Arts And Crafts Festival 2017: NBS' Make and Create Event

Art is such a relaxing activity. It takes away your stress. And it helps you get back your focus on things. I never thought I would be interested in anything about art. That is until a friend introduced me into adult coloring. Last October 2016, National Bookstore held their Color and Calligraphy Fair in Cebu. Since then, I got hooked in calligraphy then into painting loose florals using watercolor.



I was assigned in Manila for work for a couple of months. If you are an art enthusiast, Metro Manila has lots of art festivals that you would not want to miss. National Bookstore was back in Cebu for NBS Make & Create Arts & Crafts Festival 2017. When NBS announced the event through their Facebook page, all my art hormones were pumped with adrenaline. I would not miss the opportunity. What made it more exciting is that the Wonderful Cebu Blog was invited for a special preview of the different sponsors of the event. And I got to represent the Wonderful Cebu Blog for it. The Make & Create Arts & Crafts Festival ran two days from 14-15 October 2017. This kind of art festival only happens once in a blue moon in Cebu!

Make and Create Arts and Crafts Festival with National Bookstore 2017
Make and Create with National Bookstore 2017


Mr. Louie Manalo welcomed me and introduced me to the different brand supervisors. A special preview for Cebu-based bloggers and media was set for the first two hours of the event. Let me share my experience.

UNI WRITING INSTRUMENTS

I was first introduced to Mr. Ricky Malanog, marketing head of Uni Writing Instruments. Uni Writing Instruments is a brand that has been providing us with quality ballpoint pens. We may only know about Uni’s ballpoint pens. They also sell a variety of other writing instruments. They have products like Jetstream Pens, Gel Ink Rollerballs, Liquid Ink Rollerballs, Artistic Drawing Pens, Mechanical Pencils and Leads, Multi-functional Pens, and Markers. 

I love the Uni Ball Signo White gel ink pen. If you are into brush calligraphy or lettering, the Uni Ball Signo White can add texture to your lettering designs. You can also use the Uni Ball Signo White pen when doing a galaxy watercolor painting. I also plan to buy the Uni Posca White pen for calligraphy on wood.


CRAFT EASY and DISNEY’S ART ATTACK

Are you into scrap booking? The famous scrap booking brand, Craft Easy, showcased their artful and unique scrap booking materials in the event. Children were also welcomed into the NBS Make and Create festival. If you are a Disney baby and you follow TV shows on the Disney Channel, you might be familiar with the brand Disney’s Art Attack. Mommies and their kids were mostly present in the Disney’s Art Attack booth doing coloring and creating crafts. For your scrap booking needs you can visit any National Bookstore branch nationwide and look for the Craft Easy section. Disney’s Art Attack also sells child friendly coloring materials.


LIMELIGHT and SHARPIE

Bullet Journaling or BuJo is one of the famous trends among art enthusiasts nowadays. BuJo is a customized planner where you can create your own format for your weekly spread. It is where you can jot down your to-do-lists, sketches, and mindless scribbles. You can also use it as a diary or travel journal. Limelight offers an excellent brand of quality journals. It is the perfect suit for your bullet journaling needs. Limelight journals' use are not only limited to bullet journaling. These journals can also be used for sketching, watercolor painting, calligraphy, and almost all kinds of art. This is because its paper is at 120 Grams per Square Meter. It can withstand different kinds of media.

Limelight booth at Make and Create Arts and Crafts Festival
Limelight booth


With BuJo, you also need colorful markers for your designs. Sharpie is a water-based marker that can address your needs. It is perfect for your bullet journaling, scrap booking, poster making, adult coloring, and other arts and craft needs.  


PRISMACOLOR PREMIER

Adult coloring started all my art journey since August of 2015. Merchandisers were selling different  colored pencil brands like hot potato back then. But there is only one brand I wanted to own and that is the Prismacolor Premier pencils. Do I already own a set of Prismacolors? The answer is no because I couldn’t afford to buy one. One of the freebies given during the event was a set of 12s Prismacolor Premier pencils. Can you just imagine how happy I was when I received the tin box? It’s like the Michelangelo of colored pencils. Prismacolor Premiers are artist-quality colored pencils with high quality pigments. Its soft and thick core creates a smooth process in coloring and is perfect for blending and shading. Prismacolor Premiers were sold on a 40% discount during NBS’ Make & Create event.

People who were present at the Prismacolor Premier booth were mostly sketching enthusiasts. Some were into adult coloring. I also spent 2 hours coloring an artwork. I just don’t want to miss the chance to use these “dream” Prismacolor Premier pencils. 

I hoped I didn’t babble about how much I love Prismacolor and looked like an art geek. I really couldn’t remember the words that came out of my mouth because of my excitement.


PRESTIGE PAPER PRODUCTS

Pretige Paper Products offers eco-friendly specialty papers. These can be used by graphic designers, social printers, digital service bureaus, commercial printers and hobbyists. I started my watercolor painting journey in August of 2015. Since then, I have been searching for a cheaper Fabriano watercolor paper in 3 branches of National Bookstore in Cebu. To my dismay, I haven’t found one. The one they are selling was the biggest size which costs Php 1,000 - Php 2,000. During the special preview for bloggers and media at the NBS Make & Create event, my heart fluttered with happiness when I saw the 9x12 size of Fabriano paper on display! Paper brands that are under Prestige Paper Products are Fedrigoni, Fabriano, Rock Paper, Mondi, Imari, Maestro and Eska.


SAKURA PHILIPPINES

Sakura Philippines offers prime watercolor sets, brush pens, drawing pens and gelly roll pens. Sakura Philippines is promoting their Pigma Macron drawing pens. These are mastered for manga drawing and organic doodling. Sakura’s Koi Watercolor set is also a great find for watercolor enthusiasts. This nifty watercolor set is a perfect suit for travelers who are into watercolor painting. It comes with a portable case, a palette and a water brush.

Ever since I started doing calligraphy, my go to brush pens were the Zig Brushables. During the event I decided to try on the Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens and bought one. What I love about the Sakura Koi brush pens is that it is easy to handle and I get to control the thin and thick pressure strokes well.  I also love Sakura’s paint brushes because of its smooth tip. I hope National Bookstore branches in Cebu would stock up on Sakura’s paint brushes so I can purchase other sizes of their paint brush.



ELMER’S GLUE PHILIPPINES

When someone asks us about glues what brand comes into your mind first? Right! Elmer’s Glue. Aside from their multi-purpose glue, they also introduced their new product, Elmer’s Classic Glitter Glue. There was also a demonstration during the event on how to make a slime using Elmer’s Classic Glitter Glue.

  

MARVY UCHIDA

Marvy Uchida is a brand exclusively distributed by Valiant Paper Asia-Pacific Corporation in the Philippines. Their products include a variety of hobby and craft pens for calligraphy, drawing and fabric coloring. School and office pens are also present in Marcy Uchida’s line of writing tools.


FABER-CASTELL and DELI

Faber-Castell is a Germany-based brand and houses one of the best brands of color pencils. There are two kinds of Faber-Castell brands. The one with the red background are student grade coloring materials. The one with the dark green background are artist grade coloring materials. During the event it was the former that was given the spotlight together with a new brand of coloring materials named Deli. Deli is a well known brand in China. It is a new player of art and office supplies brand in the Philippines. Their products include coloring materials, adhesive products, conference products, office machines and writing instruments.

Faber-Castell at Make and Create Arts and Crafts Festival 2017
Faber-Castell


Faber-Castell also has brush pens that are used for calligraphy and is also one of my favorites for its flexibility.

Here are a few artworks I created using the materials provided during the NBS' Make and Create Arts and Crafts Festival 2017.




Time check: 12:27 AM. Since I really wanted to try the #FabrianoWatercolorPaper and the #SakuraPaintBrush, I did a quick watercolor sesh using @willizago 's tutorial in #MakeAndCreateWithNBS @nbsalert @smcitycebuofficial . I hope I did a good job especially on the side rose but I reckon it still needs improvement. It looked like a Peony. 😁 Tomorrow I' m gonna hoard more Fabriano paper. It is the best watercolor paper that I have tried! Sakura's paint brush is just 😍 so soft! Watercolor Paper: Fabriano from @prestigepaper Paint Brush: @sakuraartph Brush Pen: Zig Fudebiyori @zigphilippines Watercolor: @simbalionph . #LingsWatercolorJourney #lingcalligraphycebu #calligraphycebu #calligraphyph #looseflorals #watercolorflorals #artcebu #cebucrafts #cebubloggers #bloggerscebu #watercolorcebu #cebuevents #wonderfulcebublog #wonderfulcebu #practicemakesprogress #prestigepaperproducts #fabrianoph
A post shared by Ling Calligraphy Cebu (@lingcalligraphycebu) on


Thank you National Bookstore for bringing NBS’ Make & Create Arts & Crafts Festival in Cebu! Thank you for inviting Wonderful Cebu to the event. Here’s to more art events in Cebu! Cheers!

Guest writer: Jennifer Abrenica of Thoughts by Anonymous
Full disclosure: Jennifer represented the Wonderful Cebu Blog during the media preview for the National Bookstore Make and Create Arts & Crafts Festival. Rest assured, her opinions are her own and not influenced in any way. 



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Kartzone: Feed Your Need for Speed in Cebu City, Philippines

Metro Cebu probably has one of the worst traffic problems in the world. In fact, Cebu's driving culture was cites as second worst by Waze, the wayfinding app. This means that if you have a constant need for speed, it will be hard to sate that in the streets of Metro Cebu. Unless it's deep into the night. Worry not now, there is a way to fill your need for speed in Cebu.


Kartzone

Enter Kartzone Cebu, a go-kart rental facility in Kasambagan, Cebu City with a pretty basic racetrack. To start, here's their contact information:

Business Address: F. Cabahug Street, Kasambagan, Cebu City
Landmarks: Near Jollibee and Burger King
Facebook page: Kartzone Cebu
Telephone number: +63 32 268 2553
E-mail address: kartzonecebu@yahoo.com 

I rented a go-kart with them once and used their track for 8 laps. But I was never a speed demon and I just tried it for once. I also did not have photos of that experience as we did it in at night and we did not have cameras that can capture the experience in the dark. Luckily, Jen of Thoughts by Anonymous gave me permission to use her photos when she visited Kartzone Cebu.

First, we paid the fees for go kart, safety gear, and accessory rentals. A helmet is the only required safety gear. A face mask is also available for rent. Of course the karts are equipped with seat belts. I strongly suggest though that they require guests to wear closed shoes. For a higher safety standard, they can also rent out padded overalls, arm guards, knee pads, shin guards, elbow pads, and gloves.

While their rules do indicate that they do not allow rentals for guests who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they have no way of knowing for sure. They only check for obvious physical indicators such as grogginess and breath that smells of alcohol. Perhaps a breathalyzer test may suffice? I understand that will drive costs up though. 

The experience starts with a safety briefing where we were just made to view film. It was quite informative and sufficient as long as you pay attention. After the safety briefing, we then proceeded to putting our gear on and getting on our go-kart of choice.

Jen at Kartzone Cebu
Jen at Kartzone Cebu
The standard for renting a go kart and using the racetrack at Kartzone Cebu is 8 laps. Regular rental rates are PHP 425 for the single-seat go kart and PHP 450 for the twin-seater. The price drops during happy hour on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The happy hour single-seat rental is at PHP 325 for 8 laps, and the twin-seater rents at PHP 350. 4-lap tickets are also available during happy hour. The 4-lap tickets cost PHP 225 for single-seaters and PHP 250 for twin-seaters.

Jen on the Kartzone Cebu racetrack
Jen on the racetrack

Other than go karts, Kartzone's racetracks have also been used for motorcycle races and automobile time trials. This was the former stomping ground of Cebuano actor Matteo Guidicelli. Matteo was a champion motorcycle racer before he focused mainly on a showbiz career in Manila.

Do you need to sate your hunger for speed? Kartzone Cebu just might be able to address your need for speed. Give them a try and tell us about your experience in the comments below.


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Sumo Sam Japanese Restaurant: For The Big Appetite in Cebu

I'd like to believe that Cebuanos fell in love with Japanese cuisine. One only has to look at how many Japanese restaurants there are in Cebu. More than just the traditional ramen noodles, teriyaki dishes, tempura, sushi, and sashimi, other Japanese dishes have become common in Cebu.




Some restaurants have taken this Cebuano love for Japanese food to a higher level. Restaurants that serve Japanese dishes in fusion with other cuisine are quite common. One of these places is Sumo Sam at Ayala Center Cebu.

Sumo Sam Japanese Restaurant

By all means, Sumo Sam is a Japanese restaurant. It retains many traditional Japanese dishes and restaurant customs such as a hot towel before a meal. But it also integrates some Western influences on their menu. 

Sumo Sam Japanese Restaurant in Cebu City
Sumo Sam Japanese Restaurant in Cebu City


In this post, I look back to that one time I dined here. I remember it to be quite an expensive meal. I did have salmon and steak so that kind of bloated my expense. For my meal, I had a salmon and steak combo. Part of the promotion back then, the meal included a bowl of Japanese fried rice a couple of Japanese rolls, and a bowl of salad greens.

They served the miso soup, salad greens, and Japanese rolls first. The miso soup serving is bigger than what I usually get at other restaurants. Salad greens were fresh and the lettuce had a good crunch. All were good, nothing extraordinary though.

Japanese rolls miso soup and salad greens at Sumo Sam Japanese Restaurant
Japanese rolls, miso soup, and salad greens
I find the Japanese fried rice to be a little wanting in ingredients. While it had generous spices in it, there was too little meat in it. I probably got too used to having lots of colorful things in my fried rice. That's why I like Chinese fried rice so much.

Japanese fried rice at Sumo Sam Japanese Restaurant
Japanese fried rice

Now on to the main entrees. Salmon was pan seared but I guess it got well done a little too well. I love to enjoy my salmon grilled or baked so I can savor that soft and succulent fish meat. Sumo Sam's version is overcooked compared to how I prefer it. I sure hope this would be one of the better places to order salmon in Cebu, but it is not. My top place for a salmon dish is still at Maple.

They also did not get my steak right. I always order my steak well done and made sure to tell them when I placed my order. Instead, they served my order medium rare. I haven't really sampled a good lot of steaks in Cebu, but I can tell you that one good place to get them is at Acacia Steakhouse.

steak and salmon combo meal at Sumo Sam Japanese Restaurant
Steak and salmon combo meal

Location and Contact Information

Business Address: Ground Floor, The Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City
Telephone Number: +63 32 401 0643
Twitter: @SumoSamCebu

My Sumo Sam dining experience is not my best Japanese meal in Cebu. It is also not the worst. Kind of an average experience. The one positive that I see here though is the meal size. The serving portions can definitely feed a sumo appetite. I hardly finished my meal and I have a fairly big appetite myself.

How about you? Have you dined at Sumo Sam? How was your experience? Did you find something good in their menu that we missed? Tell us in the comments below.
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Tempura Japanese Grill: My Top Place For Gyoza in Cebu City

As it's name suggests, Tempura Japanese Grill's specialty dish ought to be tempura. As a true lover of Japanese cuisine, tempura is one of my favorites. I couldn't be happier to try it in Japanese restaurants around Cebu. I sure did hope that Tempura Japanese Grill's rendition is the best in town. Truth is, not for me. 





Tempura Japanese Grill in Cebu City

The Tempura Japanese Grill branch in Cebu is located at the ground floor of the SM City Cebu Northwing in the North Reclamation Area of Cebu City. It was in late February 2016 when I first dined at Tempura Japanese Grill. I definitely ordered tempura and 2 familiar Japanese dishes: tonkatsu and gyoza. They also gave me the customary complimentary miso soup to start my meal. The soup was good and much like how it is in other restaurants.

Tempura Japanese Grill in Cebu City
Tempura Japanese Grill in Cebu City


Due to the fact that I anticipated their tempura to be the best I ever tasted in Cebu, I was a bit disappointed that it was not the case. I also wanted to order the king prawn tempura but they ran out of it when it was my turn to dine. 

Having tasted their version, my top choice to get tempura in Cebu is still at Choobi Choobi Restaurant.  Their rendition was a little bit too soggy. I wished they shook more of the excess oil off before plating and serving it. While it had some good flavor in it, the excess oil kind of takes away some of the crunch from the breading. Besides, the oiliness can make you feel a  bit sick.

But I still want to go back and try their king prawn version. If they ran out of it, there must be something good about it. Don't you think so?

Shrimp Tempura at Tempura Japanese Grill in Cebu City
Ebi tempura


The tonkatsu was good. The pork meat tasted sweet probably from how they seasoned it. It's breading had enough crunch and they probably put some extra egg in it to make it fluffier. They served it on a bowl of sweet Japanese rice then sprinkled it with spring onions. Not the best tonkatsu I came across but it's definitely one dish I can come back for. My top place to get Tonkatsu? I'd still go for that Kurobota pork cutlet at Tonkatsu by Terazawa.

Pork cutlet bowl at Tempura Japanese Grill in Cebu City
Tonkatsu

The pleasant surprise that I came across though is the gyoza. I have some mixed feelings about gyoza as sometimes they are really good. But sometimes, I come across some varieties that do not suit my taste preference. Tempura Grill does it right for me. Their version was probably boiled or steamed before it was fried. It's not too sticky and had a good balance of vegetable and meat as filling. That filling was well-seasoned too. I can keep coming back for this as it is really good. This is now my top pick for gyoza in Cebu.

Pot stickers at Tempura Japanese Grill in Cebu City
Gyoza
For more information about this Japanese restaurant you may follow them on Facebook or Instagram. Customer feedback may be sent through e-mail at customerservice@tempurajapanesegrill.com

Have you dined at Tempura Japanese Grill in Cebu City? What do you think about their tempura? What are your favorite dishes in their menu? You may tell us in the comments below.
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Mactan Newtown: A City Within a City in Mactan Island

Last 7 October 2017, I had the chance to visit one of the emerging lifestyle centers and BPO hubs. It is located in Lapu-lapu City on the island of Mactan. Named Mactan Newtown, this developing center is one of Megaworld Corporation's first major townships outside Metro Manila. It even has its own beachfront and has a lot of potential for growth. I can only be excited about what else is in store for this township project. By now, it's already getting noticed.




Where to Dine at Mactan Newtown

For now, the township boasts an assortment of dining options. This includes a McDonalds fast food chain.  A 7/11 convenience store is right next to it. A Japanese restaurant called Shikisai is also worth checking out. Civet Coffee is a cozy cafe you might want to visit as well. You can also find more food choices at Mactan Alfresco. Mactan Alfresco is an open air food court. It is largely inspired by the hawkers food centers in Singapore. 

Meximama Mexican Restaurant at at Mactan Newtown
Meximama
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Aicila Suites: A Cheap and Clean Hotel in Cebu City

When companies decide to conduct a training outside of the company, one of the main concerns besides the location and accessibility of the place would be the cost. Aicila Suites as a seminar venue can provide those variables as well as present a welcoming venue for training. The Cebu Teambuilding Facilitators Network affiliates were at Aicila Suites on 28 July 2016 to conduct a sales and marketing seminar for Fabulosa de Fashion, a clothing retail store with several branches in Metro Cebu.








Aicila Suites 

Aicila Suites is a Cebu City hotel situated at the crossroads of Talamban and Cabangcalan. The hotel features guest rooms and suites that provide free internet access. Balkon Bar is the in-house restaurant. Family KTV is also situated within the hotel building. Family KTV provides a number of rooms for Karaoke and Wii games. The hotel offers enough space to hold different kinds of events. Weddings, social gatherings, and corporate training events are some examples. Strategically located in one of the busier areas in Cebu, the hotel has a 7-Eleven convenience store and Park N’Go Bakeshop for quick and convenient stops during a busy day. 

Aicila Suites in Cebu City
Aicila Suites

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Ogtong Cave Resort in Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu

With the summer heat hitting the main island of Cebu, Bantayan Island is surely becoming the go to destination for a wet and wild escapade this summer. Well, not necessarily a wet and wild escapade. Bantayan Island can cater to different kinds of travelers. You can have a quiet vacation, an adventurous one, a nature-inspired travel experience, or probably even a mystic trip. That's how versatile Bantayan Island is. Of course one consideration is where to stay in the island. We suggest you consider Ogtong Cave Resort.





Numerous companies are also preparing and looking for conducive places to combine a company outing with employees and a company’s team building event. One of the resorts that is good for a company outing and team building is the Ogtong Cave Resort.

Ogtong Cave Resort in Bantayan Island
Ogtong Cave Resort



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Santa Fe Beach Club in Bantayan Island, Cebu, Philippines

Summer is finally here with all its beach craze, outdoor and water activities, and what more fun way to experience all that in one of the best natural white sand beaches in the country – at the white beaches of Bantayan Island. As exciting as it can be, organizations also organize fun-filled activities with their employees and teams thus look for potential venues conducive for the energy and excitement of employees. All this can be found at Santa Fe Beach Club in Bantayan.









Located at Santa Fe town, it is literally a few minutes’ walk from the Sante Fe port. One can even see the beach’s primary rest house from afar, sporting a large white triangular house making it a sought after beach club for those wanting to enjoy the place’s naturally white sand and beach.

Santa Fe Beach Club in Bantayan Island
Santa Fe Beach Club


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Hidden Valley Mountain Resort: What a Wonderpool World

Nestled within the mountains of Toledo and Pinamungajan is a hidden oasis with majestic pools that will certainly satisfy your inner mermaid (or merman). To those who are craving for waves but can do without the dangers of the open sea, then look no more this place is for you. Mountains and waves seem out of sync. Never mind that their wave pool generates artificial waves out of spring water. It's as real as it can get with those three-foot waves anyway.




It was an early morning trip to Pinamungajan with our clients from Access e-Talk Plus for a team building seminar. Our destination was Hidden Valley Mountain Resort at Barangay Lamac, Pinamungajan, Cebu. True to its name, the Hidden Valley Mountain Resort was quite difficult to find but going there is definitely worthwhile.

Hidden Valley Mountain Resort in Pinamungajan Cebu
Hidden Valley Mountain Resort

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Sirao Flower Garden: A Hidden Gem in Cebu City's Mountains

In Cebu City, you would not expect that deep in the mountain barangays, you will find a garden of luscious flowers. Sirao Flower Farm is a place to go for your pre-nuptial or debut photos. Being surrounded by flowers in your pictures is definitely romantic. The place is also known as the Little Amsterdam of Cebu. Or quite simply, the Celosia Flower Farm. And yes, it's this flower farm that was trending on social media in the past year.




Sirao Garden first started as a simple flower farm. The flowers were harvested every end of the year which will be used for All Soul’s Day and for Sinulog. The owners of Sirao Garden were surprised to find that their garden was starting to attract visitors from different places. So they decided to plant more flowers and develop the place.

Sirao Flower Garden in Cebu City
Sirao Flower Garden


When I went there a year ago (2016), the ground was still a muddy terrain but now they added a little bit of concrete so that it will be safe for walking. They have also added a couple of tree houses so that you can see the majestic view in Sirao Garden.

cottage for rent at Sirao Flower Garden
Cottage for rent


It is enjoyable to walk around the garden filled with Celosia flowers. You can also spot a few sunflowers here and there. It feels like you’re in the secret garden. A lot of people visit the place during the weekends and holidays. It’s a tourist spot even for Cebuanos.

Sirao Flower Garden
Flowers in bloom


When my friends and I visited Sirao Garden, it was raining just a few hours ago and since it’s a garden, well, our shoes were caked with mud. But it didn’t stop us (or even the other people) from exploring the place. The mud didn’t seem to matter anymore as long as the people can have Instagram-worthy photos. The sky was dark but we were still able to take really cool photos. Outside Sirao Garden, there are stalls with food or drinks to satisfy your stomach needs after picture-taking (I strongly recommend their sweet corn!).

Sirao Flower Garden
Flower plots


It’s not hard to get to Sirao Garden, although it is a bit away from the city. It’s just along the road so it’s not a difficult place to spot. Plus, they also have a really big sign saying #SIRAO. You can ride a
motorcycle or habal-habal from JY Square Mall Lahug. There are a lot of motorcycles that will offer a ride for a fee of around Php 200.00 – Php 300.00. There are still a lot of places to tour in Busay, it would be a waste to go right back down after visiting Sirao Garden. You may arrange a private city tour with any tour companies. Entrance fee to the place is at Php 30.00.

Sirao Flower Garden
Sirao Flower Garden
Have you been to the Sirao Flower Garden? How was your experience? You may share in the comments below.

Contributing Writer: Edelyn Codera
Gratis: The Wonderful Cebu Blog would like to extend gratitude to South Shore Tours for sponsoring a Twin City Tour in Cebu for our writer. The Sirao Flower Gardens was one of the stops in that twin city tour.
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Tops: Breathtaking Views of the Queen City of the South

Tops got its name by being literally at the top. This former helipad in Malubog, Cebu City is a famous tourist destination for scenic views of the city lights at night and the urban sprawl and nature’s greens during daylight. As mentioned, Tops was once a helipad. It was owned by a scion of the influential Osmeña political family. There are also restaurants and areas where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The place seems to have an allure that constantly attracts both locals and visiting tourists. 




From JY Square in Lahug, you can ask habal-habal drivers to take you to Tops with a fare ranging between Php 80-100.00 one way. You can also opt to ride a taxi but I think that’s more expensive. Or if you want to, you can walk for thirty minutes to one hour depending on your pace. That's if you want some extra challenge going to Tops. As for us, we rode on the car provided by South Shores Travel and Tours for our twin city tour.

Tops Lookout in Cebu City
Tops Lookout
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Jonie's Sizzlers and Roast: Really Cheap Meals in Cebu

Cebu is foodie heaven. And as economic theory states, costs can be high where there is high demand. The good thing about Cebu though is that despite that heavy demand for restaurants, there is also no shortage of supply. That means, cost is somehow balanced and Cebu dining need not be expensive. Sure there are quite a number of places that are expensive. But there are also many that offer great value for your buck. There's the typical hole in the wall places. But you can find cheap food even in malls.




Jonie's Flavored Chicken

While not exactly a much talked about restaurant, Jonie's Sizzlers and Roast offers meals with very affordable prices. Jonie's is located at the upper ground floor of SM City Cebu. They specialize in flavored roast chicken. I must say there's pretty good flavor in their roast chicken.

One good thing about the Jonie's Sizzlers and Roast menu is that while they specialize in flavored roast chicken, they serve a variety of meats as well. And they have vegetarian options too. The menu has pork dishes, fish and seafood dishes, chicken, and beef. Here are some that we tried:

Grilled Tangigue 

Tangigue or mackerel is one of my favorite fish food along with salmon and bangus (milkfish). I love tangigue either as a fish steak, fried or pan-seared, or grilled. When I want to eat healthier at Jonie's, I order the grilled tangigue.

grilled fish at Jonie's Flavored Chicken
Grilled tangigue

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Skip's Beach Resort: A Backpacker's Lodge in Daanbantayan

Back in 2007, I went to meet Skip Ellsworth at his beach resort in Agujo, Daanbantayan, Cebu. By then, Skip was already ailing and can only move through the aid of a wheelchair. He introduced me to his wife Belle and one of his kids who was only about 11 or 12 years old by that time. Skip was a martial artist. He was Bruce Lee's third student in America.


Almost nine years after that visit, I was again in Daanbantayan. I was on a familiarization tour of Virgin Beach Resort. But I made sure I visited Skip's Beach Resort and KTV once again. I was able to talk to Belle and learned from her that Skip passed away in 2008.
Skip's Beach Resort in Daanbantayan Cebu
Skip's Beach Resort and KTV
View from the terrace of Skip's Beach Resort
View from the terrace
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Santiago Bay Garden and Resort in the Camotes Group of Islands

In February 2016, I facilitated a team building program for NPax Cebu Corporation in the Camotes group of islands in the northwestern part of Cebu province. The event was held at the Santiago Bay Garden and Resort in San Francisco town on Pacijan island. It was a good venue for team building programs in the Camotes islands.

Santiago Bay Garden and Resort is among the popular resorts in Camotes. You have to book in advance to get a room here. 


Santiago Bay Garden and Resort Camotes
Santiago Bay Garden and Resort in the Camotes Islands


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Thresher Shack: Humble Dormitory in Malapascua Island

There are more fancy accommodation options on Malapascua Island. But I chose to stay at The Thresher Shack. The Thresher Shack is a humble dormitory type accommodation. It is located at the Divelink Cebu property on Logon Beach. It also helped that one of the partners that own Divelink Cebu is an uncle of mine.


The Thresher Shack

Uncle Gary is one of the major owners of Divelink Cebu. When you get to know him, it is not hard to know why the humble accommodation that started with just 6 beds was called Thresher Shack. Uncle Gary is a marine biologist. He is a scuba diving enthusiast. And he is a prominent shark conservationist as well. He is now based on Malapascua Island. Malapascua is a known haven for thresher sharks in the northern part of the central Visayas province of Cebu.


The Thresher Shack
The Thresher Shack

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Mactan Island: A Suggested Itinerary for a Quick Day Tour

Mactan Island is known for its beaches. But there is actually more to that in this island in Cebu. Here is a suggested itinerary for a quick day tour of Mactan Island.





Mactan Ferry 

If coming from Cebu City, we suggest that you take the Mactan Ferry at Pier 3. It is a convenient way to get to Mactan Island and avoid the dreaded traffic situation in Mandaue City and Lapulapu City. It's also a cheap way to get started with the tour. Besides, who doesn't want the fresh sea breeze of the morning?

Muelle Osmeña Wharf and Lighthouse

The Mactan ferry docks at the Muelle Osmeña Wharf. On site is a lighthouse that is more than 100 years old. Snap a photo with that lighthouse.

Birhen sa Regla Church 

Across the exit of the Muelle Osmeña Wharf is the Birhen sa Regla Church. The main church in Lapulapu City, many devotees come here to ask for favors. Common among these favors is the prayer to conceive.

Saint Alphonsus Catholic School 

Also in the area is Saint Alphonsus Catholic School. SACS was established in 1916. It is more than a hundred years old.

Senyang's 

For breakfast, we suggest a local Mactan Island fare. Head to Senyang's for their famous lumpia. Senyang's is walking distance from St. Alphonsus Catholic School.

Lapulapu Central Elementary School 

For the serious history buffs, visit the Gabaldon building at the Lapulapu City Elementary School.

Lapulapu City Hall

Visit the Lapulapu monument at city hall and learn about its history. It used to hold a bow and arrow. But after a succession of 3 mayors died of heart attack, they changed the weapon.


Millennium Park

Millennium Park is a public park under the Mactan Island side of the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. Walk with caution in this park as there have been numerous reports of crime. Or better yet, snap photos from the vehicle you are riding in.

Ukehub Kafe

Admire the world-class ukulele products from Susing's Guitar at the Ukehub Kafe. If you are lucky, you might be able to catch a learn-to-play session for the ukulele. Or you can schedule one before you embark on your tour.

Ukuleles on display at the Ukehub Kafe on Mactan Island
Ukuleles on display at the Ukehub Kafe


Mactan Shrine

One of the most visited sites in Mactan Island is the Mactan Shrine. It is believed to be the site of the Battle of Mactan. Ferdinand Magellan died in that battle. That battle also enshrined Datu Lapulapu as the first Filipino to triumph against the Spanish conquistadores.

Sutukil

Right beside the Mactan Shrine are restaurants that offer sutukil, a Cebuano palate feast consisting of sugba (roast), tuwa (soup), and kilawin (fish ceviche). If you are big on seafood dishes, you will lobe this place.

Mactan Newtown

The Mactan Newtown is the newest commercial park in Mactan Island.  Head to the Mactan Alfresco to sample some of the restaurants. Restaurants in the area are Muvanz, Choobi Choobi, Meximama, Orange Karenderia, Mama Linda Inato, and Oyster Bay Express. Or just simply marvel at the modern structures within the area.


Hadsan Cove

When you have time, you can try the submarine tour, helmet diving, or the hot air balloon at Hadsan Cove.

Dinner

Choose between MB's Tavern and the kandingan places for dinner. MB's tavern is a German-owned cafe. They serve pizza, breads, and some Filipino dishes. Choose MB's tavern if you want to play it safe. For the more adventurous, try goat meat dishes in one of the kandingan places in barangay Basak.

Pueblo Verde 

Pueblo is a modern shopping complex right outside the Mactan Export Processing Zone II in barangay Basak.

D'Jungle Dinner and Cultural Show

If you do not have a flight to catch, cap the night off with dinner at D'Jungle Restaurant. An after-dinner cultural show starts around 7:00 p.m. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to that.

Buy Packed Lechon at the Airport

If you have a late night flight to catch, be sure to bring in some lechon from Cebu. Ayer's and Zubuchon have stalls at the Mactan Cebu International Airport where you can get some.

Do you know of other interesting places to visit in Mactan Island? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Twin City Tour: Cebu + Lapulapu

There are many tourists who come to Cebu with very limited times. They sure want to maximize whatever time they have to enjoy local culture, food, and tourist spots. One of way for them to make good use of their time is to do a twin city tour

In the past, we posted about quick tours they can do at certain locations in Metro Cebu. Let us explore another one in this post. This itinerary shall focus on Cebu City and Lapulapu City. We recommend the services of South Shore Tours for vehicles you will need on this tour. They have a twin city tour package that can be availed for a price as low as PhP 900 per person.

Have your driver pick you up at your hotel right after you have breakfast. We recommend that you start early. Start your twin city tour no later than 9 a.m. 

Flower Garden

You may have heard of the flower gardens in Cebu's mountain barangays. Start your twin city tour with a visit to one of them. Sirao's Celosia gardens may be the most popular. There is Terrazas de Flores which is nearer to urban Cebu City. There is also Balamban's Buwakan ni Alejandra. Although Balamban is not part of Cebu City. Enjoy the scenery and take photos for your Instagram. 

Twin city tour in Cebu stop: Sirao Flower Garden
Sirao Flower Garden


Tops 

Your second stop will be at Tops Lookout. Tops is a popular hangout for both locals and visitors. The former helipad of the Osmeña family gives good views of the city. This is true specially at night.

Twin city tour in Cebu stop: Tops
Tops


Temple of Leah 

The Temple of Leah is the third stop. This temple is a new structure. There are a few interesting things about it. For one, it was built as a copy of the Parthenon in Greece. Second, it is a mausoleum a man built in loving memory of his late wife. In the future, they plan to add more value to this destination by adding museum pieces.

Twin city tour in Cebu stop: Temple of Leah
Temple of Leah


Taoist Temple

Move on to the Taoist Temple. This temple was built in 1972. It showcases Chinese influences in Cebu. This is a popular stop for tourists as well. The dragon sculptures, botanical gardens, and landscaping are the things to see here.

Twin city tour in Cebu stop: Taoist Temple
Taoist Temple

Spanish-era Structures

Next up is a walking tour of Spanish-era structures. Ask your driver to drop you off at Fort San Pedro. Fort San Pedro is the country's oldest and smallest tri-bastion fort. The fort hosted the earliest Spanish settlement in the archipelago. At certain times of the year, they have tourism interns who guide tourists around the structure. Right outside Fort San Pedro is Plaza Independencia. It is a very old park that also has a very interesting history.

Twin city tour in Cebu stop: Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro

Walk to Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. This church is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the Philippines. The Magellan's Cross is right outside it's premises. The cross was erected to celebrate the conversion of natives to Christianity. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted this cross. The kiosk that houses this cross is one of Cebu's most iconic symbols.

Twin city tour in Cebu stop: Magellan's Cross


Take another short walk to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. The cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Cebu. It took several years to complete. It also has a very interesting history. Right beside it is the cathedral museum.

Further down the road is Shamrock Pasalubong Center. You can buy local delicacies at this place. Cross the bridge over Estero de Parian. Stop at the eastern end of Colon Street. Here you will find the Colon Street Obelisk. It indicates that Colon Street is the oldest and shortest national road in the country. From Colon Street, one can see the Heritage of Cebu Monument. It was built on the old Plaza Parian. The monument depicts many historical events in Cebu.

The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is a stone's throw away from the monument. This house was built in 1675. Walk another block and drop by Casa Gorordo. This is the ancestral home of Cebu's first Filipino archbishop. Ask your driver to pick you up at this location and drive to Museo Sugbo.

Twin city tour in Cebu stop: Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House


Museo Sugbo is the Cebu branch of the National Museum of the Philippines. This edifice used to be the Carcel de Cebu. It served as a jail facility for centuries. It was converted into a museum in 2008. This is the end of the Cebu City leg of your. Eat some lunch before proceeding to Mactan Island. Check out Cebu City's buffet restaurants for a good meal.

Twin city tour in Cebu stop: Museo Sugbo
Museo Sugbo


A good place to start the Lapulapu City leg of your twin city tour is at the Mactan Shrine. This is the site of the Battle of Mactan. It was here where Lapulapu and his men fought and killed Magellan. Alternatively, you can have a real Cebuano lunch beside this shrine. It is where you will find many sutukil restaurants. Sutukil is a Cebuano meal of grilled seafood, soup, and fish ceviche.

After the shrine visit, immerse yourself in the Cebuano musical culture. You can either visit Susing's Guitar factory or the Ukehub Kafe. If you're lucky, you might be able to attend a ukulele workshop at 
Ukehub.

Twin city tour in Cebu stop: Ukuleles
Ukuleles on display at Ukehub Kafe


Roman Catholics may want to say a prayer at the Birhen sa Regla church. Cebuanos often come to this church to ask for divine favors. Those who are not too religious may choose to marvel at the Muelle Osmeña lighthouse instead. The lighthouse is more than 100 years old.

End your tour at the 10000 Roses Cafe. Technically, the cafe is located in the town of Cordova. Consider it a bonus in the twin city tour. Enjoy the view of 10000 LED-powered artificial white roses. This place is best visited at night.

Twin city tour in Cebu stop: 10000 Roses Cafe
10000 Roses
I hope you enjoy your twin city tour!

Note: Some photos are contributed by Cheska Baynas and South Shore Tours.
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