Cebu City’s eastern seaboard has the country’s busiest port for interisland shipping, and plays host to a very important international shipping hub. To the west of the city is a tall mountain range, once filled with eagles’ aeries but now fast becoming populated.
Beyond what you see from the flatland, the road continues through lush vegetation and into a scenery of gentle hills seemingly verdant all year round. It is a realm where flowers bloom and vegetables are harvested.
The climate is cool all the time, as breezes blow unhampered by tall buildings or large houses. On evenings, or when it drizzles, which can be often, you need a coat or a shawl.
Eventually you will reach the imposing gates to Ayala Heights. If you continue along the main road you will end up in Balamban, site of a world-class shipbuilding concern. But if you are careful, you’ll search for the arrow that indicates the road to Sirao.
It is a mountain barrio where you’ll find Little Amsterdam. Many years ago, Alfred and Elena Chua bought a sloping property there. In recent years, they have planted all sorts of colorful flowers.
“I got the seeds whenever I passed through Amsterdam,” says Elena. “We planted them, and those that liked the soil have thrived and are constantly in bloom. It is a pity the tulips did not.”
Someone came upon the site, took pictures, posted them on social media, and soon there were crowds of people all over the place, taking selfies, and trampling on the precious plants.
Alfred and Elena decided to develop the area, welcoming sightseers for a fee and setting up rules and regulations along with defined pathways.
Senior citizens are assisted by their solicitous personnel.
There is a gazebo which doubles as a garden gloriette and is ideal for celebrations. One Saturday, Elena invited Perla Agudo Petersen, Chinggay Utzurrum, Nelia Neri, Flor Ynclino along with BPI girls Suzette Layug and Gigylyn Aparejo.
They were delighted, especially Perla, who, right then and there, decided to celebrate her birthday at Little Amsterdam on Oct. 1. She came in a flowing blue chiffon gown, welcomed by Elena with a wreath of pink roses for her hair.
Perla’s well-wishers were led by members of the Talisay Garden Club at which she is most active: Anita Lubguban, Betty Rivera, Janet Yap, Lolie Ylaya and Alice Baliguat.
Among the early birds were the stunning Rosebud Sala, Terry Manguerra, Chinggay de Veyra and Camila Frias. Then followed Bill and Annie Neri, Jane Llaban, Cheereekee Garcia with daughter Berdynne, May Go and Coling Garcia.
A sumptuous luncheon was served, the birthday song was lustily intoned, chanted almost, and there was cake for everyone.
Time seemed to have stood still, and next thing we knew the flower-carpeted mountain was teeming with clicking selfies and whatnot.
“Do you realize it’s 3 p.m.?” reminded Rosebud. The threat of rain in an otherwise cool and sunny afternoon alarmed us, as then the roads could be difficult for those not used to such heights.
Reluctantly we said our farewells, wishing Perla many happy returns of the day, if possible in the same venue.
“Come again, anytime,” said Elena. They have great plans for Little Amsterdam, including a replica of a Dutch windmill. They’d also like to set up a bed-and-breakfast facility. It will come, they assure us, and that will make it Big Amsterdam.