Wednesday, January 14, 2015

queen of the south: Cebu City

Before the grand old city of Manila ruled the galleon routes, Spanish explorers first colonised the twin islands called Cebu and Mactan, making Cebu City the oldest and most historic city in the Philippines.

Cebu is a smallish, eclectic city that rambles through several hills and valleys. Its citizens, called Cebuanos or Sugbuanons in their own language, famously love food, music, street parties and celebration in general.

No sooner does Christmas drop off the horizon than it's time for the annual Mardi Gras-style street carnival, which is called Sinulog. Dancers in wild headdresses join the parade in honour of the Christ Child (Santo Niño).

In its pre-Christian past, this festival was in honour of local anitos (native gods) but instead of getting rid of a 'pagan' ritual, the Cebuanos replaced their idols with the Christ child. Now celebrants shout 'Pit Senyor!' as the statue is carried past.

However Sinulog was still a week away and we preferred seeing old friends and taking our time on holiday to throwing ourselves into a fiesta with thousands.

A typical day started with fresh fruit, brewed coffee, some fresh juice and a tiny but decadent cup of Filipino/Spanish chocolate or tsokolaté...

...and ended with a glass of wine, sometimes with cheese and olives.

In between there were meals at popular Cebu restaurants: Spanish dishes at Ipar's, Thai at Mae Krua and Blue Elephant, Japanese at Tajimaya...

But mostly we just enjoyed being able to spend time with our friends in this beautiful city.

Our superb hosts!
Friends who were happy to share their stories and their time even after the meals were demolished and the drinks drunk...

who we can goof around and geek out with...

Sitting on the 'Children and Kings' Iron Throne with graphic designer !nodoro
With the co-creator of the Iron Throne, Mark Deutsch of Happy Garaje
who welcome us into their homes and are welcome in ours...

whose accomplishments we take pride in and who support us in return.

The very last thing we saw to remind us of Cebu before we boarded our flight were three beautiful artworks in Cafe Cesario at the Mactan airport. We would have loved to track down this amazing artist but no mention could be found on sites or links.

Still for all its (unintentional) mystery, Cebu continues to inspire and energise us! 

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