Trip log around the Island of Cebu, Philippines

North of North

The third leg of my Cebu road trip was only a week after my second. I boarded a bus at the North Bus Terminal headed for San Remegio at about 11am. The trip was long, but the view was beautiful. The bus took the Lugo route, which would pass through Bogo City then on to San Rem, cutting across hills and oceans of sugar cane plantations.

After nearly 4 hours, the bus arrived in Bogo. I wasn’t planning to explore Bogo that day, I was going straight to San Rem, then northwards. But then something caught my eye — the bus passed by the Bogo plaza, and there it was, a monument of Gabriel “Flash” Elorde. Before I could even get my iPod and take a picture, it was gone. That was a surprise for me — I didn’t know that The Flash was from Bogo. I have certainly heard of him, he’s a boxing legend. As the bus left the city I repeatedly asked myself if it was wise to continue on without even taking a picture of that one monument. But I stuck to my plan and went on to San Rem.

San Remegio Church

San Remegio

San Remegio Beach

I got off the bus at the San Juan Nepomoceno Church in San Remegio. It must have been my lucky day, I arrived while the children’s choir was rehearsing, and sweet, wonderful music wafted through the church, and I just had to linger for a little while to listen. I had a late lunch at a canteen nearby, and afterwards, I went to the beach to take pictures. The day was still hot, and I decided to continue on to Medellin. At the advice of the people I met at the canteen, I took a tricycle to the Don Pedro crossing, to wait for a bus or jeepney to Medellin. But after a little while, as I could not get The Flash off my mind, I changed my mind and took a jeepney back to Bogo.
I got off at the Bogo church and after taking pictures, I went straight to the plaza. I happily took as many pictures of The Flash as I wanted. There were many young people hanging around. I learned from a kindly lady which bus to take to the next town, which would pass by the plaza, so I sat happily in front of The Flash as I waited for said bus.

Bogo Church

Bogo Church

Gabriel "Flash" Elorde, Bogo

Gabriel "Flash" Elorde, Bogo

After a while, the bus came and I was on my way to Medellin. I passed by a picturesque lagoon with a nice view of the almost-setting sun and got off the bus on impulse. The place is called the Medellin Dockside.

Medellin Dockside

After some pictures, I decided to explore the town, and took a tricyle to the church. After taking a few pictures of the church and the town hall, I went to the plaza to just hang out. Later, as the moon appeared in the sky, I asked around for a place to stay. I found Medellin Pension House near the church. Afterwards, I went back to the Dockside to have an early dinner. As mentioned earlier, the view was great. Some enterprising people had set up kiosks such as Friendster BBQ, Facebook Videoke, Twitter Store (I’m not kidding!) for the pleasure of tourists, weary travelers and locals looking for amusement.

Medellin Church

Medellin Townhall

Medellin Townhall

I bought some barbeque for dinner and feasted as much on the food as on the great view. Afterwards, I sat on a slab of stone near the water and just enjoyed the view of the moon, the stars and the lights of San Rem in the distance. A long, long while later, I went back to the plaza.

Medellin Dockside

Medellin Dockside

The plaza seemed busier at night, as the lights and the fountain were turned on. Families were hanging about, kids were running around, and I, having found a vacant bench, sat down and enjoyed the ambiance. As I got sleepy, I went back to the pension house and rented a room for the night.

The next morning, I woke up very early, having known that the Sunday morning mass was at 6. After the mass, I had breakfast at a nearby cafe. Realizing that I was strapped for time with many places to go to, I opted to wait for a bus to Daan Bantayan.
I got off the bus near the terminal, and got in a trisikad to take me to the Daan Bantayan Church, which is just opposite the town hall, which is located by the beach. I took my iPod and happily clicked away.

Daan Bantayan Church

Daan Bantayan Church

Daan Bantayan

Daan Bantayan

Daan Bantayan

Afterwards, I decided to move on, and got on another trisikad to take me to the terminal. The kind driver suggested that I go to Maya, the northern-most tip of Cebu. I got on a jeepney and got off at the Maya church, which is just a short distance from the pier. From the pier I could see Malapascua Island and Leyte.

Maya Church

Maya Church

Maya

Maya

A little while later, I got on a bus to take me back down south. As I have visited Bogo City the day before, the next stop on my list was Tabogon.

In hindsight, I should have taken a bus back to Bogo, and a minibus or jeepney to Tabogon, but as I was informed that there was another way to Tabogon via the Lugo route, so I decided to go that way. I got off the bus at Ilihan(?), Tabogon. As it was about noon, I stopped at a small canteen for lunch — I had chicken and milled corn (which I haven’t had in a very long time). I talked to the women at the canteen, and I was advised to hire a motorcycle (habal-habal) to get to Tabogon, as it was the only mode of transportation available. I was ambivalent at first, since I really do not like motorcycles, but the other choice was going back to Bogo, which would take too much time. Instead, I stuck to that route, and decided to enjoy the adventure.

I was glad I took that route — the winding road to the town cuts across hills covered in sugar cane, and the view of green against the clear blue sky was awesome. The sun was blistering hot that day, but the view was worth it.

I asked the driver to take me to the town’s tourist spot, and I was taken to the Giwanon Cold Spring. After a few minutes, I walked to the road and waited for a bus in a makeshift shed where some women were also taking shelter from the sun.

Giwanon Cold Spring, Tabogon

Giwanon Cold Spring, Tabogon

A few minutes later, I was on a bus and after a little while I was in Borbon. I asked around where the tourist spot in the area was, but I was informed that it was a long way off. So after a few pictures of the Borbon Church, I decided to move on.

Borbon Church

Borbon Church

The previous week, I had skipped some towns on my way back to the city, and as I was going on that same route I decided to stop by them. The next town I visited was Catmon. I got off near the quaint old town hall that stands at the foot of a hill. I climbed up the hill where Catmon Church was and took pictures. The people hanging out near the church advised me to also take pictures of the life-sized stations of The Way of the Cross at the back of the church.

Catmon Church

Catmon Church

Way of the Cross, Catmon

Way of the Cross, Catmon

After a while, I took a bus to Compostela. On impulse, I got off at Maslog, Compostela after I saw this sign:

Psalm 121 "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth."

Afterwards, I took a jeepney to Compostela proper.

Compostela

Santiago de Compostela Church

Santiago de Compostela Church

Then another jeepney took me to Liloan. After taking a much needed snack at Titay’s, I went to the town plaza, which is just across the road to the church.

Titay's, Liloan

Titay's, Liloan

Liloan

Liloan

San Fernando Rey Church, Liloan

San Fernando Rey Church, Liloan

Liloan Lighthouse

After the obligatory pictures, I took a jeepney back to the city. A little while later and I was back in the city, tired and thankful.

Accounting

North Bus Terminal to San Rem by bus Php 130
San Rem church to Don Pedro Crossing by tricycle Php 10
Don Pedro crossing to Bogo by jeepney Php 10
Bogo to Medellin by bus Php 16
Dockside to Church Php 7
Medellin Pension House Php 400
Daan Bantayan by bus Php 15
Trisikad to Church Php 5
Trisikad to Terminal Php 5
Daan Bantayan to Maya by Jeepney Php 12
Maya to Ilihan, Tabogon by bus Php 75
Ilihan to Giwanon Cold Spring by motorcycle Php 100
Tabogon to Borbon by bus Php 10
Borbon to Catmon by bus Php 20
Catmon to Maslog, Compostela by bus Php 20
Maslog, Compostela to Poblacion, Compostela by jeepney Php 8
Compostela to Liloan by jeepney Php 8
Liloan to SM City Cebu by jeepney Php 18

The Trip North

The second leg of my Cebu road trip was totally unplanned.

That day, I was planning to run 15 kilometers with the Runnroo.com crew from Balamban to Asturias. It was supposed to be a test of endurance for me, and I promised myself to go with that run because I liked the Balamban road (see my previous trip). The run was supposed to start at 3pm that Saturday, and the crew went there early. I decided to run some errands that morning, thinking I could still leave from the city at about 11am and have lunch when I arrive, and still have time to prepare before 3pm. But a series of events derailed my schedule and I was able to leave at 1pm from the Ayala Center Terminal, and without lunch at that. Rain made the trip a bit slower along the Transcentral Highway and when I arrived in Balamban, it was late for the run and I was in no condition to do it. So I met with the team as they were going to the starting line, deciding to run with them the next morning from Asturias to Tuburan.

North of the City

As it was still early, I decided to explore Asturias. I got on a tricyle and off I went.

Asturias is a small town just a few kilometers north of Balamban.

Asturias Church

Asturias Church

After I went to the plaza and church and took pictures, I asked around if there was a place with a nice view in the area. The ones I asked told me that the next town does, so I took a bus to Tuburan, thinking to go back later to Asturias for the morning run. It was past 5pm when I got there.

After taking the customary pictures of the church, I went to the plaza to explore. Like most towns in Cebu, Tuburan has a plaza near the church and the town hall, a design of the Spanish era.

Tuburan Church

Tuburan Church

The plaza is located by the pier, and I saw some people — families, teens — hanging out, so I joined in, and sat down on the concrete enjoying the breeze and the calm sea, as the sun started to set.

Sunset in Tuburan

Sunset in Tuburan

The view of the sunset was magnificent, as if God was trying to show off. I was seduced, and right then I decided to stay the night in Tuburan, foregoing the run, and deciding to go on with the road trip the next morning.

Sunset in Tuburan

Sunset in Tuburan

As the sky turned dark, a sprinkling of stars appeared in the cloudless sky overhead, and in the dstance, the storm clouds gathered, as lightning struck from behind them. The contrast was beautiful, it was like a poetry of starlight and storm, and I could not stay away. After quite a while, the storm clouds drifted nearer, and the thunder grew louder and lightning struck more frequently. I was in awe as I watched the stormclouds and the lightning streaking nearer and nearer, and I realized — experienced — just how helpless I am against the forces of nature, but for the mercy of God.

Lightning in Tuburan

Lightning in Tuburan

As the rain started to fall, I finally left the pier to look for a place to stay for the night. After asking around, I found Dayang’s Pension House near the police station — a bit expensive, but clean and spacious, and I was satisfied.
Later that night, a pop band played in the plaza, unmindful of the thunder and rain. As the rain trickled to a halt, I wandered again in the pier, breathing in the cool night air and listening to the music. After a while I decided to call it a night. My sleep was thankfully quite restful. In the morning, I checked out and had my breakfast.

Tuburan in the morning

Tuburan in the morning

At the terminal, I was told that the bus to Tabuelan had already left, and the next bus won’t be for a little while, so I took a ride in van.

Tabuelan is a small place, and as I got there, I didn’t see many people and wondered where everyone went, until I remembered that it was Sunday. So I asked for directions to the church, and attended the mass there.

Tabuelan Church

Tabuelan Church

Afterwards, as I wondered where to go, I saw some pictures posted in a bulletin board about a place called Durhan White Beach Resort, so I decided to check it out. Durhan White Beach Resort is quite scenic. The calm sea and the fine sand beaconed and I could not resist — I took off my shoes and walked barefoot on the beach.

Durhan White Beach Resort

Durhan White Beach Resort

After learning from the kind caretaker at Durhan’s that to get to the next town by the coastal road, I would have to ride a motorbike passing 4 barangays, then a jeepney to San Remigio, I decided to go back to the Tabuelan terminal and check my options. Luckily, there was a bus going eastward to Cebu that would pass by the Lugo intersection where buses for San Rem normally pass by, so I took that route. But halfway through, I realized that for lack of time I would need to postpone that trip. So I asked my bus seatmate to direct me to get off the bus by the church of Sogod, which she graciously did. It was noon when I got off, and the day was hot.

Sogod Church

Sogod Church

I climbed the small hill where the church was and took pictures. There I met a kind old man who directed me to go to the pier and take a picture of the church from there. The market was also by the pier, and I had lunch there. The proprietress of the place strongly recommended that I go to Alegre Beach Resort, the best view in the area.
I went by tricycle to Alegre and the ride was longer than I expected (about 15-20 minutes). Finally, I arrived at Alegre Beach Resort and was thankful to have found it. The place is a beautiful haven. I asked the receptionist if I could take pictures, and I was given a tour of the place by one of the staff. The place is quite huge, and the white sand beach is inviting.

Alegre Beach Resort

Alegre Beach Resort

Alegre Beach Resort

Alegre Beach Resort


Alegre Beach Resort

Alegre Beach Resort

Afterwards, I was again on the road, this time to Carmen.

Carmen

Carmen

After I took pictures, I was on a bus again to Danao City. I lingered for a while to take a picture of the big seaside park, and the church, and the city hall and the surrounding mountains, until my iPod went out of power.

Danao Church

Danao Church


Danao City

Danao City

I boarded a bus back to the City, and arrived tired and hungry. Thankfully, my friends were having a picnic at the Ayala Terraces, so I joined in, and we ate and rested and laughed.
In this trip, I took many redirections, but somehow, I was led to beautiful places that I would have difficulty finding on my own, and I felt so blessed for having found them.

Accounting:

Ayala Terminal to Balamban by van Php 110
Balamban to Asturias by tricycle Php 15
Asturias to Tuburan by bus Php 25
Dayang’s Pension House Php 500
Tuburan to Tabuelan by van Php 30
Tabuelan terminal to Durhan by motorcycle Php 15
Durhan Entrance Fee Php 20
Durhan to Tabuelan terminal by motorcycle Php 15
Tabuelan to Sogod by bus Php 40
Sogod to Alegre Beach Resort by tricycle Php 15
Alegre to Carmen by bus Php 12
Carmen to Danao City by bus Php 15
Danao City to SM City Cebu Php 40

Road Trip Cebu

I had realized that I’ve been living in Cebu City most of my adult life, and I’ve gone to other places, even out of the country, but I haven’t been around much in the island. For sure, I’ve had trips to some parts of the north and south, but I haven’t been westward, and I was curious what the other towns in Cebu had to offer. So I decided, on the Eid-al-Fitr weekend, to pack a bag and hop on a bus on a budget road trip.

South as South Goes

Armed with just two gadgets — my phone and my ipod touch — I went to the South Bus Terminal and boarded a Ceres bus to take me south as south goes — Santander. Along the way, I wanted to take pictures, but the takes from my ipod camera weren’t so good from a running bus. I just enjoyed the view instead, though I was tempted time and again to take pictures when the bus passed by Carcar, Argao, Boljoon, Oslob (where one could view Sumilon Island). I arrived in Santander four hours after I left the city.

Santander

At the suggestion of someone in the area when I asked about a place with a great view, I took another bus to Samboan, the next town. The day was hot and the sky was clear, and the nice little park near the St Michael the Archangel Cathedral was a welcome sight. A view of Tañon Strait, a bench under a shade, and the cool breeze — what more can anyone ask for?

Samboan

Samboan

Samboan

Samboan

I hopped on another Ceres bus, and after consulting my map, I decided that the place to go was Alegria.

Alegria

Alegria

Alegria

Alegria

Alegria

Alegria

At the recommendation of a friend from this town, I flagged a tricycle to take me to a place called Sangi. The driver asked for a rather hefty amount (relatively), and thinking that I was going to find something epic, I agreed. To my disappointment, the place was a beach resort with a pool — and I really didn’t care what else — to my mind, there are many like it in Cebu. Well, in fairness to the place, it might have some merits, but I wasn’t to keen on spending any more time there, as it was nearing dusk. So anyway, I was already in the area — and one of the most important aspect of any travel is the attitude one takes — I decided to make a lemonade, in a manner of speaking. The place is near the St Joseph church, and has a nice little beach park beside it called Paseo de San Jose. I went there instead. After a while, I went to the highway to wait for yet another Ceres bus. There was a bamboo shed, and the women who were taking a respite from home duties were kind enough to give me a place to sit on.

Paseo de San Jose

Paseo de San Jose

Paseo de San Jose

Paseo de San Jose

Paseo de San Jose

Paseo de San Jose

Paseo de San Jose

Paseo de San Jose

My next stop was Barili, about an hour and a half from Alegria. Along the way, the sun was turning orange, casting a golden glow on the waves. I desperately took shots with my ipod, but only a few pics were passable, so I put the iPod away, and thanked God for my eyes.

In Barili, I took my supper, and rented a bed for the night at the Shamrock Pension House. There weren’t a lot of guests, so I had the room to myself.

The second day of the road trip started a lot earlier. The down side of having the room to myself is sleeping alone in a strange bed — so I was quite sleepless in Barili. ;) I went down to the canteen and breakfasted on a bowl of goto and checked out. I was ready to go by 7am, and as it was quite early, I decided to explore the town on foot. I was lucky enough to meet a kind manang who offered to direct me to the cathedral as she was going the same way. The Sta Ana Cathedral stood a beautiful sight before the towering trees lining the pavement.

Barili

Barili

Barili

Barili

Barili

Barili

After a few pictures there, I decided to go to the Milk Station (having asked around where it was, I learned it’s in a place called Dakit). The ride to Dakit afforded me a welcome change in scenery — a sea of coconut trees and the purplish mountains in the distance.

I was pretty excited when I reached the Molave Milk Station — so named because of the dozens of molave trees crammed in a small area where the kiosk is located. Here one could dine al fresco, or just hang out and enjoy a cone of ice cream — which I happily did. I was hoping for some white cheese, but unfortunately it was out of stock. Was a cone of strawberry ice cream worth a 15 minute ride from Barili? At this moment I could still taste its rich creamy goodness melting in my tongue, and were I Neruda I would have composed an ode to an ice cream. The lady manning the kiosk kindly directed me to get on a bus to Mantalungon to wait for another bus to take me to the town of Pinamungajan, when I told her I was going to Toledo City (I was specific about not going by the Carcar-Naga route to Toledo). I thanked her and got on a bus to Mantalungon. And there the trial worthy of a saint began.

Molave Milk Station, Barili

Molave Milk Station, Barili

Molave Milk Station, Barili

Molave Milk Station, Barili

The kind manangs at the Mantalungon market informed me that the regular bus plying the Aloguinsan-Pinamungajan route would pass by around 10 am, which was an hour and a half away, and they pointed me to a shed to wait for said bus. I was hoping for a public jeepney or multicab to pass by, or some four-wheeled conveyance I could hitch a ride on for a fee. None passed by, and for an hour and a half, I was incessantly(!) cajoled and pestered by habal-habal (motor bike) drivers to take a ride to Aloguinsan by habal-habal (which costs an obscene amount of Php150). I would not trust my safety on a motor bike, and without a helmet at that, so I politely declined. And I continued to decline politely even when their cajolery practically bordered on harassment (I’m not kidding). I figured that in a small place like that, an offense to one might offend the whole tribe, and I simply didn’t want that. So I kept my annoyance to myself. At long last, the bus arrived, and with a smile of relief on my face, I continued on my journey.

The road to Aloguinsan is literally long and winding, and dusty in the sweltering heat — and quite scenic. Again my efforts to take shots from the running bus did not yield good pictures, so I committed the images of the blue sky and rolling mountains and hills to my memory. The bus passed by a military detachment, which is apparently because of a land dispute in the area. A few more minutes and the bus reached the coast of Aloguinsan, and I was pleasantly surprised by the sight of emerald on blue. After a while, I reached Pinamungajan. The bus to Toledo City did not leave for another hour so I took the time to rest and take a snack.

Pinamungajan

Pinamungajan

Pinamungajan

Pinamungajan

Toledo is a mere 30 minutes from Pinamungajan. Earlier, I was planning to reach Balamban by lunchtime to have a taste of the famous Balamban liempo. But it was late and I was hungry, so I took my lunch by the Toledo pier. Afterwards, I went to the picturesque John of Sahagun Cathedral to rest. I asked around, and I was given directions to the CEBECO park, and I went via a trisikad (a bike with a covered sidecar). After a short interlude at the park, I asked for directions to the place where I could wait for a bus to Balamban. After a short while, I was on my way to my next destination.

Toledo

Toledo City

Toledo

Toledo City

Toledo

Toledo City

CEBECO, Toledo

CEBECO, Toledo City

CEBECO, Toledo

CEBECO, Toledo City

CEBECO, Toledo

CEBECO, Toledo City

Balamban was a pleasant revelation — progressive and beautiful — as if a lot of thought was spent in designing the place. The seaside park is clean and spacious, and offers a view of the ships being docked at the distance. I passed by a liempo stall and I could not help but gaze lustfully at the chunks of meat cooked over coal.

Balamban

Balamban

Balamban

Balamban

Balamban

Balamban

Balamban

Balamban

Balamban Liempo

Balamban Liempo

As it was getting late, I decided to cut my trip short, and go home to the city via the Transcentral Highway on a van. I had heard of bad rep on this route, as it is said to be accident-prone, so I braced myself, and said my prayers. The road home is the most scenic yet, and my slight apprehension was replaced with awe at the majestic mountains and deep cliffs I passed by. The town of Balamban can still be seen even from a great distance. Thirty minutes later I passed by Ayala Heights and Kan-irag Park, and I was happy to see a familiar sight. By the time the van reached Nivel with a view of the city, I had a big smile on my face. Home.

Later, I had dinner with friends over liempo, as I was craving for it after Balamban. After this trip, I know for certain that I am so blessed to live in this beautiful, wonderful place.

Here’s the tally of the dent I made on my wallet on this trip:

Cebu City South Bus Terminal to Santander — Php 165
Santander to Samboan Php 9
Samboan to Alegria Php 29
Alegria to Sangi Php 50
Sangi to Barili Php 58
Bed space at Shamrock Pension House Php 90
Barili to Dakit Php 10
Dakit to Mantalungon Php 8
Mantalungon to Pinamungajan Php 40
Pinamungajan to Toledo City Php 20
Toledo Cathedral to CEBECO Php 12
Toledo City to Balamban Php 30
Balamban to Cebu City Php 110

For all the beauty I saw, the amount I paid for this trip was practically loose change — though I’m glad I didn’t pay an enormous amount. A Cebuana would always go for a value-for-money deal. Traveling around in Cebu is quite safe. But, as in any place, there are those who would take advantage of stangers, wrangling for a quick buck — after the Alegria and Mantalungon experience, my confidence in motor bike drivers is at an all-time low. Cebuanos are a warm people and would certainly welcome travelers to their towns. People are generally helpful. I am so looking forward to the time when I can have a road trip around Cebu South again.

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