Wedged between Cebu City and the resort island of Mactan, Mandaue City is situated within the country’s second-largest metropolitan area. Despite humble beginnings as a fishing village in the 17th- century, it has grown exponentially in the last 50 years into a regional trade and manufacturing hub.
It’s also an unlikely location for a place like AS Fortuna Street. But though peppered with nondescript factories and warehouses, the 3km artery linking Mandaue with Cebu is one of the most eclectic thoroughfares in the entire metro, luring visitors with its cafés, eateries and home design stores. These are some of the businesses making AS Fortuna Street a destination in its own right.
Dubbed the furniture capital of the Philippines, Mandaue manufactures 75% of the furniture exports in the country. Since 2009, this bespoke company has been designing and handcrafting minimalist wooden furniture, toys and tabletop décor that draw from Scandinavian aesthetics, as well as pieces using local materials like woven rattan. While most products are custom-built, there are plenty of ready-made items at the showroom, too.
With a name derived from the Cebuano word for “house”, this rustic café is located in a renovated limestone-walled bungalow with alfresco seating shaded by mango and star apple trees on AS Fortuna Street. It’s known for its brunch menu, headlined by Balai Pancakes, served with strawberries and walnuts, as well as the hearty Balai Plate, which includes rice, bacon, Spam and Hungarian sausage.
This new seafood restaurant exudes a laid-back vibe with its bamboo walls and wooden furniture. But Pilar’s real draw is the high-quality tuna sourced from its own fishing boats in Siargao, an island off Mindanao. Bestsellers include charcoal-grilled panga (tuna jaw) and kinilaw (ceviche).
Founded in 2008 by local visual artist and jewellery designer Annie Chen, this gallery – one of only two in Metro Cebu – has evolved in the last few years to also host local art events. This month, it’s exhibiting the pastel-hued work of Manila-born, New York-based illustrator Monica Ramos, as well as hosting the Cebu Zine Fest (2 to 3 Aug), which features limited-edition art booklets.
5. The Industry
This industrial-style nightspot on AS Fortuna Street features cable spools and steel drums repurposed into furniture, and overlooks panoramas of the metro from the 19th floor of J Centre, a shopping mall topped by a Japanese budget hotel. A crowd-pleaser is the turquoise-coloured Flaming Lamborghini, served in a four-tiered tower of glasses doused in ignited sambuca.
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This article was originally published in the August 2019 issue of Silkwinds magazine