Just spent a whole summer month in the Philippines with my husband and son. I am a beach person and my idea of a great summer holiday would be a good old soak on the beach with the glorious sun hitting my back (with sun block of course, factor 30-50).
As is usually the case in the Philippines, I come from a big tribe. Two sisters, two brothers, two nephews, one niece, a whole lot of aunties, uncles, multitude of cousins and extended families. This is a sure guarantee of a great fiesta like celebrations every time we get together. My British husband and son love it there as I do. We are always out and about and in Cebu, there is always somewhere to go with both friends and family.
Malls and more malls
New shopping malls and condominiums are sprouting everywhere, with each one bigger and taller than the other. Do people really have the funds to spend in all these malls? Oh well, whatever, am joining the crowd heading towards the latest hip mall. The most popular and biggest ones are SM Seaside- quite out of the way for most people so not so busy, SM City- although smaller but more popular with the general population as conveniently located. Then there is Ayala - a bit upmarket and also popular, Robinsons - fairly new, my fav so far and many other medium, smaller malls which are too many to mention.
Travelling to the very end of Cebu
Now to the nitty gritty. I have never been to the very tip of Cebu. We live in the mid section of the island of Cebu, the second biggest city of the Philippines. My auntie owns a holiday home in a place called Samboan, which is as far as you can go to the south of Cebu. She extended me an invite to spend a weekend with her and my uncle. Gagging for a new adventure, it didn't take me much convincing to accept the invite. Tagging along with me were my husband, grown up son, and ten other relatives. It took us four hours drive in a hired van. I've always been a city girl and never really ventured very far into the remote places of Cebu. Big mistake! The farther away we depart from the city, the fresher the air and the better the views! Nature at its best I would say to everyone!
We did a few stopovers to break the four hour drive. First stop was at a place called Carcar where a popular delicacy known as ampao originated from. It is a sweet puffed rice cake which is actually a favourite of mine.
I bought quite a few of it, some to nibble on our trip and the rest to take back to UK to give as presents to my Filipino friends. Before we reached Samboan, we went past a place called Oslob which was famous for its whale shark watching/swimming. We found it quite expensive and with thirteen of us, that would certainly drain our budget. My husband and son were not that bothered with the whales so we gave it a miss. Maybe next time! We instead went to Sumilon Island with its white sandy beach, turquoise waters and sand bar! The water was crystal clear, the young people in our group were ecstatic watching the multicoloured fishes around them as they went snorkelling.
Then finally, we arrived at our destination - Samboan, where life seemed to stand still. Still projecting the big influence of Spanish culture and architecture, Samboan exhibits pure Filipino culture and I fell in love with it! Thanks Auntie!
There are six waterfalls, in Samboan. We only managed to get to one called Aguinid Waterfalls as it was the closest to my auntie's beach house and we didn't have enough time anyway. The Aguinid falls was quite clean, it was claimed that it was safe to drink as the water came from the springs. (I didn't really test it myself. Am more accustomed to the city tap water which one wouldn't dare take a sip without a box of Imodium on standby). It had five different tiers with each level having a unique cascade. With its fast flowing waters, we only managed to climb up to the first two tiers as we had two little kids with us. The other waterfalls namely Dau, Binalayan, Candayvic, Calasa and Bonbon waterfalls will be for us to explore for next time.
Living the life
My auntie's pad was quite spacious with a lot of running space for the kids. (We had 2 under ten year olds with us and 11 young at heart adults!) We had the beach all to ourselves and was treated to lechon, a traditional Filipino dish which is a roasted suckling pig, cooked right there at my auntie's beach house. Everybody was having a wonderful time, looked after by my auntie's staff. My auntie went to all the trouble to make our stay a memorable one. Plenty of food, a whole beach house to ourselves... Nothing is quite like the smell of fresh sea breeze tickling your nostrils, the moment you get up in the morning, watching the sun rise, with food ready when you are! We don't have this in UK. Food wouldn't just present itself back there would it? My hands need to do it! So it is a glorious treat to be pampered in this way! After a hearty meal and doing water bomb jumps into the sea, the then weary gang had to start packing up for home. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Sad but true.
We then had to say our bye byes and thanked my auntie and uncle for a wonderful weekend with a little thank you present presented to my auntie. On the way back, we passed even more impressive scenery as we went to a different way from when we came in. We then dropped by an ice cream parlour which makes ice cream from fresh milk they produce themselves.
Then we journeyed back home, reliving our wonderful experience while slumped inside our air conditioned rented van. What a weekend indeed!
No doubt this will not be the last time I will cast eye on this wonderful hidden gem at the South of Cebu. This was indeed a welcome break from the hectic life in the city.