Our time in Singapore was short but sweet. Sweetest was all the time we had spending time with friends – new & old. We caught an early morning flight out. Roman sent us off with a full stomach before we left.
We flew with Scoot to Cebu, Philippines (3hr40min). There wasn’t online check-in so we had to goto the kiosks to get our boarding pass and bag tags for checked bags. We were then sent to a document service station to get a stamp then to another area to drop our bags and view our Philippines eTravel document.
You don’t actually go through security until you are going through your gate. There is a water filling station after security.
Once we landed, we were picked up by Bev’s cousin’s family driver named Woody. It’s strange to be riding in a car on the right side of the road again. If you are driving, parking is atrocious. Not as functional as there isn’t as much space so you have an area to reverse but not really.
First stop was food of course. We went to Georg cafe (which is considered uptown) and met up with Bev’s cousin Ketti. I got the Korean Crispy Pork Tangsuyuk (395PHP) & a Calamansi juice (75PHP).
For our duration in Cebu, we stayed with Bev’s Aunt’s family compound (her dad’s side). Bev reunited with her Uncle Ely, Aco Annie & Larae. It is a part of Filipino culture for younger individuals to perform Mano as a sign of respect to elders and as a way of requesting a blessing from the elder. It is similar to hand kissing – the person giving the greeting bows towards the hand of the elder and presses their forehead on the elder’s hand. Bev’s teen nephew put out his hand to me but I didn’t really know of this custom so I shook his hand instead and he was a bit taken aback and laughed. They also have a bunch of dogs – Gunther, Mimi, Oreo, Hope & Patchy. Her family speaks Visayas, Hokkien & Fukien.
After settling in, we went to Cheeva Spa for a much needed massage after 36 days of non-stop travelling. Bev and myself went on another level of comfort with a couples massage and disposable shorts 😅. We did a 90 minute session – massage + feet (900PHP) and the lady working on me, I told her to go hard pressure and man, she went to town.
We’ve been travelling with 2 small/medium bags each that we carry, 11 flights so far, did a few hikes and whatnot. Our knots were tough so we definitely gave them a challenge.
Feeling like mush afterwards, we went to dinner with Bev’s family. We went to Minnan Seafood Restaurant.
Tidbits of the Philippines and Filipino culture:
-Filipino time is REAL. I thought it was bad with my friends in Toronto but in the Philippines, it is way worse
-Loads of Korean influence incorporated
-CR is comfort room aka toilets
-There are a lot of Chinese Filipinos. The Chinese dialect spoken is Fukien & Hokkien and in Cebu, majority speak Bisaya and in Southern Philippines althought Tagalog is the official language of the Philippines.
-Normal for security guards to have guns/assault rifles
-Normal for families to have helpers if they are a little bit more well off – helpers receive room and board plus salary
-Plastic bags for everything – the way of life. Recycling isn’t a thing here.
-Corruption at its best but its a normalcy
-Cash is key
-Outlet plugs are 2 straight prong
-Tampons are harder to find (It’s a very Catholic country)
-Average wage for low income jobs would be 200 peso a day. In Mahayag, it is roughly 200-300 pesos a day. It is higher in bigger cities.
Mary Tess – is a gossip girl
Started the morning a little slower. We had a lovely Filipino breakfast. Mangoes, budbud/suman – sticky rice in banana leaves (some w/chocolate), Bibingka – baked rice cakes made with galapong, coconut milk, margarine, and sugar (one had eggs in it with butter).
For this leg of the trip, our friend Elein joined us from Toronto.
When she arrived, we went to Ayala Center Cebu Mall where Elein & Bev got Mani/pedis while I mall-ratted. 4 floors and so many different ways to walk. They have a store called Metro which acts as a department store but also below is a supermarket – like a hybrid of the Hudson Bay & T&T. Picked up more of this magical menthol rollers called Efficascent Oil Roll-On (84.50PHP) that Bev’s Aunt Baby in LA introduced us to. We loaded up on this stuff.
For dinner, we met up with more of Bev’s family to celebrate her cousin-in-law Winnie’s 47th birthday. Bev’s uncle’s, aunts and their 4 granddaughters plus a grandson. Plus Aldrich (Bev’s cousin and Winnie’s husband) who works in the family’s noodle factory.
After dinner was over, we decided we needed to end the night off with something sweet. We went to Ice Castle for Halo Halo – we got the Halo Halo Special no sugar (175PHP). Bev’s cousin Irene who rides Harley Davidson’s joined us.
Ozamiz – Mahayag, Philippines
26-33°C. Bright and early we caught a flight with Cebu Pacific to Ozamiz (1hr15min).
We were picked up by Bev’s Cousin Den Den. We had lunch at Rodolfos. We shared the Pork Sisig, Bicol Express, Calamari & Fried rice.
We arrived at their family business/compound and joined her aunt Terry (Bev’s mom’s sister) & uncle Arthur for lunch. They prepared a feast for us including crab, vegetable soup, steamed fish, pork ribs, shrimp, bittermelon & egg and then came all the fresh fruit. Uncle Arthur even had magic beans he wanted us to taste to see if he could make sour taste sweet but it failed.
Uncle Arthur took us on a tour of his side hustle/hobby farm – Rooster raising for Rooster fights. He currently has about 200-250 roosters with about 20 employees raising them. Before the pandemic, he had over 500 roosters.
He also has a few cows who act as lawnmowers. In the middle of all these little shelters for the roosters are fruit trees. On their property, they grow Durian, Longan (they are sweet but big seeds and not a lot of meat), Dragonfruit, Avocado & Blackberries.
After lunch, Den Den and the 3 of us packed up in the car and drove to Mahayag (1hr) to visit more of Bev’s mothers side of their family. In Mahayag, her family still lives in the same estate where Bev’s mother grew up and have added additions. Bev’s cousin Ken was just about to move to the States with his wife Lie and daughter Leighton so they were gathering for a going away party. We basically met her entire mother’s side during our stay. Jehan, Sherwin, Leslie (aka Lie), Ken, Leighton, Lindsy, Mark, Karen + x2 daughters, Joaquin (jayfort), Cayme, Theo, Kaofu (uncle), Aunt Rose & Beau the Beagle.
Bev’s cousin Sherwin & his family operate many businesses in the Mahayag area such as water supply, coffee roasting, coffee shop/bar, craft beer on tap, own a gas station, 2 rice farms, fruit farm (root rot unfortunately happened the last 2 years due to climate change and too much rain), a barbershop and a fitness centre.
We stayed at Rudhil’s Place Resort and also had a lovely family dinner there with so many delicious dishes we all shared.
To end off the night, we visited their Coffee Shop / Bar – Route 80 which also serves Fat Pauly’s Iligan City lager and ales. We tried the Trigo 5% with fruity notes of banana, cloves and bubblegum & vanilla.
Filipino time is a real thing and I experienced it first hand especially as a person who is usually 15mins early. Going with the flow since I don’t know what’s happening each day and there is no real rush anywhere unlike other sections of the trip so far.
We had breakfast at the Resort then met up with Bev’s uncle and cousin Sherwin to shoot some guns. We shot with a Glock 40, Glock 45 & a M4. I’m best with the 45. By far, Lindsy was the best sharp shooter out of all of us.
After being out in the heat, we gathered our things to check out their gym called Plyobox and did a mini shoot/workout. It’s an honour system based model in terms of payment and usage. The gym features equipment to work on vertical explosiveness, boxing skills, cardio and weights. Also stopped by Route 80 Coffee Shop.
We went back to the family compound for lunch. The whole family was there to send off Joaquin, Leslie, Lindsy & Leighton. Loads of food and we were treated with halo halo, peachy iced dessert & mango float.
Sherwin & Jehan piled us into their truck and drove us around. The first stop we tried going to was for a swim at Mabanag Spring Resort but the rain said otherwise. We detoured and went a town over to Molave to a chocolate shop called Gasa Chocolate. I had hot chocolate and we shared cookies.
The weather got better so we went back to see if we could swim. The pool was empty so we had the place all to ourselves. Before heading back to the pool, we stopped on the side of the road and purchased these cassava fried crackers that you can place condensed milk or whatever sauce/syrup you want on them.
After swimming, we hung out at the family home for a bit and for dinner, we hopped back into the truck and went to dinner at Kuya Loy’s barbecue.
Mahayag to Ozamiz
29-34°C. Final breakfast at the family home in Mahayag. Sherwin even stepped in and cooked part of it for us. There was never a time I felt hungry since I landed in the Philippines.
There was a city wide brown out for power from 9AM-5PM in Mahayag and they said it was slightly hotter than normal as its the beginning of summer.
We went to pay our respects at Bev’s grandparents memorial resting area.
We visited Bev’s auntie Stella and went to Mon’s Salubong – Mon’s Grill for Halo halo. Best halo halo in Mahayag. Even with the brown out, they were still booming with business and pumping out the Halo halo.
On the road we went back to Ozamiz. Den Den drove while we all passed out in the car. Sherwin & Jehan also joined in Ozamiz. On our arrival, auntie Terry had lunch ready for us and we feasted yet again. Not even 10 minutes after lunch had finished, dishes of Jack fruit and fried banana were brought out and then uncle Arthur took out the big guns – durian popsicles and frozen durian.
To stop us from eating more, we had to step away from the table Den Den became our Tour Guide as she drove us around Ozamiz. We tried to make our way to Hoyohoy. You can see between two mountain peaks however the clouds got darker and filled the sky so we didn’t go all the way up since there was no view to really be seen.
Den Den showed us the old stomping grounds of where Bev’s grandparents worked/met, their old ancestral home and the local hangouts.
We made it back to the house and another feast was had including a full lechon (roasted pig). We were joined by Bev’s mom’s cousins Agnes & Bebe.