My husband and I are blessed with incredible friends and relatives. Last 2010, one of our awesome friends/relatives gave us the chance to experience the breathtaking beauty of Dahilayan Gardens and Resort. It was a weekend to remember! In October of last year, one of my relatives helped me fulfill one of my ultimate dreams: to watch Jason Mraz live in concert. This year, the same friend/relative who gifted us with that Dahilayan Garden weekend gave us another surprise: a Cebu vacation.

The last time we were in Cebu, together as a couple, was back in 2003, when we accompanied one of my students to the National Schools Press Conference. I was able to go back in 2005 with my fellow teachers, but it was a brief weekend thing. This year, we got the chance to explore Cebu in the real sense of the word.

We left for Cebu on Good Friday evening. We did not know what to expect. We had a reservation in one of the pension houses near the Capitol Site, but other than that, we had no concrete plans. Thanks to two awesome friends, we were able to make the most of our stay in Cebu.

Larsian BBQs.

A lot has changed since our last Cebu visit. Case in point: since it was Good Friday, we were worried that we would not find any open restaurant or fast food. We were wrong. Fuente Osmena was buzzling with activity. And the Larsian near our pension house (Chong Hua area) was open. Cebu was alive on a Good Friday evening, whereas CDO was so quiet. The malls and major establishments were closed, though.

Basilica de Sto. Nino

Black Saturday started with a visit to the Basilica de Sto. Nino. I tried to recall my 2005 Sto. Nino experience, but only hazy details came out. It was a beautiful and moving experience. What made the visit more meaningful was that it was Black Saturday, and I was with special people.

Ayala Cebu

For two people so used to Greenbelt and Glorietta, Ayala Cebu was a totally awesome experience for my husband and I. The first thing I remember saying when we got to Ayala was, “I hope CDO’s Ayala Centrio will be this beautiful!” There were a lot of trees; one of the reasons why we love Greenbelt.

The Coffee Bean

And there were a lot of coffee shops we loved (Coffee Bean, Seattle’s Best…No Gloria Jean’s, though!). We just had to try them all! Hahaha! And, of course, there was Fully Booked, which is like heaven to me!

Casa Verde. Brian's Ribs.

Our awesome friends brought us to different dining places that we loved. In fact, they even gifted us with a free lunch buffet at Radisson Blu Hotel! It was one gastronomic experience! Thanks to them, we filled our stomachs with delicious dishes from Friday’s, Cabalen and Casa Verde.

Radisson Blu Buffet

We also had the chance to experience IMAX movie viewing for the first time. It was quite heavy on the budget, but it was well worth it!

Our original Sunday plan was to head on over to Camotes Island, but one of our friends had to be back early Monday for work. So we had to change our itinerary. The next time we visit Cebu, though, Camotes will definitely be in our list!

We also went to the IT Park, where we got the chance to buy some good bargain stuff from the tiangges (flea markets) there. I fell in love with the place. When we went there, it was dusk already and I saw a lot of people jogging and walking. I loved the idea of business mixing with pleasure and comfortable living.

I know that there is still so much of Cebu that we have not explored. But what made our Cebu experience especially memorable were the friends who came out and did all that they could to make it such. The next time we visit Cebu, we’re going to have to think of ways to repay them in similarly awesome ways.

Next week, my family and I will be off to Boracay for my Dad’s 71st birthday. Unlike our Cebu trip, though, Bora was planned. My sister and I have been working on it since January this year. We wanted to surprise our Dad. Although I practically used up a month and a half’s worth of my salary, I have no regrets. I know I’m going to have the time of my life with the people I love.

2006, Market! Market!

If there’s one thing that my travels have taught me, it is this: it’s not where you go that makes a trip special; it’s the people you are with and the people who helped you get there.

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