Aloguinsan is one of the towns in Cebu with a fast-rising tourism industry; and, if the number of visitors that swamp the town during the weekends is any indication, there is no other way for this humble town but up. Thanks to the undying support of the local government and the cooperation from among the towns folks. Despite the buzz Aloguinsan is getting from many travel and tourism circles, it manages to maintain its quaint and homey charm which we all love. We are all aware of the negative edge of tourism and commercialism which is well presented by the lamentable picture of Osmeña Peak these days. Aloguinsan, amazingly, escapes the trap that comes with visitor influx and popularity. Dalaguete can definitely learn a thing or two from its not-so-distant neighbor in the southwest.
Our weekend itinerary includes the famous Bojo River and the perfect summer hideaway, Hermit’s Cove, but our first stop: Hidden Beach in Bonbon, Aloguinsan.
Getting To Aloguinsan
We left early in the morning that Saturday knowing the apparent scarcity of buses that go straight from the Cebu South Bus Terminal to the Municipality of Aloguinsan. A friend suggested to board Jhade Trans (jejemon bus), a bus company running operations in the southwest. If I wanted to experience how it felt to ride like a local, she said, I had to go and endure the two-hour ride on a bus — which obviously had seen better days — cramped and uncomfortable. But, riding like a local it was indeed. It felt like I was out-of-place in the first few minutes. I was there simply sitting, gawking at people who seemed to know each other very well. Yes, almost all of the passengers seemed to be one’s cousin or another’s distant relative twice removed. That one bus ride on a hot Saturday morning was an unannounced clan reunion of some sort. They talked about one brother’s daughter’s baptism and another’s daughter’s marriage and the cows and pigs they slayed for the occasions. I joined in one of their conversations. You see, I was visiting the town to attend a friend’s wedding and apparently that friend of mine was somebody’s cousin and neighbor. How’s that for chance! I wasn’t an outsider anymore. (FC lang, ‘te!)
The road to the town is winding along the sides of the mountains. It is full of blind curves and obviously dangerous — but is well-paved, to be fair, plus there are several signs warning caution to be observed at all times. With motorist’s obedience and patience, we will all get to where we are headed in one piece.
Tourism in the town is well run. They have their own tourism office they cleverly promote as The Farmhouse. I suggest you take a quick visit here first before proceeding to your respective destinations. Reservations for Bojo River cruising and Hermit’s Cove are done at The Farmhouse. Please make sure you have your official receipts with you as these serve as your pass for the cruise and the cove. The Farmhouse also sells souvenirs and local pastries. The house is aptly called The Farmhouse for you can see several fruits, vegetables and crops grown in the yard.
The town posts several boards showing the fare rates to each destination. This is something other towns should copy to avoid complaints from tourists scammed by some dishonest PUV drivers. As one honest habal-habal driver quipped, “Naa man gyu’y mga abusado, Sir”.
The Town Proper
We had our brunch at the market. It was a clean and orderly one for a public market. I couldn’t see the usual unattended dump of garbage at the corner of every public market I’d been to. I couldn’t see the usual rowdiness among the people one would usually expect. For Pete’s sake, their restrooms were even clean for a public commode. The town’s local government and the people should know something most of us don’t, and this is something we badly need to get acquainted with. Kudos!
Aside from the well-publicized Bojo River, there is another river just right beside the market. I am not sure as to how long it is, but it is blue-green clean and it looks like great for a swim — though I don’t know if the town allows that. I asked a local for its name but unfortunately the only answer he could give was, “Ambot lang kaha, Sir. Suba ra man among tawag ana sukad pa sauna”. Well, Suba it is then. Let’s leave it at that.
Just mere meters away from the market stands the town hall, and just right behind it is the Baluarte de Aloguinsan. This is an old fort used as a garrison by the natives against the Moros many years ago, just like the Kota in Bantayan, and the many other stone forts in Cebu. The Baluarte is overlooking Tañon Strait, that rich body of water between Cebu and Negros Island.
We were looking for a place to stay for two nights. We tried Al Maxi and Lunhaw but they were full for the weekends. We finally booked for two nights in Hidden Beach. The place was inexpensive and was good enough for bed and breakfast. Water was a bit scarce and the restrooms were shared but the stay was great enough for the price paid, plus we had the beach all to ourselves.
True to its name, Hidden Beach was, hmm, hidden. This humble resort was built on rough, sharp rocks leading to a crescent pocket of white sand beach and clear blue sea. At high tides, the sea was great for swimming. At low tides, it was even greater as the exposed seabed offered sea shells and various types of urchins to patient scavengers.
We stayed in one of the air-conditioned rooms for 900 pesos a night. The resort sold food on weekends. We had our plates of sardine-omelet, hotdogs and dried fish. They were not much but were good enough. However, it is advisable to bring your own provisions as the resort doesn’t cook food for guests regularly.
Several motorcycles were available for hire should you wish to visit other places in town. Don’t forget to check the fare rates and don’t be scared to haggle when hiring one in charter.
Please check my posts on Bojo River and Hermit’s Cove. See you!