Australia and South Pacific travel blog


Friday , February 15 dawned with cloudy skies after some rough seas and rain overnight . At about 7 AM we arrived in Cebu harbor . This is not a very appealing area as it is industrial . Pete and I were very happy to see the Philippines and were scheduled to take a half day tour . The skies remained overcast and it was quite windy . This was fortunate for us as the temperature did not rise too much . Once the ship was cleared by the famous " local authorities " we disembarked to yet another local welcome . These dancers however , were fully clothed unlike at previous ports . Actually , the spectacle was very attractive and interesting . Upon arriving at our designated tour vehicle we were pleasantly surprised . Our bus was actually modern and AIR CONDITIONED ! Best of all , our guide spoke almost perfect American English . ( I mention that since we are almost completely surrounded by Brits and Aussies .) As to the language , these islands were greatly influenced by the American occupation for a period of 40 years . It is most striking to see English signs and hear so much English in so foreign an environment . Our tour was very pleasant but of course there is so much of the squalor one encounters in this part of the world . One stop was the Cathedral of Santo Nino ( Holy Child ) . Apparently it is the custom to celebrate the Child after Christmas with a day of Masses each Friday . These begin early in the morning and continue every hour until evening . The church is very crowded and the folks seem quite devout . It has the feeling of a family festival . One may purchase special candles from uniformed candle ladies . They will take your name , light a candle for you as well as pray for your intention . Interesting business venture . Our guide cautioned us not to "give alms " to the begging children as they are Muslim and from a neighboring island .On the church grounds is a kiosk containing Magellan's Cross . He landed there in April 1521 and converted the natives to Christianity . Not all it would seem took to the new religion as he was killed 3 weeks later . I suspect that some part of the population must be comfortable as there are huge shopping malls which seem to draw a crowd judging from the full parking lots . As you would imagine , we took a pass on that and returned to our ship . To those concerned for our safety , we are well chaperoned and protected . I have noticed for the ordinary folks on the street those rubber flip-flops we call shower shoes are the foot wear of choice . One of our tour stops was a beautiful Taoist temple . It was in much better repair than those we saw in China . Maybe that is because it was located in " Beverly Hills " . At 6 PM w again set sail and are at sea until Sunday morning when we shall arrive in Manila .

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