Living on the Edge

It isn’t really living until you’ve lived on the edge: in this case, experiencing total tranquility in a villa on the edge of a cliff. Then you go back to the city, and you’ve had the best of both worlds all in one week.

You need to see this,” Fay Hartstein recalled saying to her husband, Jay, showing him in an e-mail, a photo of an infinity pool, somewhere in a sleepy town south of Cebu. It was overlooking Sumilon Island, with sweeping views, they’ve dreamed of owning a house with a view like this for a while. After scouring almost half of southern Cebu, the couple was soon the proud owners of this very private property in the fishing town of Mainit, Oslob.

Fay confesses to love both the openness and intimacy of the place: the former being the ability to see so many islands in the distance such as Negros, Bohol, Siquijor, and Sumilon, and even the tip of Mindanao on a clear day, while the latter being cut-off from the rest of Cebu and the hustle and bustle of the city. Even the sound of commuter buses and cars on the highway are immediately muffled once you reach the main living areas.

The property has three structures: the main house and two guest villas, which were already built before the couple acquired the property. The steps to the ocean, however, were unfinished and the house was unfurnished but this was not a challenge at all for the couple.

“We love the Filipino-native look, but with a modern touch,” and found Murillo furniture to be perfect as the couple had also noted that furniture company had some pieces included in the Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf Kreiss Collection. “Much of the house and the Guest Villa have various pieces of furniture, and we took great care to give the place a feeling of comfort, while keeping a tropical look.” Fay being from Cebu, and Jay being from L.A., the couple shuffles between the two cities regularly, with beautiful daughter Moira in tow. For the time spent away, they decided to rent the place out, and Villa On A Cliff was born.

Villa On A Cliff is a tropical estate suspended on an oceanfront cliff, roughly 20 meters above sea level. It is a fully-staffed vacation home, with four full-time employees. “George and Charito do most of the cooking,” noted Fay. “George is from Bicol so we do a mean Bicol Express at the villa.” Jay also recommends George’s fried calamari and Charito’s bam-i and leche flan “which always seems to get rave reviews.” To maximize your dining experience at Villa, it’s advised to call ahead so they can plan an excellent set menu. A masseuse is also easily available.

The two guest villas are always ready for occupancy. Villa 1 is the most elevated of the levels. It is equipped with its own bathroom, a refrigerator, a queen size bed, and a cozy seating area. It is air-conditioned but you can let the sea breeze in without letting the bugs with the sliding screen doors. The second villa is perched on a lower cliffside and has the same provisions as the first villa. The lower level of the main house also has two bedrooms with a private bathroom and allows exclusive use of the living and dining areas.

Security is not a problem: apart from the towering wall around the villa, and the full-time staff living there as well, the property is also guarded by two big dogs, Bo and Robin. And as it’s better safe than sorry, the couple had installed a security system as well in the main house.

Staying in Villa On A Cliff doesn’t necessarily entail a sedentary lifestyle, although that can be very appealing. There are many activities you can busy yourself with. Oslob has suddenly and is increasingly becoming a popular destination to see and swim with the spotted whale sharks, or butanding. Oslob has its own waterfall as well, Ginatilan Falls, and Kawasan Falls is merely a short bus ride away. “We also love taking our three-seater kayak for a ride down the shore,” mentioned Fay, or take a quick trip to Sumilon island for some snorkeling or hiking, or plan a diving trip to nearby sites, then come back to the villa to slowly take it all in, and reflect on what adventures have gone on in the day.

Oslob’s close proximity to neighboring Dumaguete also makes it an ideal vacation property. When you’re done with the many activities in Oslob and its nearby towns, a daytrip to Negros Island is also very feasible.

For more information on Villa On A Cliff, visit and add them on Facebook: Villaonacliff Cebu, e-mail them at:, or talk with them via Skype: VillaOnACliff

  • by Ian E. Baol
  • photography Genesis Raña
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