The difference between a tourist and a traveler; a tourist wants to see, while a traveler wants to seek. A tourist will set out with a map and look for specific things: something old and iconic or new and all the rage. A traveler seeks what no one is talking about, something unusual and uncharted, anything that presents the possibility of delight or disappointment, a discovery nevertheless.

I lie somewhere in between, a sort of “untourist-y”, semi-traveler.

Although I am not from Cebu, I am no tourist. The highlight of my professional life is my annual work trip to Cebu, but I hadn’t really seen anything outside the usual suspects. I was looking forward to something different, something fresh, and if possible, a secret that I will have the pleasure of spreading around.

I told my friend Andrea, who had just moved to Cebu, that she had one whole day (just one!) to show me “something different”.  We set out with no itinerary, just a tank full of gas and a backseat full of food.

Our first stop was Parola ng Bagacay Point in Liloan. It’s not that I’ve never seen a 107 year-old lighthouse before (I haven’t); it’s just that I didn’t think there’d be such a pretty place so near the city (less than an hour’s drive). If I knew exactly what this place looked like prior, I would’ve come a little later in the day and I would’ve brought a picnic basket.

Before heading out to wherever the rest of the day was to take us, we drove back to the city to have lunch. What’s lunch without dessert? I heard rumors that somewhere near an old, run-down strip club called Infinity sold amazing Sylvanas. We hunted the place down and finally found it on #20 Tojong Drive. And because there’s no such thing as too much dessert, we had another round, at Casa Escaño. These little Belgian bites are bits of heavenly halo.

Slightly sleepy from stuffing ourselves, yet giddy from all the sweets, we decided to head down the SRP, and really, all roads should look like this: traffic-free and scenic. At the end of the SRP, we turned right and went down the road and turned left at a sign that read “Shrine of Mary, Thrice Admirable”. Andrea later on revealed she really didn’t know where to go (for the whole trip, really) and was navigating based on gut-feel.

That road led us to this chapel.

“Schoenstatt” means “beautiful place,” and this lives up to its name. It sits right on top of a hill and has an amazing view of the SRP, the sea on one side and the hilly terrain on the other. The Schoenstatt shrine is a replica of the one built in Germany as a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s a tiny chapel with a big lawn in front. Inside, the pews are lined up to just about four rows deep on either side. Standing at the door makes not much difference in view as standing right up the altar. It’s so quaint and intimate that you can’t help but say a quick and silent prayer.

It was mid-afternoon, the sun was at its prettiest and we weren’t quite ready to head back to the city just yet. So Andrea decided that we should drive further south to have some milk. About an hour later, I declared that I didn’t see why we had to drive so far out to drink milk. As we drove deeper into the woods, the lamp posts became scarce as did the sunlight. Finally, right at a bend on the road, in the middle of nowhere, there it was, Molave Milk Station.

It was too dark for us to see, but they say that there are live cows down the slopes beside Molave’s dining area that provide the fresh milk. But you don’t really need to see the cows to believe, you only have to take a sip.

We ate in silence, maybe because everything else around was quiet. We were tired but not worn; we were a bit lost, but not the least bit misplaced.  And never mind that I’m lactose intolerant, I was busy deciding what to feel: quite happy having dairy in the dark or a little sad that the day ended so soon, and that when I finish my ice cream, we’ll have to drive back, this time knowing exactly where we’re headed.

It was probably just about the perfect amount of “something different” for a day because it left me wanting more, like eating a meal and leaving some room for dessert (or two desserts).

I don’t think Cebu will run out of pretty little surprises if you go and seek them out. So when you’re in Cebu, be “untourist-y.” Fill up the gas tank. Go. Dance at the lighthouse. Eat too much lunch. Have two desserts.  Go somewhere you can see everything, even your soul. Have ice cream in the dark.  Leave room for more and come back again.


Parola ng Bagacay Point is at Bagacay Point, Liloan, Cebu

The Sylvanas can be found at #20 Tojong Street, Lahug, Cebu

Casa Escaño is at #94 Juana Osmena Street, Cebu City

The Schoenstatt Shrine is in Minglanilla, Cebu

The Molave Milk Station is in Barili

I got additional information about Schoenstatt from Wikipedia.

All photos are mine.

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