Sinulog alternatives
TRAVEL UPDATE - Marlinda Angbetic Tan (The Freeman) - January 15, 2015 - 12:00am

It's the second week of January -- Sinulog time! The unprecedented number of devotees who attended the first novena dawn Mass for the Holy Child assuaged worry warts who feared a slack this year due to the Pope's visit that excluded Cebu and the Sinulog.  It's all systems go for Sinulog 2015!!!

It's the 35th anniversary of this Grand Parade celebration and the 450th anniversary of the "kaplag" or discovery of the holy icon among the burned ruins of the native village in Sugbo. It's a banner year and definitely a considerable group of devotees and balikbayans will be filling the metro's facilities and amenities up to capacity. Time to look for alternatives to what will be crowded places.

For those who want to stay away from the hurly-burly of the festive routes, let me share with you some of the other venues within this hectic week, even on Sinulog Sunday:

I was a guest of honor for "Sulog" - Mugna Sugbo's Sinulog art exhibit  - in Bluewater Maribago, Buyong, Mactan Island. (The exhibit runs until February 7). I was pleasantly surprised to partake of their usual Saturday buffet with a Barrio Fiesta theme.  The salad bar consists of "guso" and "lato" seaweeds, shredded jackfruit (langka), cucumber (pipino) and raddish (labanos), among others. The main dish winners are delicious goat kaldereta, the tender lechon and the baked oysters. Desserts include the exquisite "tibok-tibok" Pampango delicacy of fresh carabao's milk and the staple halo-halo spread.

The musicale of old Cebuano harana songs and hilarious novelty numbers (with the Max Surban & Yoyoy Villame stamp) as performed by a relatively young group of singers and musicians, always elicits nostalgia among the diners. A suite of native dances follows the musicale. No wonder, according to the resort's Erik Monsanto, they can't change their Saturday native theme -- their regulars look forward to nostalgia Saturday.  Check this out!

Another alternative - nearer and higher up - is the "Sugbusog," Sinulog offering of the five-star Marco Polo Plaza atop Nivel Hills. This year, culinary expert Jessica Rosello-Avila has concocted "Inato Lang" - comfort food during fiestas of yore.  Hence, you can have a crunchy mouthful of "kinusitkusit nga nukos," (deep fried shredded squid) Bantayan Island's fresh offerings of grilled mollusks that are as varied as they are sweet and tender, "balbacua" (a uniquely Cebuano take on oxtail and tripe stew), "puso," (rice cooked in woven leaf), barbecued chicken gizzard, and "hiniponan nga baboy" (choice pork cut in bite sizes flavored with shrimp paste), among other dishes. Of course, they still offer their usual buffet spreads of Japanese and Chinese culinary favorites...making the Marco Polo buffet the best in town.

On the 17th, Sinulog Saturday, you can also hie off to Alpha Suites where they have a native buffet for only P550.00 , with a lechon carving.  This is a special Sinulog treat.  Their usual stone grill (a healthy way of eating my family discovered in New Zealand early last year - and we are so happy to know is locally available) and boodle package of fresh seafood and various meat to be eaten communal style and without utensils -- a la soldiers' boodle fight meals -- are attractive choices for group diners who are out for good food that are relatively  inexpensive. Excellent service, too.

So, if you want to escape the noise and the frenzy of the Sinulog crowd, why not check out the places I have listed here? You may be in for a lovely surprise with your family and friends.

Pit Senyor!

mayen8tan@yahoo.com.

ALPHA SUITES BANTAYAN ISLAND BARRIO FIESTA BLUEWATER MARIBAGO CEBU AND THE SINULOG CEBUANO ERIK MONSANTO GRAND PARADE SINULOG
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