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May 28, 2015

A Saturday at Simala

The first week of me and my co-interns’ stay at Cebu was spent on trying to adjust to the Cebuano lifestyle. We had to learn almost every route, every street, and even every jeepney number. Well it wouldn’t be possible to know all these things without getting lost. We got lost several times and had to resort to burning our money by riding regular taxis (because we didn’t know about GrabTaxi yet). 

After the first week, my mom visited the city. She spent a week in Bacolod for a conference. Since my brother and I were in Cebu, she decided to make a stop-over to check on us and to visit the Simala Shrine in Sibonga town. Three of my co-interns-slash-housemates didn’t have plans for that weekend so they tagged along. 

We rode an airconditioned van in Citi Link Transit Station. It took us almost two hours to reach Sibonga town. It also cost us 100 pesos for the fare. We passed by cities of Talisay, Naga, San Fernando, and Carcar. My brother told me that we should have arrived in the terminal earlier so we can leave and come back to the city earlier. He also said that we can ride a bus but it will only drop us in the national highway unlike the vans. From the highway, we still drove through small barangays until we reached the entrance of the church.

When we arrived, we went inside the church and lined up to see the preserved statue of Mother Mary. Hundreds of devotees and tourists visited the church that day. While we lined up, we saw a lot of healing testimonies and offerings from people claiming that they have been given what they prayed for. There were wheelchairs and crutches of people who were healed from their ailments, yearbook photos of people who passed licensure exams, and other offerings. There were also handwritten letters and prayers of gratitude for Mama Mary. 

After we said our prayers and touched the miraculous statue, we went to the room where different kinds of Mother Mary statues from different parts of the world were preserved. My brother said that the statues were gifts from religious leaders from different countries. 

There were Chinese, Korean, South African, Japanese statues of Mother Mary and some other nationalities that I already forgot haha. I even saw her baby version! It was interesting and a tad bit creepy to see all these things. Imagine walking into a room full of statues of Jesus’ mother, and their eyes fixed on whoever looks at their cases. Interesting and creepy right? No? Okay maybe that’s just me haha :D

In another room, there were countless dresses and rosaries kept neatly in glass cases. My brother told me that those were accessories for the miraculous statue. There was this one dress that interest me. It was Mother Mary’s birthday dress. During her birthday on September 8, 1999, the devotees saw a bright light and the entire church smelled of roses. 

After touring inside the church, we went out to take pictures. We ate lunch at a nearby cafeteria and left for Cebu City. We needed to ride a tricycle from the church to the van terminal. The fare cost us more or less 20 pesos (I can’t remember anymore </3). We arrived back in Cebu City at around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. 

The trip was worth it because there were a lot of interesting things that I’ve learned. Aside from seeing different statues of Mother Mary and her accessories, I also learned the history of the church and how the monks worked to establish it.  

A lot of people told me that when you visit the shrine, whatever you wish for will eventually come true. I did wish for something. Well… not really “wish” but prayed. I prayed that I’d finish the internship on time and I really did. I finished the 240-hour internship on the expected date without having to worry so much about requirements so yay! *throws confetti*

I think the only downside of our trip was that the heat was intense. We should have traveled earlier so we can get back in the city before it gets too hot. Nevertheless, it was a good trip.


If you’re planning to visit Simala Shrine, you can travel by van or bus but like what my brother said, its best to ride a van since they take you to the church itself. The bus will only drop you in the high way and you still need to ride a tricycle to the church. Bring bottles of water too and brace yourself for a lot of walking. Also, you need to be early if you don’t want to get sun-kissed skin like we did haha!

Simala Shrine is located in Sibonga Town, Cebu, Philippines. Here are other blog posts and websites about the shrine to help you plan your trip: Cebu’s Castle Church: Simala Shrine in Sibonga | My Spiritual Journey to Simala

9

Happy Birthday Cory Allan Michael Monteith! (May 11th, 1982 - July 13th, 2013)

“He was very special to me, and also to the world. And we were very lucky to witness his incredible talent, his handsome smile, and his beautiful, beautiful heart. So whether you knew him personally, or just as Finn Hudson, Cory reached out, and he became a part of all of our hearts, and that’s where he’ll stay forever.”

Hearts Melted at Cafe Caw

The first place that I thought of trying once I get back in Cebu was this quaint cafe in Mandaue City, Cafe Caw

I saw photos of their coffee and desserts on Instagram and I thought, “I need to visit this place ASAP.” The universe was definitely on my side because my co-interns and I settled in a pad in Banilad. We were just several blocks away from the cafe. 

Before we moved to a new pad, a friend and I didn’t pass up the chance to visit the place. We walked a few blocks from our pad to the intersection of A.S Fortuna St. and Hernan Cortes St. Then we rode a tricycle to the cafe. 

When we arrived, I remember my heart sort-of melted in delight. The place was indeed lovely. I love how well-designed the place is. The designers used some uber macho materials but balanced it well with girly pastel colors. Every nook and cranny just strikes up inspiration in you, especially that corner of the cafe where the words, “Be crazy, be stupid, be silly, be weird, be whatever because life is too short to be anything but happy” are glowing. Its a place where you can spend the entire day lounging, eating good food, and just basking in the glow of happiness.

Now on to the food! Yay! *throws confetti*

My friends and I needed our daily dose of caffeine after a long and stressful day at work, so we ordered something from their coffee menu. I ordered their Hazelnut Latte and added a big fluff of white cotton candy as the sweetener. Okay, scratch “big fluff”, the cotton candy was ginormous! I had a difficult but fun time in trying to fit everything inside the cup. Of course it was a bit impossible so my friends and I had to take a few bites out of it before it finally fit. 

The latte was perfect. It cost me around 120+ pesos and the additional cotton candy was 25 pesos. Not a single drop was wasted! It was so good. A part of me regret adding the cotton candy since the last few sips tasted very sweet. I think every bit of undissolved sugar granule settled in the bottom, but nevertheless it was good. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t take note of my friends’ orders but I know that they enjoyed their drinks as much as I did. 

We capped off our visit with a slice of rainbow cake. It cost 150 pesos and it was good enough to share for four or five people just like we did. We couldn’t handle the sweetness anymore haha! 

Cafe Caw is awake as early as 7:30 in the morning and they offer breakfast meals. I heard it’s as good as their coffee and desserts. If you’re looking for a new place to add to your must-visit list, Cafe Caw is located at Hernan Cortes St., Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines.  

They also have a branch in Lahug. If you want to check out that branch too, here’s a review about it: The Little Colorful Haven in Cafe Caw

From National Geographic Photo Of The Day; May 28, 2015:

Light in the Dark
Mel Kevin Jumangit, National Geographic Your Shot

Dancers pause during the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, the capital of the Philippine province of Cebu. The large festival of cultural and religious pageantry honors the Santo Niño, or child Jesus, whose statue is held aloft here by a colorfully costumed “queen.”

Jumangit’s image was recently featured in Your Shot’s Daily Dozen.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our storytelling community. Check out the new book Getting Your Shot for more photos, plus tips and creative insights from Nat Geo experts.