The Bojo River Nature Reserve is an ecotourism site in Aloguinsan, a town 59 kilometers southwest of Cebu City. Featuring the 1.4 kilometer-long Bojo River and its riparian environs, it is home to 61 bird species and 22 species of mangroves. The community of local fishermen and their families assembled themselves to form the Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS). Tasked to be responsible custodians, its members manage the protected reserve while working together towards being financially stable.
The barely-known fishing town has been gaining modest fame since its Bojo River Village Tour was introduced in mid 2009. With much pride as stakeholders and stewards of their own heritage, BAETAS members delight in running the 45-minute river cruise for its visitors, while acting as the river’s patrolmen.
Fishermen turned guides smoothly paddle their outrigger boats down the calm waters, pointing out different flora and fauna species along the way and sharing interesting facts (and colorful tales) about the Bojo River. A 400-meter long boardwalk was built which runs parallel to the riverbank. The water changes color from green to a deeper blue as it opens up to the marine-rich Tañon Strait, the country’s biggest protected seascape.
Fees collected from the river cruise are used to preserve the river’s ecology, fund community projects and give extra income to the townsfolk for their efforts.
The Farmhouse Culinary Adventure is a walking tour run by the Aloguinsan Rural Workers Association (ARWA) around its vegetable farm, livestock and chicken area, and tilapia pond. All produce is grown organically and chemical-free using only natural farming methods which they teach to all visitors. Guests can also harvest their own pick-and-pay fresh vegetables. The tour ends at The Farmhouse restaurant where a hearty buffet lunch is served using home-grown ingredients, a farm-to-table dining experience at its best.
Hermit’s Cove is yet another ecotourism site in town, a secluded white sand cove fringed with swaying coconut trees and aquamarine waters that is part of the 18-hectare marine protected area. Tours around the area are managed by the Kantabogon Ecotourism Association (KEA) and include snorkeling with a local guide and a handicraft demonstration. Mother Nature unveils her beautiful treasures in Aloguinsan. The once-quiet town has evolved into being Cebu’s showcase of a community-based ecotourism destination, one that the residents proudly manage and sustain. Responsible tourism is now simply a way of local life.
Originally published in Postcards from Cebu