Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The simplicity and laid-back charm of Aloguinsan, Cebu

My Bibe's short work-related trip to the southern part of Cebu province last month netted her a lot of really nice Instagram photos that had me exclaiming "I wish I was there." They visited a couple of towns and dropped by a couple more on their drive back to Cebu City. This may just be a second-hand account but it's something I simply want to share.

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In Aloguinsan they can teach you basic banig weaving.

Their first stop was Aloguinsan, a small fourth-class municapality about 59 km southwest of Cebu City. It's an old town, dating back to Spanish colonial times, with a watchtower atop a hill as testament that this place has had its own share of history.

Bojo River cruise
Aloguinsan of late, however, has slowly been working on building itself as a tourist destination, its main attraction being the Bojo River where they run a river cruise. Unlike Bohol's Loboc River, it's not a long cruise but it does offer a hearty lunch complete with fresh coconut juice by the riverbank. Moreover, since the river conveniently opens up to the sea, visitors can enjoy some snorkeling afterwards.

What I particularly like about it is that it's a community-based effort and that their focus is on eco-tourism. It may be very basic but even from the photos alone I could sense the warmth and sincerity of the people behind the tour.

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My Bibe with a colleague, journalist and blogger Boboi Costas, and a community rep.

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The short trek to the riverbank.

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Aww... a rather simple but arguably heartfelt welcome from the local community. Gotta love the simple provincial vibe.

The river looks (and is, according to My Bibe) so clean. It snakes around lush mangroves and leads to some beautiful limestone rock formations towards the open sea. The boats are quite small, though, but which makes for a more intimate experience in my opinion. But not to worry, as life jackets are a prerequisite. And by the way, the cruise is best enjoyed during high tide.

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Bojo is one undeniably clean river.

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Getting on board the boat.

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Mr Boatman paddling out to the open sea.

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There's no beach here and it's a steep drop into the seabed. Snorkeling can be quite good, though. My Bibe even spotted a sea turtle.

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Simple beauty.

The food that was served was typical Pinoy fare served on banana leaves but which was lovingly served barrio fiesta-style. The people here do make that extra effort in terms of presentation--from the gumamela flower daintily adorning your fresh coconut, to the native banig weaving that make up your place mats, and even the leis fashioned out of random seeds and flowers.

Banig weaving
The good-natured people of Aloguinsan will also teach you some basic banig weaving, at least enough that you can make a square coaster for your cold drink. So I guess what the town probably lacks in terms of the number of attractions available, they more than make up for in terms of guest experience.

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Hearty Pinoy fiesta. Those placemats are quite nice.

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From random seeds and flowers, this lei is a labor of love.

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Nice little touches. These recycled paper curtains hang from the dining table.

Organic farming and livestock
A little food-tripping shouldn't hurt when you're in this town but it's going to be sans any upscale culinary fanfare. Instead, you'll be tripping on native dishes and delicacies. One such place My Bibe and company went to was The Farmhouse in Aloguinsan.

The Farmhouse is actually, well, a small organic farm. Apart from the veggies and some fruits, they also stay true to the word organic when it comes to their livestock, as their pigs are fed with nothing but greens and none of those processed feeds. They're fed malunggay (moringa), for Pete's sake!

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Organic farming at The Farmhouse.

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Lovely "aisle," don't you think?

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Turns out they grow passion fruit here.

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Three little piggies.

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The piggies here gorge on malunggay.

As for the food-tripping part, The Farmhouse serves traditional dishes using ingredients sourced from their organic garden. My Bibe didn't have the chance to have lunch there but they dropped by for snacks where they were served boiled bananas and sweet potato with a side dish concocted from banana blossom. She wasn't sure if it was kilawin but it had both a sour and salty taste. They also had the yummiest biko (a sweet sticky rice delicacy), which had a sweet native chocolate topping. Now that got me really excited right there.

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Sweet potato and some banana blossom siding.

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Bico with native chocolate topping. Yum!

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Lovely kitchen, don't you think?

Lodging
There aren't any resorts or hotels in this town and most visitors just go on day trips here. But for those interested in spending at least a night in this town, their government website has listed a few lodging options in Aloguinsan.

Getting there
Aloguinsan is accessible by bus or by different combinations of bus, van, jeepney, tricylce, and habal-habal options. You can check their local government's website for directions. Travel time from Cebu City is approximately 2 hours.

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Rates for the Bojo River Cruise start at Php 600 per head for a group of 5, with the rate going down as the number of persons increases. I believe the fee already covers lunch by the riverbank. Needless to say, it's going to cost you more if you're traveling solo, as a couple, or with a smaller group.

For more information, you can:
Call +6332-583-6797 or +6332-520-2315
Email baetas@aloguinsan.gov.ph
Make a reservation online.

As for The Farmhouse, I think you also have to call them beforehand if you're coming. I don't have their number but you can try getting in touch through the contacts listed above.

6 comments:

  1. This place looks sooooo beautiful! xxx

    www.stylentonic.com

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  2. Thanks for sharing your Bibe's experience in Aloguinsan. Walk-ins for the Bojo River cruise are also welcome, but lunch would not be included — walk-in fees: 300 (weekdays) / 400 (weekends). One can avail of the package tour for 900+/pax which already includes the Bojo River cruise, lunch, and the farmhouse tour.

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  3. Wow! no words! this is really really really awesome. What an oportunnity! Thanks for sharing. The pics are goods.
    see u soon
    xoxo
    KS

    ReplyDelete

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