Nov 14, 2013
Cebu Yoga Immersion
Location: Cebu City, Cebu (province), Philippines
Home Sweet Home
Cebu is perhaps the closest thing to home. I was having a grand time in Cebu, Nov 2012, when I got an invite to do mountain biking in Coron, Palawan. That invite cut my umbilical cord to this lovely place as I had to deal with my continued travels from Coron, to parts of Visayas and Mindanao. I wasn't sure if I'd ever see Cebu again. But the place increasingly called out as my sojourn into Mindanao was coming to a close. When I received a text message from Cebu yoga teacher and dear friend, Jeanne, "come to Cebu anytime, yoga tayo everyday", I knew it was time to pack up from Mindanao and be reunited with my friends again in Cebu. My absence took a full year and 2 days. It was nice to be back.
Off to a Good Start
Right at the outset, Cebu was already welcoming - I had a great hotel to crash into (M Citi Suites), became Jeanne's house guest, attended and conducted yoga classes, saw old friends, made new ones, seamlessly defaulted back to my routine (Thursday Zen meditation, Saturday Theosophical Society meetups) and even had abundance coming through unplanned web work landing on my lap. Nice! Cebu is where it's at. It felt like an old comfortable shoe I could completely sink my feet into.
A lot of my friends who were budding yoga teachers or were training to be teachers then, are now seasoned teachers doing their rounds in Cebu's various yoga studios and gyms. Most of them have acquired the 200-hour teacher-training certification courses conducted by visiting yoga luminaries from Hong Kong, France and Italy. Whereas before, there used to be only a few choices where to do yoga. Now, there is a proliferation of gyms, hotels and studios offering the practice. Indeed, the yoga scene in Cebu is more vibrant than when I left it a year ago.
With more yoga studios around, yoga has become competitive - it's only natural to work on gaining competitive advantage if you're paying overhead. That's business. Studios and its share of captive practitioners have understandably, developed loyalties. There used to be osmosis where students freely flow in and out of different yoga studios. Now, the seams are marginally visible. Yoga is still a young industry in Cebu. I could imagine, as it matures, the stakeholders will find the need to have a collective voice. In time.
She'll probably feel uncomfortable being singled-out here, but I give her a lot of credit for what's happening in the yoga scene here. Last year when there wasn't enough students and only a couple of yoga places, she was unwavering in her resolve to offer free teacher-training to promising students. Her thinking was, if there are teachers, the students will come. Prophetically, that is exactly what's happening now. Most of the students who came from that regular Sunday workshop are now the yoga teachers of today. She continues to be one of the hubs of yoga in Cebu. With the advent of her Dragonfly Studio, a yoga oasis in Cebu is born. Yogis, free-thinkers, loneriders, artists, parkour practitioners, indies and zen denizens gladly check-in their egos at the door and engage themselves in the sharing of ideas, insight and practice.
Jeanne, my indefatigable yogini, has been teaching me how to teach Ashtanga Yoga at her Dragonfly Studio. Although my yoga background is Ashtanga, I never conducted an Ashtanga class - I've made too many modifications to my yoga, I can no longer call it Ashtanga. With Jeanne, I was introduced to Ashtanga's concept, its history and its underlying discipline. It's interesting to note that I'd been practising yoga for over 10 years but only now am I learning the concept and philosophy - it has always been the asanas. Now, given my proficiency in the poses, I have a deeper appreciation of Ashtanga - specially after getting to know more of its founding father (Pattabhi Jois) and his apostles (Svenson, Freeman, Scott, etc.). Ashtanga is often misunderstood as not being creative and too rigid. True. But it was never meant to be creative. Ashtanga's rigid discipline is like reading a musical note - you have no liberty to deviate from the beat. You simply have to keep playing that musical note until you perfect it. But in Ashtanga, there is no perfection...you simply keep improving. I believe that having a strong foundation in Ashtanga enables one to confidently venture into the other disciplines of yoga (Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, etc.).
Yoga has always been my way of giving back to the community. As such, I make it free - Karma Yoga. I've conducted Karma Yoga both at YogaHub and Dragonfly Studio. I hope I get to teach Karma yoga in every yoga center here and meet the denizens of the yoga community. I've kept yoga free as a way of giving back. But lately, I humbled myself to being open for payment. When I turned down payment teaching yoga at Holiday Gym in Davao, it didn't feel right - it felt arrogant. Now, I'll simply accept with a smile and a thank you. Although I've already taught a few paying sessions here in Cebu, I haven't actually received the cash yet. Hmmm...wonder what I'll do with my first "drop of money" from yoga. Maybe I'll treat myself to a nice Magnum ice cream bar...with friends, hopefully.
When I was in Cagayan de Oro, abundance rained like crazy - specially outside its confines. I don't just mean money when I talk abundance. Moreover, it's the opportunities that are offered for the taking. The same thing seems happening here in Cebu. I got commissioned to write a backpacking how-to for Speed Magazine (a car magazine with a lifestyle section), an old client requested a site overhaul on their Tribal Adventure's website, been asked to model (I'm one of many) for YogaHub's new marketing campaign, emceed at YogaHub's 21-Day Challenge, etc.
M Citi Suites
As of this writing, I'm fortunate to be booked at M Citi Suites - a charming boutique hotel located near the Fuente Osmena rotunda. From the outside, it looks small, but the rooms are spacious and impeccable. The owners also own a manpower company providing hotel staff and training to some of Cebu's 5-star hotels. That's exactly the same treatment I get here - 5-star service at 3-star rates! When Cebu City's water supply and electric power stopped during Typhoon Yolanda, the hotel had ample water (the owner owns a water company too!) and the 24/7 generator kicked-in. I were practically in a bubble while the storm raged outside. I really like this hotel.
It's tradition for me to be hosting a one-on-one breakfast with friends if and when I get a hotel deal which includes breakfast for two. M Citi Suites has a cozy cafe serving appetizing breakfast - perfect for my daily breakfast meeting with friends, mostly from the yoga community. If you only see some friends in a big group setting, it's hard to get to know them well because the talk is confined to big-group talk. After the initial "How's your day been?", there isn't much to go on to, unless you two get together for coffee some other time. The magic of this breakfast is that I get to have a quality conversation on a one-on-one basis with a different friend every morning. Who knows where the conversation leads to? There's the uncanny anticipation of the sharing that's about to take place. More often than not, we find common ground on what resonates the most. At the end of the day, we get to know each other better.
For life to continue unraveling for me, I have to roll with everything it dishes out. The only way for that to happen is for me to say "yes" to everything. I cannot allow apprehension or fear or uncertainty to get the better of me. When I was asked to emcee an event on the spot, I was apprehensive. But saying "no" is not an option. So I took on the task, enjoyed myself thoroughly and got to meet a lot of people in the process. When Jeanne would text me and ask me to sub for a yoga teacher, I say "yes". Model for a photoshoot? Yes. Write for a magazine? Yes. Do a private yoga class? Yes. My goal is not career or wealth, but simply to experience life in its raw unadulterated form. Saying "yes" is the only way that's going to happen.
Cebu is doing it for me. Life continues to unravel with every passing day. Meeting new people, doing new activities, rolling with the challenges. I try to find compelling reasons to stay here. I enjoy every moment almost with a sense of urgency knowing fully well, that when the call of the open road beckons, I'll have to pack up again.
- Ashtanga Primary Series Yoga in Cebu May 5, 2017
- 3-Night Cebu Stopover Apr 6-9, 2017
- Thank You Cebu, til the Next Time Oct 21, 2013 - May 15, 2014
- Aqua Yoga with Jeanne Torrefranca at Dragonfly Pool May 4, 2014
- SUP Yoga with Jeanne Torrefranca at Plantation Bay Mar 23, 2014
- Jeanne's Community Outreach Program Mar 2, 2014
- New Year Yoga at Dragonfly Yoga Studio Jan 1, 2014
- Fab People: Jeanne Torrefranca (Yogini) Dec 25, 2013
- Cebu Yoga Immersion Nov 14, 2013
Cebu City, Philippines
Tops - hilltop offering panoramic view of the city
Taoist Temple - temple on a hillslope in Lahug with panoramic view of the city
- Hostel Seven Cebu - newly opened, resto/bar, central location, solo/group travellers
Juana Osmeña Street, Cebu City
- S Hotel & Residences - new hotel, luxury rooms, central location
827 M. Velez corner Andres Abellana St.
resto / cafe / bar
- Fujinoya - new and refreshing twists to Western style desserts using Japanese techniques
Wilson St., Lahug, Cebu City - tel. 888.6075
- Bad Boys Wingz - Buffalo Wings, unique versions of sauces! Great service, accommodating staff, bad boys vibe
Kasambagan, Cebu City | (032) 415 4811
- Love Yoga World - yoga studio
11/fl, Skyrise 2 Tower, IT Park, Lahug, Cebu City
- Yoga Now - first Yoga and Wellness studio in Mactan offering daily Yoga Classes
at The Yacht Club Mactan
- Cebu Mountain Bike Adventure - MTB tours, bike sales and repairs. Bed and Breakfast + Resto Cafe + wifi
1298-b V.Rama Ave, Guadalupe, Cebu City | 0942.959.7451
- Camotes Islands - caves, beaches
- Cebu City - rich in culture and history, 2nd largest city in the Philippines
- Moalboal - amazing coral reef system, sardine bowl, deep drop-off for freediving
- Oslob - Butanding (whale shark) watching
- Bantayan Island - long stretch of fine white sand beach, Virgin Island for snorkeling
- Malapascua Island - divers' paradise for seeing the rare Thresher Shark
- Cantabaco Cave - Toledo
- Barile Waterfalls - Barile
- Whale Shark Tour - Oslob
- Carcar - chicharon and lechon in public market
Nov 14, 2013
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