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Cebu CityMarch 23, 2008

Cebu City

A 10-Kilo Dilemma
After Samal Island, my digicam was already toast and everyone from my climbing team was already gone. I was alone again to backpack to my next destination, Cebu City. My biggest problem was my luggage. With Asian Spirit, I can only check-in a max of 10K. It meant transferring all in excess of 10K from my check-in pack to my carry-on, and the rest had to be left behind...ouch! Staying true to my frugal ways, I took the jeep from Cebu airport to Cebu City - 3 transfers on board narrow jeeps where passenger knees bump into each other, and yes, squeezing a huge 20K load between those knees. I wasn't exactly the most popular guy in that jeep.

Cheap Lodging
I checked in at Ruftan, one of the budget inns at downtown's most polluted and congested district, Colon. The cheapest I could get was P200/night. With that, I had to climb up 3 flights of stairs, walk along dark squeaky corridors with peeling linoleum floors and on to my spartan fan room. At least the common washroom was clean and the drain was not clogged. Hey, I'm not complaining. It's what I bargained for.

Downtown Colon
As soon as I got settled, I took my usual walk around the area. Downtown is hot, humid and polluted. It was like walking around Manila's Carriedo...a place that has seen better days. As Lonely Planet puts it, it's like an ageing screen siren. Everything about it was old with an urban grit that kept me alert. I wandered off to my usual default 'must see' places - the wet market (Carbon Market), noodle houses, fruit stalls, etc.

Movie Buff
I wanted to leave the city and venture off to Malapascua at the northern tip of the island. However, with just an overnight stay in Cebu, I was stuck in the city. The heat was too intense I had to take refuge in SM and help myself to the movie house. Since there's no movie house in Sagada, it was a treat I helped myself with, specially in the provinces where movies cost under P100 (Manila rates are now at P160...heck, that's 3 meals for me already!)

Another movie place was the Ayala Mall. Cebu has more interesting places to offer, but in the sweltering heat, airconditioning was heaven sent. To a city guy, the mall is next to boring. But for a mountain guy like me, it's pasyal. Yeah, bring it on!

The Pretty Lass from Cebu
The last time I was in Cebu was back in my student days from UP. I remember getting smitten by a pretty Cebuana who was in her late teens then. Hmmm....I wonder how she is now. A mother? A wife? Divorced? Who knows? Of course I didn't have her number or address anymore. But hey, there's Google! A few minutes after surfing the web, I was already on the phone with her and was invited to meet up for coffee at the Ayala Mall. I was actually flattered she remembered me. Ok, hold your horses now. This is by no means some kind of 'come on'. I was expecting to see an overweight mother of 5. But it would have been good to catch up and see how she's done after all these years.

So there I was, arriving early, lingering over my coffee when this sophisticated well-heeled lady comes to my table and says, "G....T?" Homina-homina. I would not have recognized her on the street anymore. But she's certainly no overweight mother of 5...make that a slim mother of 1, married and looking just as lovely as the first time I saw her. Beauty and smarts. Apparently, she's done well, as in self-made. Her export business allowed her to travel the globe many times over, has local business interest within Cebu, and franchised into city's short list of influential have-it-alls. I was really glad for her. My meeting with her remained the highlight of Cebu for me.

After that, I was already packing for my next flight - Boracay!

--- TheLoneRider

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