SUPER PHOTO HEAVY!!!
Hello, everyone! Let’s not waste any time with crummy intros that I haven’t really thought out and just jump into the rambly narration! 😀
It all started around mid-January, when I finally went back to school for the first time after holiday break because after arriving back in Dumaguete, I got wonderfully bowled over by chickenpox. News was already spreading about the Purplehood Ball which, for lack of better things to compare it to, a law school version of prom & seniors’ night rolled into one – to honor the fourth-year students from our college, with matching messages by their representatives and a symbolic passing of the torch to the lower batches. They even had a class prophecy video, which was really entertaining. (I wonder if my grades will ever bring me fourth year so I can see what our class prophecy would be like?) It’s kind of a last hurrah for our seniors before they’re off to their final Finals Week and then off to Bar Review.
This year, we had a “red carpet” theme and, surprise, surprise – I had nothing to wear. But luckily, while looking for a dress with my younger sister Lucille for her Honors Day event (she’s the smarts of the family.. maybe aha), we chanced upon a shop tucked away along Perdices Avenue called Trendsetter. She found her dress – plus the friendly shopkeeper even suggested I try a few on. I found a couple I liked, but contemplated maybe buying them another time.
Then I remembered the Php2000 Forever21 gift card in my wallet still had a remaining balance of over a thousand pesos..
DING DING DING DING!!!!!
I thought to myself, why not trek over to Cebu to find a dress? If not, then.. I’ll think of something.
I immediately texted my dad about my intentions, and he seemed pretty supportive of it. I even asked my younger sister and a friend for advice and directions on how to go to Cebu City from Dumaguete. Taking into consideration that it was soon to be midterm exam week, I decided that I would go on my little trip the weekend after midterm exams, and I would be staying overnight at a hostel (which I found after a few days of frantic searching over the internet and reading reviews and recommendations).
Which was VALENTINE’S DAY WEEKEND.
Cue exasperated sighs.
My first solo trip would be on the commercial holiday in which loads of couples are out to do some lovin’ over dinner, coffee, or whatever floats their boat. So what does that mean for me, single and totally LOST??
I woke up early on February 14, and at around 645am I left the dorm, lugging my trusty black Forever 21 sling bag with my valuables on one shoulder, a blue nautical print sling carryall containing my overnight things (plus a jacket) on the other. I walked a few meters to the road and waited for one of Dumaguete’s famed giant pedicabs (Manila pedicabs do not stand a chance, seriously). Managing to flag one down, I asked to be dropped off at the front of St. Paul’s University, along the North Road/National Highway. Just as I paid my Php8 fare and got down from the pedicab, I was fortunate enough that an easyride (like a mini-jeepney of sorts – if you know the shuttles in Pasay/Manila that go to SM Mall of Asia to from either Baclaran/Buendia, then it’s the same kind of vehicle) on its way to Sibulan passed by, and so I flagged it down and boarded it. I decided it would be more convenient to pay my fare already rather than wait to pay after getting down. The weather was nice, and the air was still quite cool, and I realized that these kinds of experiences make the provincial life very enjoyable. People were just starting to wake up, and the streets didn’t have too much traffic yet, so it took less than 20 minutes for me to reach Sibulan port. A nice, short walk to the pier and I was soon in line for fastcraft ticket purchases.
I waited a good 10-15 minutes, since I had missed the 7am boat (oops) and would have to wait for the 8am one. I snapped a few photos, and texted Papa as to where I was – I promised him I would update him on my whereabouts – mainly because I asked him for extra money prior to my trip, and because I felt responsible to update him because it was my first out-of-town trip alone. I actually also texted my older sister because.. wala lang. Hehe.
While sitting in the waiting area, I took some time to think about what the day had in store for me – it was my first time to really go that far to any place on my own. Back home in Manila, it wasn’t a surprise for me to end up in Monumento or Tandang Sora, considering I’m from Las Piñas City. Those trips take a maximum of 2 hours for me to go via bus, or a combination of bus and train. The sense of familiarity also helped the fairly long trips, because I knew where exactly I was and where I needed to go.
But the last time I was in Cebu City was.. around 10 years ago, at least. I don’t even remember why I was there, thought I remember that I went with my Ate Imee and her best friend Ate Jia. This time, it was as if I was going there again for the first time. I decided that I was just going to roll with it, and keep an open mind.
We walked to the fastcraft around 10-15 minutes before it was scheduled to leave, and waited a while until the last passengers boarded before the engine sputtered alive and we were on the way to Lilo-an Port, on the other side of the water. I was awake for about half the boat ride, but the rocking of the boat and the nice, cool sea breeze lulled my eyes closed (I only had around 5 hours of sleep and I am not a morning person AT ALL) and I ended up taking a short nap. I woke up a few minutes before reaching the port, and patted my cheeks a bit in an attempt to wake myself up and prepare to disembark the boat.
Santander, Cebu. At last.
Upon getting out from the boat, we walked the concrete path to the waiting bus. But then I realized something – I wasn’t given a seat number for the bus when I bought my fastcraft ticket. My younger sister Lucille told me that I should have been given a seat number..
Luckily, some of the other passengers had the same predicament, so we all waited together for another bus that we could ride to take to Cebu City. I took a few photos to pass the time, as well as texted my dad and sisters just to report about my little problem.
After a good 20 minutes of waiting, and a tiiiiny bit of grumbling, a Ceres bus on its way to Cebu City arrived. Much to our relief, it was empty; which meant we could all have a row each, unless you had a companion, of course. Because I was on a solo trip (awwww yeah) I had a row of 2 seats to myself. And of course, I took a selca to post on IG before texting my dad and Ate Imee again.
For the record, let’s just state it here that throughout my trip to Cebu, I was constantly updating my dad and Ate Imee upon my whereabouts. Haha!
The first thing that I immediately noticed was that we were taking a coastal route, following the contours of the island of Cebu. For your reference, this is what Cebu generally looks like on a map:
Now ideally, it takes 3 hours from Santander to Cebu City. But, take into account the various stops along the way (especially since the bus was practically empty), not to mention traffic buildup because people were already starting to do what they do on Saturdays – not to mention it’s Valentines’ Day. I thought, well, let’s just enjoy the trip and try to be aware of where you are.
I spent the next hour or so ooh-ing and aah-ing at just how beautiful the coast and the sea looked, and enjoying the rural coastal sights. It’s definitely something you don’t see everyday, when you’ve lived in Metropolitan Manila practically your whole life. And though I currently reside in Dumaguete, which is a seaside city, I’ve never really had the time to take it all in or even go to the beach (except for that one time last December post-Macho’s birthday).
I apologize for some smudges on the photos. I took these while the bus was moving, and the windows weren’t exactly sparkling clean.
I’ve been to a few beaches in my lifetime, but I have never seen blues as beautiful as the ones I’ve seen in Cebu’s southern coast. Words cannot really quite explain nor describe just how beautiful the blues are. My photos don’t do them justice. All I can say is that the colours of the sea are magically breathtaking, especially for this city girl.
I couldn’t help but look in awe at how magnificent the coast is, and how lovely the colours of the sea are. And that’s just at the surface. What more, under its glittering waves?
I also couldn’t help but daydream of a life by the beach. Maybe someday, I’ll have a beach vacation house.. someday I’ll be able to see such wonderful shades of cerulean and turquoise every morning and just breathe in..
..oh, I’m getting ahead of myself. Onto more photos!
After a good hour or so spent marveling at the sea (because it really was, and is such an amazing sight – it was also fortunately such a beautiful day to travel), I ended up succumbing to my sleep deprivation, dozing off somewhere in Boljoon. I woke up a little over an hour later, somewhere in the town of Argao.
I managed to stay awake for the rest of the bus ride (albeit my butt really hurting because I can’t sit for so long without having to stand or shift or fidget..) because the bus conveniently had The Condemned (this gnarly movie starring Stone Cold Steve Austin yeeeeaaaaahhhhh) playing on its onboard TV. I noticed we slowed down in Carcar (Ate Imee says it’s because that town has really yummy chicharon/pork rinds which a lot of tourists like to purchase, with vendors even boarding the bus to sell their wares), and by the time we reached Talisay City (check back up at the map for reference), the traffic began to really slow down. But Dad said it should be around 10-15 minutes to Cebu City from there, so I was relatively relieved that my aching butt would feel better in not so much of a while. Hehe.
I finally (FINALLYYYYYY) arrived in Cebu City a little past 1pm. Because I felt like an alien in an unknown planet (wonk wonk), I decided to take a cab since that would be easier. I queued at the waiting area for the taxi line, and in a little less than 15 minutes I was in a nice cab (I think it was even new) on my way to SM City Cebu, which is the nearest landmark from the hostel I was going to stay in.
Though the flagdown rate for taxicabs in Cebu are the same as in Manila (Php40), the drivers are definitely so much more courteous and friendly. My taxicab driver, upon reaching a fairly wide road congested with traffic asked if I wanted to go to SM Cebu through another way, but he would drop me off at a different entrance, because if we continued on the road we were on, it would take a while and my fare would rack up. I mean, COME ON. Where in Manila have you had a taxi driver actually SUGGEST A FASTER WAY so you don’t have to pay so much for your fare? Plus points to you, Cebu. Plus. Points. To. You.
Upon reaching SM City Cebu, I paid my fare and lugged my bags up the stairs and into the mall. It was pretty chaotic – people everywhere for the lunch rush. Not knowing where I was and what else to do, I located the food court and decided to eat because I was starving. I hadn’t had breakfast yet (I actually rarely do, these days) so I decided to indulge a bit and have some sizzling sisig from one of the food court stalls. After that, I opened my Google Maps and tried to locate the hostel I was going to stay the night in, then I trudged out of the mall and walked all the way there.
Just to be sure, I walked along the wide highway by the port instead of taking the bypass road that had less cars passing through it. (I’m a trooper like that– er, not really). It was pretty hot out, but I pretty much just shrugged and kept on walking. Heh.
The hostel I stayed at was Sugbutel – a hostel and hotel conveniently located in one building. Its hostel facilities are particularly popular because it’s a relatively cheap option for travelers and backpackers (and even students) who stay short-term in Cebu City. I wasn’t able to take a photo of the exterior because it was so hot outside, but Google “Sugbutel Cebu” and you’ll find a myriad of reviews and photos on it. I do, however, have a flyer of their rates as well as contact details just in case any of you happen to find yourselves in Cebu City and want to find an inexpensive yet good quality place to stay!
The reception staff was very courteous and helpful. (I didn’t have a prior reservation but I was assured in our email correspondence that there was a lot of space available!) I opted for a bunk in their Business Class Dormitory, then added an extra Php100 for linens – you get a fitted sheet, blanket, and a towel. After paying the respective fees, I took the elevator to the 3rd floor to the accomodations level and gave my receipt to the Linens counter, which then gave me my rented linens (they smelled freshly laundered, just so you know) and left my ID as a safety deposit.
My bunk was in Cluster A (the clusters are two big rooms with plenty of bunk beds – kind of like the ones in passenger cabins), however, it was near the glass doors so I could hear people going in and out. I didn’t mind, though – I fall asleep pretty okay even with background noise, especially when I’m really tired.
I took a photo to send to Ate Imee because.. just because. Haha! It’s really a nice bunk for its price, to be honest. It not only has a mattress and pillow (quite plain but firm and well-upholstered), but the pillow/head area also has a hidden safety box to keep valuables in while you sleep. Also, each bunk has an overhead light, and a 220V outlet to charge your gadgets in. How convenient!
Also, the female restrooms are located within the dormitory clusters. The male restrooms are outside the clusters so.. sorry, guys. Even if it’s co-ed accomodations, sometimes you just have to separate certain things according to gender.. (because you know, bathing and toilet time can be pretty sacred for some–)
After settling in my bunk, I couldn’t help but lie down.. and I ended up dozing off for around another hour and a half. I woke up at around quarter to 5pm, went to the bathroom to wash up a bit, and then decided to go back to SM Cebu to look around for a possible dress for the Purplehood Ball.
I passed by the Food Court again and saw that there was a crowd since there’s actually a stage area in the middle of the Food Court, with escalators on either side of it. Jimmy Bondoc and Paolo Santos were having a Valentines’ Day performance and well..
They were pretty popular in the early 00’s here in the Philippines when acoustic artists were the trend in OPM. I’m glad they’re still working in music, and it’s great to see two artists on one stage doing what they do best. The fact that it was Valentines’ Day only made their performance that much more special because what other music sets the mood for romance than lovely acoustic? (Well, besides jazz. But that’s a different story!)
I did a lot of wandering around SM (and I mean A LOT), but I saw a shimmering beacon in the distance and couldn’t help but go closer..
Now I’ve already blogged upon my excitement over this store in my NYX Butter Gloss in Peach Cobbler review, but allow me to share the photos again because OMG MAKEUP OMG NYX OMG A WHOLE STORE FULL OF IT.
Is everyone still alive?
Yes? Yes? Moving on.
Now here’s the real reason why I trekked all the way to Cebu:
Now, you might ask me why I went all the way to Cebu City just for a Forever21. Like I mentioned earlier in the post, my gift card (which I received for Christmas, thanks Papa) still had remaining balance so I could purchase without having to shell out too much cash. And also, while some people dislike the quality of Forever21’s clothes, I don’t really mind too much. Also, plus sized. PLUS SIZES ARE IMPORTANT TO ME OKAY.
After some sifting through the racks, I didn’t find anything worthy of “red-carpet”. Defeated, I texted the bad news to the usual suspects (Papa and Ate Imee hehehe) and told them I’ll probably buy shoes instead. Forever21 Cebu’s shoe selections are so, so disappointing (sobs) so I ended up bailing and remembered that I had passed by a Payless ShoeSource – which is pretty much my go-to shop for shoes! You see, depending on the type of shoe and brand, I am a size 9-10. My feet are also pretty wide, so I need to account for that. Payless is the only place I can buy comfortable dressy shoes and casual flats at a reasonable price.
I quickly called up Alexis for advice on what colour shoe would look good with the dress I was going to get (I sent her a photo of it beforehand, it’s a black dress with a yellow and blue panels), but she was busy (oops, sorry again!) so we agreed to just text each other. After receiving her advice I settled on a pair of red patent pumps – comfy, stylish, and functional. And it was ON SALE – below Php500! Such a steal. I was so happy to purchase it!
But I went back to Forever21 anyway – this time, to purchase a black cardigan, a pair of sparkly earrings, and a couple of nail polishes. 😀
I did a bit more walking, since I didn’t really feel hungry yet. There was something vaguely familiar with the chaos at SM Cebu. Maybe it’s how the mall was structured, how the shops were arranged. It’s like a mix of Southmall and Megamall, at least for me.
It was a bit comforting, actually. The long hallways, the sweeping central section housing the department store.. ah. I took a deep breath and smiled to myself as I ate a hotdog sandwich I bought.
My Ate Imee told me that Ayala was a better mall – and I decided to follow her advice. I asked my friend Charlie what time Ayala Center Cebu would close – the mall at 10pm, the Terraces.. usually 11pm to midnight. It was around 8pm and I had some time to spare anyway, so I asked one of the security guards by the door how I could get to Ayala. Luckily, he said there was a jeepney terminal at the front of the mall and then to take a specific jeep (I forgot the number-letter code) that goes straight to Ayala.
After arriving at Ayala Center Cebu, I found myself wandering around again. It was vaguely familar, like a mix of Glorietta and Trinoma. See why I think so in the following photos:
I chanced upon a Daiso (a Japanese store, with lots of different stuff from makeup to food to household items.. it’s a wonderland tbh), and bought 2 cans of Sakuma Drops – also known as the candy that Setsuko loved in Studio Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka). It was heartbreaking, that movie.. but I wanted to buy those candies because I was hoping they were delicious. (And they are, actually.)
I did even more wandering around, taking a different path each time I felt like I had passed a certain store or landmark before. It felt a lot like Trinoma, how I would get very disoriented and lost after wandering around. I decided to go out to the Terraces – which, this time, reminded me of Greenbelt 4 and 5.
I texted my friend Wendy, who also happened to be at Ayala! I told her to meet me at Figaro, where I had just finished ordering my “Valentines’ dinner” for myself. She was with her student, and they had watched a movie before hand. (Not on a date, though!)
You see, Wendy and I met years ago – maybe 3 or 4 – online, on the Rocketboxx forum. I was at the height of my UKISS fandom (Alexis knows this, hahaha), and we (Wendy, Alexis, and I, plus our other friend Angeli) were particularly prolific in the Dance Break section of the forum, where we wrote fanfiction. Haha! Are you guys surprised–
Anyway, it was so nice to meet her after all those years! We chatted about work and school and plans for the future and whatnot. It was lovely talking to her.
After a while, we parted ways. It was getting pretty late (around 11pm or so), but I still wanted to stay out a bit more. I passed by a Starbucks, and remembered that I still had those Starbucks gift certificates that I also received from Papa last Christmas (he gave me Php500 worth, and I still had Php300 worth) – so I decided to use one. I ordered a venti iced Chai Latte, less ice. Only paid Php60 plus that Php100 GC, ohohoho. I don’t actually like Starbucks as much as I adore Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Seattle’s Best Coffee or even Bo’s Coffee, to be honest. I only go to Starbucks during the holidays for their Peppermint Mocha, and even then I don’t go too often. But their iced Chai Latte was actually pretty good!
After arriving back at the hostel, I took a bath. If you know me, you know that I like to take a bath when it’s pretty late since I’m not in a hurry and I’m not bothering anyone. It was nice to have the entire bathroom to myself, though it has multiple stalls, aha. Ahhhhh. Nice to end the day clean.
I stayed up a bit to read Buzzfeed articles while eating one box of Meiji strawberry chocolates and finishing my drinks. The rest of my sweets, I stowed away in my other bag. Then I brushed my teeth.
I went to sleep around 2 am. I slept really well!
The next day, I was due for lunch with Charlie, another internet friend who I met years ago but never actually met in real life. We met up at the Northwing of SM City Cebu, which is kind of their posh section with a big central space. That day, it had a photo exhibit, as well as a stage set-up for a performance later that day. (There was also performances on Valentines’ Day!) I sat on one of the sitting places and listened to a pianist play different pieces on the piano. While waiting for Charlie, I noticed that the pianist was playing an assortment of pieces that aren’t what someone would expect – John Legend’s All of Me, Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff, Adele’s Set Fire To The Rain and.. MILEY CYRUS’ WRECKING BALL.
Anyway, Charlie arrived a few minutes after; and of course we had to take a selca together!
Like Wendy, we met on the internet, but on a different forum: the Witwisit Hirunwongkul Philippines Fans Club. Alexis actually introduced me to the movie The Love of Siam, which I absolutely loved, so I was totally game to join the forum and participate actively!
We had lunch at Little Nonki, a Japanese restaurant. It’s not your run-of-the-mill fast food Japanese joint. This one looks more authentic, actually.
We both had tonkatsu bento sets. Before our food arrived, a waitress (dressed nicely in some sort of a kimono uniform – nothing fancy, strictly functional with pants and an apron with pockets) places a small plate with a clean handtowel, and also a bowl of miso soup. I wiped my hands with the towel, then happily drank the soup. Yum!
Then, our food arrived!
The tonkatsu bento comes with (of course) tonkatsu, a nice serving of steamed rice, a bit of potato salad, two pieces of maki sushi, a slice of tamagoyaki, some seasoned veggies, and dipping sauce with a smidge of wasabi on the side for you to mix in.
IT WAS DELICIOUSSSSSSSS. And even more so, because when it was time to pay for our food, Charlie said it was his treat! (Thank you again, Charlieeeeee! :D)
I still had time to spare (I was hoping to be at the terminal by 4pm to make it to the last bus back to Dumaguete), so we went back to the Northwing and I treated to myself to some Gelatissimo!
I totally indulged myself and got two scoops – chocolate, and coffee. Which, of course, is a perfect combination.
Gelato gelato GELATOOOOOOOOO! /cue angelic choirs/
After gelato time (GELATOOOOOO), I bought a bottle of water for the trip back, and passed by the restroom in preparation for the trip as well. Charlie accompanied me to the taxi stand and wished me well as I rode the taxi.
Also, it is worth noting that at the taxi stand in SM Cebu, the attendant gives you a slip of paper with the plate number of the taxicab, saying that if they don’t charge according to the meter, to report them to a number printed on the slip. It’s nice to know that SM Cebu cares for it’s taxi-riding consumers!
I got back to the bus terminal a bit before 4pm, and boarded the bus that went straight to Dumaguete – it was still pretty vacant, so we waited for the bus to fill completely because it was the last bus for the day.
By 5pm we left the terminal, and after hours of being on the road (with a stopover at a gas station somewhere along the way, how considerate), we reached the Santander ferry port (different from the Lilo-an port, which is only for fastcrafts and other small boats) by around 930pm. We waited a while for some reason (I think the conductor gave the passenger manifest to the boat company or some other procedure..) and then we rolled onto the barge, along with some other cars and trucks.
The ferry trip took around an hour or so, because instead of the Sibulan port (which was already closed for the night), we landed at the Amlan port which is further away. Then the bus rolled off and headed back to the Ceres Bus Terminal near Robinsons Dumaguete.
But of course, I just got off back down at St. Paul’s, then took a trike back to the dorm.
All in all, it was a pretty good experience, considering it was an overnight stay on a very limited budget. I hope someday I can go back to visit my friends, and maybe next time have more money to spend on food and transport and whatnot. Heehee!
I apologize if I bored you with such a long post and with so, SO MANY photos.. but if you stuck around to read the whole thing, then thank you very much! ^^