Gorordo Avenue in Cebu City started to experience a resurgence about a decade ago, when this former row of colonial-era houses and shops was transformed into a cosmopolitan street lined with eateries, cafés, and graffiti-slathered watering holes. Gorordo attracts creatives and entrepreneurs with its dialed-back atmosphere—which it continues to hold on to despite being a short walk from the 24-hour hustle of Cebu Business Park.
It makes sense then that ANTHILL Fabric Gallery (the name stands for Alternative Nest and Trading/Training Hub for Indigenous or Ingenious Little Livelihood Seekers), a social enterprise that works with artisans all over the country, has made its home in one of the district’s side streets. ANTHILL’s creative and managing director, Anya Lim, takes us through her favorite finds in the area.
8am: Get an early start at Marisse Patisserie
With the shabby-chic feel of an open country kitchen, Marisse Patisserie offers a gentle start to the day in a manicured garden within 32 Sanson Road. “I don’t drink coffee so I have to rely on other drinks for my morning fix,” says Anya. She recommends A Tale of Two Chocolates — a creamy, hot dark- and white-chocolate concoction that smells as rich as it tastes. marissepatisserie.com
10am Shop for Philippine weaves at ANTHILL Fabric Gallery
You can find the shop on unassuming P. Calomarde Street by looking for the human-sized worker ants crawling all over the façade — a playful, creative display that introduces you to the nature of this enterprise. ANTHILL is half-museum, half-retail store, featuring the best of Philippine weaves from the Ilocano binakol to the T’boli t’nalak sacred cloth. “The work we do every day is how we honor our weavers. We want to make sure the stories and connection are passed on to the wearer, so we take the time to talk to each customer. This way, they understand what’s behind every pattern.” anthillfabricgallery.com
12pm: Grab a bite at Molave Carinderia
Walk to Molave Carinderia just across Gateway Motors on Molave Street for good, simple eats. Here you’ll find quintessential Filipino favorites including the local chorizo de Cebu. Let your eyes gravitate toward the décor, featuring upcycled ’90s bric-a-brac. The carinderia attracts construction workers and yuppies alike for its hearty everyday fare — Anya’s advice: “This place is always packed, so have one of your friends grab a table before you line up to order.”
2pm: Check out the local art scene at Jose T. Joya Gallery
Jose T. Joya Gallery, in the Undergraduate Building of the University of the Philippines Cebu, positions itself as an alternative, student-run establishment where you’ll find contemporary, experimental pieces from emerging local artists. If you’re lucky, you can catch scheduled talks about a myriad of topics, from comics and its place in Philippine art to critique writing and publishing. “It’s run mostly for students, but it’s open to the public. The artistic energy here is amazing.” fb.com/josetjoyagallery
4pm: Take a quick dip at Circa 1900
A time capsule to the Cebu that was, Circa 1900 is a compound of stilted colonial houses hidden away on top of Sanjercas Ville. Under the helm of Australian chef Steve Shrimski, Circa’s Casa Dos restaurant houses Noshery, a coffee and pastry shop. It’s where you can, well, nosh on freshly baked bread, paired with Roaster Juan Benguet coffee. As the sun sets, substitute coffee for the Simula cocktail—it’s an herbaceous combination of vermouth, Campari, and soda water—at Cicada Tapas & Bar. “Business travelers can switch from work mode to social night out all in the same venue.” circa1900cebu.com
6pm: Enjoy a slow meal at the Schweizer Hotel (formerly St Moritz)
This well-known hotel has been operating for a couple of decades — and very much looks like it, with its floral-pattered upholstered furniture and old-timey bar. People still flock to in-house restaurant Luzern Steakhouse. “With steak, you’re reminded of primal necessities that make a life. Good food. Good company. That’s it,” says Anya. stmoritz-cebu.com
8pm: Spot street art
These unsanctioned art pieces turn ordinary concrete blockades into social commentary. The pieces are always vibrant and defiant, made even more beautiful because they’re ephemeral, easily overlaid with another image overnight. Once you get to Harolds Hotel, walk toward Sol’s Halo-Halo where you will find a whole strip of street art all the way to the old Handuraw. “You get a sense of the artistic and social pulse of the youth from just a quick walking tour of the district.”
9pm: End with a cold beer at Kukuk’s Nest
Kukuk’s Nest has seen its fair share of drunken poets and overworked night owls. Almost everyone leaves a literal mark of their presence on its storied walls — a Polaroid photo here, a signature sticker there. Owned by poet and screenwriter Bambi Beltran, the 24-hour restaurant will keep you occupied as you wait for the sun to set, or the city to wake up. “Depending on the evening’s events, you can catch some stand-up comedy, performance art, poetry reading or even a rock show. It’s definitely the place to be.” kukuksnest.webs.com
This article first appeared in the September 2019 issue of Smile magazine.