Manila and Cebu Island, The Philippines: A wonderful holiday!


December 2012


We went to see Magellan’s Cross when we were on Cebu Island.



The one we saw is a replica of the wooden cross planted on Cebu Island on 14 April 1521 to mark the beginning of the Christianization of the island. The original was destroyed when Cebuanos turned against the Spaniards 17 days later. There is no record as to when the present cross was erected though there are allusions that this was done around 1565.

To the cross was attributed such miraculous powers that the faithful chipped away silvers to take as medicine or to use as an amulet. To protect the cross, it was encased in another hollow wooden cross. An octagonal brick pavilion was built in 1834 to house it.

Cebu 3, Magellans Cross – Malapascua Island, Visayan Sea




I felt that that was a good way to contribute to the old and needy at Christmas. Our guide explained that this happened every year at the Christmas season.

They work with the Mayor of Cebu to make this a success.



Youth waiting to take part in a game….


Gifts waiting to be given away…







When I was tired and moved to a bench, people made way for me….

a seat

At the airport, in a bread shop, at a cafetaria, at a taxi stand, people FALL IN LINE, that is, queued for their turn.

a fall in line

The toilets, called ‘Customer Lounge’ or ‘Comfort Room’ were clean, dry, had tissue paper and best of all, a smiling attendant! This was normal.

a toilet

This restaurant in Cebu City, next to the Marriott Hotel where we stayed, offered UNLIMITED rice and UNLIMITED iced tea.

a unlimited

There was this special place that sold ice cream, with the flavours given such ingenious names!

The flavour on the right is for the Heart Broken!

a icecr

These say, “Love is Blind” and “Will you marry me”….

a icecream

Most of all, I will remember the people! They smile and the smile lights up their eyes because their warmth and joy at serving you or meeting you is genuine, straight from the heart….

a smiling people


The Philippines is mainly Catholic but with a vibrant Protestant sector, and the people are deeply religious. In Metro Manila and on Cebu Island, the Catholic Church is ever present, and the mass is held in shopping complexes.

This is publicity for a Catholic healing service.

a healing mass

Christmas is, thus, celebrated widely, and this is also reflected in shopping enters, hotels and other places, where religious and commercial interests coincide.

The variety of Christmas trees is amazing but why are some RED?

a trees

WHITE is alright as it could have been snowing….

a tree mktmkt

Look at the other Christmas trees…

a tree1

a tree3

a mkt3

This is the Christmas tree in the lobby of the apartment my son stays in.

a tree forbes

The angels are not forgotten, which is what happens in Malaysia…

a mkt2

a angels1

Those angels you see include REAL young women all dressed up as angels. This is at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel.

a angel shangrila

Here is a closer look!

a angels girls

This was placed in front of a mirror in the same hotel, in a side lobby.

a angel2

They did not leave out the traditional manger scene. This was at the Manila International Airport (now known as the Ninoy Acquino International Airport).

a manger

Here are other images of Christmas.

a santa1

a ldmk2

a landmark1




One of the places we visited on Cebu Island was The Heritage of Cebu Monument.

Manila-Cebu 2 259

THE HERITAGE OF CEBU MONUMENT – located on the original Plaza Parian, the Heritage of Cebu Monument showcases the significant and symbolic events in the history of Cebu from the time of Rajah Humabon to the recent beatification of Cebuano martyr Pedro Calungsod. The monumental sculptural tableau is the work of national artist Edgardo Castrillo. Construction began on July 1997 and inaugurated in Dec. 8, 2000.

Heritage Of Cebu Monument…/Heritage_of_Cebu_Monument.html – Cached

Manila-Cebu 2 258

Commissioned by the Archdiocese of Cebu, the Heritage of Cebu monument is a tableau built by renowned artist Eduardo Castrillo featuring some of Cebu’s important heritage sites and events. The monument, which was then turned over to the city government, was in turn…..turned over to the officials of Barangay Parian.

The monument is located at the Parian district specifically at the former plaza across the Parian Fire Station.

This fire station, built in the 1950s, stands at the very site where the St. John the Baptist church, which was demolished during the Spanish colonial period, once stood.

Cebu Heritage of Cebu Monument – Experience Cebu, Cebu – Cached

Here is the Parian fire station.

Manila-Cebu 2 255

Manila-Cebu 2 254

Parian got its name from the word “pari-pari” meaning to barter or trade, according to scholar and historian Resil Mojares. It was where the wealthy Chinese merchants of old lived and held lavish events. A few homes constructed during the 17th to 19th century remain standing today.


One of the sculptures depicted Ferdinand Magellan, Portuguese explorer.

Magellan’s expedition of 1519–1522 was the first to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean (then named “peaceful sea” by Magellan; the passage being made via the Strait of Magellan) , and the first to cross the Pacific. His expedition completed the first circumnavigation of the earth, although Magellan himself did not complete the entire voyage, being killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines.

Manila-Cebu 2 250

Magellan is on the right; and on the left is Henrique, an interesting man. Said to be a slave from the Malay Archipelago (Malaya), he is said to have become a Christian and a friend of Magellan’s.

More interesting to me is the man in the centre. Look at the next photo. That man in the centre has a PIG-TAIL. Yes, he is a CHINAMAN of the Ching dynasty.

Manila-Cebu 2 249




Wherever you are, it is not uncommon to see a traffic warden or marshal on duty, directing traffic, monitoring the traffic, moving vehicles along, and generally keeping a watchful eye on everything (including would-be criminals).

All are armed.

Outside the entrance of a residential area in Metro Manila, a security guard stands, on duty.

a trfc 1

A traffic warden is on duty. Notice his pistol?

a trfc 2

Tourist police,including the policewoman, at Rizal Park are friendly and armed.

a tourist pol

Traffic marshal, gun at the hip.

a marshal

The guard at the gate of Fort Santiago…

a guard gun

That’s the same man, front view.

a guard old style

K-9 handler with sniffer dog: friendly with tourists, but serious in his duty…Yes, he is armed, too.

a frndly K9



Jeepneys are the most popular means of public transport  in the Philippines.

a jp1

The word jeepney is a combination of Jeep (made by Chrysler) and Jitney (something between a taxi and a bus).

When American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of WWII, hundreds of surplus jeeps were sold or given to the Filipinos.  They were stripped down and altered; metal roofs were added for shade; and (some) decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors and chrome-plated hood and other ornaments. They reconfigured the jeeps to accommodate more passengers and classified them as passenger-type jeeps. Its size, length and passenger capacity had increased as it evolved though the years. The non-extended, original-seat configuration jeeps were labeled owners, short for owner-type jeep, and used non-commercially. (From Wikipedia)

The original Jeep


Present day Jeepneys

Here is the common man’s means of transport, a Jeepney.

a jp2

a jp3

If a jeepney is full up, you stand at the back and hold on….


To get out, you leave at the back.


IS IT FREE RIDING IN A JEEPNEY? Of course not! It’s relatively cheaper than a taxi and there are far more of them than buses, so it is the most popular and convenient form of public transport.

How much does it cost? It depends on how far you go.

Payment of fare works on the honesty principle. You, a passenger, asks the one next to you to pass the fare on to the driver. The money goes from you to the passenger beside you, to the next passenger, and the next one….until it reaches the driver.

Any change will come back from the driver in the same way: from driver to passenger to passenger….until you get your change.

*One of our regrets is that we did not get to ride in a jeepney.

Some jeepneys are known as Toyo-Benz. The engine is from Toyota and there is a Mercedes Benz badge in front, as you can see in the photo below.





In early December this year (2012), my wife and I spent several days on holiday in the Philippines, specifically in Metro Manila and Cebu Island. We were at first taken aback by the relatively tight security measures we encountered.

For instance, on arrival at a hotel in a taxi, the following procedures were carried out by security personnel:

1 The taxi driver unwound his window and handed over his taxi-driver’s ID.

2 He pulled the lever to open the boot and a security guard and his dog examined the boot, searching for drugs but also bombs.

3 One man put a mirror on a long handle under the taxi to check for bombs.

4 After we had got out of the taxi, and proceeded to the hotel entrance, we put our bags through an X-ray machine, the kind used at airports.

5 As each of us passed through a metal detector, we were patted down by security personnel.

(Metal detectors are extremely helpful in preventing terrorism and hijacking since security personnel at the airport can detect every possible deadly weapons and tools made from metals. Some metal detectors in airports can also detect explosive materials.)

All security personnel had a pistol,  shotgun or an automatic weapon.

The dog was handled by someone from the K-9 unit.

Manila-Cebu 2 362

Below is a photo of a dog-handler and his sniffer dog, taken from far away.

a K9

Sniffer dog at work…

a sniffer dog

Vehicle belonging to the Emergency Response Unit.

a sec van

Guards and dog waiting for the next vehicle to arrive…

Manila-Cebu 2 363

It is not only at the hotel that you encounter such tight security.


I didn’t take photos of them, for security’s sake.

I did ask a senior manager why there was such tight security. No, they were not concerned about common bank robbers but were wary of Muslim extremist groups that tried to finance their activities by robbing banks.

a bank

EVEN TOURIST POLICE ARE ARMED…They may be friendly (the Filipino is warm and friendly) but they know their duty.

a tourist police


Davao is in the south, on Mindanao island, where both Maoist rebels and Muslim terrorists are active.

The City of Davao (Cebuano: Dakbayan sa Dabaw, Tagalog: Lungsod ng Dabaw) is the largest and de facto capital city of Mindanao in the Philippines. Its international airport and seaports are among the busiest cargo hubs in the Philippines. It is a part of Metro Davao, the third most populous metropolitan area in the country. It is also the center of trade, commerce, and industry in Mindanao.



The Examiner

Philippine police kill alleged Malaysian terrorist

December 15, 2012 | Modified: December 15, 2012 at 6:31 am
Photo -   A Philippine National Police investigator reveals an improvised explosive device (IED) from a backpack which a Malaysian member of a terrorist group Jemaah Islamiya was trying to detonate Friday in Davao city in southern Philippines, Saturday Dec. 15, 2012. A suspected terrorist, identified as Mohd Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar, was fatally shot by police late Friday following a scuffle inside a hotel where he and his Filipino wife had checked in, Davao city police chief Ronald de la Rosa said. (AP Photo/Karlos Manlupig)
A Philippine National Police investigator reveals an improvised explosive device (IED) from a backpack which a Malaysian member of a terrorist group Jemaah Islamiya was trying to detonate Friday in Davao city in southern Philippines, Saturday Dec. 15, 2012. A suspected terrorist, identified as Mohd Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar, was fatally shot by police late Friday following a scuffle inside a hotel where he and his Filipino wife had checked in, Davao city police chief Ronald de la Rosa said. (AP Photo/Karlos Manlupig)

The suspected terrorist, identified as Mohd Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar, was fatally shot by police late Friday following a scuffle inside a hotel where he and his Filipino wife had checked in, Davao city police chief Ronald de la Rosa said.

De la Rosa said that as the couple was checking out, he tried to grab a backpack that the woman was holding containing a homemade bomb. Officers, meanwhile, tried to seize the man, who broke free and threatened to detonate the device.

“You want the bomb? You want the bomb? Shoot me! Shoot me! I will explode the bomb,” de la Rosa quoted the man as saying. This prompted officers and people in the hotel lobby to scamper out for safety, the police chief said.

The 26-year-old Malaysian and his wife then ran into the street, where they hugged each other as the man raised a cellphone, threatening to use it to trigger the bomb, de la Rosa said.

The man grabbed the backpack from his wife and ran toward a park full of Friday night revelers, leaving the woman, who was taken into custody by police, de la Rosa told The Associated Press by telephone from Davao, about 980 kilometers (612 miles) south of Manila, the capital.

Alert guards locked the park’s gate, and the man, still raising his hand that held the cellphone, ran into a packed restaurant, where a sniper shot him twice in the chest. The man did not immediately fall, so other officers fired at him and killed him, de la Rosa said.

The bomb, which was subsequently defused, was fashioned from a mortar shell, he said.

Philippine police kill alleged Malaysian terrorist


The Mindanao Examiner

Malaysian JI bomber killed in Davao City
Saturday, December 15, 2012 10:41:52 AM

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 15, 2012) – Philippine police shot dead a Malaysian member of the Jemaah Islamiya after he threatened to blow up an improvised explosive while being arrested in the southern city of Davao.

Police said government agents were trying to accost Mohammad Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar and his Filipina wife, Anabel Lee, in Sampaguita hotel where they checked Friday night in when the Malaysian pulled out a cell phone and threatened to detonate a bomb they were carrying in a bag.

The duo then ran to a park nearby and police commandos surrounded the place until a sniper shot the foreigner. The woman was arrested and is being interrogated by authorities, according to the local police chief Ronald dela Rosa.

Police recovered a 60mm mortar bomb from the bag of the foreigner.

Little was known about the foreigner and his motive and the local military officials would not talk to journalists and did not give any statement about the operation. (Mindanao Examiner)


Free Malaysia Today

Philippine police shoot dead Malaysian carrying bomb

December 15, 2012

The Malaysian suspect was killed in Davao after he threatened to blow up an explosive device in a rucksack, city police chief Ronald de la Rosa said.

MANILA:  A man with alleged ties to Islamic militants was shot dead in the Philippines after he threatened to set off a backpack bomb in a stand-off with local police, an official said today.

A suspect identified by police as Mohammad Noor Fikrie of Malaysia was killed in the southern city of Davao after he threatened to blow up an explosive device in a rucksack, city police chief Ronald de la Rosa said.

“‘If you arrest or shoot me I have a bomb. I will explode it,’” de la Rosa quoted the suspect as telling police at the lobby of a hotel during a three-and-a-half-hour stand-off.

The authorities had raided the hotel after a tip-off that one of its guests was planning a “terror” attack in the city of 1.4 million people, de la Rosa said, without elaborating on the source of the information.

He said the Malaysian was a suspected member of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamic militant group blamed for attacks in Southeast Asia including the Bali bombing in Indonesia in 2002 that claimed 202 lives.

“Take-down orders were given to SWAT snipers but (it) could not be implemented since the area was overcrowded,” de la Rosa told reporters by telephone.

While in the hotel lobby the suspect brandished a mobile phone, which, he said was the trigger for the explosives contained in the backpack that was being carried by his Filipina wife, de la Rosa said.

The man later took the rucksack from the woman and ran out of the hotel and into a nearby park, where he was shot and killed by police snipers, the police official added.

De la Rosa said police arrested the woman, Anabelle Nieva Lee, and disarmed an “improvised explosive device” that included a mortar shell retrieved from the backpack.

The authorities are investigating the woman’s possible involvement with Jemaah Islamiyah, de la Rosa said, adding that police believe she had converted to Islam when she married the Malaysian.

Philippine authorities said a small number of Jemaah Islamiyah militants have taken refuge with Filipino Muslim militants operating on the southern island of Mindanao.

Philippine police shoot dead Malaysian carrying bomb


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