Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mactan: The Day I Met Visayas

Cebu City, CEBU
Date: JAN 08, 2015

My birthday is near, and the gift I gave myself this year was a trip going to Visayas. It would be a new chapter in my life as a traveler, and this trip would be full of “firsts” – first airplane ride, first time in the Visayas, new region to explore and new provinces to visit. Even if I would be miles away from my family on my birthday, I am very sure that my trip would be full of memories that I would cherish for a lifetime.

Lapu-Lapu Shrine in Mactan

Excited but a little bit nervous – that was what I felt moments before my flight – my first ever flight - thanks to Final Destination and Knowing. My mom prayed for me before I left home, and I felt more nervous when I was already inside the airport. I checked-in using the Cebu Pacific kiosk machine, and got my boarding pass in less than five minutes. I headed straight to the boarding gate, and waited for the boarding time.

I was expecting my flight to be delayed since Cebu Pacific is notorious for those situations. And then moments later, flights going to Caticlan were cancelled and several flights bound for Tacloban and Cebu were delayed. It was a big miracle that my flight – 5J 573 – would be departing on time. Then, the crew began to announce that the passengers can now board the plane. I was so nervous.

Landed safely at Mactan-Cebu International Airport
As I entered the cabin, I immediately looked for my seat. The cabin looked like an air-conditioned bus, with three sets of seats on each aisle – one on the left, and another on the right. And since it was my first time, I asked the friendly flight attendant how I could release my seat belt, and she gladly instructed me how to use it. Moments later, the pilot announced that we would be flying, so I prayed silently in my seat.

The plane began to move, and then I just realized that we were already taking off. I held firmly on my seat and breathed heavily. And then in a matter of seconds, we were already flying. Never thought that it’ll be that fast, and it wasn’t that scary after all. Suddenly, my ears started to hurt, and then I lost my hearing - but I read somewhere that it was normal so I just ignored it. Inside the plane, the flight attendants began to sell food and other merchandise. They also had a game where you could win prizes to eliminate boredom on flight.

Almost an hour later, the pilot announced that we have just arrived in Cebu and that the plane would be landing shortly. This was the first time I saw the ground from the air, and the city of Cebu was gleaming with lights. I held firmly once again on my seat as we land. I thought that the shaking would be violent, just like what I’ve see on the films Non-stop or Snakes on the Plane, but then it was just a quick bump and then we came to a stop. And here I am on my 34th province – Cebu!

I took out my DIY Cebu Itinerary and my little notebook with all the Cebuano words and phrases in it. I rode a yellow jeep to take me out of the airport, and I got off at an intersection in Lapu-Lapu City. From there, I rode another jeep bound for Park Mall, and then another one going to E-Mall (Elizabeth Mall). I also learned three new words that time – tagpila (how much), palihog (please/hand-over) and lugar lang! (stop!), and wrote them down on my notebook.

Lilo-an Port in Santander, Cebu
Cebu South Bus Terminal was just a few meters away from E-Mall, so I walked from where I got off and looked for Liloan Port (in Santander, Cebu) bound bus. I found no bus when I got there, so I asked the dispatcher from Ceres Bus what time they would arrive. He said that it would come by 10:00 PM (which was a little bit late for me), so when I found an ordinary bus bound for the port as well, I rode it. The fare was P160, and we left at 9:49 in the evening.

Since I never had the chance to sleep at home, I decided to take short naps inside the bus. However, whenever the bus stops, it was waking me up. Looking through the window, I saw the towns of Minglanilla and Carcar, and fell asleep once again. And then, when we reached the town of Sibonga, I noticed that the bus wasn’t moving anymore. Thinking that the bus engine failed, I got off the bus and asked what happened. And then I saw the long queue of vehicles, realizing that the engine did not fail, and the reason why we stopped was because of a terrible traffic jam. According to one of the passengers, the cause of the traffic was a bridge that collapsed due to Typhoon Seniang.

The bus conductor assured me that the traffic would be gone after a few hours, so I went back inside the bus and continued sleeping. After two hours, around 2:00 in the morning, the bus finally moved. We passed by the towns of Argao, Dalaguete, Alcoy, Boljoon (where I saw this beautiful old church) and Oslob before reaching the port of Liloan in Santander at around 4:00 in the morning. I purchased a Sibulan bound fast craft ticket and waited for the first trip.

Magellan Shrine in Mactan

This post is part of my 4 Day Central Visayas Trip that took place between January 08-11, 2015. This is the first entry. Proceed to the next destination here.

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