Cebu Travel Blog

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"The reasons for expats departing after moving to "paradise" are varied, but the most common I've experienced are: Inability to adapt to Philippine culture, to include inability to accept corruption as society's "norm," pervasive dishonesty, constantly being overcharged for goods and services, constant attempted scams, and expats often being viewed as a "walking ATM machine;" heat / humidity / typhoons; massive poverty;"


ok ok this is not about cebu but again i never figured out how to do this and i get the feeling my time here is running short. so as i have received some moderately useful info periodically here tho ultimately on balance the experience has been more deflating than uplifting; i nonetheless in the unlikely event anyone might stumble onto this and find it useful leave these following observations about: THE PHILIPPINES IN GENERAL AND THE PLACES I KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT.

first of all for anyone especially a SINGLE MALE ALONE coming to the philippines needs to be aware of this general warning above taken from an i think american ex-pat's website: "

let me repeat the core comments of this which are my experience entirely in what will soon be my fifth trip to "the islands"--CORRUPTON AS SOCIETYS NORM, PERSASIVE DISHONESTY, CONSTANTLY BEING OVERCHARGED FOR GOODS AND SERVICES, CONSTANT ATTEMPTED SCAMS AND EXPATS BEING VIEWED AS A "WALKING ATM MACHinE"

just always keep this in mind. it can be a shock to the uninitiated.

to me the only relatively safe place to be in the philipines the only place that offer rewards versus known risk is the visayas. (manila big scary city, northern luzon scary weather, scary and confusing transport; mindanao not safe for foreigners due to political violence)

cebu should be used only as a transport hub.

on to places like camiguin (technically i suppose mindanano but practically visayan)--bantayan (santa fe) and alona beach (pangalo island bohol)--

the most famous beaches are also somewhat central philippines: borocay and palawan (pureta princesa primarily) i confess i have not been to them tho i hope to get there this time; i just assumed them too expensive and crowded but that may not be the case--if yer going to book on line for borocay i recommend "hostleworld" tho the pricing structure can be a bit confusing; basically the more people the cheaper i think.

now specific recommendations:

camiguin: sneakers restaurant is sadly no mas. rip. ordering "behind the fan" was a sentimental experience; the menu was posted on a wall with a rotating fan in front of it so you could only see what to order when the fan turned to one side.

across the street (this is mambajamo) sp. now the main town--is still ralphs pizza (which for some reason i keep referring to as percy's) i think it is a favorite of foreigners tho i could never see anything actually going on there. there are two internet cafes, the one closer to the water is the more funky but the one in the orange building back down the street seems to have marginally better luck connecting tho i assume its the same service and connections generally are awful.

the places to stay are: melindas wonderful jasmine by the sea "its hard to leave jasmine by the sea" says the lonely planet guide and melinda hold me once ever since lp reviewed them they never even bother taking reservations cause they're mostly "fully booked" i've never actually stayed there before but my friends and companions have and i hang out there a lot ; and i did rent a really nice house just down the beach from melinda once.

just go there and see if anything's available. (mindful that the most famous phrase in the philippines is "not available")

the rooms across the street from paras resort; for food for dining paras has this huge covered open air restaurant with a good menu of interesting and affordable items but the rooms are overpriced and mostly manilans staying there. across teh street and up just a bit are two separate places with rooms i don't think they have names just signs tacked on trees "rooms for rent" that are about half or a third the cost of paras and more private, personal and less cinder block.

places to visit: the volcano, white beach, white island, the hot springs, the "tree house", any one there should be able to tell you how to get to these things.

how to get to camiguin: that is the problem as the small airlines that serviced places like this are all out of business or on very limited routes; at my last check there were no longer any flights to camiguin; (so sad)--and i was told paras is running a fast boat from cebu; otherwise you have to take more circumvented boat routes.

alona beach: to me alona is the best compromise of accessibility, a nice beach and affordability but it is beset with the usual ratio of rudeness of the locals based on how much constant contact they have with foreigners; as the foreigners on camiguin are pretty much residents or long term visitors; the people are sweet and safe and its a nice insular economy i have commented on elsewhere; alona is all hucksters and people trying to get you to do touristy things but they can be ignored relatively easily and things are unthreatening here as well and another big plus: the weather, the places here don't get wiped out in typhoons, the waters getting here just get a little choppier.

actually one of my reasons for going thru manila was to get a plane rather than a boat from cebu because last time i took a boat form cebu i thought it was going to be wiped out in rough waters. it was pretty hairy.

alona beach is sort of a crescent that splits with a road that dead ends right at the beach; its mostly dive centers but you don't have to do that. lots of european tourists/divers here. the rougher end of the beach spread to your right and the more elegant nite spots to your left and at the confluence of these is my favorite place: the spiked coconut bar; of my friend (i think i can call her my friend) marcosa; who has this tiny tiny tiny little (i think it used to be a bathroom for the building next door)--space on the beach which at nite she unchains, sets up chairs and tables on her little spot of beach sand under some sprung up lights, and you can hear a live band every nite!!! (most every nite anyway)--tho things don't get started till quite late; if you go by during the day you wouldn't know anything was there and many people staying down at the more elegant end of the beach never even know about the spiked coconut but CHECK IT OUT!!!!

the guitarist playing here (the "band" are just filler)--is very good; as a fellow musician in my opinion this guy could walk into any club anywhere in the world and "fill in" for just about anybody short of eric clapton.

the taxis from tagbilarn will cost maybe more than the boat from cebu but that's the price you pay; getting a ride back is more difficult and be sure to have whoever you are staying at arrange it for you (tho expect you may be charged additional for this)--

what else? oh there are still places to stay back away from the beach front but within walking distance for around or or only slightly more than 1000-1500p a nite.

bantayan: hmm haven't been here for awhile but my favorite place. hard to get to which makes it desirable but, uh hard to get to. ill let you figure out how to get there. but once there; a nice choice to hang out is tristans, (ask for nancy the owner)--right down the beach from there is roberts fancy restraunt on the beach which is featured in lonely planet--be aware robert will expect you to listen to his tales tho they are excellent tales. he also has a cheaper restaurant downtown; there is virtually no motorized traffic here, (a huge plus for me) pedicabs instead of tricycles but you can walk anywhere you want anyway (this is santa fe by the way; santa fe, bantayan)

my favorite place to stay tho is budyong beach resort on the other side of the beach, well beautiful ocean breezes here and nice little nipa huts right on the beach

paradise with an ocean view.

is that it? is that all? i guess.

staying in cebu: don't get stuck in cebu; taxi costs will eat you up and taxi drivers will drive you crazy and rip you off without a local with you. and the only places to go are the airport the seaport and the two big malls. i like ayala much better than sm. there is a new third mall before sm i forgot the name of that is small and only accessible by taxi, trying to be a upscale restaurants place. but to date there's not much there.

anything new i find out from this trip coming up i will come back on here an post next time.

so i recommend: marcosa's spiked coconut on alona, nancy's "tristans', roberts various restaurants and budyong beach resort on bantayan and bantayan in general as the best beach i know. and camiguin as a nice little safe insular community but beware it doesn't really have a beach, there is no white sand on camiguin, just a little sandbar you can be catamaran out to. and on camiguin melinda and her jasmine by the sea and the rooms across the road form paras and paras for dining not rooms.


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photo by: TravellinChic