This was one of those hot days where really the only thing you should do is kick back and find some shade (or aircon) and have yourself a beer or two, so what do we do – go sightseeing, of course! We had quite a (hot) walk from our digs to even get to the first of the meagre amount of sights Cebu has to offer – the Basilica del Santa Nino. The walk took us through a large part of the town centre and a lot of it did seem quite run down but also interspersed with a lot of fast food outlets and this does sum up much of the Filipino style of life.
The Basilica had been damaged in one of the many earthquakes or typhoons the region has suffered from and there was still quite a bit of scaffolding around the church so we nearly walked past the entrance. However, we soon got our bearings and in we went.
The main courtyard area seemed to have been recently used for congregations as there were a lot of trimmings and throughout the day there were a lot of people in the Basilica, there was even a queue to look at the Santa Nino image thought to be the oldest religious relic in the Philippines. Many in the queue were devote Catholics and a lot of them were either crossing themselves or genuflecting.
The building was very impressive both on the inside as there were many religious paintings and statues and in the grounds outside – notwithstanding the damage. Outside we each lit a candle and thought of friends and family back home and wished them to be safe while we are away.
Just outside the Basilica there was Magellan’s cross, the actual one is encased within the one which we could see. This was housed in small dome with paintings depicting Magellan’s arrival into the Philippines – like a historical cartoon.
Next we went to Fort Santiago, where two guides – who were still at University – showed us around. They were very passionate about the Philippine heritage since the country’s independence and they told us all about their leaders. One of the exhibits were ships made by prisoners using matchsticks and the like.
The fort itself was quite good but whereas in bygone times it would have been on the water’s edge and commanded a view of the sea now the land had overtaken it somewhat and it commanded a less inspiring view – a parking lot. Again the fort had also suffered during the recent upheavals so was undergoing some restoration to the areas which had been damaged. In particular one or two of the small turrets had a lot of scaffolding around them as well.
By the time we had thanked our guides and left the fort we were somewhat hot and weary from our exertions so close to the Basilica we stopped at a fast food restaurant for some ices – I was hoping for ice cream in the English conventional sense but received an ice and fruit mix – the more Asian take on the word. It was all very well and good and probably nutritious but not quite the ice cream my body had craved. From here it was still quite a walk back to our hotel and walking back we could appreciate why so many people wear the face masks as they do, as the amount of exhaust fumes was quite noxious and made the hot day even hotter but we finally made our way past the big roundabout and ‘home’.
Tea at night was Filipino shopping mall style – in the food court at the shopping mall there were a number of eateries so we chose a few dishes – one or two from each – and sat and feasted. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either but it did fill our tummies. So from there we went for a couple of beers at a pub in the vicinity of the one we had enjoyed the live music the night previous and watched old men (Farangs) with their often much younger conquests. We were not too late staying out though as tomorrow we would be journeying North to the end of Cebu and on to Malapascua Island.