"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." - Aristotle
My husband Miguel and I flew to Cebu last month for a shoot at the Cebu IT Park and thanks to the great weather there (while it was raining hard in Manila), we were able to finish work earlier than planned (with the client happy with our photos) and had a day and a half to destress!
We're almost always quite lucky when it comes to combining work with pleasure and this particular trip was no different. It was our first time to go to Cebu together and we were so happy we got to eat its famous lechon (roasted suckling pig) and squeeze in a couple of trips to the beach.
When in Cebu, eat the lechon. Lots of it. #YOLO
Our first stop right after we got out of Mactan Airport was House of Lechon. Yes, we planned this even before we got on the plane.
THE VERDICT The Carcar Special lechon (the one on the pig plate) was a bit bland for our taste while the Classic Spicy lechon had more taste but was too spicy for some of those in the group. Best part was the skin that stayed crunchy even after it was on the table for a while. Budget around Php 250 (approximately USD 5) per head.
It was a struggle getting back to work mode after that sinful feast but we're there to hustle so off we went to Cebu IT Park for our shoot. Thank God for great weather and this beautiful sunset! Hustled until we were famished and to reward ourselves after a long but productive work day, we went to Zubuchon to eat more lechon for dinner. Yes, #YOLO.
THE VERDICT The lechon meat was so much tastier (it seemed like some parts were cured) than the one we had during our first meal but the skin was a bit of a disappointment since it lacked the crunchiness that we all liked. We spent about Php 300 (approximately USD 6) per head at this establishment.
Buffet breakfast at the hotel the next day was, surprise surprise . . . . lechon (among other dishes). No photo, we just wolfed it down and headed straight to work. And since we finished the shoot mid day, we got to check out the beach in Mactan Island! A lot of resorts offer day trip access but we opted to try Cebu White Sands. We were there on a weekday so it wasn't too crowded and their rate per adult is Php 750 (approximately USD 15) with Php 200 (approximately USD 4) consumable amount at the restaurant. Use of the public shower area and changing rooms are included but you'll have to pay extra for a towel Php 150 (approximately USD 3). Bring your own toiletries!
The beach was a bit disappointing, unfortunately. Maybe it was our location but we couldn't check out the other places anymore since we wanted to take advantage of the afternoon sun. I personally feel that the Bataan beaches are so much better than this particular beach. There was a bit of trash thanks to unmindful tourists, but most of the stuff floating were brown chunks of most likely brown algae dragged by the currents. Boatmen and vendors for other activities are right by the beach in front of where the guests lounge so if you're looking for a bit of privacy, this isn't the place where you'll get it.
Beach access was only up to 5:00 pm so we decided to just aimlessly walk around Mactan before dinner. I needed a break from all the lechon that we've been consuming so the husband caved and we agreed on seafood, my absolute favorite. If he had his way, he'd eat lechon for every meal the entire time we were in Cebu. We decided to try a SuToKil restaurant called No Problem to change things up a bit. Google Maps led us one way but when we asked a taxi driver if we were going the right direction, he told us that we passed it already. We rode his cab so that he can take us to where we wanted to go but he ended up taking us to what he said was a better restaurant (Rosewil's BBQ & Seafoods Restaurant) and that we'll thank him for it. Probably working on commission, we think. Thank God the food was good or else I would have hunted him down and give him a piece of my mind!
SuToKil sounds like "shoot to kill" to me but after a quick Google search, I learned that it stands for a combination of three different types of dishes - Sugba (sinugba or grilled), Tola (tinola or soup) and Kilaw (kinilaw or raw seafood in vinegar and spices). SuToKil eateries are very similar to Manila's Dampa -- you choose from a fresh selection of seafood and they cook it to your liking. They're mostly located near the Mactan Shrine in Mactan Island, the airport and Shangri-La Mactan.
THE VERDICT Although pricier by a bit as compared to our past meals in Cebu, I can't say no to fresh seafood! Our meal was about Php 500 (approximately USD 10) per head but I was one happy camper who got to enjoy most of the half a kilo of shrimp that we ordered. The husband ended up eating mostly fish because he knew just how much I love shrimps. Sign of true love, right?
Down here all the fish is happy
As off through the waves they roll
The fish on the land ain't happy
They sad 'cause they in their bowl
- From The Little Mermaid
Sebastian's voice kept on playing in my head the whole time I was snorkeling in the beautiful Nalusuan Island. "Under the sea . . . . under the sea . . . " Did you know that this little crab has a lot of quotable quotes from the movie? Love them. But, I digress.
Our stay in Cebu was supposed to be just an overnighter but we decided to extend one more day to see whatever we can in that short span of time. We booked a tour for Nalusuan Island via Island Trek Tours and everything was done online. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they accept last minute bookings which is perfect for us here at Get Lost since we have no itinerary most of the time. Click on the link to learn about the various packages that Island Trek offers.
There was a typhoon in Manila while we were in Cebu and we were blessed with perfect weather the first two days of our trip. However, on our last day, and the day of our Nalusuan trip, it was raining in Cebu City early morning . . . hard enough that it got me worried about getting stranded in the sea. But when we got near the port, it seemed like we were in another province altogether because of the clear skies!
Nalusuan Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary is located between the province of Bohol and Cebu's Mactan Island and is part of the Olango Island Group. Our boatmen wanted to take us island hopping but we wanted to experience and enjoy even just one island instead of rushing through several.
We don't want to spend most of our day in the boat transferring islands. And since we fell in love with the place as soon as we docked on that picturesque bridge, we saw no reason to rush through our stay in Nalusuan. The snorkeling area is already right there as soon as you get off the boat!
TIP Try to be at the island early (around 9am) so that you can experience the sandbar at the back of the resort while it's low tide. Then go back after lunch to see it totally transform into something else! The water was pretty shallow when it hits high tide so so it's perfect for kids and for me since I don't know how to swim. Eeek. Make sure to bring aqua shoes since there are shells and stones that might hurt your feet.
Food at the island was okay -- nothing great but it wasn't bad either. We would have wanted to eat the barbecued dishes with less sweet sauce (we're not too fond of sweet viands and Miguel is a diabetic) but it was no big deal. Best part of the meal, for me at least, was the camote que!
The best part of this trip for me was hanging out at the front of the resort (by the bridge) and just floating (with my BFF floater) staring at the fish. Some of them would stare right back at me which got a bit creepy. And because we were enjoying the water too much, we looked like roasted pigs (pun intended) after our trip and we're now dealing with peeling skin. BUT IT WAS ALL WORTH IT!
NOTE TO SELF Must really try to learn how to swim. I kinda suck at swimming for an Aquarian and a wannabe beach bum.
Our sojourn to the beaches was by no means luxurious so if you plan to do the same thing as us, please prepare to take a bath in a public shower (but with a private dressing room) at Cebu White Sands, pee in the boat toilet and rinse off at a sari-sari (variety) store after the boat ride from Nalusuan. Yep, done, done and done!
TIP Bring travel sized toiletries on every trip especially if your itinerary is not pre-planned. I use a combination of GoToob for my conditioner, hair/body wash and sunblock plus toiletries from various hotels. Yes, I bring home those free toiletries specifically for trips like this.
We had to head back to the city before it got dark and since there was no shower facilities for day trip guests at Nalusuan, our boatman took us to a store at the port where we could rinse off the salt water. Five gallons of water was Php 25 (approximately USD $0.50) and we had to wait to take a full bath until we got back to Manila that night. Yep, I bet our flight mates were thinking we smelled like the sea.
But before we headed back to Manila (we advise on taking the last flight out of Cebu), there were two things left on our to do list -- eat lechon (again) and buy frozen lechon to bring home to Manila. So we had dinner at Rico's then crossed the street to buy frozen Zubochon at the pasalubong center. We could have bought the frozen lechon at the airport but it was cheaper buying it outside. Five kilos of pork, baby!
And before I end this post, I'm turning you over to Miguel so that he can give his thoughts on his favorite part of this trip.
Lechon, lechon, lechon!
Going to Cebu without eating lechon is like going to Cebu and not eating lechon.
House of Lechon had the crunchiest skin, but the meat lacked taste which drowning in Cebu's vinegar, soy sauce, kalamansi, and chilli pepper sauce easily fixed.
Zubuchon, on the other hand, had skin with no crunch, and meat with a cured ham taste. It's a different take on lechon, but I enjoyed it nontheless.
Rico's lechon was a bit of a downer with soft rubbery skin - good thing they had tasty meat.
If you're into the Mang Tomas taste of lechon, Cebu might not be the place for you, but if you give the Cebu lechon sauce a chance, I think you'll love it!