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Sights of Aloguinsan

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[dropcap type=”default”]W[/dropcap]hat was known as a quiet town in the south of Cebu has been constantly creating ripples of noise in the tourism landscape of the province. To claim such a much-needed place for peace, the unassuming and laid back vibe of the town Aloguinsan makes it more worthy as it is satisfying.

“Located southwest of Cebu, Aloguinsan is three hours away from the city. Its long and winding road leads to the paradise’s kept secret, way more than these sights are truly to behold.”

Upon reaching this town, one never gets lost as the local tourism properly placed on point readable signs on where these attractions tucked.

One could start at the Bojo River Nature Reserve, an ecotourism site with 1.4 kilometer flowing river. It is the home of 61 bird species and 22 species of mangroves. The Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS) is responsible to manage a delight of the 45-minute river cruise for its visitors. Before that, though, is a quick orientation about the cruise and a traditional ritual believed to keep visitors away from harm.

 

Bojo River, now gaining several attentions to tourists, is a natural wonder of mild and calming body of water. It is mystical enough that the river boasts of rich and colorful corals beneath. Tourist can take a glass bottom boat or they can snorkel around the corals, with the guide of local tour guides.

 

The rivers also takes the visitor directly to what is Aloguinsan known for as well—the Hermit’s Cove. Gray folktale narrates that there was once a hermit lived in the cover and such unexplained mysteries have been happening around, thus, called such.

 

A reclusive corner to bask under the sun, its immaculate beaches and white sands completes mark to commune with the nature.

 

Beyond what is noted on Aloguinsan, we still more have things to know and see the sights of this municipality.

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Bantayan

Bantayan: A Pilgrim’s Paradise

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Vacationers are drawn to Bantayan like pilgrims to a holy land – a blessed island actually, with blinding white beaches and sparkling aquamarine waters that beckon. Indeed, pilgrims do come for its time-honored observance of semana santa or Holy Week. The Maundy Thursday and Good Friday processions draw thousands of pious devotees as grandiose family-owned carrozas (carriages) bearing life-size religious statues, some handed down the generations, make their annual appearance around town. 

Bantayan’s Holy Week is like no other in the country, an almost festive atmosphere pervades across the island. While faithful Catholics abstain from eating meat, expect lechon as part of the feasting among families and friends who made it to the island bearing the 3-hour long drive from Cebu City to San Remigio town up north, then an hour’s ferry ride to the Santa Fe port in Bantayan. 

It is told that when their fishermen refused to launch out to sea and toil during the most religious time of the year, their families had nothing to eat. An indulto was then issued to Bantayan’s parish priest in 1840 allowing the townspeople to eat meat on Good Friday, and they have been doing so ever since. Whether this applied to Bantayan visitors is unclear but the special dispensation has most likely long expired. If you’re interested in seeing one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, the 15th century Saints Peter and Paul Church was built with walls of coral stone.

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Jutting out to the sea, Kota Park’s footbridge allows an expansive view of the surrounding waters and offers an ideal spot to watch Bantayan’s magnificent sunsets. The ruins of the old fort (kota in Spanish) built in 1790 to protect the townspeople from pirates are now part of Kota Park. 

Kota Park Footbridge

During this peak season, inter-island ferries are busy shuttling the overwhelming number of visitors who show up at San Remigio’s Hagnaya Wharf, all of them in a mad rush to make the crossing and start their long Easter weekend on the tropical isle. Accommodations in Bantayan are unpretentious and pitching a tent on the beach is an option when rooms are hard to come by. 

Hidden Paradise Beach

The laid-back lifestyle resumes once the Holy Week frenzy dies down as islanders around the 3 main towns return to their fishing nets and poultry farms. Bantayan, also the name of the biggest town, is where 80% of the eggs in the province come from, while Madridejos is Cebu’s main supplier of dried fish. The friendly resort town of Santa Fe is the perfect island getaway that tourists dream about. Its endless white-sand beaches remain nothing short of spectacular, and the best spot to bask in the sun, or watch it retreat gloriously beyond the horizon.

Scooping out scallop meat

Bountiful harvests from the sea around Bantayan Island find their way to the local town market; seafood couldn’t be any fresher than here.

Ruins

Originally published in Postcards from CebuMotorbikes can be rented to check out some of the island’s interesting sites like the Ogtong Cave. There’s also the little known Virgin Island for those who just can’t get enough of the beach. After super-storm Yolanda (internationally named Haiyan) brutally lashed across the island – and other parts of northern Cebu – in 2013 and rendered people homeless, Bantayan has pretty much well recovered. With generous humanitarian and financial aid from around the world, and the commendable hard work, resourcefulness and community spirit of the local population, the islanders are back on their feet again with rebuilt homes, revived livelihoods and renewed energy.

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Cities and Municipalities

Talisay City: Tracing Its Colorful Roots

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Another bit of history bound to the Augustinians lies twelve kilometers south of Cebu City. The religious order founded an estate in Talisay in 1648, and after 200 years, the friar-owned property became a municipality. Its name is said to be taken from the magtalisay tree that grew in abundance although the area was a big producer of sugar.

Puso making

Part of Metropolitan Cebu, Talisay became a chartered city in 2000. It is linked to downtown Cebu and the town of Minglanilla by the South Coastal Road. This six-lane highway with exits to several areas in Talisay has greatly eased traffic for the dwellers of this primarily residential city. 

Talisay served as the center of guerrilla intelligence operations of the Philippine resistance movement in Cebu during World War II. Returning American troops landed on its beach on March 26, 1945 and freed the province from the Japanese, aided by Philippine Commonwealth forces and the local guerrillas. That significant day in history is marked by the National Historic Shrine Liberation Monument.

The original bells of the old Sta. Teresa de Avila church built in 1836 no longer ring today but its parishioners remain devoted and congregate at what has now been declared an archdiocesan shrine. The feast day of the city’s patron saint is a red-letter occasion celebrated with much gaiety including a colorful parade and the unique Halad Inasal Festival.

Lechon

Famous for its inasal, the Cebuano term for lechon (whole roasted pig), the city makes a spectacle of its succulent pork offering by parading the skewered pigs around its streets, some are garbed in creative outfits. Talisay’s flavorful inasal is generously seasoned with a blend of lemongrass, garlic and spices then slow roasted to juicy perfection. Its skin is always the exact golden brown and ever crispy, making it the centerpiece of many tables during special celebrations and fiestas.

Much progress has been seen in terms of infrastructure projects and public service since Talisay gained its cityhood. Having earned numerous national and local accolades, it is working towards becoming an even more progressive and peaceful city that is committed to look after the welfare of its local community.

Barbecued fish and chorizo

Check out the other things you can do in Talisay:

HALAD INASAL FESTIVAL. Two men carry a skewered lechon on their shoulders to a nearby barbecue stall, a common sight on Sunday mornings in Talisay. The city holds an annual Halad Inasal Festival in celebration of its famous inasal, the Cebuano term for roasted suckling pig.

BARBECUE STANDS. Fish and Cebu-style chorizo (small rounded pork sausages) are grilled at a barbecue stand; Women prepare puso (hanging rice) by weaving coconut leaves into small diamond-shaped pouches which are filled with rice grains.

MUSEUM. The National Historic Shrine Liberation Monument marks the landing of liberation troops in Talisay in 1945.

CHURCH. Made of coral stone like most old churches in Cebu, the Sta. Teresa de Avila Church stands out for its uniquely designed recessed main entrance and pediment. Tucked away from the commercial side of the city, the church was declared an Archdiocesan Shrine in 2007.

 

Originally published in Postcards from Cebu.

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