s understandable 🙂 was surprised you didn’t mention Sugbutel’s free wifi. hope you got to use that though 😉 in case you do come back and visit Cebu, check out their website since they offer upper bunk beds for P99.00/night if you book 1 month ahead when they have a promo. just bring your own set of blankets to avoid paying the extra fees.

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Nah, if at all I come back to Cebu, I rather stay in the city the next time.

  • Nisha


    Philippines is a beautiful country. I did not stay in a dorm but it looks quite clean and doable. 🙂

    One suggestion: probably you could have divided the posts in 2/3. So many photos in one post is a bit more to grasp. 🙂

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Sorry Nisha, but that’s just how I write. Most of my readers appreciate the detail and how an entire day’s experience is in one post.

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