Casa Santa: Santa Claus Museum

Merry Christmas from the Philippines!

Casa Santa Santa Claus Museum

The Philippines celebrates the longest Christmas season in the world starting from September (-ber months) until January (Feast of the Three Kings). It just briefly pause to make way for Halloween, All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day. Crazy!…I know.

But, there’s a place just 30 minutes away from Metro Manila that feels like Christmas all year round, it’s called – Casa Santa which is located in Antipolo City (full address below). It is a house full of Santa Claus collection. In fact, it is one of the most extensive private collection of Santa Claus items in the world. It contains over 3,000 Santas in every imaginable size and configuration. It has been featured several times by local and international media.

The place is perfect for photo-ops. We went there with my 4 month old cute little nephew and had fun posing for pictures, exploring the Santa collections and wearing Santa costumes.

Casa Santa Contact Details

Address: 276-279 San Jose Extension, Antipolo City, Rizal
The entrance fee is P180. Check the latest rates here: Casa Santa rates. They said in their website that the tour last for 1 hour but they don’t strictly enforce it when we were there. Maybe they’ll be more strict with that rule during peak season.
Phone number: Makati: +632-576-4358 / +63917-4358 or Antipolo: +632-584-3199 / +63917-8912208
Website: Casa Santa website
Email: info@jardindemiramar.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/casasantamuseum

Casa Santa Claus Museum schedule
Casa Santa Museum schedule

12 Must-See Cebu City Tourist Spots that Made Me Love Cebu Even More

Being the oldest city in the Philippines, Cebu City boasts of a lot of tourist spots that everyone will enjoy. My family actually lived here for a while but I was still a baby then and can’t remember anything. It was my 2nd time here as a tourist. My first visit was just for about 5-6 hours since we are bound to Bohol that afternoon. So this time around, I checked out some of the popular tourist spots around Cebu.

1. Cebu City Tourist Spots – Fort San Pedro

From the airport, we just dropped our luggage to Crown Regency Hotel and head to Fort San Pedro. Fort San Pedro was still closed when we arrived, so we just killed time by posing for pictures in the park (Plaza Indepedencia) just right across it.

Fort San Pedro is like a smaller version of Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila. You can do a walking tour inside and check out the collections from the Spanish era.

2. Cebu City Tourist Spots – Cebu Heritage Monument

Since Casa Gorordo was closed as it is being used for the relief operations, we decided to check out other Cebu City tourist spots within the area.

Cebu Heritage Monument is about 15-20 minutes walk from Fort San Pedro. It is a wonderful sculpture about the historical events of Cebu.

Cebu City Tourist Spots 06
Cebu City Tourist Spots 05

3. Cebu City Tourist Spots – Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

Just a few steps away from Cebu Heritage Monument is the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House. Peeking through the doors and windows, I saw a lot of antique furnitures. We didn’t get inside since it is about to rain and we don’t have any umbrella so I just took the shot below and hailed a taxi right away.

Cebu City Tourist Spots 07

4. Cebu City Tourist Spots – CnT Lechon

When you are in Cebu, it is a must that you taste Cebu’s famous lechon – roasted pig. Lechon We went to CnT to satisfy our cravings for the tasty lechon. CnT did not fail us. The skin is crispy delicious and the meat is flavorful. The restaurants looks like a canteen, nothing fancy, but it is one of the long time favorite here in Cebu.

Another popular lechon is from Zubuchon, we bought one in the airport to bring home in Manila. Zubuchon was acclaimed by the Anthony Bourdain as the best he ever tasted. I wonder if he also tasted CnT’s lechon since I like it better than Zubuchon’s. But since the one I tasted from Zubuchon was frozen and reheated, I would have to defer my judgment on which is the best.

Cebu City Tourist Spots 08

5. Cebu City Tourist Spots – SM City Cebu

The sun is scorching hot and we were really tired and sleepy so we decided to make SM our pit stop to rest while waiting for the check-in time on our hotel. SM City Cebu has all the stores that you would expect from SM and some local Cebuano shops and restaurants. Perfect for shopaholics and window shoppers. It is larger than most mall in Manila, actually it is the 4th largest shopping mall in the Philippines according to Wikipedia.

I was also able to check-out the Northwing, which caters to the leisure market and upper class customers, during the meet-up with iLearners.

6. Cebu City Tourist Spots – Tabo-an Market

If you are looking for the best priced dried fish, Tabo-an Market is that place. You can buy here the famous danggit of Cebu. They sell all kinds of dried fish and squids. Make sure to haggle for the best price. They would seal the dried fish in plastic and you can also request it to be backed in a box so that you can easily transport it back home.

Please note that you would definitely leave this place smelling like dried fish so plan your trip accordingly. 🙂

7. Cebu City Tourist Spots – Taoist Temple

Taoist Temple is one of the popular Cebu City tourist spots. You’ll see why from This is my 2nd time here and it still look as magnificent as ever. Upon entry, they would hand you out a paper stating the rules. One major rule is you should not take pictures of the altar. Just follow the rules and you’ll be fine. You will also have a great view of Cebu City here.

8. Cebu City Tourist Spots – Mactan Shrine

Mactan Shrine, located on Mactan Island which is where the airport is, is another must-see tourist spot in Cebu. It is composed of The Lapu-Lapu Shrine, Magellan Shrine and a marker for Battle of Mactan. While we are here, we saw a lot of cute little kids wearing Santa Claus costumes. Apparently, kids from different towns and schools will  have a Christmas presentation. Yeah, Christmas is really just around the corner.

Cebu City Tourist Spots – Lantaw Native Restaurant Busay

This is one of the best spot to have your dinner and cap off the night. It provides an amazing and scenic view of Metro Cebu. The delicious and reasonably prices food here perfectly match the great view. This is a perfect chill out place for family and friends.

Cebu City Tourist Spots – Basilica Del Sto Niño Cebu

I was saddened to hear in the news that the bell tower of Basilica Del Sto Niño Cebu was badly damaged due to the earthquake that happened a few months ago. It is the oldest church in the Philippines. Devotees flock here during its feast which is known as the Sinulog Festival, one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines.

Cebu City Tourist Spots – Magellan’s Cross

You haven’t been to Cebu if you don’t have a picture with the Magellan’s Cross. The cross is in a small chapel located just a few steps outside the Basilica Del Sto Niño Cebu. The ladies wearing yellow clothes would sell candles for P50 and they would perform the Sinulog dance while praying to Sto. Niño for you.

Sadly due to the recent earthquake, the chapel and the cross were also damaged and are now supported by wood to prevent it from collapsing.

Cebu City Tourist Spots – Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is another beautiful church in Cebu. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Cebu. It is just a 5-10 mins walk from Basilica Del Sto Niño Cebu. It is also walking distance to Cebu Heritage Monument and Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House.

We didn’t get inside as we need to check-out from our hotel and do the Sky Adventure Day Tour.

Cebu City Tourist Spots 59

Cebu City Tourist Spots 60

These are some of the must see tourist spots in Cebu. I created separate posts on other tourist spots we visited in Cebu that you also might want to check out:

Exploring Cebu Nightlife
Whale Shark Watching in Oslob, Cebu
Crown Regency Hotel and Towers Cebu: Classy Hotel and Adventure Park in One

There are other Cebu City tourist spots that I want to check out too, which are part of our original itinerary, but wasn’t able to visit. I guess this is a great excuse to come back again 😀 If you are creating an itinerary for your Cebu trip, here are some more places you can Google about:

Casa Gorordo
National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Papa Kit’s Marina and Lagoon
Liloan Church
Guitar Factory
Rainforest Park Cebu

Please also share to us in the comments the other places in Cebu that are worth checking out!

This pretty much sums up what I feel about Cebu:

Cebu City Tourist Spots

Thank you Cebu!

Crown Regency Hotel and Towers Cebu: Classy Hotel and Adventure Park in One

We stayed in Crown Regency Hotel and Towers Cebu. This hotel is in the center of Cebu City and very near the commercial areas and government institutions.

As their guest, we were able to use both the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, the gym and other hotel amenities.

Non-guest can also avail of their Sky Day Tour package for P888 offered by Crown Regency Hotel and Towers Cebu. For guests, this package can also be availed separately. The ticket is valid for 10am-6pm. This includes access to:

[unordered_list style=”star”]

  • Suncoourt pool with free towel. This is their outdoor pool area. It has 3 swimming pools and 2 jacuzzis.
    Location: Tower 1, 9th floor. 10am-6pm
  • 1 hour mini golf. The mini golf has an underwater glow in the dark theme. We didn’t play golf much because we were enjoying with taking pictures of ourselves here. Look at my shirt..it’s glowing! haha
    Location: Tower 2, 18th floor. Melvin’s Reef 10am-6pm.Crown Regency Cebu mini golf 1
  • Wang Shan Lo. This restaurant offers lunch buffet from 11am-2pm. The delicious oriental food would give you energy for the long adventurous day ahead. Your eyes would also have a feast with the spectacular view of Cebu City’s skyline.
    Location: Tower 2, 20th floor.
  • 15 mins Head and Shoulder Massage. 15 minutes feels like a short time but it is a welcomed break to rejuvenate my energy.
    Location: Tower 2, 19th floor. Snooze Lounge. 10am-6pm.Crown Regency Cebu Day Tour Head and Shoulder Massage 1
  • 1 Sky Ride. You can choose from the 4D Theater Show, Edge Coaster or Skywalk Extreme. If you are feeling adventurous and want a sure  way to fire up your adrenaline, try the Skywalk Extreme and Edge Coaster. Please remember to bring extra money since there are refundable deposit fee for the wrist access tag for the rides (P100), refundable deposit fee for locker to leave your things (P100), socks for skywalk (P20, wear closed shoes so you won’t have to change to their shoes and pay for the socks) and the photos from the official photographer (P150 each).

[/unordered_list]

Crown Regency Hotel and Towers Cebu successfully combined its hotel and adventure park and made it a top tourist destination itself. Check this out when you are in Cebu and you’ll satisfy your taste buds, spike up your adrenaline and pamper yourself all in one place.

Whale Shark Watching in Oslob, Cebu

After partying the night before with some friends from Cebu, I hurriedly went back to the hotel, took a shower and went straight to the Whale Shark Watching in Oslob, Cebu.

Whale Shark Watching in Oslob, Cebu has become popular recently since it is a guaranteed way to see the whale shark which also caused some controversy.

The local government of Oslob are trying to standardize the tour prices, improve the facilities and properly orient the tourists; however, they still have a long way to go to properly establish and implement the rules for whale shark watching just like in Donsol, Sorsogon.

How to Get to Oslob, Cebu

It is just easy to go to Oslob, Cebu. You just have to ride a cab from Cebu City to the South Terminal. From Crown Regency (where we stayed) to South Terminal, the fare is just about P60. Our taxi driver offered to take us to Oslob in just 1 hour but I think it is a bit absurd since Olsob is more than 110km away from Cebu City which mean he has to travel at 110km/hour..nice try Mr. Driver 🙂

Anyway, when you arrive in the South Terminal just go look for the yellow Ceres bus. The airconditioned bus in door 15 is the one going to Oslob. There’s also a non-airconditioned bus plying that route but I was advised by my friends that I should just take the air-conditioned bus so that I could sleep well and it is much faster since the bus won’t be making as many stops.

The bus fare is just P155 one way. You’ll just pay the amount to the bus conductor during transit. You don’t have to reserve tickets before hand since there is always a bus leaving every 15 mins. It is advised to take the 3am bus so that you could get to Oslob by 6am which is when the feeding starts and it is less crowded.

Don’t forget to mention to the conductor to drop you off on Tanaw-an, Oslob, Cebu.

Arrival Oslob, Cebu

The travel time to Oslob, Cebu takes about 3 hours. It is a pretty long ride so I used this opportunity to catch some sleep.

The driver dropped us in Aaron Beach Resort. I believe they’ll earn a commission for every passenger that they bring to the resort.

Whale Shark Oslob Cebu 1
Aaron Beach Resort, Oslob, Cebu

You can choose not to avail of this resort by just going directly to the Whale Shark Briefing Center. They also have public shower there.

Whale Shark Oslob Cebu 2
Whale Shark Briefing Center Oslob, Cebu. Ask the driver to drop you here if you don’t want to pay for the resort

Whale Shark Watching Registration Oslob, Cebu

The staff from Aaron Beach Resort greeted us and informed us about the price whale shark interaction package which is P500. This includes the short boat ride, 2 guides, snorkeling gear, cottage, shower area and locker to place your bags. If you don’t want to snorkel and just prefer to watch the whale shark from the boat, the cost would be P300. The whole whale shark watching would only lasts for 30 mins.

To get your pictures taken during the tour, you have to pay P500. They have their own underwater camera and you can choose to have them use your SD card or just get your copy of the pictures on a CD for P50. As a photographer, I would advise you to use a spare blank SD card or just pay for the CD since you don’t want to corrupt your SD card when you use it in another camera, not to mention that you’ll be submerging this SD card underwater and if something bad happens your holiday photos would also be gone. Just make sure to review the contents of the CD before leaving since you don’t want to get home and find out that the pictures in it are for a different group 😀

After we changed to our swim clothes, we rode a boat and they brought us to the Briefing Center so we won’t have to walk (and possibly to prevent us from getting the services  another resort).

In the briefing center, we just wrote our name and attended a very brief orientation.

Whale Shark Briefing Center Oslob Cebu 1
Whale Shark Briefing Center Oslob, Cebu

I’ve been to Donsol, Sorsogon which is another area to spot the whale sharks in the Philippines. The officials there are more strict and the orientation is much more comprehensive. You’ll have to watch a video explaining the rules for the whale shark interaction and the roles of the boatmen. In Oslob, the orientation just goes like this: A man stands in-front of you and tell you that you are not allowed to use sun block, you should be 4 meters away from the whale shark and you should wear your life jacket at all times. That’s it! It just took a minute to explain say that.

Whale Shark Interaction Oslob, Cebu

After wearing the life vests, we head out to the beach where our boats are waiting. The area where they feed the whale sharks is just a short distance away from the beach.

One guide would be the photographer and the other would be the one pushing you down (since you are floating) so you could have a good picture with the whale shark. There are smaller boats in the area and they are the ones feeding the whale sharks and guiding them to area where we are snorkeling.

The whale sharks are very huge! At first you’ll get scared and intimidated with their size, but as you go on you’ll get used to it and be more willing to have your pictures taken.

After the Whale Shark Interaction

There are other tourist spots in the are that you can visit – Sumilon Island and Tumalog Falls. Aaron Beach Resort offers tours for these locations: P1,500 for Sumilon Island and P120/person for Tumalog Falls, if I remember it right.

We weren’t able to go to these places as we have to go back to the city immediately. But nevertheless, we are already feeling so accomplished to experience what we came for.

Going Back to Cebu City from Oslob, Cebu

To go back to Cebu City, you’ll just take the bus again from the National Highway. It’s just right outside the resort or the tourist center. The fare is still P155 and the last stop would be the South Terminal in Cebu City.

Exploring Cebu Nightlife

After having a feast in Golden Cowrie and completing the purchase of food items for the Christmas Joys, the iLearners gang where kind enough to let me tag along and took me around to the different night spots of Cebu. It is really cool when you hang-out with the locals since they know where the most awesome places are, not just the common tourist traps. Whenever you find yourself in Cebu, do check-out this cool hang-outs.

Exploring Cebu Nightlife: 1st Stop – Ayala Center Cebu – The Terraces

Actually, we just parked here and I didn’t have a chance to look around much but from what I saw this mall is really nice. The look and feel is similar to Greenbelt 3. No offense, but I never thought that they have something like this in Cebu :). It’s my 2nd time in Cebu (1st time was just half-day so I wasn’t able to explore the city that much) but this is the 1st time that I went to the Ayala Center. This is why I love traveling since I discover new places and get a wider perspective about the places that I visit. I’ll never miss Manila when I have a great place like this to shop, dine and unwind.

Ayala Center Cebu - The Terraces
Birds eye view of the Ayala Center Cebu – The Terraces
The Terraces
The Terraces

Exploring Cebu Nightlife: 2nd Stop – Sky Lounge by Blue Elephant

This bar sits on the rooftop of a 19-storey building – Apple One and has a stunning 360 view of Cebu City. It is just across The Terraces which is in Cebu’s business district. In the Sky Lounge, I was treated with the best view of the skyline of Cebu City. The view from the top is so beautiful. There’s no smog that obstruct the view of the buildings and city lights and when you look up you can see the stars shining brightly. This is a rare treat for someone who lives in the polluted capital like me.

When I looked at the menu, I was surprised to see the prices of their drinks. Some drinks are just about P100. Beer is P60. The one I ordered was Mango Margarita which is just P120! In a similar high-end bar in Manila, the price of the margarita drink would easily be P300.

Sky Lounge by Blue Elephant
Sky Lounge by Blue Elephant
Sky Lounge by Blue Elephant: Mango Margarita
Sky Lounge by Blue Elephant: Mango Margarita

I really love this place. This is a perfect palce to chill, unwind and hang-out with good friends. By the way, I learned that this place has just recently opened (just a few days ago… I think) and I’m lucky to have the chance to check it out. I definitely recommend that you visit the Sky Lounge by Blue Elephant when you’re in Cebu City.

Exploring Cebu’s Nightlife: 3rd Stop – Distillery Cebu

I’ve been to the other branches of Distillery in The Fort, Taguig and Jupiter, Makati so this is not something new to me. Their brand image has been kept well in this branch which is the first one outside of Metro Manila. They got the same collection of beers and liquors. The one thing that is different is the party atmosphere here or maybe I just always go to Distillery in Manila way too early so the party haven’t started yet.

The Distillery Cebu is located in Unit H Crossroads Mall, Gov M. Cuenco Ave., Banilad, Cebu City

Exploring Cebu’s Nightlife: 4th Stop – Maya Mexican Restaurant

This is also in Crossroads Banilad and just a few steps away from The Distillery. They told me that this Mexican inspired restaurant has the best tasting mojito in Cebu and I agree! It’s the best mojito that I have had so far. I also have to mention the very delicious melted cheese dip for the nachos. I just can’t get enough of it.

Nachos and Mojito
Nachos and Mojito Maya Mexican Restaurant

Exploring Cebu’s Nightlife: 5th Stop – Starbucks IT Park

After drinking, you should have a coffee, right? The Starbucks in Cebu IT Park is the perfect place to cap the night off. Cebu IT Park is their version of BGC or Eastwood where BPO companies are located. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for a while since it was already 2am and I’ll be going to Oslob by 3am.

I really had a great time exploring Cebu’s nightlife. Hanging out with the locals made the whole experience really exciting since I wouldn’t have known about these great chillout spots if not for them. Moreover, I was able to get oriented about the city, what restaurants to try, places to visit and other travel tips. So, I would like to say a big THANKS to Doyzkie, Marco, Jem, Dave, RJ and Cyrus.

Golden Cowrie Cebu Review

While waiting from SM Supermarket’s personnel confirmation of the stocks for the Christmas Joys, my friends from iLearners brought me to Golden Cowrie for dinner. They highly recommend this restaurant and I simply obliged – who can resist good food, right? This Filipino cuisine restaurant has some really tasty dishes and I don’t feel guilty stuffing myself with these delicious foods. True to its Filipino theme you get to eat your food on a banana leaf and have unlimited serving of rice.

Golden Cowrie Review: Taste

We ordered some Calamares, Crispy Pata, Sizzling Tofu Sisig and Dinuguan. All of it are good but I especially enjoyed eating the Sizzling Tofu Sisig and Dinuguan. I’m very picky when it comes to Dinuguan but this Dinuguan from Golden Cowrie made me nod my head in approval. It’s so delicious!

Golden Cowrie Cebu
Sizzling Tofu Sisig. I never thought that you can make tofu taste this good!
Golden Cowrie Cebu
Golden Cowrie: Crispy Pata

Golden Cowrie Review: Service

The crew were all friendly and accommodating. I’ve never seen such a happy bunch serving in a restaurant during peak hours.

Golden Cowrie Review: Price

I was really surprised to look at the prices of their dishes. Comparing it to the overly commercialized restaurants in Metro Manila, the prices are a lot cheaper and it taste a lot better.

Overall, I really enjoyed my dining experience in Golden Cowrie. How I wish they would have a branch in Metro Manila soon and maintain the same quality of their food and service.

Meet-up with iLearners

On my first night in Cebu, I met-up with Doyzkie and other iLearners to join them in purchasing items for Christmas Joys. I’ve been supporting iLearners for a few years now and even recommended it to my officemates. They are a non-government organization dedicated to fighting rural illiteracy. They are based in Cebu and this is my first time to meet them. Doyzkie is the Founder and President of iLearners and I’ve known him through his photography works in Multiply (I also do photography) and finally got the chance to meet-up this time.

iLearners Cebu
Marky meets Doyzkie
iLearners Cebu
Chillin with iLearners /Photo credit: Marco of http://lamikaayo.com/
iLearners Cebu
Chillin with iLearners /Photo credit: Doyzkie of http://www.doyzkie.com/

Here are some of the grocery items for the iLearners’ Christmas Joys. Too bad I wasn’t able to join them in distributing these.

iLearners Cebu
for iLearners’ Christmas Joys

If you are looking for a credible organization with a good track record to support, you can check-out their website: www.ileanersinc.org and their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/iLearners. These guys have such a big heart for the kids.