Before the Christmas holidays, I decided to take a day-long roadtrip to nearly the Southern-most tip of Cebu island, with my main objective being a visit to the Mantalongon market up in the mountains also referred to as the “Baguio of Cebu”. But there were other pleasant surprises during this 10 hour excursion, which had to take place on a Thursday, the designated market day at Mantalongon. We left Cebu City at 4:30 a.m. to ensure that we covered the 120+ kilometers quickly enough to get to the market by 7 a.m…
A quick stop at a roadside Julie’s Bakery that was open at 5:30 a.m. yielded a large bag of freshly-baked, medium-sized pan de sal that were surprisingly good. Not too sweet (though not salty either) and just out of the oven, they beat a lot of Manila pan de sals by a noticeable margin. And at PHP2 a piece, they were reasonably priced. I think I ate almost a dozen.
Once we reached the town of Dalaguete (pronounced da-la-get), we turned West and climbed up fairly narrow and often rough roads to about 1,000+ meters above sea level. There were several stands of beautiful hardwood trees and pines as well, and the mist/clouds were all around us. One of the amazing human sights on the way up were the local habal-habal or motorcycles for hire, which often ferried as many as 4 or five passengers up the nasty roads. I never managed to get a clear photo (we were bouncing around too much ourselves) of the habal-habal, but my favorite one had a driver, with 2 kids in front of him, and 2-3 adults behind him, the furthest being this 70+ year-old likely grandmother who had a majority of her rear end hanging over thin air. The unspoken thoughts of everyone in our vehicle included the ridiculous safety risks we were witnessing (no helmets, everyone hanging on for dear life) as well as the seemingly insensitive view that if the “lola” fell off, it wouldn’t be as bad as if they lost some of the younger passengers…
It was nice to see areas preserved as forests, and the trees sending out branches to reach for space that received sunlight. I imagine the whole country used to be blanketed in foliage like this, but today it is a rarity indeed.
A frequent sight along these rough roads were students trekking several kilometers up or down the mountain to attend school.
When we finally got to the Mantalongon vegetable trading center, we were amongst several trucks from the city, all coming to load up on vegetables at the cavernous, gym-like area where deals for humongous baskets of vegetables were completed. More on the market, up next.