Sunday, June 7, 2015

My Trip To Cebu, Philippines - Video and Photos

Cebu is a city that swells and overwhelms your senses. You’ll never seen (or heard) hordes of motorcycles, taxis, scooters and the infamous “jeepnies” like this anywhere else in the world. Poverty is a reality in Cebu. The only way you won’t see it is if you stay at a fancy resort on the beach and decide to stay within its confines. But once you’re on the street, it’s everywhere. But the people ask for nothing, they are a happy people. Everywhere I went I saw smiles on children’s faces and love in the embrace of their mothers and fathers.

My hotel was near the airport, in the heart of Mactan Island. Cebu City lay across the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, just a short cab ride away. For my first full day in Cebu, I hired a cab for the day, so that I could hit all the popular tourist spots for photo opportunities and to get a quick once over of the city. The cost of the cab for the entire day was only $60 USD, a bargain I’d say. My cab driver was an older man named Neto. Neto was something of a fixture in the area and we quickly hit it off. Neto had fathered something like 19 children and had more than 41 grandchildren and handfuls of great-grandchildren. His family lived in an enclave of 6 modest homes that were centered around a water well. Neto loves to sing and play the guitar. He invited me to his home for a few beers, to meet his family and to enjoy a sing-a-long with some of his family members. This was clearly one of their favorite past times. The grandchildren gathered around and everyone had a great time. I noticed that Neto’s guitar had seen its better days and I determined to remedy that.

I walked the streets on my own, during both daytime and nighttime to get some gritty street shots but the real treasure trove of photos was to be found at the cock fights. At first, the people there gave me a few looks and glances because they saw that I was firing away with a camera, but once they saw that I was with Neto, they soon took me in as one of their own. As it turned out, Neto was related to a large number of people working the cock fights.

Is it brutal? Yes, but it’s a part of their culture and way of life. Betting is heavy, with some people winning and/or losing hundreds of dollars per fight. As for myself, I bet conservatively and won 40 dollars over the course of the day. Cocks that are injured but will live, get stitched up on a wooden table in an alley near the “arena”. Cocks that are injured beyond repair immediately have their heads and legs chopped off and are dunked in boiling water, to be feathered and cooked the same day. I’m not sure how I feel about the whole thing but I can say that it is a bloody affair that tickles the senses and quickens your pulse.

I also took a ferry out to Bohol Island, home to the Chocolate Mountains (see photo below) and to a number of other tourist attractions such as the Tarsiers. Tarsiers are a nocturnal tree dweller and look sort of like a combination small money / rat. They have great big eyes and look really lovable and cute. I only spent a day in Bohol but if I had to do it again I’d stay the night and check out the night life and restaurants as well. I opted for the convenience of the one day guided tour for the very reasonable price of 50 USD.

The food, the food in Cebu is pretty good, although, I still have yet to sample a better Sisig than here in Donguducheon, Korea. The best thing about a trip to Cebu is the low price of nearly everything, especially food and massage. I ordered a plate of sisig and a San Miguel beer for about 2 dollars and a full hour, full body massage will run you about 4 US dollars. I scheduled myself for 2 hours of massage a day!

On the last day of my trip, I paid a surprise visit to Neto's home and delivered to him a brand new acoustic guitar. We sat down and enjoyed a couple songs together, it was the perfect way to end a perfect trip.

I really enjoyed Cebu, I highly recommend it if you want a genuine Philippine’s experience. Get away from the resort and get into the city. I hope you enjoy my video and photos! 

I'll be posting the photos in sets, so stay tuned for the photo galleries. All images and video shot with the Sony A6000 with Sony 50mm f/1.8 and Sony 16-50mm f/3.5 kit lens.

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