• Mandaue's bibingka (Photo by Bjornson Bernales)

    If you ask the few families who continue to bake Mandaue City's bibingka the secret to creating this delicacy, they'd tell you that the manner of cooking matters as much as the ingredients.

    Mandaue's bibingka, a type of rice cake made from ground rice, coconut milk and strips, sugar, and yeast or rarely tuba, is popular among Cebuanos, who love its soft and spongy texture.

    Bibingka makers still bake it the traditional way or what Cebuanos call "inurno" style. This involves the use of terra cotta ovens where charcoal is burned below and above the bibingka mixture.

    Mandaue's bibingka, with its banana leaf wrapping, is not your typical rice cake baked inside modern ovens, but this is what makes it unique and special.

    "Ang aso sa uling mas makahatag og mas lamian nga bibingka (The smoke from the charcoal gives the bibingka its distinctive taste)," said Gaga Sereno, 23, one of those selling the rice cake by the Ibabao roadside in Mandaue.

    Another vendor said there are buyers, like one

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  • Cebuana reveals key to Medical Technology board exam success

    Sherry Mae Mondido (Photo by Narciso Tapia)

    When the Medical Technologist Licensure Examination results came out, Sherry Mae Mondido was traveling by land across Sorsogon on her way to Cebu.

    It was nighttime and she was already asleep when the owner of the review center in Manila where she took classes woke her up with the good news: she placed second in the September 2011 exam.

    "Ako first gyud gihimo is nag-thank you ko sa Lord, nag-pray pud ko ni St. Jude Thaddeaus ug kay Mama Mary sa Baclaran. (The first thing I did was to thank the Lord and then I prayed to St. Jude Thaddeaus…to Mother Mary in Baclaran)," she said.

    Shee or Sheeshee, as she is called by her friends, only had three months to do her review since internship at Velez College, where she studied, ends later than in other schools, but got a score of 91.30. Her rating is the highest among graduates of Velez College, a sister school of Cebu Institute of Medicine that had a 100% passing percentage in the last six successive medical licensure examinations.

    Shee's

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  • Cebu’s dancing inmates continue to attract visitors

    Photo by Marlen Limpag

    He led close to a thousand dancers, his moves graceful and his steps sure. A smile never leaving his lips, he twisted, turned, jumped, swung his hands in time to the beat of the pop music that blared from the loudspeakers across the huge yard.

    A motley crowd of children, students, young men and women, professionals, tourists, and the elderly swayed, cheered, and clapped their hands. Over 700 came, from within Cebu and as far as Japan, to watch him and the others dance.

    He is enjoying the moment, this 27-year-old with the Mohawk hair and tattooed arms. He basks in his audience's attention, as cameras flashed and videos whirred.

    If not for the high concrete walls, long steel bars, and orange jumpsuits, you'd think Ruel Vender was a star, come with his retinue, to entertain his fans.

    But it is the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) and Vender, though one of the widely popular dancing inmates of Cebu, is still a prisoner facing charges for no less than murder.

    "

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  • Dining in Mactan Island’s ‘sutukil’ restaurants

    Photo by Marlen Limpag

    The staff prepares to weigh the fish picked by a customer from a selection of seafood, before cooking it the sutukil way.

    Mactan Island in Cebu is known for its posh resorts and world-class hotels like Shangri-La as well as eateries that specialize in three methods of cooking seafood — sugba (grilled), tuwa (stewed), kilaw (raw) or sutukil (a combination of the first syllables of the three words).

    While such dishes are ordinary fare in many restaurants in Cebu, what's special about the eateries in Mactan is they offer to have a single order of fish done in those three methods.

    Of course, you will have to pick a big fish so the tail half of it can be grilled, the flesh from the remaining half scraped off the bones and prepared raw in vinegar and spices, and the head part becomes soup or stew.

    Sutukil, though, is not anymore an offering limited to that row of open wooden eateries built over the shallows in the village of Mactan but it is in this place where it first gained prominence.

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  • Best of Cebu on exhibit at convention center


    Bags of shells and coconut beads, among the many export products on sale at the One Cebu Expo in Mandaue City. (Photo by Marlen Limpag)

    Without having to travel three hours to Argao, get to buy its famous tablea — those bitter chocolate rounds made by hand from cacao beans and the stuff sikwate is made of — and delicious torta.

    Sample food specialties of other Cebu towns and cities: Carcar's chicharon or bocarillo, Mandaue's masareal, Bantayan's dried fish, or Catmon's budbud kabog and pilit.

    Choose from a variety of handicraft products like rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and bags made from shell, bamboo, wood, or palm leaves by small-time entrepreneurs in the province.

    Learn how to get to the best diving spots in Moalboal or join heritage trails that include a  mix of old churches, historical ruins, ancestral houses, scenic sites, and white sand beaches in faraway Bantayan, Sogod, Badian, Oslob, Borbon, Catmon, Alegria, Asturias. Discover why Dalaguete is Cebu's summer capital

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  • Cebuanos reclaim Plaza Independencia

    Plaza Independencia

    The Plaza Independencia in Cebu stands witness to its rich and turbulent past. (Photo by Marlen Limpag)

    Cebuanos are starting to frequent once more the Plaza Independencia in Cebu City. The spot has had many functions along the course of Cebu's history: as a military training and parade ground, a premier public park during the reign of Queen Isabella in Spain, and even as a symbol of liberation, after a P16.9 million renovation .

    It used to be that people steer clear of the plaza because of its reputation as a haven for thieves, pickpockets, and muggers who take advantage of poorly-lit areas. "Diri man to matug ang mga kawatan sa una (Thieves used to sleep here)," said a City Government employee relaxing in the park.

    Bushes and plants allowed to grow wild on many areas of the park also made it a popular place for trysts.

    Not anymore. Today, Plaza Independencia stands clean and proud as it did during the childhood of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

    Rama said he grew up in the plaza. He

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  • Cebu kids play football despite the odds

    Photo by Narciso Tapia
    Before the Azkals popularized football in this country, a group of kids in Cebu City already made the sport their life and are reaping awards for it.

    Meet the ANS/Pomeroy, Abellana National High School's football team and winner of several regional and national football championships.

    Team members buy their footwear from flea markets or secondhand stores, and there are no water jugs, Gatorade, or snacks during football practice.

    Francis Ramirez, the team's coach, said his players make do with used shoes, sometimes with holes due to repeated use.

    For the boys, Ramirez added, being lucky is finding wearable shoes in secondhand stores or getting footwear donations from parents of players in other teams.

    At one practice, one kid was wearing a black shoe on his right foot and a white one from another pair on the left.

    "Naa ganiy uban diha, nagpuyo ra sa tolda (There are some players who live in tents)," said Ramirez.

    Some alumni would give occasional donations but the main constant support

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