We left Cebu around 9:45 and we finally reached Aloguinsan by noon. After all the media attention that this tour has received, we were surprised that there were no wayfinding signs to Bojo River. We drove up to the municipio and still no signs. So, we just asked and this is the direction we got, - go up on the road to the church, keep going till you see an elementary school, then next will be a high school and just keep going- so we did. Until we were in a very mountainous area- could we be lost. On the roadside, there is a bus that turned over and fell on the side of the road. Hmmm, not a good sign. There was no river to be found. We persisted until we saw this sign:
A few meters from the sign there is a small sari-sari store and a waiting shed and we parked our car beside it. Within minutes, there were representatives of BAETAS or the Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association. They told us that there was a base camp by the river where we could eat and from there we will take our river ride. We took a short walk and had our first glimpse of a TUBOD or spring. They say that there are 100 springs that feed the BOJO river.
A few more meters...
If you are interested to experience this ecotourism initiative by the Bojo fisherfolks, contact the ff:
President of BAETAS: Jomelyn Manigos- 0926-4906-670
V. President: Rudney Carcuevas- 0905-9133-055 or 469-5528
Municipal Tourism office: 469-5604 (Noli/Irene)
They charge P600 per person for a river tour with lunch and snack. For us, since we were considered walk-in guests- they charged us only P300/person without meals. Each guest had a banca and a boatman. We found two kayaks under the base camp hut, so we added P200/person for the use of the kayaks. By the way, they have a very clean and modern bathroom with running water. So, no worries about bathing after swimming in the river and the sea.
|Rudney, the vice president of BAETAS|
|Our knowledgeable and able boatmen|
So, off we went to our individual boats and personal boatmen and eco guides. They told us of interesting tales about the barter trade between the locals and the Spaniards that occured by the mouth of the river, of sea water being cooked in cauldrons of coconut juice and turned into delicious and special sea salt, of a generous cave-dwelling fairy (their version of Maria Cacao), of treasure hunters who blasted the cliffs and the consequential disappearance of the monkeys that lived in the area. The river spans 1.5 kilometers until it pours to the sea. The river is lined by nipa palms and other mangrove varieties. A predominant variety is the saging-saging kind ( its name based on the shape of its propagules that look like miniature violet/yellow bananas). There are also patches of mangrove reforestation efforts. There is also a short bamboo observation walkway one can use to explore the mangroves closely.
Sadly, I don't have any pictures coz I forgot to charge my waterproof camera.
We had the chance to swim in the sea. The water was cool and refreshing, not too salty. Actually, they have a good and diverse marine/coral life in the area. So, next time we want to come back and go snorkeling. After an hour of swimming and watching the sayaw birds, we headed back to the base camp.
Did our tour end, yes and no. Yes, the river tour ended but the interaction with the locals began. One boatman started strumming his guitar and sang and the others joined, so we joined too...
We left around 4pm and we drove to Pinamungahan. Our day did not end yet, we rode our bikes from Pinamungahan to Toledo City. It is a very pleasant ride. Pinamungahan is very flat. We rode on the coastal higway - no traffic, lots of friendly people and beautiful coastal views. The area is lined with affordable beach resorts, with signs that say - SING AND SWIM... Must be a favorite pastime in that area. The traffic started to be congested as we reached Toledo city. We had dinner at the newly opened Mang Inasal at the Metro Plaza. We took the shorter route home via Uling, Naga. By 8pm, we were back in the city.
What a great day- experiencing the therapeutic effects of nature- a flowing river, dancing birds, mangrove forest, blue sea, cool seawater; an easy multi-sport adventure- kayaking, swimming and biking; hanging out and singing with the locals. And we got home safely, Thank you God!