This summer, Inquirer Lifestyle wants to put the spotlight on local tourism by asking different personalities to share their favorite destinations and travel secrets.
BEN CHAN <3 CEBU
Ben Chan, chair and CEO of Suyen Corp., is a big fan of Cebu.
His favorite local summer destination: “I love revisiting the Queen City of the South and the oldest city of the Philippines.”
What he loves about it: “I love the fact that Cebu is a good blend of a booming metropolitan area, and yet it has white sand beaches, most of which remain untouched, as well as historical sites that reflect its glorious past. It was in Cebu where the birth of Christianity in the Philippines happened. It was in Cebu where the trade and commerce between Mexico and China started.
“The city maintains a good balance between work and play. So much like my all-time favorite South American city of Rio de Janeiro.”
Where he stays: “If I travel to Cebu on business, I stay in the city hotels: Radisson Blu Hotel or Marriott Hotel. For a leisure trip, I would be booked at tranquil Shangri-La Mactan or at the Mövenpick Hotel where you could find the friendliest hotel staff and the best Brazilian churrascaria gourmet combined with bottomless Manny O house wine. What a steal!”
What he eats: “A trip to Cebu is never complete without indulging oneself in Cary Santiago’s Cebu lechon, cooked and peppered with his personal touch and love.
“If you are caught in the mall, I usually take a trip to Café Laguna, a family-run business that serves some of the best Filipino cuisine. Love the seafood chowder, puto bumbong and the buttered chicken.
“In Mactan Island, I find myself dining at Abaca Restaurant, great for California-Mediterranean inspired cuisine with sumptuous choices from their wood-fired oven. Seared sea bass fillet and their six-hour oven-baked pork belly are my favorites.”
What he does: “The best time to go to Cebu is when you just want to chill and hang out with Cebuanos, especially when there is absolutely no [business] agenda. Relaxing with friends over a bottle of Manny O wine. Who knows, he might pop up with a bottle of one of his vintage treasures.”
His secret finds: “The best-kept secrets are being privately hosted in the homes of Cebuanos. It’s always a welcome surprise to be dining in the comfort of the homes of Cebuano friends who are always very eager to prepare the best dishes and drinks coupled with the warm genuine hospitality the Cebuanos are known for.
“They all have secret family recipes for us to try. And when you’ve settled in the comfort of their company, other doors open to other secret destinations that never fail to impart good memories of the island.”
Tips for first-timers: “If it’s your first time in Cebu, take a historic tour of the city so you can see all the important old sites. Start with horse-drawn carriage or on foot, starting at Fort San Pedro. This fort was built in 1565 and was used by the Spanish who had conquered the area to protect the city.
“Magellan’s Cross is next on the tour. Magellan erected the cross here when he landed in 1521. A short walk from there is the Basilica del Santo Niño dedicated to the child Jesus.
“View some historic homes such as Casa Gorordo that dates back to the Spanish colonial period in the 19th century. Casa Gorordo is a museum depicting the lifestyle of that period.
“Now that you’ve seen the sights, you deserve some rest and relaxation on the beach, and Cebu’s beaches are right up there with the best in the world.
Try Malapascua for powdery white sand, gentle waters and fresh seafood. Bantayan’s beach has been nicknamed Sugar Beach for its fine white sand. For smaller, secluded beaches, waterfalls and natural pools, head to the Camotes Islands. If you simply can’t decide, you can always charter a boat for some island-hopping.”
SHAIRA LUNA <3 BAGUIO
Photographer Shaira Luna is no beach bum so she likes going to Baguio for her summer getaways.
Her favorite local summer destination: “Most people are surprised to hear that I dislike the beach and sun and water (with all my heart, haha!), so if I had a choice for a summer destination, it would only be Baguio!”
What she loves about it: “Aside from the weather, I love the cheap thrills! My usual agenda is usually to hit all the ukay-ukay.”
Where she stays: “I enjoyed my stay in Le Monet, a boutique hotel surrounded by lots of trees. They have good food, as well, and it is walking distance from the main road and a few commercial establishments.”
What she eats: “The vegetables are really good in Baguio. I also try to eat in turo-turos because they sometimes have local dishes that you can’t order in restaurants.”
What she does: “Taking photos in Baguio is a must, because the foggy, gloomy atmosphere is really close to the look I prefer in images.”
Her secret finds: “The ukay-ukays are no secret, and to anyone who hasn’t tried thrift shopping: You are missing out on a lot!”
Tips for first-timers: “Bring an empty suitcase or leave space in your vehicle for all the clothes, vegetables and pasalubong you’re sure to buy in Baguio.”