Priceless Family Bonding in Shang Mactan Cebu
01 April 2013
A rare opportunity presented itself when my 12-year old niece from the USA, an only child of my sister, was allowed to come home to the Philippines on her short week-long spring break. It coincided with the Philippines longest holiday, the Holy Week, where everyone plans a trip to the beach, the mountains or goes home to their provinces.
A long list of holiday destinations were considered by my big family, and the Shang Mactan in Cebu was highly favored. And so I was tasked to fetch my niece from Los Angeles and bring her to Manila. As we complete the 16-hour journey home, I thought to myself, our Shang holiday should be well worth this long journey!
Having reserved our ocean view rooms in advance, we boarded our short flight to Cebu. As we landed in Mactan airport, we were greeted by an exuberant Shang staff and led to our van. It was hot that day and we were tired. As we rolled into the resort and stepped down at the Shang's cool ocean wing lobby and greeted by cold drinks, my mind instantly switched to relax mode. It was short-lived as our boisterous lot, all 19 of us with my parents, siblings and kids, scampered to our room assignments. As we opened our balcony doors and we were greeted by this fantastic ocean and pool view, I hear the oohs and aahs of my boys, and I thought, we made the right choice. It was paradise!
Day one had us bonding at the Shang's beach, ordering barbecues, swimming, snorkeling, hanging out with cold coconut drinks under the dome shades, it was so much fun and a rare opportunity to bond with my parents and family.
The next days were spent visiting the city's attractions, the Magellan cross, a fort, eating lechon (roast pig made famous by tv sensation Anthony Bourdain, going on an island hopping cruise, traipsing on white sand bars and sampling Cebu restaurants.
The last couple of days we decided to just enjoy the Shang's pool and beaches and bond some more. We made friends with the hotel staff and in spite of the big hotel crowd, the staff made sure everyone was treated like family. We snorkeled a lot, and marveled at the Shang beach front's marine life, so diverse and so ecologically protected. I saw and learned about jack fish, angel fish, blow fish, parrot fish and the resident giant clams. There were so many fishes I snorkeled for hours and I guess I lost the pounds I gained from bingeing on the yummy buffets.
As our stay ended, the ocean wing manager Veronica bade farewell like she'd miss our raucous family chatter, hugging each of us as we said our goodbyes.
My niece enjoyed her stay so much with her cousins that she said she'll treasure this experience for the rest of her life. They did a music video of their cousin-bonding and posted it on YouTube!
Today my niece is back home in LA. My sister said she was gushing from the airport to their home, and she finds the weather "too cold". I guess she'll be missing the Cebu heat for quite sometime, and her cousins too. She says she'll add the YouTube video to her basket full of memories. Shang Mactan made this family trip an awesome experience of a lifetime! Thank you Shangrila.