When our counterparts from our US office visit the country, it is equated to a subsidized tour in some Cebu destinations. The only bad thing for that is if you’re the one in-charge in planning and organizing events for them. If you’re safe from the task, then it is always fun to join these discounted tours. Last summer, we decided to pick the Bojo River cruise in Aloguinsan over the usual and boring, well for me, island hopping activity in Mactan.
Our fellow from the US got interested in the idea of a river cruise and with that, we immediately booked a reservation via the tourism office. A day after a fun run, where a 12-km run made my legs sore, I found myself in a van wobbling the 3-hour ride to Aloguinsan, Cebu. The town is not that widely heard nationwide as it has no majestic falls like Kawasan or massive whale-sharks in Oslob. But the municipality has a river where you can cruise going to the sea.
Bojo Aloguinsan Eco-Tourism Association (BAETAS) is a community based eco-cultural tourism and the package being offered already covers everything from the environmental fee, snacks, lunch, tour guide, and the river cruise itself. We paid Php650 per person for the tour. I heard that you can avail cheaper rates as the number grows bigger.
We were welcomed with garlands and directed to walk on a short trail covered with lush foliage. At the end of the path was a group of women, accompanied by a guitarist, singing some folk songs I didn’t even understand. Language barrier. The sparkling songs they were singing will make you stop, watch, and even join them with glee.
Right before we stepped inside the cottage, they handed each of us a coconut for a refreshing welcome drink. We were supposed to have snacks first but since we arrived at a later time, the organizers decided to serve the lunch and just have the snacks in the afternoon before leaving the place.
Food served is not that varied in terms of options but the simple spread of local cuisine was really filling and satisfying. On a summer day, we savored some grilled fish, savory chicken stew, pork humba, ampalaya salad, and fruits.
There were several groups during our visit but the guides affirmed that they only allow 50-60 guests per day. This is to control the carbon footprint in the tourist attraction and for the tourism activity to be sustainable. The river stretched on a 1.4-kilometer span and is a protected area. It covers 6 hectares and home of 22 mangrove species and around 60 species of bird.
The community, on the other hand, has 41 members with most of them farmers and fishermen. The development of the eco-cultural tourism really helped the locals in the community because they get a portion from the fee. So don’t be aghast with the tour rates as you get to help the people in the locality and at the same time enjoy the beauty of the surroundings as well as the appetizing food that comes with the package.
Before going on board the baroto boats, a short briefing was done as well as the Palina, a traditional way of asking blessings for good luck. One of the guides mentioned that bubbles are natural to the mangrove area and don’t take it as the presence of crocs. She reassured that there are no crocodiles in the river. She also reminded everyone not to take bird’s nests, and maintain a low conversation during the cruise.
River cruise starts from the mangrove area and channels narrow passages still bordered by mangroves. Few meters before the river mouth, towering limestone cliffs will appear on both sides. The view from the river going out to Tañon Strait was really captivating. Our guide insisted to stop for a while to take photos with the limestone cliffs and the river mouth included in the background.
Life vest is provided so you could swim in the sea. The marine life underwater is not below par having colorful and big corals. Since it was around noon when we had the river cruise, the tide went higher and waves became stronger. When a bigger group arrived, we alerted our guides to go back to the jump-off point.
After a rest and a short nap, the local women introduced us to puso weaving. Puso is the local term for the cooked rice wrapped in a casing. On that day, we learned how to scrupulously create the native casing out of coconut leaves. The ladies patiently taught us the proper way of making the artistic rice pouch.
The locals advised us to proceed to The Farmhouse, the hub that also serves as the office accommodating tourists for the Aloguinsan Bojo River Cruise to avail the snack included in our package. The staff prepared our snack comprised of boiled banana and sweet potato, rice cakes, bread, sikwate (chocolate drink), and a refreshing lemongrass drink. It was such a simple and rewarding break after a day in Aloguinsan.
Before heading back to the city, we dropped by Aloguinsan Baluarte. The park, on a hill, provides an unobstructed view of Tañon Strait with cold breeze exaggerated by the trees. The baluarte, made of coral stones and lime, is a testament to the Aloguinsanons’ courage and bravery and a reminder of people’s resilience in times of crisis.
The day tour was indeed a short trip to break the pressure at work. Overall, our main goal to tour our friend from the US was achieved. It was also a great time for him to learn some from the local culture through songs, food, and cultural heritage present. The Php650 package rate was really reasonable with the way the locals accommodate their guests.
JUST A TIP. They mentioned that the river cruise is more enjoyable if it is high tide so better check with the tourism first with your preferred schedule and arrival time. Other destinations in Aloguinsan are the Hidden Beach and Hermit Cove.
How to Get to Bojo River, Aloguinsan, Cebu
We went there in a van from Cebu City. But for the commute, here’s the route you could take. Take a bus bound to Toledo City at South Bus Terminal. From Toledo Terminal, ride a jeepney bound to Aloguinsan Market and flag a habal-habal to Bojo River. If you made a reservation through the tourism office, you will be asked to drop by The Farmhouse first. This is to secure your receipt that needs to be shown to the BAETAS members in Bojo River.
ALOGUINSAN TOURISM OFFICE
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Aloguinsan-River-Eco-Cultural-Tour-321967567122/