A small town located on the western seaboard of Cebu, Aloguinsan is gaining renown for its nature tours that advocate sustainable and responsible tourism.
One of the notable activities for town visitors is a downstream ride on a small baroto (wooden boat) along the Bojo River as fishermen guide point out mangrove and other flora as well as bird species.
Aside from the river cruise, the town also offers a culinary treat at its organic farm and exploration of a cove that was once home to a hermit more than a hundred years ago.
The town, which faces the island of Negros, is 72 kilometers via Toledo and 58 kilometers via Carcar from Cebu City. It is reachable by vans for hire or buses via Toledo City. Those with their own transport may take the Carcar City or Toledo City route going to Aloguinsan.
NATURE RESERVE. The Bojo River Nature Reserve covers an area that includes the 1.4 kilometer-long Bojo River Nature Reserve and the surrounding environment that serves as home to 61 bird species and remarkable native flora. (Photo by Boboi Costas)
The Bojo River Village Tour
Just two kilometers from the town center of Aloguinsan is a village of local fishers and their families. They protect the Bojo River Nature Reserve, an area that includes the 1.4 kilometer-long Bojo River Nature Reserve and the surrounding environment that serves as home to 61 bird species and remarkable native flora.
The community manages the Bojo River Village Tour, which involves a ride downriver as a fisherman guide point out mangrove and bird species along the riverbank.
A 400-meter long boardwalk that cuts across the mangrove forest provides the option of going on a trek along the river. The bamboo boardwalk connects to a 150-step natural trail carved on a hillside that leads to a gazebo overlooking the river landscape.
Aside from the river cruise with its corresponding orientation and short lecture on mangroves and wildlife, the Bojo River Village Tour includes an ancient send-off ritual performed by a village medicine man, a mat-weaving demonstration, and a buffet lunch.
If guests request it, the community — which has organized into the Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS) — can also run bird-watching tours and stage a special cultural performance with the river providing a stunning backdrop.
Green Culinary Adventure at The Farmhouse
Still in Aloguinsan, a group of local farmers has enthusiastically adopted natural farming methods to be able to produce food organically.
At the Farmhouse, good health and sustainable living practices are raised to a new level. The restaurant uses locally grown ingredients to prepare traditional dishes that draw on Spanish and Chinese influences.
It is one exciting, flavorful, and trend-setting culinary experience that shouldn’t be missed.
THE FARMHOUSE. At the Farmhouse, good health and sustainable living practices are raised to a new level. The restaurant uses locally grown ingredients to prepare traditional dishes that draw on Spanish and Chinese influences. (Photo by Boboi Costas)
This culinary adventure tour includes a walk around the vegetable farm, livestock area, chicken coop, vermiculture and tilapia pond. Guests are treated to a demonstration of how the puso (rice cooked in diamond-shaped containers made of palm leaves) is made.
Want to bring some of those fresh vegetables in season home? You get to harvest what you need through pick and pay.
The tour, which is managed by the Cultural Heritage for Aloguinsan Tourism (CHAT), ends with a mouth-watering buffet lunch.
Exploring The Hermit’s Cove
Guests can also choose to relax in a secluded cove where a hermit once made his home more than a hundred years ago. With its fine white sand and swaying palms and crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful marine life, it’s not difficult to see why he picked this bit of paradise.
Today, a community of fishermen and their families call the Baybay Cove in Kantabogon home. They celebrate through songs and stories the hermit’s exploits and extraordinary life.
Only five minutes by motorized banca from the town center, a tour of this tropical destination includes snorkelling with a local guide at the underwater garden within the 18-hectare marine protected area.
Be amazed at the majestic myriad of fishes, corals, and marine turtles that are plentiful in the area. If you’re lucky, you just might get to see some whale sharks.
Lunch is an authentic fisherman’s fare prepared the ancient Filipino seafarer’s way. Witness as well the community’s old fishing rituals and techniques and its traditional arts, and participate in handicraft-making.
Tour itineraries and structure vary, depending on weather and tide. The tour is being managed by the Kantabogon Ecotourism Association (KEA).
TREK. A 400-meter long boardwalk that cuts across the mangrove forest provides the option of going on a trek along the river. The bamboo boardwalk connects to a 150-step natural trail carved on a hillside that leads to a gazebo overlooking the river landscape. (Photo by Boboi Costas)
Aloguinsan eco-tour rates
Walk-in package is P400 per head and includes river cruise and swimming.
The full tour package is P650 per head for a minimum of five persons. This includes a welcome lei, welcome drinks, lunch along the Bojo River, snacks at The Farmhouse, handicraft demo, river cruise, and swimming.
A student package is P850 per head for a minimum of five persons. This includes a welcome lei, welcome drinks, lunch at The Farmhouse, snacks along the Bojo River, handicraft demo, river cruise, swimming, and a tour of heritage sites such as the baluarte (heritage park), old stone church, and parola.
Interested in any of these tours? For booking or inquiries, call the Tourism Office at (+6332) 469-9041, Rudney at 0905-913 3055, Jamaia at 0922-658 0094 or 0949-375 8978, or Jerry at 0917-730 9757. It is recommended that guests book at least two days ahead. You can also contact the community through their Facebook page.
Getting to Aloguinsan
There are several transport services from Cebu City to Aloguinsan, including a van for hire, rent-a-car, and bus, going to Toledo City. You can also bring your own transport and take the Toledo City or Carcar City routes. Travel time is around two hours.
Where to stay
The accommodations in Aloguinsan are in or near the town center. These include:
Call: 0920-118 3050 or 0922-395 7519
You may also want to experience homestay accommodation of which the town has plenty to offer.