Six Days in Cebu

by Kunio Imamura

This is a story of my travel from Japan to Cebu to stay in a family-run resort villa.  I went there last year with my coworker and this year I convinced an additional coworker to accompany me on my return trip. 

“Why Cebu again ?” The decision was made because I would like to experience again, the tropical scenery, food, etc. surrounded by friendly hosts. Once is not enough to know well the attractions of Cebu. 

Thursday, June 01. 2000
Alighting the airplane packed with Japanese tourists, we were met by our hostess, Anita, who came with her two daughters, a son-in-law, and her driver, to the Mactan Airport to pick us. She is the wife of the villa owner, Juan Abuan who lives in Minglanilla.  We were grateful that they welcomed us as family rather than just customers.  It was the start of a wonderful trip which gave us the rare chance to meet and mingle with foreigners.  Our Filipino “family” accompanied us throughout our travels in Cebu. 

At the start of a one hour drive to the villa, we stopped into a local restaurant for a buffet supper.  I enjoyed the food as well as the San Miguel beer which quenched my thirst brought on by the tropical climate.  The  restaurant was crowded with locals who looked at the three of us, no doubt wondering where we came from. 

Upon arrival at the villa, we were greeted warmly by Juan and helpers of the villa.  It was a good moment to renew our friendship. 

The second day began early, at 5:30 because I slept well and the crowing rooster in the neighborhood was too loud to ignore.  The beautiful scenery from our room on the second floor made me realize that we had reached our tropical paradise, Cebu.   Through scattered coconut trees, I watched the calm sea all the way out to Bohol Island. 

That morning, we visited “the Tops” which is the highest spot on the island.  The trip from Cebu City was a scenic one-hour-drive that zigzagged up the mountain.  When we arrived at the summit around noon, we found that there were no visitors except us.  We enjoyed the solitude and a breathtaking view of Metro Cebu and the island of Mactan and Olango. 

Returning to the villa in the afternoon, we went out fishing at the suggestion of Pinky (husband of our host’s second daughter, Joyda).  My two companions, Masamitsu  and Takashi eagerly agreed with Pinky’s suggestion, as they had brought fishing gear all the way from Japan to fulfill their dream of fishing in the Philippines.  Pinky and Jack who is one of the helpers specialized in fishing, were surprised to know that Japanese fish for sport, unlike them who fish professionally.  The lures and techniques we used were quite unfamiliar to them.  Jack took us to a point by motor boat.  After a brief time to locate fish, Takashi was disappointed when a big fish escaped because his line was too weak to catch it.  Masamitsu tried in vain to hook a fish.  Although I did not share my companions’ enthusiasm for fishing, I fully enjoyed the relaxed time listening to local music from a portable radio while I took a nap on the deck. 

On the third day, we visited Burill located in the other side of Cebu Island.  We went there to take part in Fiesta hosted by Juan’s cousin  who lives there.  After two-hour-drive packed with 9 people in an utility vehicle, Tamarao, we reached our destination at noon to find that the small house was crowded with almost 30 people. 

We took lunch around the table decorated with a roasted whole pig; a traditional Philippine feast they call lechon.  On the terrace, the local boys were drinking rum and whisky.  It was interesting to watch the Mahjong game played by the same Chinese tiles although it appeared that the rules were slightly different from ours. 

Back at the villa on Saturday’s night, we were surprised at the many local guests who visited the swimming pool because they do not like to play in the day time because of hot weather and the risk of getting sunburned.  Amid the sound of music and talking, we dropped off to sleep soon after noises ended due to a temporary black out which was a common occurrence during  the weekend. 

On the morning of the fourth day, I went off alone for the first time during our stay.  I went to the marketplace by tricycle (motorcycle with a sidecar ) which is a convenient way to get around.  The marketplace was thriving with locals.  The peculiar noises and smells reminded me of my childhood in Japan decades ago.  I noticed a church on the hill.  Although I was initially afraid to cross the busy road, (the traffic rule is to keep-to-the-right in the Philippines contrary to ours!) I was tempted into the parish church during the intermission between Sunday services.  While the beautiful music played, an unexpectedly cool breeze blew in.  Although not a regular churchgoer, I joined the next congregation which numbered about one thousand. It was unbelievable to me that so many people gather to a religious place every week since we in Japan do not regularly participate in religious activities. 

I sung hymns with the locals in Cebuano ( the native tongue in Cebu) since the lyrics were projected on the wall.  I didn’t understand the meaning of the words, but it was O.K. as I understood the feeling.  For me, it was one of my most unforgettable experiences in Cebu; especially when I remember the clear high-pitched singing of a little Filipino girl. 

On our fifth day, the Abuan family invited us to a BBQ lunch at the beach located within walking distance.  We enjoyed the foods and even tried a coconut wine which was delicious in spite of an oily smell which stinks profusely.  Along the back way to the villa, I struggled to climb up a coconut tree, but the laws of gravity kept me from doing so! 

For our last supper in Cebu, Anita prepared  a delicious soup, baked squid and a fresh vegetable salad which delighted us because Filipinos rarely prepare such salads.  We passed our last day in Cebu discussing with our hosts various topics while making comparisons of differences and similarities among our two countries.  At last, we parted with regrets and lingering steps. 

On our sixth day morning, we woke up at 4 o’clock to take an early flight. During our stay, we were always impressed with their ‘Pakikisama’ which as I understand it is peculiar Filipino warm treat.  Anita prepared breakfast with coffee, sausage and bread.  In addition, Pinky and Eleanor (the eldest daughter) escorted us to the airport in spite of early departure. 

Our trip was over.  Though it passed more quickly than we’d expected, it was a worthwhile experience to get to know well Philippines – both the country and the people. 

  Samuling Pagkikita ( See you again ) ! 


I would like to acknowledge that my second essay was made a lot better due to suggestions of my American friend, Jerry Cottrell.  I became friends with him by chance when he contacted me when my first essay was published in 1998. He is also a contributor to this site ,“Philippine Journeys” and we share a love of the Philippines and its people.  I would like to emphasize that this essay would never have been completed without his encouragement and support.