View from Tops
Cebu City reeks of history but on a higher level, the metropolis has a different, attractive look. That’s what I found out while on top of Tops.
Our guide, Val Alonzo, must have read my mind when I kept on looking at the mountain range not far away while we encircled the city to view the historical sites. He mentioned about the viewing site called Tops, adding that three-fourths of Cebu City comprises the elevated terrain that gives the capital a glorious look.
It was a sunny but humid afternoon when my mother, Aunt Lily and I went to Tops. I must’ve been obsessed about that place because I didn’t keep track of how long we traveled. Rows upon rows of stores, countless houses, trees—the sights came in rapid succession and were left behind just as rapidly. Even Beverly Hills where the eye-catching Taoist Temple stands offered just a momentary distraction. However, a plant piqued my curiosity.
I asked the taxi driver about the name of the plant which we spotted in clumps. Its gumamela-like flowers were pointing downward. He was clueless. Even the other Cebuanos I asked after the trip had no idea. It was only in Bohol, a few days later, when I learned that catchubong is what abounds in Busay Hills.
It was the sight of that odd flower that made me realize that the taxi we were riding was lost in a snake-like track up above. We caught a glimpse of Cebu City from time to time, but it wasn’t long before we arrived at our destination. All it took was P150 (P50 per head) to give us a satisfying traveling experience.
The view was undoubtedly breathtaking, but it was the semi-circular structure that grabbed my attention right away. A passage from a book I read not long ago crossed my mind: “A perfectly round line, no beginning, no end, no deviation. If expanded infinitely, it would become the universe.”
Walking through the circular pathway of the resting shed was like being transported to another dimension. The shed’s stony arches had a resemblance to the megaliths (standing stones) in Europe. They evoked an aura of mystery. At the tip of Tops, the world revolves around Cebu City, neighboring Mandaue and nearby Mactan Island. With the surrounding mountains and sea, it felt like eternity—and a day.
I was busy clicking my camera when I came across a “friendship bell,” which could also be found on top of one of the Chocolate Hills. I didn’t bother to comprehend the instructions inscribed, but it made me wonder about its significance. For socializing perhaps?
The sun was about to be submerged in the sea when we left. Val advised us to stay longer to witness a different nighttime view. It didn’t matter to us though. Passing through the old landmarks once more indicated that our trip had come full circle.
(First published in Manila Times on June 25, 2004)