South Cebu, I want to leave Manila for you

It’s been 25 days now since I got home from my three-week backpacking trip in the Visayas. I spent four days in Bacolod, a night in Dumaguete, one week in Siquijor, and two weeks in South Cebu.

I missed my family, my bed, and all the comfort I didn’t get while I was away, but I didn’t miss the heavy traffic, the cityscape, and everything about the exhausting urban life. No day has ended without wishing I was back in the realm of South Cebu, eating chorizo in Samboan, watching the sun set in Lambug Beach, swimming with the sardines in Moalboal, and passing through the coastal road from Badian to Oslob.

You are home, South Cebu, and I want to leave Manila for you.

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Sunset session after a quick dive in Lambug Beach

I want to leave Manila for your scenic routes. People who have traveled from Cebu City to South Cebu would understand how the scenery slowly changes from buildings to mountain peaks to coastal roads. The three-hour road trip from Badian to Sibonga, and the two-hour road trip from Badian to the jump-off point of Osmeña Peak both entail sightings of vegetation and mountains, while my favorite two-hour road trip from Badian to Oslob has a long coastal road fenced with trees that make me raise my hands and get my head out of the car to feel the cooling air, get blinded with the waters, and smile to every passer-by there is. It feels great every time. Its scenic routes always leave wonder in my eyes, and I long for such views whenever a part of my life gets wasted in Manila’s heavy traffic.

Sardines run in Moalboal

I want to leave Manila for your water world. I love the water, but there’s a big problem: I’m not a good swimmer. I don’t even know how I passed my mandatory swimming class back in college where the only stroke I can do was freestyle while holding my breath on every lap. I never learned how to stay calm when my feet can’t feel the floor. But that changed on my third visit in South Cebu in April. I slowly established my relationship with the sea for two weeks. I got to know its waves and what lives in it with my life vest on, until I finally learned to lose sight of the shore and discover what’s underneath, with only fins, snorkeling gear, and one breath to entrust my life with. There, I saw and ate a number of sea urchins, swam across a walo-walo, and picked-up as much marine debris as I can.

To be caught in the middle of a dark blue sphere makes me feel alive by terrifying and comforting me all at once. What I thought would kill me made me stronger. Every dip feels like a homecoming to the sea.

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In case I haven’t stressed enough, I’m this happy when I’m in South Cebu

I want to leave Manila for your provincial life. I like the slow paced life, waking up to the sound of the waves, ending my days with a sunset show, and watching adults become children again. The simple life is just humbling. When I stayed longer in Siquijor and in South Cebu last month, my visions of building a hostel (and settling down) on either of the said province islands (or both) became clearer. I can see string lights, wooden interiors, white-washed walls, huge windows, naturally lit rooms, dancing canopies, strangers turning into friends, and my future kids running wild, free, and naked.

But how will I do it when I can’t even buy new clothes? How long will it take me to save up for it when I don’t even have a regular income? How the hell will I get married when I can’t even give up my solitude??? I have no idea, but one thing’s for sure: I’m going to make it happen.

I’m leaving Manila for you exactly a month from now. Not for good, but we’ll get there.

All my love,

12 thoughts on “South Cebu, I want to leave Manila for you

  1. Yes, truly the southern part of Cebu is really scenic and would eventually leave you speechless with all its captivating views and exciting adventure that will surely leave you in awe. I’ve been exploring this side of Cebu and I never get drudging to explore it even more.

    You really had an amazing travel journey, 3 weeks of backpacking is really cool and awesome. I haven’t tried it yet, perhaps when I get the chance I will. Thank you so much for sharing your travel experience with us. I truly enjoy reading your blog post. Keep traveling and sharing your journey with us.


    1. Cebu has it all: city, mountains, sea. It is just so liveable. I hope you could take the time to linger longer in South Cebu and the rest of the Visayas on your next visit! Thanks for reading, Ariel!


  2. I can totally relate to you. Particularly where you say “I missed my family, my bed, and all the comfort I didn’t get while I was away, but I didn’t miss the heavy traffic, the cityscape, and everything about the exhausting urban life” thats exactly what happens with me when I visit offbeat, beautiful destinations far off. That’s exactly I feel. And then I wish oh only if my hometown were like this beautiful swiss village with my home, my family and that serene natural beauty all at one place!!


  3. It’s true what you’ve observed that life was so simple and peaceful. You can just enjoy a long road trip while watching the sunrise or sunset. Plus, there’s no traffic. I’ve been to Cebu for a week last March of this year as well and felt the same as you did. I was in the city for 3 days and spent the rest of the week in South Cebu moving around different towns while I stayed in Oslob. There were so many things to do in one place that you can’t keep up with all of it in a week.


  4. Im glad you like my hometown! Im base in Manila now but yes i keep coming back to Cebu. The South really has a lot to offer. Every visit is a different experience but for sure will leave a memory that would last a lifetime!


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