I’m catching up on my blog and my next entry is about my time in Cebu which is an island that is south of Luzon and is the heart of the Visayas. This is also where my maternal grandfather was born and raised. It’s where I began my journey in finding more about my family roots on my maternal side here in the Philippines.
First and foremost, yes that is a Dunkin’ Donuts in the Philippines. There are many and I thought I’d take a picture for my friends that are from the east coast living in Lala land. It seems as though SE Asia is ahead of us when it comes to Dunkin’ Donuts. 😉
Anyway, at the start of my trip I had not yet met this part of my family in Cebu. So I went in blind not knowing where they lived and what they even looked like – LOL so when I spoke to them on the phone I asked that they have a sign for me when I arrived so I knew who to approach. I was picked up by my cousin Nila’s nieces and nephews, Gladys, Raje and Buen. The pace of Cebu City is definitely more laid back and traffic actually moves unlike Manila. They live in a province named Punta Princessa about 30 minutes or so from the airport. Upon my arrival, I was greeted with open hearts and curiosity as to who this mysterious relative was. One of the most common questions they had for me was, “Are you traveling alone?” and “Why did you want to come to Cebu?” They wondered why would a relative that we’ve never met before want to stay and meet us, at least that’s the impression I got. Granted they don’t live in a very prosperous neighborhood but as I stayed with them and got to know them they were extremely generous and giving.
I met MM short for Euphemia who technically is my niece, who is the granddaughter of my mother’s 1/2 sister, Materna. She was the one that helped me piece together my grandfather’s past and life in Cebu, along with my cousin’s brother Delfin. He showed me letters from my grandfather and grandmother Matilde that was written to his daughter, Materna and it slowly connected this past that was once a bigger puzzle. The story is much more intricate and complex with questions still to be answered but for me it helped derive a clearer picture on my grandfather’s past. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet my Grandpa Rallos as he passed the year I was born, in fact my mom told me that soon after my grandfather died in April ’75, she found out she was pregnant with me. I felt a strong connection in Cebu while digging into his past and despite us never meeting, I felt that he was with us through my stay with the family.
There are many relatives there and the family I stayed with is only a snippet of my grandfather and great-grandfather. I stayed with a new found cousin, Ate Letty and they all live near each other on land that was owned by my great-grandfather. It was a different experience seeing and immersing myself in their everyday life. I rode a jeepney, an elaborately decorated open air jeep where I think I consumed the max capacity of carcinogens for my lifetime… LOL. My cousin’s nephew Raje and my cousin Delfin, toured me around Cebu City. Raje also showed and spoke to me about his volunteering in Tacloban where Typhoon Yolanda struck. He and his brothers volunteer weekly helping to send supplies there. All of the clothes and toiletries that TANG and FOT donated have gone here. Raje and his brothers are quite amazing and so selfless. They themselves might not have much but they give as though they did. No doubt they are and continue to be inspiring.
I saw many sights there and one of the highlights was Mactan Shrine where Ferdinand Magellan was killed by Chief Lapu-Lapu. The Spaniards came in hoping to take over Mactan Island and instill their reign and religion, but Lapu-Lapu wasn’t going to have any of that. They fought at this site and Magellan was killed. I’m not sure what they did with his body but the confrontation reminded me of Captain Cook against the Hawaiians.
On my last full day of Cebu, I took a day trip with my cousin Delfin to the island of Bohol. It’s a 2 1/2 ferry ride from Cebu. This was also the place where a huge earthquake took place last October and the people and area are still recovering. It’s a beautiful island, much of it untouched and the vibe is even more laid back than Cebu. My cousin’s daughter-in-laws parents (say that 10x fast) were kind enough to give us a quick tour of Bohol and the highlight was Chocolate Hills. Sorry these pics are from my iphone as my camera shots are pretty big. There are about 1200 of this conical hills and they’re referred to as chocolate when the vegetation turns brown, obviously in this photo they’re about mint chocolate. They were apparently formed by the uplift of coral deposits and the effects of rainwater and erosion (explained in Lonely Planet’s guide) but there are a few legends including that they are tears of a giant. My cousin also joked that they are big poops from giants too LOL. It’s quite bizarre to see them laid out and the landscape within and that it surrounds is stunning.
We then went to visit the nocturnal tarsier at Sagbayan Peak Resort and Recreation. I hear there is another sanctuary, the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, which I’ll have to visit when I return, but for my audio friends, this is the animal that made famous the THX sound with it’s eyes opening up wide with the trademark sound. These creature are so small, they can fit in your hand and I want one for a pet, but they are an endangered species so I’ll just have to be content on seeing one in person. 🙂 I couldn’t use my flash so I apologize for it being dark.
After a whirlwind daytrip to Bohol it was time to head back to Cebu. Bohol is also known for their beaches which I’ll have to go back and stay for a weekend as I’m sure there are breathtaking views there.
Cebu is certainly a place I want to return to not only explore more outside of the city but now to find out more about my grandfather and to visit family. I flew back to Manila for just a day before I flew out to the jaw-dropping beauty of Batanes where I found new relatives from my maternal grandmother’s side, aka in our family as Paga. Stay tuned and Mahalo!