Cebu, Philippines

Cebu Philippines whale shark swimming

 

 

This trip to Cebu, Philippines has easily been the craziest trip of my life. A 15 hour layover stuck in Taipei airport {they wouldn’t let us enter the country because Kevin’s passport was too close to expiring- even though it hadn’t yet}, a second degree motorbike burn, a true culture shock, swimming with whale sharks, an overnight ferry to Siargao Island, and amazing sunset beers that I will envision forever.

 

 

And we’re only halfway done our trip. As I write this post I am sitting on a ferry {8 hours to Surigao City from Cebu and then off to another 3-4 hour ferry to Siargao Island}. The best way I can describe this ferry ride is like navy ships in the 1960’s. The rooms are all open and shared with bunk beds. Except here there are screaming children and sounds of chitter chatter down the hall. Kevin and I splurged a little and paid extra for a private cabin. This entire experience has been so eye opening. To see how people travel and live, what they eat on a daily basis, even what they do to entertain themselves.

 

 

The Philippines is truly a beautiful place. Gorgeous islands, natural falls, white sand beaches, and hikes with views so spectacular they’ll make you remember that moment forever. Yet, on the other hand, it is an extremely impoverished country. I didn’t know to the full extent how impoverished it really was. And it’s heartbreaking because the sole reason Filipino’s remain poor is due to political oppression and corruption. As we drove from Cebu City to Moalboal {our first stop on the island} I stared out the window the entire 4 hour drive and was in awe of what I saw. Homes built with wood, tin and cloth, or whatever material they have, drought, minimal electricity {if at all}, the smell of wood burning and smoke billowing in scattered parts along the road, street meat being sold at every corner, entire families farming their paddy fields, chickens and hens gawking at every stop.

 

cebu, philippines intimate

cebu, philippines fish market
cebu, philippines streets
fruit market cebu, philippines

 

Kevin and I made our first stop in Moalboal {a great place for scuba diving} at a lovely little hotel called The Blue Orchid Resort. It’s truly an oasis at the end of the road. A beautiful pool surrounded by the lush greenery, a rocky beach overlooking the water and green mountains, and pets! One sweet bird named Esmerelda and another white bunny! Despite the food being poor here in the Philippines -a major lack of vegetables- this resort delivered on all fronts. Amazing breakfast and dinners, plus a 24-hour bar. The staff are also some of the most lovely and friendly people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Whenever Kevin and I make our way back, well definitely be staying there again. Here is also where the Kawasan falls are. We got some amazing photos from our time there.

 

 

 

After a couple relaxing days, we headed a couple more hours down the island to Oslob. We stayed at a B&B that was more like a hostel. I would highly recommend getting a hotel in this area. It’s a very small town, their biggest claim to fame is a 7-11, and the food quality is very, very poor. I tried to be safe and only eat the cucumbers and fruit {the mangoes anywhere here are amazing} but when I cut open the cucumber, ants were crawling out of it. The hostel Kevin and I stayed at had cockroaches, beetles, and a shared shower without any walls next to a toilet and sink. But it had AC and when it really comes down to it, that’s the most important to me. Of course, the people working were so friendly and kind that it made our stay very bearable.

 

Anyway, this was the event I had planned the entire trip around- swimming with the whale sharks. If you get the chance, I highly recommend doing this. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life. These gentle giants are incredible creatures. They come so close to you; so close that one actually brushed up against my leg. Since you go to view the whale sharks at around 5am, Kevin and I spent the rest of the day exploring Oslob area. Tumalog falls was closed during this time for maintenance clean up so we drove around on the scooter we rented for the remainder of the day. Be aware though, there really isn’t much to do in Oslob other than view the falls. We only had one full day here before we headed back to Cebu City to catch the ferry the next morning to Siargao Island. The reason we booked the ferry rather than a plane was because we left it to the very last minute, and by ‘last minute’ I mean the night before. Flights were like $800. If you book a month or more in advance, and actually plan out your trip, flights are only like $30/pp from island to island.

 

Happy cause I got mi fruit from the market.

 

I want to take a moment to talk about the animals here. Something that I didn’t find discussed about on any of the copious amounts of blogs and websites I read over when researching the Philippines. I get very worked up whenever I see a wounded animal or any kind of abuse to an animal. Like cry hysterically. Warning you now, the animals here look very jaded and rough. Many have open wounds, scabs, three legs, etc. One cat at one of the places we stayed at had a completely open wounded neck, I actually thought it had a scarf tied around at first. The animals are also extremely thin and malnourished. I remember walking by a couple of cows, who had ropes between their nostrils {which already bothered me} and seeing how incredibly thin they were- so thin that their neck skin sagged immensely and I could see all their bones- including their ribs. It was heart breaking. The worst; however, happened my last day in Cebu. Of course I was bothered seeing these animals throughout my time here but I completely broke down when I saw the tiniest kitten on the brink of death. It was too weak to walk, so malnourished, one eye was completely shut and the other had puss coming out, he smelled like feces and had flies all around him- basically eating him alive. As soon as I saw this kitten, who I knew was going to die, I fell off and bawled. I tried to take him back to my room, clean him gently with water as much as I could and I fed him water through a straw. I called my airline, the Canadian Guardian Veterinary to inquire about the kitten entering through the boarder, read through the Small Animals Carriage application form, called the Cebu vet to discuss the proper steps to getting this kitten back to Canada- shots, vaccinations, etc. I literally did every single thing I could to try and bring this kitten back with me and give him a second chance at life. The airline wouldn’t let a cat under 6 months on the flight, the Canadian Guardian Vet said a kitten this malnourished wouldn’t survive the plane ride {it was a 16 hour flight} and the Cebu vet was no help at all. It was truly a traumatizing experience for me to see this kitten, try everything I could to help and end up having to say goodbye knowing he wouldn’t survive even one more day. I went through all of the ladies working at my hotel and even in the markets nearby to see if someone would take care of this kitten. Life here is very different. I am still absolutely heartbroken about it. I cry each time I remember this moment.

 

 

On a more positive note, in my next post we will have arrived in Siargao Island for some beach time. I’ve found that Cebu has a lot of beautiful falls and adventure but Siargao has some stunning beaches. We really wanted to make it over to El Nido and Coron but it doesn’t look like it’ll happen this time around. All in all, as heartbreaking, exhausting, crazy, and memorable this trip has been, I wouldn’t change it. I’m so glad I got to see the culture here and experience life in Cebu, Philippines. I believe learning about different cultures and experiencing life in these places first hand helps one become more versed, more appreciative, more aware. Nonetheless, a truly beautiful country; if you get the chance to visit the Philippines, go without any hesitation. The harsh reality is a beautiful life lesson.

 

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