The island of Cebu and the cities and towns that lie within it are mostly known for their pristine beaches and diving spots, and for good reason too – they are simply AMAZING! Much publicity is given to Phuket, Bali and Boracay as the go-to beach destinations in Southeast Asia but Cebu stands her ground when compared with the other more popular places. Sure, while you have to visit the beaches in Malapascua, Moalboal and Oslob, there are other things to do in Cebu and this island has so much more to offer than the white sand beaches that dot the island. And no, we’re not talking about visiting religious sites, museums or diving; we’re talking offbeat experiences in Cebu that perhaps even most locals didn’t know could be done in their own backyard.
1. Make a Bamboo Sound Amplifier
Have you heard of the Loudbasstard? This is something many Filipinos are proud of; this product is the finest example of simplicity and sustainability when it comes to designing mobile accessories. The concept is simple, the versatile bamboo stalk is cut and shaped in a way that optimally amplifies the sound that comes our of a mobile phone (note that these are not speakers but simply amplify the sound coming from the speakers). The success and publicity garnered by the Loudbasstard has led many other craftsmen in the Philippines and Cebu to follow suit and design their own variation of this awesome product. Greg is one such craftsmen and you can learn to make your own bamboo amplifier in Cebu too.
2. Lechon Feast
If there’s one food item that you cannot leave Cebu without trying then it’s the Lechon! Don’t believe us then watch this video by Anthony Bourdain of the popular travel show No Reservations where he proclaims that the Lechon of Cebu is the best in the world. We doubt there is a higher authority than Anthony to make such claims, so if you’re in Cebu then make sure the Lechon goes on your list. You will find Lechon vendors all over the city from little street-side eats to malls and fine dining options, but our suggestion goes beyond what’s commercially available to the masses. Let Backstreet Academy take you to the house of famous Lechon maker in the countryside of Cebu, and while the family slow cooks the whole Lechon over a coal fire, you and your friends soak in the countryside of Cebu with a cold drink and mingle with locals until the feast begins. Definitely better than eating it at a mall eh?! 😉 So go ahead and book the Lechon Feast and we’ll introduce you to Carlo and Family.
3. Landscape Painting on Tops
Official name of the highest point in Cebu City is called Tops Viewpoint but the locals affectionately call it just Tops, and it’s a popular spot to enjoy the views of the island and just chill at the resident cafes. While there is no denying that Tops is perfect spot for photographs for travellers, an artist would probably view the scenery from a different lens: to capture the scenery of Cebu on a canvas as opposed to through the lens of a camera. Budoy is one such artist who also owns a cafe there and offers landscape painting lessons in Cebu from Tops for anyone looking for alternative ways to enjoy Tops in Cebu. 🙂
4. Filipino Kickboxing Lesson with a Master
It’s amazing how many variations of martial arts styles that have developed indigenously among the many islands in the Philippines, ranging from Eskrima/Arnis, Inosanto and Yaw Yan. In fact, the Eskrima itself is a combination of various sub-division of fighting styles. The variations of Filipino martial arts ranges from close hand combats and the use of knives, batons and swords for attack and self defense. Yaw Yan in particular is quite popular among the Philippine Police Force and several go to the gym of Master Ekin to train – anything from the use of the body as a weapon to disarming opponents who wield guns and knives. If you’ve had your fill of the local sights and scenes then the beginner Yaw Yan class in Cebu offered by Master Ekin is definitely something you should consider.
5. Ride a Jeepney
Unlike Manila, riding the ubiquitous jeepney in Cebu is safe and in our opinion perhaps the cheapest and most efficient way of get around the city. What’s amazing about riding on the Jeepney in Cebu is the etiquette, here’s a primer:
A. Most trips will cost about 7 pesos (USD 0.14) but can go up to 15 pesos if you’re destination is more than 6-8 kilometers away from the point you get on;
B. You have to pay the driver the money but your seat could be on the opposite end of the Jeepney and there could be a line of 10 people between you and the driver. And this is the best part, you just tap your neighbour on the shoulder and give him/her your change (preferably say please pass it down but even if you don’t, everybody knows the drill). Within a few minutes your money will have reached the driver and the change will have been back in your hands – not a peso short, not a peso more. It’s amazing how this system works. So you know what to do if someone taps you on the shoulder or gives you “free pesos” on the jeepney without saying anything :p
C. How do you ask the driver to stop the Jeepney? Simple, just knock a few times on the roof or any metallic object in the Jeepney and voila! The jeep stops!