Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 21): Yummy Cebu Pasalubong in the Pasalubong Center of Cebu City

Yummy Pasalubong from Cebu

It is my habit to take home something from the places that I visited. It could be food or it could be any souvenir that is unique in the area. In the case of Cebu, my take home, or what we Filipinos call as pasalubong, are food - plenty of food - and most of it are the favorites of my loved ones.

I previously posted about my visit to Taboan Market where I bought dried danggit and dried squid. This time, I went to another pasalubong center of Cebu where I bought some sweet pasalubong for the family.

Shamrock Pasalubong Center in Cebu City

This Cebu pasalubong center is Shamrock and it is famous for its otap. This crunchy bread is so yummy that it is always included in My Beloved Wife’s pasalubong list whenever I go to Cebu.

Cebu Pasalubong - yummy otap

I also brought home some hojaldres.

Cebu Pasalubong - hojaldres

The Shamrock pasalubong center that I usually visit is the one located near the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

It is conveniently located because I can easily drop by this place after I visited the Sto. Nino Basilica and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

In my last visit to Cebu City, I dropped by another Shamrock pasalubong center and this one is located near the Fuente Osmeña Circle. 

Yummy pasalubong from Shamrock in Cebu Citty

This Shamrock store is much better because it is not just a pasalubong center but it is also a restaurant.

Shamrock Restaurant in Cebu City

The name of this pasalubong center is interesting because the word Shamrock is not Cebuano nor Spanish. It is actually Irish and it means three-leafed clover plant.

This pasalubong center was established before the Second World War as a joint business venture between the Pampangeña Honoria Paras and an Irish businessman, hence the name Shamrock. Their first shop is located at the old Compania Maritima building, which is near the Carbon Market and the Cebu City Hall. Unfortunately, the War brought destruction to Cebu and this is the possible reason why the Irish businessman left the country. Honoria continued the Shamrock Bakery after the War and it now grew as a popular to visitors of Cebu for its yummy otap.

Pasaubong center Cebu - Shamrock

Another pasalubong center in Cebu is Titay’s, which is famous for its melt-in-your-mouth rosquillos. I was able to drop by Titay’s during my first trip to Cebu after my visit to the Camotes Islands. Unfortunately, I was not able to visit Titay’s Bakery in the town of Lilo-an during my latest visit to Cebu. Good thing that a friend gave me this mamon from Titay’s.

Cebu Pasalubong - Titays Mamon

Another Cebu pasalubong that is always in My Beloved Wife’s list is the dried mangoes.

Cebu Pasalubong - dried mangoes

Lei likes Cebu’s dried mango so much that she kept reminding about it. Well, I couldn’t blame her since it is of export quality.


Shamrock Bakery's history was sourced from Shamrock Bakery website.


Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 20): A Taste of Cebu's Yummy Lechon Belly

Cebu's Original Lechon Belly

A visit to Cebu will not be complete without tasting the world-famous lechon. So, during the first night of my 2016 Cebu trip, we went to SM City Cebu to finally taste Cebu’s original lechon belly.

Cebu's Original Lechon Belly in SM City Cebu, Cebu City

Cebu’s lechon or roasted pig is loved for its crunchy skin and tasty meat. My co-worker claimed that Cebu’s lechon is much better than Luzon’s lechon, which she said is bland on the inside.

History of Cebu’s Lechon (Lechon History)

The word lechon implies that the lechon dish is of Spanish origin. In fact, lechon is widespread in former colonies of Spain like the Puerto Rico and Cuba. Lechon de leche, which literally means milk sucker, refers to the suckling pig that is roasted to yummy crispy perfection.

I read two blogs that claim that the lechon predates the coming of the Spanish colonists in the Philippines. They claimed that Antonio Pigafetta, Ferdinand Magellan’s chronicler, wrote that the Cebuanos offered the Spaniards pig, grilled fish, millet, rice cakes, and coconut. I read Pigafetta’s chronicle and I didn’t find any mention of roasted pig that fits the description of lechon. In short, there is a possibility that lechon didn’t predate the coming of Spaniards.

Cebu's Original Lechon Belly - 17

An article in GMA News Online said that the first lechoneros in Cebu came from Talisay City where they invented the now famous roasted pig and initially called it as inasal. Inasal is a Bisaya word that means cooked over hot coals. Nowadays, inasal is associated with roasted chicken while the roasted pig became lechon.

Lechon is a common dish throughout the Philippines and Manila and Luzon have its own versions of it. What set Cebu lechon apart is the fact that it is so yummy that it doesn’t require any sauce. The Cebu lechon captured the taste buds of the celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, so much so, that he claimed that lechon is the “best pig ever”.

Yummy lechon belly from Cebu's Original Lechon Belly
The yummy lechon belly o Cebu.

The idea of lechon belly was formed in the 1930s by a lechonero family in Balamban, Cebu. The yummy lechon belly was created because the lechoneros noticed that the belly of the lechon baboy was the first to be eaten by their customers. The lechon belly concept spread from Balamban and became the favorite lechon dish, particularly in Cebu's Original Lechon Belly restaurant.

Cebu's Original Lechon Belly

There were few customers when we dined at the place. However, our food took a while to arrive. Looking at their staff preparing the lechon made my stomach grumble.

Preparing lechon belly in Cebu's Original Lechon Belly

Our lechon belly arrived with puso or steamed rice wrapped in nipa leaves. Puso is common in the Visayas region and in Bisaya-dominated areas in Mindanao. I first tasted puso in Davao. I also tasted it during my first visit to Mactan Island.

Yummy lechon belly and puso from Cebu's Original Lechon Belly
Lechon belly and puso.

We also ordered pancit and other dishes but the star of the night is the lechon belly. We truly enjoyed its crispy skin and yummy meat. Too bad that we didn’t order plenty of lechon belly because my older co-workers are afraid of alta presyon.


Read more of my latest adventure in the island of Cebu!

Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 19): Temple of Leah - The House of Vanity
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 18): A Better Stay in Bayfront Hotel in Cebu
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 17): A Great View of Cebu City from Tops Busay
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 16): A Taste of Mandarin in Cebu City
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 15): Taboan the Pasalubong Center of Cebu City
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 14): My Accidental Visit to Mt. Carmel Church


History of the lechon and other information in this post was obtained from the following sources:

Lechon is 'best pork ever'- TIME magazine in ABS-CBN News
The First Voyage Round the World/Pigafetta's Account of Magellan's Voyage in WikiSource
A brief history of the yummy Cebu lechon in GMA News


Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 19): Temple of Leah - The House of Vanity

Temple of Leah is the house of vanity

True love can move us to do extraordinary things. Some lovers make poems about their beloved. Others offer their very life. While others build over-the-top monuments like the Taj Mahal and, in the case of Teodorico Adarna, a temple for his wife Leah.

I first heard about the Temple of Leah in one episode of Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho (KMJS) in 2015. It did not have any impact to me at the time and I just considered it as a fancy gimmick of some tycoon.

I finally went to the Temple of Leah during my 2016 visit to Cebu. My negative first impression to the place was erased immediately when I laid my eyes on the impressive entrance arch of temple of Leah.

Entrance arch of Temple of Leah in Cebu City

I believe that its inspiration is the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The Arch of Leah features motifs that are similar to Arc de Triomphe and other victory arcs in Europe.

A short walk from the entrance arch is one of the impressive Philippine structure that I ever saw. The main building of the Temple of Leah gave me an illusion that I was somewhere in ancient Greece.

Roman-style Temple of Leah in Cebu City

The temple copied the architectural style of ancient Rome in almost all details. The main temple is supported by Doric-style columns. The lions at the entrance to main Temple and the fountain at the courtyard are all Roman motifs.

Fountain in the courtyard of Temple of Leah in Cebu City

Statues of two maidens are atop the fountain in the middle of the courtyard. I immediately thought that one of the maiden is Ellen Adarna, the granddaughter of Leah.

Horse at the fountain of Temple of Leah in Cebu City

The makers of Temple of Leah copied every ancient Roman motifs to the point that the Temple of Leah has naked statues like in the old Greek and Roman buildings.

The naked archer of Temple of Leah in Cebu City
I believe that this archer has poor memory because he forgot his bow and arrow and even his pants! :-P

The centerpiece of the temple is the 9-foot tall bronze statue of Leah Adarna. She is the wife of Teodorico Adarna and the grandmother of Ellen Adarna. 

Bronze statue of Leah Adarna in Temple of Leah in Cebu City

The Adarna family is one the richest clan in Cebu. They operate the Queensland motels and other businesses. Don Teodorico remarried already and is now living in Davao.

Inside the Temple of Leah in Cebu City

The plaque below the statue proclaims the great love of Don Teodorico to his wife. He also said that the Temple of Leah will not only serve as the tomb of Leah but also a monument for the Adarna clan.

In the KMJS episode, the daughter of Leah confessed that her mom is worried where her collections and personal properties will go when she dies. The don promised Leah that she will built a place for her collections - thus the Temple of Leah was conceptualized.

2011 AD in Temple of Leah in Cebu City

The rooms of the temple holds the personal properties of Leah Adarna that she bought from different parts of the world. Her daughter admitted that her mom is a hoarder and she always bring tons of things from her travels.

Leah Adarna's statue collections in Temple of Leah in Cebu City
Leah’s figurine collections inside the Temple of Leah.

Many people go to the Temple of Leah not to adore Leah but to take selfies. The temple is a nice place to wow your friends in Instagram and Facebook not only because of the Roman-inspired temple but also because of the good view of Cebu City.

View of Cebu City from Temple of Leah

The place can be crowded. The truth is that we waited a long time to have our photos taken in front of Leah’s statue. It is also difficult to take good shots because of the crowd.

Inside the Temple of Leah in Cebu City

Many parts of the Temple of Leah was still under construction during our visit. I am not sure if the temple is fully built this year.

Temple of Leah in Cebu City in under construction
Unfinished parts of the Temple of Leah.

Temple of Leah - How to Get There

The staff at the Bayfront Hotel helped us to find a tourist van that will take us to the Temple of Leah. We paid more than a thousand pesos, which is expensive. However, it is convenient since the van waited for us during the whole visit in the temple.

The best way to go to the Temple of Leah is by hiring a taxi or a tourist van because there are no regular jeepney route in the area.

Shuttle service for Temple of Leah in Cebu City

Another way to go to the Temple of Leah is by taking shuttle service from Jollibee, I.T. Park in Cebu City.

Daredevils can take the habal-habal or motorcycles from Cebu City to the Temple of Leah. Many habal-habal are parked outside of the Temple.

Habal-habal outside of Temple of Leah in Cebu City

We paid 50 pesos each before we entered the Temple of Leah. The fee will be used to defray cost and as additional funds for building the unfinished parts of the temple. There is no entrance for senior citizens and children below 10 years old. I read in other blogs that the Temple charge 100-peso fee for vehicles parking in the “temple area”.

Behind the lion of Temple of Leah in Cebu City

I believe that Temple of Leah is truly testament of love of a husband to his wife. I also believe, however, that this temple is a symbol of vanity. The dying Leah worried so much about  her collections that she cannot bring with her in afterlife. The quote “vanity of vanities” in Ecclesiastes fittingly describes this mausoleum because the precious things in that temple will just gather dust while their owner turns into dust.


Read more of my latest adventure in the island of Cebu!

Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 18): A Better Stay in Bayfront Hotel in Cebu
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 17): A Great View of Cebu City from Tops Busay
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 16): A Taste of Mandarin in Cebu City
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 15): Taboan the Pasalubong Center of Cebu City
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 14): My Accidental Visit to Mt. Carmel Church