Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Tale of Maria Tang-an in Bojo River, Aloguinsan

While browsing some blogspot pages I've read about the Municipality of Aloguinsan.  What caught my attention was Bojo River cruise and Hidden Beach Resort.

I remember going to Hidden Beach Resort when I was in college. We did a topographic map for our surveying class.  I thought its called Hidden Beach because it wasn't accessible that time.  I remember walking some kilometers through the rough terrain, some parts were muddy before we reached the place. Worse, imagine carrying a tripod.

Bojo River cruise was recently developed by the local government to help the fisherman earn extra income while the catch is not as abundant. Also, drives awareness on the importance of taking care on mother nature. I was impress how these boatman memorized the scientific names on varieties of mangroves. All along I thought there's only one type and its called mangrove. lol  Ok, so biology wasn't my favorite subject.

We have rescheduled this trip for several times for a months now, I guess since last year.  And finally, I can share to you my Aloguinsan trip.

7:00AM - non-aircon bus direct to Aloguinsan leaves Cebu City South Bus terminal. The travel takes about 2 hours and a half.  The ticket costs 80 pesos. The road from Mantalongon to Aloguinsan can be bumpy. There's a limited bus trip so expect the bus to be full including standing passengers.

9:30AM - Ask the ticket boy where to alight. From the main road, take a motor bike (habalhabal) for 20 pesos for another 2km ride going to the main entrance of Bojo River.  Approximately 10 minutes.

9:40AM - From here, a five-minute-walk to the reception area. They accept walk in but they prefer a call especially those who will take their lunch buffet.  Call them at 032-520-2315.

9:45 AM - Who would not be excited to see this? The entrance fee cost 400 pesos. It includes 45 minute to an hour banca ride. Yes you can swim. There's a shower room and mineral water for drinking. A bit pricey?

10:00AM - We settled our things.  I went to the changing room and missed the orientation. The only instruction I got was refrain from shouting.

We put on some life vest.  It wasn't deep but the current of the ocean water coming inland was strong. Lucky for us it was "high-tide". Let the paddling begin.  :)

The tranquil sound of the country was very relaxing, the chirping birds, the splash of the water as the paddle hits it and the symphony of the leaves.  Don't forget to put some UV lotion as the sun's embrace get a little warmer.

Mangroves as we all know it's the breeding ground of the fish.  That's why this place is well protected and maintained by the fisherman.  I like the idea of their involvement and how they understand their responsibility. According to our guide, monkeys used to be abundant here. Unfortunately they were hunted and they fled. Jokingly, he said, some remained and became fisherman.

A diwata named Maria Tang-an guarded this place.  She was a provider of things to the local. Folklore says, a bride borrowed a wedding dress.  She got mad and fled the place for returning it damaged.  The bride was cursed.  No shouting as discussed during the orientation to pay her respect as she sometimes visit the place from time to time.

The water got more clear as we approached the opening to the ocean.  Do not fret, there are no alligators or water snakes here.  But before your take a plunge, put on your rash guards, stings of jelly fish could be itchy.

We stayed here for a few more minutes to swim.  Bring your snorkeling gears to appreciate how rich the marine life is. No corals but there were some rocks and colorful fish (the ones we put in a seawater aquarium). I saw a school fish.  I think they were silver fish (locally known as bolinao)  I could be wrong.

We packed our things at 11:30AM and headed to the town proper for lunch.

400 pesos for this short river cruise could be a bit pricey. But to learn about their sustainable preservation of wildlife, additional income to fisherman and promote local tourism I think it was worth the experience. Plus the people were really friendly and accommodating.