Traveling via Airplane during Pandemic + Cebu City Itinerary

While some of the airports in other parts of the globe are starting to have a life again, our Manila airport is still feeling the emptiness brought about by the global pandemic. The moment I stepped inside the Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for my flight to Cebu via AirAsia, I can’t help but feel sad about the current status of our tourism industry. Tourism has been a great support to our economy these past few years and now, as the government tries to revive the local tourism, you need to prepare and submit quite a lot of requirements to able to fly via airplane. And if you are that kind of traveler who hates so much fuss, I’m pretty sure that you’ll just prefer to just stay at home. 

But based on what I experienced previously if you’ll just take time to read and review all the travel requirements, you’re still one ticket away from a beautiful paradise – and this is what I’ll share in this blog.

Flying to Cebu with AirAsia and Mr. Myke Soon of Mix of Everything

Traveling from Metro Manila, which is currently holding a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status, to Cebu, which is at Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), will require you to have the following:
  • Confirmed Airline and Hotel Booking
  • Negative Result RT-PCR Test (if you are staying in Cebu City / test must be taken within 72 hours from scheduled arrival / check Accredited DOH Hospital and Clinics)
  • S-Pass (see here:
  • Travel Coordination Permit

Upon arrival at NAIA, you must have downloaded the Traze App, which is the authorized Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Contact Tracing App. This will be required upon entry at Terminal 3 along with your airline ticket. 

Unlike the previous years, where you have you make your way through the thick crowd, my recent experience was fast, easy and a little, well, refreshing. Given that there are very few air travels that Thursday afternoon, I easily checked in my luggage and find myself walking towards the gate where face-covered and anticipated fellow flyers are waiting. 

The Sad State of our Tourism Industry

I’ll be lying if I didn’t say that I’m not afraid to ride an enclosed vehicle along with other strangers. Good thing, AirAsia Philippines is in one with the government in implementing safety procedures and systematic ways to make sure that we will onboard safely and securely. Upon stepping inside the plane, along with their warmest smile and welcome remarks, I can already hear the other crew members saying that the aircraft was sanitized and passed the sanitation protocol approved by the Airport Health Inspectors.

Once seated, the captain repeated the safety information that AirAsia is doing to make sure that we’ll all be flying safely. The additional information that I can remember includes air quality inside the airplane passes through HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters that can filter out 99.97% of virus-sized particles. I found this article in New York Times that explains visually how the air circulates inside an airplane and I hope this gives you a better understanding of the situation.

We flew from Manila to Mactan Cebu in less than an hour, and unlike NAIA, Mactan-Cebu Airport was almost asleep when we stepped out of the plane. It was just around 8 in the evening and most stores inside the airport were already closed, along with fewer people moving slower than usual as if we are in not the airport.

Cebu City’s Tourism Council welcomed us along with the usual Cebu necklace that reminded us how vibrant and joyful the Queen City of the South used to be before the pandemic. After a few greetings and welcome remarks, we were then guided to our service vehicle that will take us to our 5-day home here in Cebu City, the Seda Hotel - Central Bloc Cebu.

Old City, New Experiences
I was fortunate that when I was told that I’ll be staying in a hotel by myself, I was assigned to this newly opened hotel in Cebu City that offers that same Manila vibe. Seda Hotel in Central Bloc offers a modern accommodation complete with amenities that leisure and business travelers will find convenient. Nestled at the heart of Ayala Land’s newest development in this side of Cebu, Seda Hotel side right beside Ayala Malls Central Bloc, offers additional convenience and relaxation to those who opt to stay here. The area is basically a business district surrounded by high-rise buildings and some other retail shops that draw crowds mostly on weekends.

Welcome to Seda Hotel!

During my stay here, the pool and gym at the rooftop are finally open for guests, but since they only allow a limited number of guests to use these facilities, early reservations are needed. The view up there was really nice and it feels great to be finally out somewhere outside our home. 

My stay here includes breakfast, and since the city is still under MGCQ, they are offering it ala “Service Buffet” style wherein they’ll provide you a menu, where you can pick the food that you want to eat. I guess most of the hotels are doing this style now to still give satisfaction to their guests. Seda’s breakfast selection includes Continental, American, and Filipino, with a choice of drinks from coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and juice.

bai Hotel

If you are looking for a grander hotel, bai Hotel in Mandaue City offers an equally stunning experience topped with a roof deck pool and rooftop bar named Twilight Roof Deck. I didn’t expect it to be that huge and so nice as if it gives me that Shangri-La EDSA feel.

Sunset Experience in Twilight Roof Deck

I had a chance to attend a simple gathering with Air Asia Philippines on their roof deck, and I must say that their food was delicious and truly comforting! From the famous Cebu Lechon to street food delicacy – bait Hotel is definitely one of those family-friendly hotels you should check out when you visit Cebu again.

View from Twilight Roof Deck

Cebu Favorites from Twilight Roof Deck

Old Sites, New Places to Visit
There are three must-visit places I have in my mind when I arrived here in Cebu. Given that I’m a Catholic, I have and will always have Magellan’s Cross and Basilica de Santo Niño in my must-visit places here in Cebu City. 

Basilica de Santo Niño

Not only to see what’s new in the place but to say thank you to the Sto. Nino, who’s been blessing the region and country with so much grace and strength. Sadly, when I visited the place, the changes that the pandemic has brought to the place is really felt all over. There are only a few people allowed in the church and one must abide by the safety protocol just like anywhere. 

Magellan’s Cross

Crowd and Vehicle less Osmeña Boulevard

The festive feel was gone and the whole place felt short of what we usually experience when we go visit this momentous place. Though the basilica was open, the Magellan’s Cross is close to the public.

But unlike those places, Taboan Public Market, with its scenic mountains of dried goods still smells the same and I’m glad that before going back to Manila, I get to buy some good dried Danggit and Pusit, as well as Mango candies from this place. The prices are still pretty cheap too, so yeah, I had a great time bargaining and hoarding some of these delicious treats.

Dried Delicacies in Cebu's Taboan Public Market

Meanwhile, if you are eyeing to see something new, here are some places that are new to me. Please note that my last visit here in Cebu was in 2016, so I might pretty much late in sharing these new sites. But if you find them new or interesting, please let me know! 😊 

Temple of Leah
They say love is such a profound feeling that can make one crazy. But one thing is for sure, if it’s true, it can last for more than a lifetime.

Take for instance this grand temple at the heart of Cebu City, the Temple of Leah. Started building in 2012 by Teodorico Soriano Adarna in memory of his late wife Leah Villa Albino-Adarna, the Temple of Leah possesses a Roman-style structure that overlooks the colorful City of Cebu. It is still being constructed and completed, and so far, as we were told, the construction cost is about PHP1.2 billion already.

Temple of Leah is located along Cebu Transcentral Hwy, Cebu City, and it is open as early as 6am till 11pm. There’s an entrance fee of PHP100 to see and experience this elaborate show of love, beauty, and power. There are 24 chambers in the temple that showcases all of Leah’s lifetime collections including figures and antics that are said to be memories of her love for travel. As of this writing, these chambers are only open to the members of our family who wish to cherish Leah’s memory.

La Vie Parisienne
Meanwhile, if you prefer a more intimate and more romantic spot, La Vie Parisienne, which is located along Gorordo Ave, Cebu City, offers that well-decorated Paris-themed wine bar and restaurant that turns into a romantic hideout at night when its garden lights up.

Welcome to Cebu City's Little Paris!

Offering European flavors with a great selection of wine its well-built cellar, one can find this nook perfect for a night of fancy dinner or catch-up with friends. 

Exquisite Interior of La Vie Parisienne

Terrazas de Flores
Last but not the least, my most favorite new place that I’ve experienced during this trip here in Cebu is this visit to Terrazas de Flores.

A plant parent heaven at the heart of Cebu City, Terrazas de Flores, is one of the newest sites being promoted by the Cebu Tourism Council as part of its Highland Blooms Eco-Tourism. This mountain garden is filled with terraces of beautiful flowering plants that will surely mesmerize and excite plant lovers like me. This destination also features a coffee shop, which is located right in the middle of the terraces as well as cabanas that share intimate time with nature. 

Perfect for those who are seeking a breather out of the four corners of their homes, Terraza de Flores also requires a PHP100 entrance fee.

Please take note that in all places that you’ll visit here in Cebu City, a face mask and face shield are required upon entry. It will be also a great idea to bring your own sanitizers to keep safe all the time.

There are hundreds or thousands of reasons why we should not travel now, but if you just want to relax and give your mind a break from all these crazy things happening around us, Cebu is just one ticket away from Manila. AirAsia Philippines has two flights daily from Manila to Cebu. You can always check out their website for schedules and other promos that will entice you to have that much-needed vacation. 

Emptier Domestic Terminal of Mactan-Cebu Airport

We left Mactan-Cebu Airport at around 5 in the afternoon, and since I’m traveling from an MGCQ to GCQ location, I don’t need to provide RT-PCR Test anymore. All that they asked from us then were our plane tickets and an allowed to travel verification through Traze app.

AirAsia's A-Access let's us enjoy freebies and discounts from partner establishments.

This is sooooo good!!!

Thank you to AirAsia Philippines for this memorable trip. I’m glad that aside from the warmth and joy we experience during this trip, I get to enjoy AsiaAsia’s Santan Meal onboard. Hahaha! I really love their Chicken Inasal! Thank you too to Cebu Tourism Council for graciously welcoming and taking us around as well as to other media personalities we’ve tagged along in this 5-day journey.

Daghang Salamat, Cebu! Hanggang sa muli!

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