Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sight seeing and more in Cebu!

Our third weekend in Cebu started with getting home from work at 7am in the morning. We went to the breakfast buffet that we eat at every morning and bumped into a old friend and co-worker who is working the day shift here. Brian and I had gone to the same mission in the Philippines 10 years ago, and luckily enough we are here in Cebu at the same time. He let us know that the morning crew had planned on going out and seeing the sites after breakfast. Now usually it sounds like a good plan, but since we had just got done working the night shift Britt and I had to think long and hard about going with them. Because we felt that it was such a good opportunity we couldn't pass it up and went! The trip started at 12:30pm.

Our first stop on the trip was at a local guitar factory. The Allegre guitar factory is known worldwide for its skilled workmanship. It was amazing to think that all the guitars that we saw are all hand made! Some of the backs of these guitars are also carved out of one piece of wood as well to give them a "rounded" look and a different sound as well. This place had any type of guitar that you could think of, and had a nice classic look to their products as well. Some of their high end guitars had shells embedded in the face of the guitar. How high end do you ask? Their top end was close to 80,000.00 pesos, or around $1,800.00 dollars!

The second stop on our trip was at a old fort in downtown Cebu. This fort was first built by the Spanish back in the 1600's or so. Since Magellan found and landed on Cebu island back in 1521 Cebu was used as a gateway for all Spanish traders and its military in Asia. The fort was built in a very unique way. Instead of building it like a square that we all know of like the Alamo in Texas, the Spanish built this fort in a form of a triangle, since it was easier to defend the points and walls that way. The fort also had relics from an old Spanish trading ship that was sunk by the Dutch back in the 1600s around the island of Luzon. According to our tour guide, back in 1992 our friend "Jacques Cousteau" explored this wreckage and was able to find and retrieve sunken treasures and pieces of this vessel which he then turned over to the Philippine authorites. Although we were not able to take pictures of the things that they found, they did retrieve actual pieces of china bowls and plates that dated back to the 1600s that were hand painted! The workmanship of this type of china is something that people would be thousands of dollars for now, even if they could find it!

As we were shopping at their "tourist trap" stores that they had there we came across quite a unique fellow who sang there. Here is a little video of this unique blind fellow.

Here are a couple more pics from the fort:

Our third stop was at the Taoist temple. This temple is set back in the hills of Cebu city. Ironically Cebu city also has their own "Beverly Hills" as well and yes just like the US it is reserved for the ridiculously rich! Around the Taoist temple there were huge houses that would make people in the States jealous! The journey to the temple was quite an undertaking. You had about 3 to 4 levels of steps to go up before you even got the doorway of the temple.

Once you were finally at the temple the scenery of the city was great! Additionally, the temple's architecture was something out of a sweet old Kung fu movie! There were vibrant colors and the carvings were amazing! Unfortunately we didn't get to see any monks or anything but we did get to see a little piece of the Asian culture that resides here.

After the Taoist temple and step climbing workout we just finished we were all hungry. We went to a upscale traditional Filipino restaraunt for dinner. I got the traditional beef stake that they prepare here, but my lovely wife decided to step outside of her comfort zone and get the "grilled pork belly". Suprisingly, the pork belly was very welled grilled and prepared! There were big pieces of fat connected to the meat but that didn't stop Britt! She savored all of her entree and finished off her meal with one of our favorite drinks, the traditional Mango shake!!

Our last stop took us to the birthplace of the Philippines for the Spanish! We went to visit one of the oldest churches here in the Philippines and also got to see where Magellan erected the first Christian Cross in the Philippines. When we got to the church we did not realize that a Catholic mass was going at the same time, so we were able to some of the church but not as much as we would have liked. However, it did show us how important religion is to the people here, and that after 500+ years they still revere their Christian faith that was brought to them from Spain.

After the church we decided to call it a day. It was about 6:30pm and all of us were tired and ready to go home. Although our co-workers that we accompanied were just as tired we were, Britt and I had been awake for close to 23 hours before we called it a night! Although we were really tired at the end, we were extremely happy that we decided to go!

Stay tuned! More Filipino fun to come!