For travelers going to the southern part of the island of Cebu, you will be passing through the city of Carcar no matter if you are going to Oslob or you are going to Moalboal. This city is a junction, a convergence, a busy intersection, the last chance to see the famous bee of Jollibee, the last city before you tread on more rustic environs. If you are not in a hurry, get down your bus, hop off your cars and come explore this heritage town and gateway to Cebu South. You will be glad you did.
Travel time from Cebu South Bus terminal to this city is just an hour and a half. =)
First reason, by now you probably know that Carcar offers something totally succulent, juicy, and a must try local offering! The carcar lechon! Some of my friends even swears that their lechon taste wayyy better than the lechon available in the city! That of course is a tall order for Cebu lechon is very famous. =)
I highly recommend that you buy a kilo of their juicy lechon; it’s cheap at P380 a kilo and pair it with tens of puso. Yep tens coz I bet you can’t help yourself for going for second, third helpings hehe. You can buy both in the public market. If you have a tightly-sealed container, bring one for more convenience. Unlike the lechon in Cebu City, theirs is dripping in lechon juices and sauce that’s why the sealed container is handy to put your plastic-bag full of lechon in.
Titus and I were with my friends from Manila Kat and Julie, when we dropped by Carcar before proceeding to Kawasan Falls. Look at Julie, she’s in lechon heaven hehe. Kat on the other hand quips puso nalang kulang and she’d be full if the tinderas will not stop giving her free lechon samples hehe.
The tinderas of puso, hanging rice of Cebu
Second, pasalubong shopping. Who says you can’t buy pasalubong while still on your way to wherever it is your going to? No one, right?! So pick up some goodies and local delicacies in Carcar to munch during the long ride to the southern tip. Do save some packs, it’s supposed to be your pasalubong for friends and family back home.
My top recommendations that you get or try are chicharon, bocarillo and banana chips. Some loves ampao too. Most of these are sold at 3 packs for P100. Read more about Carcar and South Cebu’s pasalubong choices including prices.
Third, the city’s place in history. Carcar was already a thriving community even before the coming of the Spaniards to the island of Cebu in 1521. To date there had been archaeological finds in this city like the ancient burial site that dates back to 6700-3000 BC. I suggest you research more on the works of Archaeologist Rosa Tenazans on Carcar if you want to dig deeper into this story.
Another historical insight that puts Carcar at the limelight is Leon Kilat of Tres de Abril fame and guerilla leader in Cebu.
Leon Kilat Statue
I was a bit puzzled why the statue of General Pantaleon S. Villegas, aka “LEON KILAT” of the Philippine Revolution, was prominently displayed at the entrance to the complex that houses the city hall, Carcar Plaza and Church. There has to be something major that happened revolving around this famous General and this southern town. My first thought was that he was from Carcar but I vetoed that right away recalling that Leon Kilat was born in Bacong, Negros Oriental. My grandma’s ancestral house is in Bacong and the general was a source of pride of the place – that’s why I knew he is not a son of Carcar.
As I was doing my research for this post, I found out the answer. Leon Kilat was assassinated at the command of some of the local leaders of Carcar. It was only after the assassination that Carcar finally joined the Philippine Revolution. Before that the town was peaceful as they tried to stay away from getting involved in the uprising while many other towns of Luzon and Visayas were already deeply mired in battles against the Spanish colonizers. Perhaps it’s Carcar’s way of ensuring the lessons of the past will not be forgotten so General Pantaleon Villegas statue has a prominent place in the city.
If you are from Carcar and you know more about this story, please share what you know by leaving a comment below.
Fourth, Heritage structures, colonial houses that survived.
The famous gazebo or pergola at the rotunda
This rotunda is where the road diverges in Carcar, where you have to make a choice – to go for the uphill-snaking roads of Barili and see beautiful panorama of mountain slopes and blue sea, or to cruise through picturesque coastal towns such that of Boljoon. Whatever choice you make, there are bound to be wonderful surprises for you.
I hate to refer to Carcar as the Vigan of the South for it would somehow convey that this city is a runner-up to this famous colonial town in Ilocos but admittedly there are many who refer to this city as such for their similarities. But heyyyy Carcar is beautiful, peaceful and one place that can stand alone on its own as a heritage town.
One landmark that welcomes you to the poblacion is the blue-green colored old house beside the street, picture below. It’s pretty impressive right, look at the intricate details and patterns.
The lower ground floor has been converted to a commercial establishment to adapt to the times.
Period House in Poblacion
There is also a heritage street Calle Sta Catalina where you can see the other well-preserved Spanish colonial houses. Unfortunately, tourists and visitors like us can only marvel and gaze at their façade from the street, we can’t explore the nooks and crannies of the interior unlike the old houses in Negros where most of them have been turned into museums and tours are allowed. But there is one in Carcar that allows visitors it’s the famous Balay na Tisa or the Sarmiento-Osmena House but it’s not open every day.
Exploring Carcar will give you that rare glimpse into the colonial past with the old structures, capiz windows, bahay na bato heritage houses.
Fifth, their centuries old church – The Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria and the public complex.
You can find the church of Carcar on an elevation. When you see the old aqua – green house above, adjacent to it is an uphill road. Take that short road, you will see the statue of Gen. Pantaleon Villegas at the foot of the elevation and then at the top is the public square where you can find the main plaza with the Rizal Statue, the City Hall, the Museum Building and the Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.
This church is old and beautiful. I will be devoting an entire post about this old church in Carcar so please watch out for it. =)
The City Hall
This is the normal set-up of old towns, these three important places and buildings are near each other – town hall, the church and the plaza.
Lastly, a shot with me and the beau in the frame haha. I just have to publish the one from the Museum, it’s really pretty!
The Museum of Carcar
The people of Carcar values their heritage, they love their city to the core. This love and pagpapahalaga shows in the way they actively try to preserve the richness of their past so that we, visitors and dayo can also experience them too.
These are just Penfires top five reasons to come explore this city, there are tons more waiting for your discovery. So guys when will you visit Carcar? Make it soon and when you do, drop me a line and tell me what’s the best thing about Carcar for you! Deal?