By Judy G. Quiros
It was not all fun but true learning experience during the three-day AirAsia familiarization tour in Cebu in celebration of AirAsia’s inaugural flight From Davao to Cebu on April 22.
Honestly, the famtour invite for Cebu from April 22 to 24 at first did not excite this writer given that she has been to the city several times not knowing the visit was the most memorable one in her lifetime knowing and seeing Cebu’s roots. What makes it memorable is feeling alive with history. Information overload on Cebu’s natural, historical and cultural wonders, and growing contemporary businesses and industries in the city could best describe the three-day tour not replaceable with pristine beaches or resorts.
Ka Bino Guerero-Curator Cebu City Museum played the role of “walking encyclopedia” to us till day three while Van Minoza of PR Works patiently bear with us up to the airport back for Davao.
The famtour was a real bang with Galleon San Pedro Tours walking us through Cebu’s heritage among others, the Spanish Colonial Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, one of the oldest church in Cebu and Basilica del Sto. Nino, the oldest church in the Philippines established in 1565 that houses the original Sto. Nino image, that dates to Magellan’s time.
Amazing to see also the ecclesiastical treasures of Cathedral Museum known for its Spanish colonial era religious artifacts and church architecture religious artifacts including priestly vestments, statues of saints, photographs and materials. The visit to the Jesuit House of 1730, though quite creepy, was memorable too. The beauty lies on the fact that it is hidden inside a hardware store-half hardware business and half historical restoration, so to speak. This house, built around 1730, offers a remarkable insight into the architecture and culture of 18th century Jesuits in Cebu. In there, the sight of a still working G.E. electric fan in the 1730s is amazing.
I should say it was not all fun but more of learning traveling the longest at four hours and back to another heritage tour to historical sites and mountain tour to Carcar, Argao and Oslob. A quote of Pearl Buck says, “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday..” Exactly, for the historical sites, these places makes one realize the reason of present realities.
These historical sites we visited include the Boljoon Parish and Museum where the Archeology in Boljoon was preserved. Historically known as Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio de Maria Parish Church (Our Lady of Patronage of Mary Parish Church), Boljoon Parish is declared a Natural Cultural Treasure by the Nationa Museum of the Philippines and a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
A remarkable glimpse of St. Michael Arcangel Bell Tower touted as one of the country’s most beautiful bell tower. It was indeed learning thru history.
Mountain tour came out the most challenging like the trek to Manuel Cutflower Garden in the mountains of Barangay Babag, one of the nine mountain barangays which are top producers of cutflower. Manuel Labrador who is growing cutflower named mums said cutflower production could find a niche in local and international market. Barangay Babag creates a beautiful geometrical form of cutflowers planted in slopes to prevent soil erosion.
A trek to Ginning Falls in Tabunan Forest in Barangay Tabunan was another exciting learning trek. Tabunan Forest was designated under an ordinance as Barangay Park wildlife sanctuary and tourism zone. It’s also known for bird watching, river cruising, mountain climbing, caving and bouldering trekking. Its pristine condition of environment made it as an ecotourism destination in the barangay.
Nearby Barangay Sudlon is also a must-see destination surrounded with vegetable plantations. The remarkable lettuce on the rocks makes the barangay attractive. For first timer visitors, the sight of green healthy lettuce growing in rocky hilly areas is astonishing. The barangay also grows other vegetables like tomatoes and onions in its reddish brown fertile soil.
The group also visited Moncadistas of Filipino Crusaders World Army (FCWA) at Sudlon Founded by the Hilario Camino Moncado. This group basically believes health is wealth. They are known for eating raw foods particularly veggies. They follow three rules which are: You should not cut your hair; You should not hurt your fellow; and you should not eat meat, to harmoniously live with one another.
At Cebu City Resource Management and Development Center (CREMDEC), a nine-hectare government property in Taptap, Cebu, visitors could see vast sweet corn plantation that finds a niche in local and international market.
The facility also serves as nursery areas for various crops like banana and agri technology center for organic farming with farmer federations as beneficiaries.
The farm tour was not complete with a glimpse of beach resorts like Bluwater Sumilon Island Resort in Oslob and Maribago Blue Water in Mactan, and food tasting at Sugbo Mercado where mostly Asian foods are served.
It was a heavy tour marked with trekking, eating, history and learning. Cebu is known for its lechon which is why the group did not let go the tasting of Carcar’s lechon, the best in Cebu so as with Rico’s lechon. Thanks to sponsors, AirAsia, Galleon San Pedro Tours, Quest Hotel, Sugbo Mercado, Cebu Tourism Office, Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, Master Po Restaurant, Rico’s Lechon, and Maribago Bluewater Resort.