Oct 13 - Dec 4, 2022
Cebu City Base: Hostel 7 Cebu
Location : Hostel 7 Cebu, Cebu City, Philippines
Finding my Bearings
After weeks of planning my transition out of Thailand, I'm now able to put the 'over thinking' behind me. I'm comfortably chilling at Hostel 7 Cebu where I can begin to shift my thinking from 'getting there' to 'finding my bearing'. It's good to be back in Cebu and rediscover it all over again.
Hostel 7 Cebu
Cebu, Hostel 7 and Mikko have become synonymously intertwined during this stay. The last time I was in Cebu 5 years ago, I stayed at Hostel 7 Cebu. I liked the place, I liked the food (the family is also in the food business) and I liked the energy. It's a sigh of relief to come back here again. The setup is different this time. From individual rooms, it's now dorm rooms with bunk beds - catering almost exclusively to backpackers. The location is different, but not too far away from where they used to be. It's still centrally located - near Fuente Osmena, near Mango and close to groceries and public transport. DJ Kobe plays his beat and there's always a group partying the night away. The house bar is the hub for locals and hostel guests for socials and drinks. The energy of the place remains vibrant. I feel at home here and I highly recommend staying here.
Before I got too comfortable, I had to get grounded and put my life back together by covering the basics. Getting a bank account is compelling - as much as I distrust them. I couldn't rely on banks from another country anymore - logging-in from a different country triggers OTP, verification, etc. My bank has to be in the Philippines.
Things have changed a lot here. Now, the mainstream dinosaur banks (Bank of the Philippine Island, Security Bank, PNB, etc.) don't rule anymore. The little online banks (GCash, Pay Maya) have taken over with their nimble efficiency (no long lines, no tellers letting favored clients cut into a long line), accessibility (fewer documentation requirements, 24/7 business hours), lower or no transaction fees, and no incompetence/indifference of bank staff/management. Nearly all banking transactions are now online from mobile phones with many merchants participating as stakeholders.
As much as all these are positive changes, it's all new ground for me. As a cash-guy working from my laptop, I was on shaky ground. I had to learn fast about mobile banking in a cashless society. I had to absorb all of these things by asking around and doing my own research - every question I have seems to be competently answered by Google/Youtube. Even the ones that stumped the locals are correctly answered by the search engines now. Big thanks to Marky who introduced all this to me. Without him, I'd still be signing up with the inefficient legacy banks.
The most popular here, I was told, was GCash. Feeling confident about what I've read, I opened up an online account and applied for a debit card. I started using my GCash app to make purchases. The convenience is a stark difference from the old-school ways. I begin to realize that I was in my bubble the whole time I was in Chiang Mai.
While still in Chiang Mai, I noticed that nearly all my friends are single. We all gather and talk over coffee. We openly talk about dating and being open to possibilities. But we all go back home alone. None of us actually asked anyone for a date. Yet everyone is on Tinder looking for one (except me until now).
When I asked one friend why this is happening, he simply said, why risk the potentially awkward outcome of asking a friend for a date, when you can get someone with considerable ease on Tinder? If the date doesn't work out, then your social circle is left unscathed. It made sense. Why shit in your own backyard?
So, now in Cebu, starting a new life altogether on a clean slate, why not try Tinder? And I did. The problem is, I don't get attracted to women my age. I feel young and I am drawn to women younger than me. The younger women however, find me a little too old for them. Bottom line? I don't even get a Like. Oh well, at least I've done my due-diligence.
Work Station: Brown Cup and Mother's Fried Chicken
To get things done on my laptop, I had to find a place with internet, comfortable and would allow me to stay long given whatever I order - usually fried meat (I'm not a vegetarian but I'd rather eat vegetables than meat). I am indebted to these 2 places - Brown Cup and Mother's Fried Chicken. I would order my meals with them, but I would stay for up to 5 hours. The things I routinely enjoyed in my hotel in Chiang Mai are a prized luxury here.
At some point, however, I adapted to the bar at Hostel 7. There, I would have my 'usual table' where I'm plugged-in, connected and close to the comfort of home (toilet, shower, personal food).
Theosophical Society (TS) Meetings
I was looking forward to this. On my first attendance, unbeknownst to me, the meeting was canceled. I showed up there with Marky - in hindsight, I understand why this had to happen. Marky would play a bigger role in the days ahead. Marky introduced me to GCash. With this, I cancelled my appointment with Security Bank and signed up with GCash instead.
I was a regular at the weekly TS meeting. It was my oasis in a bustling and busy city. I even moderated/facilitated a meeting with "Yoga of Emotions" as a theme.
Making Barter Deals
Defaulting back to my old ways, I've talked/communicated to merchants about barter deals. For Ayala Mall and Robinsons movies, I made my pitch about writing reviews for their movies in exchange for free viewing - nothing came out of it. I texted a tablea maker to advertise and write about the joys of tablea in exchange for the little bags of tablea (which I intend to gift out as my way of saying thank you) - nothing. They all said NO, but that's ok. What's important is that I'm doing my due-diligence to make it happen.
I nearly forgot that Cebu has its own regional culinary offering. Once again, I was reintroduced to them as I was simply walking around. Lechon Cebu is definitely on top of the charts. Lechon can be found anywhere in the Philippines, but it's only in Cebu where lechon is iconic. From street-side lechon to high-end lechon, they all taste great. Of course, if there is lechon, there must be chicharon. Hands down, the best chicharon and lechon come from Carcar.
Otap, rosquillos and masareal are favorite pastime snacks.
Other Philippines standards, or perhaps just my favorites, just loomed for the taking - Dan Eric's Ice Cream, hot pandesal at Pan de Manila, batchoy at Itchoy's Batchoyan, lechon chicken (chicken charcoal-roasted on a spit), etc.
And yes, let's not forget Cebu's mangoes - they rank high among the country's varieties - fresh or dried mangoes.
English as Currency
As late as 5 years ago when I last visited, English was spoken in spurts by young, highly educated Cebuanas (females), but the language of choice was Cebuano. This time however, I noticed a stark difference - they speak in pure impeccable English, with the unmistakable collegiala slang. It seems that the better they speak it, the more audible their voice goes. I somehow see this as a veiled totem pole ranking in Philippine society. At least for the highly educated, you get sized-up in the first 5 minutes of the conversation by the way you speak English - the diction, the grammar, the articulation, etc. From that, they decide if you made it into their unspoken circle or not - they can be unforgiving in their verdict. For the educated elite, English is not just a language - it is a currency as well.
From a tactical perspective, it's easy to hack your way up the totem pole ranking by simply improving your English. English is not a monopoly of social pedigree.
Finding my Routine
At some point, I got to establish my routine - water therapy when I wake up, yoga by the bar, refill my 2-liter water jar, vegetable breakfast at the nearby carinderia, shower and sleep again. When I wake up, that's the time I open my laptop and do some work. At 8pm, I go to Abaca Baking to buy half-priced bread/pastry. I hardly have rice in Cebu.
Because I nearly never fail in my daily yoga practice, I would say that I have maintained my strength and vitality despite not being able to deepen my research or continue my reading of Hatha Yoga Pradipika. This routine made me more organized and more disciplined.
Out of the Bubble
I was walking around Ayala Mall and got into a conversation with an Ayala sales rep for one of its condo projects. He gave me the compelling arguments why it's good to choose an Ayala condo - it's located within the Ayala complex where one enjoys 1st-world amenities.
But at the back of my head, I was thinking this '1st-world amenity' is encased in a bubble within the Ayala complex. As soon as I come out of this complex, I cross this great chasm dividing the have-nots from those with wealth and privilege. I step into the real world - dealing with traffic, flowing sewer water on a curb, beggars on the street, homeless along the sidewalk and increased crime in some areas. Would I really enjoy being in such artificially propped-up La-la Land?
In some capitals (Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Chiang Mai), sure, there are poor people and some decaying infrastructure too, but there is no great divide - the condo dwellers and the poor people live in the same world. There is no bubble. It doesn't feel artificial.
Honestly, despite my due-diligence, Cebu seems flat-lining for me. Jeanne isn't as accessible as she used to be. I've only seen her briefly once and that was it. She was the one I came to Cebu for!! Nearly everyone I knew before wasn't available - some didn't even return my messages. I initially struggled with it.
Changing of the Guard
I took the brush-off as a sign to consider other horizons - opening up to a new group, engaging new activities...like shedding an old skin behind. I realized that my notion of Cebu was 5 years ago. Many things have already happened. I was simply holding on to the last vestiges of the Cebu I have known - the 'old guard' as I would now refer to it. When I let go of that past and embraced new and looming opportunities (largely due to Mikko and his merry band), the horizon broadened once again. The metamorphosis was simply a changing of the guard.
Cebu itself hasn't really changed except for more high-rise buildings. The traffic congestion and air pollution along the main roads remain the same from 5 years ago when I was last here. Cebu badly needs an urban train commute system like an MRT. If Cebu accommodates more people through the increased residential buildings, then its carrying capacity must also be increased - more roads, widening of existing roads, addition of sidewalks (so pedestrians don't have to walk on the street alongside cars) - I know, easier said than done.
The Cebu locals remain friendly, affectionate and fun-loving. They like social gatherings and festivities. Despite the worldly carapace, they remain rooted in their traditions.
But what I find startling is the lack of verve or vitality on the labor workforce - to be more specific, minimum wage earners or those surviving with their adhoc streetside business. They seem to have that zombie-like demeanor when doing their tasks. I haven't met anyone who seemed to be genuinely happy with their job. Even those paid to smile and look happy (receptionists, guest-relations staff, etc.) conceal a resigned fate of being in a dead-end job. I can't blame them - it's true. There is a reason why Filipinos leave the country to work and live abroad. The prospect of prosperity to the little guy with no resources or connections is bleak, even if he/she is talented and works hard. They see no light at the end of the tunnel.
Since I had the privilege to travel and see a better system in place, I cannot help but see the stark contrast between the workforce of let's say Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines (Cebu to be more exact, as I haven't done my rounds in the country since I arrived Oct. 13). In those countries, the minimum wage earners are happy and enjoy whatever is left of their disposable income. Here, there is no disposable income - the entire wage barely fits into rent, food, clothing and transportation. You get sick? That's not in the budget. Good luck! That's how bleak it is.
Before leaving Chiang Mai, I really wanted to stay a month in Cebu to sort my life back and get grounding before I start this new chapter. I tried looking for cheap rental rooms or bed space, but as things turned out, I stayed not just a month but 45 days at Hostel 7 Cebu through the kindness of Mikko. The past 45 days have given me reprieve, a sense of bearing, and even momentum to jump-start my new life - I was able to conduct an icebath, deliver a yoga talk to an engaged audience, teach my yoga to Cebu's most popular yoga teacher (Jason) in the most popular yoga studio in Cebu (Dawata) and even air-doped Mikko through an intense pranayama session to boost his marathon race in Singapore. But now that I'm feeling settled, and Mikko leaving the country for his race, and the arrival of Elizabeth from Chiang Mai, the message is clear to me - I should pack up and begin my journey. Staying longer would be complacent.
Thank you Mikko, thank you my benevolent universe!
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
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Moalboal with Elizabeth(Dec 4-9, 2022) I really had no plans for Moalboal. But somehow, my snorkeling gear which I haven't seen in 5 years were returned to me. Then my friend from Chiang Mai, Elizabeth, scheduled a trip to Moalboal to get her Open-Water Certificate. My only reply to her was, 'Let's travel together.' Thus Moalboal revisited...more »»
More on Cebu City:
About Cebu City
Cebu City Google Map
Cebu City, Philippines
Cebu City to Camotes Island
Cebu City to Camotes Islands
- via Consuelo - from Cebu City, take the northbound bus passing through Danao and get off at the Danao Port. At the Port, take a Jomalia Shipping boat for Consuelo (San Francisco, Camotes), P220/pax, a/c, 2 hours, daily trip - 5:30am, 7:00am (special trip), 8:30am, 12:00 noon (express), 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 9:00pm (express, Fri/Sat/Sun only).
Camotes Islands to Cebu City
- Poro - Cebu City (fastest and most direct) - go to Poro and take the 8am or 5pm Ocean Jet to Pier One in Cebu City, P380/pax/aircon, 2 hours
- Consuelo - Danao - Cebu City - go to Consuelo (San Francisco) and take the Jomalia Shipping boat to Danao, P220/pax, a/c, 2 hours, daily trip - 5:30am, 7:00am (special trip), 8:30am, 12:00 noon (express), 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 9:00pm (express, Fri/Sat/Sun only). From Danao, take the Ceres Bus to Cebu City
Cebu City to Dumaguete
Cebu City to Dumaguete by Boat
- George and Peter Lines - Mon/Thur/Sat/Sun 10pm, (035)225.4337, 0922.557.1023
- Oceanjet - via Tagbilaran, daily 6am, email@example.com, 0918.898.2188
- Cokaliong - Mon/Tue/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat 7pm, Sun 12pm, 6 hours, (035)225.3599
Cebu City to Dumaguete via Liloan (bus, boat, jeep, tricycle)
- Cebu City South Terminal - take the southbound Ceres bus to Liloan, P200, 5 hours
- Liloan - the bus drops you off at the Liloan Port where you board the Fastcraft to Sibulan, Negros Oriental, P62, 30 mins
- Sibulan - at the Sibulan Port, the jeeps wait for Fastcraft passengers to take them to the public market in Dumaguete, P12, 30 mins.
- Public Market - at the market, you can take any tricycle to your hotel, P8 for short trips
Cebu City to Tagbilaran, Bohol
Cebu City to Tagbilaran, Bohol
- Weesam Express - Pier 4, departs 9:00 AM, 2:00 PM, 6:30 PM, 2 hours
one way: Economy (aircon) P500.00, Economy (non-aircon) P400.00, First Class P600.00
round trip promo (at least 2 days advance booking): Economy (aircon) P600, Economy(non-aircon) P500, First Class P1200
round trip promo (1 day or on the day booking): Economy (aircon) P800, Economy (non-aircon) P700, First Class P1200
- Ocean Jet - Pier 1, departs 6-7-8-9:20-10:40-11:40AM, 1-2-4:20-6:35PM, 2 hours
Open Air / Tourist Class P800, Business Class P1000
+63 932 8734 885 / +63 922 8572 300
- SuperCat (2GO) - Pier 1, departs 08:15-13:30-15:10-18:00-19:40
+63 32 233 7000
- Lite Ferries - Pier 1, departs daily 12:30pm, 10:00pm and 1:00pm (Mon, Wed, Sat)
Standard (Lying) Php 150, Tourist (Lying Aircon) Php 340
+63 977.822.5483 / +63 998.999.5483 / +63 925.347.5483 / (032)255-1721 to 26 / (032)414-9001 to 03
firstname.lastname@example.org / www.liteferry.com
Cebu City to Siquijor by Boat, via Tagbilaran
Cebu City to Siquijor, via Tagbilaran
Cebu City to Siquijor by Bus, via Liloan (Santander)(as of Jan 2023)
There is only one bus plying this route - Sugbo Urban. Tourist class coach, a/c, comfortable, Sun-Fri (these dates keep changing). P420 for bus, P275 for ferry to Liloan. Leaves Cebu City (South Bus Terminal) at 8 pm (Sundays 1 am), heads south to Liloan (Santander), takes the ferry to Larena Port, Siquijor, docks around 5 am, makes a clockwise roundtrip around Siquijor Island - Larena, Enrique Villanueva, Maria, Lazi (stops at Lazi market for breakfast and leaves 6:50 am), San Juan, Siquijor (arrives 8am, P50 from Lazi to Siquijor Poblacion) and catches the 1pm ferry at Larena Port for Liloan, Cebu and resumes its land route. Arrives Cebu City 10 pm.
Sugbo Urban is the cheapest and most convenient way because when it reaches Larena Port (Siquijor), it continues its trip around the island (clockwise) along the circumferential road, passing through - Enrique Villanueva, Maria, Lazi, San Juan, Siquijor...and back to Larena. It spares you the cost of hiring a tricycle or habal-habal which charges exhorbitant fares. Besides, it's a long trip to the other side of the island to be taking by tricycle.
Cebu CityCEBU CITY
More on Cebu Province:
Suggested Destinations in Cebu
- 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
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