Sinulog Festival 2009 and 2010, Cebu

Looking through my photos folder on my home PC, I realized that I have not blogged about any of the Sinulog Festivals I have been to. Considering Sinulog 2009 was the 3rd trip I had gone on a after turning into The Lakwatsero (right after my trips to Taal in December 2008 and Pinatubo in early January 2009). The trips predate my blog. While the 2009 SInulog is explainable, I am not even sure why I never posted on the 2010 Sinulog.

As the 2011 Sinulog is now underway, I think in honor of the anniversary of my two trips in years past I should do this post. I am not going to Sinulog this year. Next week I am going to Kalibo for the Ati-Atihan which happens at the same time as Sinulog in Cebu.

The Sinulog Festival is an annual festival which takes place in Cebu in honor of the Sto. Niño. It lasts from 9 days and ends on the third Sunday of January. For two years, I have attended the concluding ceremonies on the final Sunday which is the parade through the streets of Cebu.

[ For more info on the Festival itself, read up on this article from WikiPilipinas. ]


With me on this trip was Dru Leonardo, Kent Macatangay, and Jasper Jugan…

Sinulog, Cebu

… and our hosts and guides, George and Dana Parilla

George was able to get us these special Photographer’s IDs which allowed us to navigate through the streets outside the barriers and through the street dancers.

Sinulog, Cebu

We started with breakfast at Larsian… then proceeded to the parade…

Sinulog, Cebu

This being my first festival, I was just fascinated by the color and the energy of the performances.

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Here we realized that the shade of Jasper’s shirt blended in with this group!

Sinulog, Cebu

We made our way into the grandstand where we watched a number of performances before going back into the street again.

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Personally… this is one of the cutest groups to perform…

Sinulog, Cebu

we then when back to the streets…

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

While a photographer myself, I would have to say one of the more annoying sights during the Festival were the number of Photographers who seem to overpower the festival. For my part, I try to be unobtrusive… I stay by the side… not to get in the way. But then again, I realized my efforts were all for naught as all the photographers battled to get their best shots by bullying their way and positioning themselves when the could. Naturally, if you were a passive photog, you would get some annoying one step in front of you without the courtesy of an “excuse me.” Sigh…

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Double Take

While on watching the show from the grandstand, we did some cam-whoring using the Sony Cybershot…

Sinulog, Cebu

While George, from ground level was taking us…

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SInulog 2009 was a fun experience for me. It was my first Lakwatsero Festival, and again, on my third Lakwatsa out.


Excited from the 2009 Sinulog, I came back the next year. This time meeting up with George and Dana Parilla with colleagues Bong Rollan and Louie Castaneda.

Sinulog, Cebu

As we did the year before, we had our breakfast at my favorite BBQ place… Larsian.

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

From Larsian, we proceeded to walk to the parade route where we caught up with the groups already on performance mode…

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Pit Senyor!

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu


Somewhere along the way to the grandstand, we had to weed through the dense crowds. Then a mishap occurred. We were squeezing our way through when I felt some hands on my shorts pockets… resulting in the theft of my phone from my left pocket. My wallet was in my right pocket, but luckily the bulk of my wallet kept it from slipping out easily. Louie was victimized as well.

Once I realized what had happened So before proceeding, I borrowed Bong’s phone and called Globe to report it stolen.

As a result of this incident… I bought a pair of shorts which I now wear for festivals like this… all the pockets have buttons.

Sinulog, Cebu

Sinulog, Cebu

Despite the pick-pocket incident, I still had fun. This time, I had to skip out earlier than everyone else and proceed to the airport for my trip home.

Sinulog, Cebu

Last year, while at SInulog, I hadn’t realized that the Ati-Atihan was going on at the same time in Kalibo. As such, I will be missing the Sinulog Festivities this year.


Bantayan Island (DAY 2), around the island – June 12, 2010

(see day 1 here)


Bantayan Island has three municipalities. Santa Fe, Bantayan, and Madrilejos. Today, with the help of Johnny’s friend Paul, we were able to visit the enitre island… In just around 3 hours.

I got up early, leaving a snoring Johnny to go off to take some sunrise pictures.

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After snapping several photos, I went up to make sure Johnny was awake.

Before settling on a place to eat, we roamed around Santa Fee for a while…

Walking aorund Sta. Fe

I saw an abandoned restroom building studded with graffiti. I had to take a pose… with me in my Independence Day-inspired t-shirt for the day.

While walking around, we encounter these stands all over the island. Bottles of Coca-Cola (never any Pepsi Bottles) filled with a familiar red liquid. We later discovered, these stands were actually a local variant of a… Gas Station. Yup, the red liquid was gas station as patronized by the motorcycle drivers around the island… a bottle at P50@.

Local Gas Station

We finally ended up at Cou Cou Bar and Restaurant for breakfast. It was around 8:30am. The odd part was, when we passed around 20 min earlier… the place was still closed! Well, the streets were empty, apparently the islands guests were all still asleep.

Anyway, I ordered the longanisa and dangit meal. Yum!

After breakfast, we had some time to rent some ATVs (All Terrain Vehicle) and roam the island a little bit. The ATVs were for rent for around P195 per hour. Not too bad. We decided to take the road counter-clockwise around the Island from Sta. Fe.


Roaming the island


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Here’s a video I took of Johnny…

We kept on going until Johnny’s ATV died on him.

After lunch Paul brought us around the island. Our first stop was a little town of Obo-Ob. Here we found a little known Eco-Tourism site for Mangoves

Obo-Ob and the Mangroves

Paul brought us to OMAGIECA. This stood for the Obo-ob Mangrove Garden Integrated Ecotourism and Conservation Association.

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This is definitely a very fascinating tourist site. This is the first time I got to see the inside of a Mangrove…. something I usually just see from the roadside.  This is actually one of the most unusual attractions ever. From the long bridge, we get walk into the mangrove through a bamboo bridge propped up by bamboo stilts or tied to mangrove branches.

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The town of Bantayan

The Parish Church of Saints Peter and Paul. The church is almost 500 years old built during the Spanish period was used as a staging area for priests entering the Philippines. The parish itself is the oldest parish in the Philippines founded in 1580. The chirch itself was built between 1839-1863.

There is an interesting little religious oddity to this church and the whole of Bantayan Island. During holy week, Catholics around the world are forbidden to eat meat on days of obligation and fasting. In 1843, due to a shortage of fish at the time, Pope Leo XII issued a Papal Dispensation excepting Bantayan Island from the no-meat fasting rule.

Sts Peter and Paul Parish, Bantayan Island

Sts Peter and Paul Parish, Bantayan Island

Sts Peter and Paul Parish, Bantayan Island

Sts Peter and Paul Parish, Bantayan Island

Sts Peter and Paul Parish, Bantayan Island  Sts Peter and Paul Parish, Bantayan Island 

The church is referred to as a fortress church due to its construction and extremely thick walls. The thick walls of the church are made of corrals, egg white, limestone and sap of local trees.

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We then proceeded northbound to Madrilejos which is the northernmost point of Bantayan Island.

First off, this interesting Spanish Fort. Constructed in 1790s it was built to protect women and children from being abducted by Moro pirates. In World War II, there were Japanese soldiers executed inside the fort. Today it is called “Kota Park”

Madrilejos, Bantayan Island

Madrilejos, Bantayan Island

Away from the fort, we headed towards the water where there was a long bridge which stretched out for a few hundred meters.

Madrilejos, Bantayan Island

Madrilejos, Bantayan Island

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The northernmost point of the Island of Bantayan Island

Madrilejos, Bantayan Island

After a while, we proceeded back to Santa Fe.

Back in the the town of Bantayan, we chanced upon this fascinating street sign. I found it very efficient.

Bantayan Island

Our last stop was this ancient mango tree located ina  private cemetery (no not the same one referred to above). The branches of the mango tree were so massive that some of them have fallen to the ground.

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That was it. A trip around the island of Bantayan. Thanks to Paul Holaysan for showing us around.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

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D’Jungle, Bantayan Island, Cebu

After resting a bit at the Kota Beach Resort, we went off to forage for food. One thing we were told was that food was pretty cheap… cheap for Manila standards.

Located in the town of Santa Fe on Bantayan Island, Cebu, D’Jungle is part of a string of restaurants in the center of town.

This restaurant row was just 5 min walk from the Kota Beach Resort. Something hardly noticeable during the day, the street came alive at night.


As we walked around we opted for this place called D’Jungle.

What caught my notice was that it got a mention in Lonely Planet.

D' Jungle Resto and Bar

They certainly had some mouth watering options

We finally settled for the buffet. Hey, at P295 with bottomless iced tea and 65 items to choose from? It’s quite a deal!


Oh my god! TALANGKA! This is the first restaurant in ages I have been to serve these, I was not letting this opportunity pass, I had 3 plate-fulls of this.

Tanalanka at D' Jungle

Lots of great food. They had a grill which cooked-per-order barbecue pork chops and scallops. YUM! They two varieties of halaan soup! YUM! Multiple varieties of squid, fish, pork, chicken… cooked in various ways, kinilaw, fried, steamed, etc.

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The owner, Robert, came up to us and chatted up with us (and all of the guests). He was proud that while he doesn’t make much profit out of serving a 65-item buffet at just P295, it compares with other buffets he’s been to from Manila to Cebu. For obvious reasons, the buffet is only available on Fridays and Saturdays.


We came back the next evening. We had originally wanted to try the Portuguese restaurant’s buffet only to realize that the food at the buffet was hardly Portuguese… it was all Filipino food. Plus the waitresses were hardly accommodating and friendly, we ended up back at D’Jungle where Robert greeted us with a huge smile.

Trivia. Apparently Robert is also known as “Robert White Pants” for his taste in clothing.

Contact Details:

D’Jungle, Sta. Fe Village, Bantayan Island, Cebu

Inday  0919 683 6327 or Nene 0910 908 9031


Bantayan Island, Cebu – June 11, 2010

Every now and then, the Lakwatsero is “kaladkarin” (Kaladkarin: One who is easily invited on trips). Last week, a fellow traveler, photographer, and adventurer, Johnny Benitez, asked me if I would like to like to accompany him to Bantayan Island while he was in Cebu on business. I told him I would think about it. Around an hour later I texted that I was ok. I filled for leave at work and booked my flight online.

Bantayan Island was a destination I really had not heard a lot about. It wasn’t even on my bucket list of places to go. But as I got into researching about this place, I am so glad I went on this trip. As it is the tail-end of summer, the cross-roads for back-to-school for some, with the rainy season just recently declared by PAGASA, this pretty much almost the last official beach trip for the year.

Bantayan Island is part of the province in Cebu. It is give or take, 3-4 hours away from Cebu City up north.

From Wikipedia:

Bantayan Island is an island in the Philippines located at the western portion of the northern tip of Cebu Island. It is politically a part of the Province of Cebu. The island can be reached by ferry from Hagnaya Wharf in San Remigio, Cebu, or from Cebu City, or from Cadiz City in Negros Occidental.

The island is composed of three municipalities:


View Bantayan Island in a larger map

Getting There

To get there was surprisingly easy. Doing a little research I came upon the website and found that the author had documented the simple  3-step instructions READ HERE.

But we didn’t quite get to taking the bus. We were running a little late when we got into a cab to take us to the bus terminal. Our taxi driver made an offer to drive us there for P2,500. Johnny wasn’t hot about it, but hey, I pay for convenience (note: I later found out that a hired van would cost just around P1,500} We took advantage and made a few stops for food and bodily requirements.

After getting to the town of San Remigio up north, we found ourselves at the Hagnaya Port by in just 2 hours (as opposed to the 3 hour bus ride).

Hagnaya Port

We quickly bought our tickets (P140 regular, P150 aircon) and casually had some local barbecue.

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The boat ride just took about 1 hour. The sea was calm and the ride was quite smooth.

Kota Beach Resort, Santa Fe, Cebu

The resort sent a vehicle to pick us up. Moments later we found ourselves at the Kota Beach Resort. While our cottage (below) was not directly in front of the beach (there was a cottage in front), it was still in a great location.

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Before the sun went down, I wanted to take a few pictures along the beach just before sunset set in. Most of the pictures below are just in front of the resort.

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I actually took a lot of pictures of that dog as he just sat there staring at another dog in the distance.

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I like the strategic location of Kota Beach Resort. I also like the ambience. It is not a high-end place, but its proximity by the beach and the tasteful wooden cottages really give it a very relaxing feeling. This place, albeit simple, is just great! (I found the resort through the website:

Ok… we rested up a bit. A little Facebook… wash up, then we were off to hunt for food for dinner.

Next: D’Jungle Restaurant:

Day 2:

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Diving in Mactan, Cebu (Pre-Sinulog) – January 16, 2009

I arrived in Cebu a day before Sinulog 2010 and on the agenda was to take in a few dives with my friend Charles Quisumbing. After our lazy breakfast at Don Merto’s, we headed to Mactan.

This was my first time to Dive in Cebu. Not that I expected anything particularly different, I mean… diving is diving right. I would usually dive in Anilao, Batangas.

Diving in Mactan, Cebu

We would kick off our dive from a Korean-owned port near Scuba World and the Hilton. What was a bummer was the weather. It had been raining daily in Cebu till this point. And when we arrived, it started raining. I had gone diving during a typhoon once before, and it was not fun. So obviously I was concerned.

It was around noon and we could not leave yet. Why? we were waiting for the lechon which would be our lunch. Yes. Just lechon. When the rest of the group arrived… with the lechon, we boarded and we were underway.


And of course, we proceeded to pig-out. Pun intended.

Underwater Photography

My main purpose was to test my Liquid Image Scuba mask with camera ( It had two modes… stills, and video.

Of the 140 pics I took, I realized that you need to keep relatively still. A lot of my photos, when I was swimming after fish, turned out blurred.

Luckily, despite the rains, the visibility was quite good.

Here are some of the pics.

Diving in Mactan, Cebu  

Diving in Mactan, Cebu

Diving in Mactan, Cebu  

Diving in Mactan, Cebu

And here is a video… Oddly, the video turned out better than the pics.

All in all the dive went well. This first dive site as you will notice was one that had a sunken plane. Our second dive was at the sanctuary just off Shanri-La Mactan. But for the second dive, I encountered an odd problem with the mask and the camera would not turn on. Anyway, the second site was so much more colorful. Sadly, I had no pics here.

After the dive, I got the camera working again. Grrrr.

Diving in Mactan, Cebu

Here’s our boat… named “Makulit”

Breakfast at Don Mertos, Cebu – January 16, 2010

Breakfast at Don Mertos

I got into Cebu on the 7:45am PAL flight from Manila. My friend Charles Quisumbing picked me up from the airport. It was quite early for the dive later that day which would be around lunch time. Charles asked if I wanted to have breakfast. He brought me to this restaurant called Don Mertos where he kept on talking about this breakfast steak I could order.

When I got to the place, I reminded him that he did bring me here months earlier for a steak dinner.

Breakfast at Don Mertos

The place is simple, cozy, and apparently is frequented by a number of foreigners. There was a point in time that we were the only Filipino patrons, we were soon surrounded by 3 white and 1 black patron. Not sure of the nationalities though.

Breakfast at Don Mertos

When we ordered, we were told that the breakfast steak was not available. Sigh. Looking through the menu, I decided on classic longaniza. Yum! It was good :)

Breakfast at Don Mertos

By the way, if you ever get a chance to eat here for dinner. I do recommend the steaks. Yum!