Just outside the compound of the Inmaculada Concepcion parish church in Oslob, southern Cebu, stands a forlorn statue of a slightly hunched priest holding a cross — as if to offer a blessing — while looking out to the open sea.
The statue is that of Fr. Julian Bermejo, an Augustinian priest who played a pivotal role in protecting Cebu and other parts of the Visayas from devastating Moro raids in the 19th century.
He was called “El Padre Capitan” and served as the commander-in-chief of the defense network, centered in nearby Boljoon, against Moro raiders who staged regular pirate attacks for looting and slave raiding, said Paul Gerschwiler in his book “Bolhoon A Cultural Sketch.”
Behind his statue are the ruins of a watchtower, a defensive structure that he organized into a grid that served as sentinels against the marauding Moros. That network and the defensive system he set up ultimately stopped the pirate raids in the middle of the 19th century.
After a steep two-kilometer climb that had the smell of burnt rubber wafting in the air as we got out of the parking area and a harrowing motorcycle ride of less than a kilometer of bad and steep road, we found ourselves in the breathtaking, almost ethereal Tumalog Falls in Oslob, southern Cebu.
We were there only to view the falls and did not bring a change of clothes but the temptation to jump into the pool and take a shower was so strong we had to console and restrain ourselves with the thought that we would be coming back and very soon.
Tumalog Falls comes at you like a scene out of a fantasy movie set. If you were to think of paradise, part of that montage in your head will contain scenes you’ll see in Tumalog: luscious greenery and a gentle shower of cascading fresh water. It almost feels like an elf or fairy will peek from one of its cluster of bamboos.
If you ever find yourself in Oslob or are planning to be there for whale-watching, you should make time, say an entire afternoon, to visit Tumalog Falls. It’s worth 10 times the effort and time to be there.
Getting to Tumalog Falls
Oslob is about three hours away from Cebu City. If you’re driving your own vehicle, getting to Tumalog is straightforward. Just head to the intersection marked with a large billboard. It is a steep road. If you’re coming from Cebu City, Tumalog Falls is several kilometers past the town center but before the whale shark-watching center in the town.
If you plan to commute, you can take a bus at the South Bus Terminal in Cebu City and ask to be dropped in Tumalog Falls. There are habal-habal units or motorcycles for hire at the highway that will bring you to the parking area at the falls for P30 per person.
From the highway, Tumalog Falls is about 2 kilometers of steep and winding road that ends in a parking area. You can no longer drive a 4-wheel vehicle to the falls from there.
Entrance to the falls is P20 per person, which is collected at the parking area by barangay attendants.
Habal-habal drivers will offer to drive you to the falls for P50 each roundtrip. If you’re up to a short walk of less than a kilometer, I suggest you walk rather than ride a motorcycle. The road is steep and bad and the trip can be scary for those not used to riding a motorbike. In fairness to the drivers, however, they traverse this span multiple times a day and are adept at navigating it. Walking, especially if you’re part of a large group, is enjoyable and allows you to slowly take in the magnificent vista of Tumalog.
Crowded on weekends, holidays
We were there late afternoon on a weekday and were lucky there were less than 10 people around. On weekends and holidays, however, the place can get crowded and several visitors have reported littering by tourists.
A tourist guide friend of ours, Ka Bino Guerrero, posted photos of the trash left behind by tourists during the Holy Week rush. He said he found litter enough to fill 10 large garbage bags. Guerrero posted the photos on Facebook and called on people to be responsible visitors.
When we were there, however, the place was generally clean except for a bottle and a junkfood plastic wrapper near a makeshift bench.
If you have the chance, visit the Tumalog Falls before it is ruined by boorish tourists.
Here are the top stories for today, March 21, 2015:
More development in IT Park
Property developer Ayala Land Inc. will invest around P8 billion for a 2.2-hectare mixed-use project inside its own development, the Cebu IT Park in Lahug, Cebu City.
The project is called the Central Bloc. It will house two business process outsourcing (BPO) towers, a five-level Ayala mall, and a 214-room Seda hotel.
The new project, which broke ground on Friday, is expected to generate 17,000 jobs upon completion in 2019. About 14,000 of these jobs are expected to come from the BPO sector.
The BPO towers will accommodate local and multinational firms that wish to expand their operations in Cebu while the mall is expected to house a total of 500 local and international brands and offer a gross leasable area of 24,000 square meters.
The management said they will add two more access roads to Banilad to support the road requirements of Ayala’s existing and future projects in the Cebu IT Park.
The fire department in Oslob admitted they were not able to respond to the forest fire in Barangay Canangcaan because no one told them about it.
Authorities are now verifying reports that a 14-year-old boy may have caused the fire, which broke out in steep terrain. Residents in the area failed to stop the forest fire because of the steep terrain and their lack of water sources.
The fire destroyed around 60,000 trees of varying species, such as kakawati, robles, ipil-ipil and molave, and worth Php 285,000, according to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7.
It was one of the critical plantations under DENR’s National Greening Program (NGP). The nine critical NGP plantations in Central Visayas are in Oslob and Argao in Cebu; Ubay, Buenavista, Getafe, Pilar and Talibon in Bohol; and Ayungon and Bindoy in Negros Oriental.
DENR 7 director Dr. Isabelo Montejo ordered the immediate monitoring of all 20 NGP plantations in the region and setting up of community fire brigades to counter the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.
With the endorsement of the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7, Central Visayas is asking for P108.86 billion in programs and projects, including roads, in the national budget for 2016.
The budget proposal is divided into four parts: development administration (P427.44 million), social development (P55.310 billion), economic development (P3.730 billion) and infrastructure (P49.395 billion).
Cebu has the biggest budget for social development at P38.285 billion and infrastructure, at P21.858 billion.
However, the total amount does not include yet Cebu City’s infrastructure projects because these lacked an endorsement from the Cebu City Development Council.
This year’s first Suroy-Suroy Sugbo will head to Cebu attractions in the southern city of Carcar and towns of Barili, Moalboal, Alegria, Malabuyoc, Oslob, Boljoon, Dalaguete, and Argao.
The Suroy-Suroy Sugbo Southern Getaway is a three-day, two-night trip that involves visits to heritage sites like ancestral homes and Spanish period structures as well as nature sites like hot springs and waterfalls.
Happening shortly after the Sinulog Festival 2015 celebration, the year’s first Suroy-Suroy Sugbo will run from January 21-23, 2015.
Suroy-Suroy Sugbo itinerary
The first stop of the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo itinerary is the historic city of Carcar where guests will be taken on a tour of Mancao’s ancestral house. They will then continue on to another sprawling early 20th century house in Barili before leaving for one of the town’s natural marvels.
Said to be the tallest in Cebu, the 98-meter high Mantayupan Falls will be the last stop in Barili before the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo group zooms off to a brief visit in Moalboal before departing for Alegria.
Other exciting things in store for Suroy-Suroy Sugbo guests:
Alegria – Visits to Alegria Heritage Park and demo farm Malabuyoc – Swimming at Mainit Springs Samboan – Swimming at Aguinid Falls and a tour of the church and Escala de Jacob Oslob – Church and museum visit Boljoon – Church and museum visit Argao – Cabecera de Argao tour and Argao Nature Park visit
Southern Getaway rates
Suroy-Suroy Sugbo rates range from around P7,000 to P14,000 per person based on double occupancy or twin sharing room accommodations for the two nights of the trip.
Aside from resort rooms, the per person cost of the tour already includes meals and snacks as well as transportation all throughout the tour. The higher rates are for stays in luxury resorts like Badian Island Resort and Spa and Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort.
Other resorts tapped by organizers are Club Serena in Moalboal and Brumini Beds and Beach Resort in Oslob, Sole ‘E Mare in Panagsama Beach, Moalboal, BCD’s Place in Tanawan, Oslob, Loves Beach Resort, Villagio Italia Inc., Noblesse Resort, Marcosas, Club Fort Med, HK Beach Resort, MB’s Resort.
The lowest rates are based on triple or quad sharing room accommodations.
For booking and inquiries, visit the Cebu Provincial Tourism Office at the 2nd level, west wing of the Provincial Capitol Building or call 253-5642 (tap on number to call on your phone), Cezar Almirante at 0933-4541432, Lino Belarmino at 0923-9344519.
If you’re planning a Cebu trip during the Holy Week break and feel that the holiday island of Bantayan will be too crowded, you might want to consider Boljoon and its neighboring towns in your travel itinerary.
Many tourists now consider Boljoon as an alternative Cebu destination during the Lenten season, Mayor Merlou Derama said.
It is not difficult to see why. Boljoon sits, like a postcard picture, on a narrow strip of land between the towering green mountainsides and bright blue seas.
Travelers come across Boljoon when the coastal road makes a sharp turn along a colossal promontory that hides the town from view. Boljoanons consider this natural rock formation one of the town’s landmarks and call it Ili Rock.
I’ve been to Boljoon several times but I’m never tired of the sight that greets me when our vehicle completes that bend in the road. From that spot some distance away from the town center, Boljoon is laid out in a picturesque marriage of land, sea, and mountain.
The town is also a jump-off point for travel to the nearby towns of Oslob with its whale shark watching attraction as well as Samboan and Santander, which are the last two towns south of Cebu island.
This southeastern town was a prime target of Moro attacks in the early 17th up to the 19th century possibly in retaliation to Spain’s attempt to conquer and subjugate Mindanao, according to Paul Gerschwiler in his book “Bolhoon: A Cultural Sketch”.
He said one destructive raid that occurred in 1782 reduced the town to ashes – its houses and church burned – and prompted a Spanish priest assigned to the parish in 1802 to organize a proper defense system against the Moros.
The priest’s name was Fr. Julian Bermejo and he was behind many of the Spanish colonial structures that have become major Boljoon travel attractions.
These centuries-old buildings, located within the Parish Complex, are enclosed by almost intact ancient stone fortifications and include the Patrocinio de Maria Church, El Gran Baluarte, and rectory. Also worth visiting are the old cemetery walls and gate, American era edifice called Escuela Catolica, Plaza Bermejo, and museum.
Farther away from the town center, there are 19th century houses, an old spring called Baño sa Poblacion, and baluartes (watchtowers).
For more information about the town and its many attractions, we have a mobile web guide to the town as boljoon.myguide.ph.
When it comes to accommodations, the town has a choice of seaside resorts and inns as well mountain retreats.
Many of these places are just by the sea or near it. They are affordable and easily accessed from the coastal road that runs through Boljoon.
Club Fort Med is nestled between the mountain and the sea. It is a combination of fine white sand, lush gardens, and quaint cottages on a hectare of seaside land. There is also the Granada beach house, which is an eight-bedroom rustic property set atop a cliff with a 180-degree view of Boljoon’s seas.
Since the beach is located about a kilometer from the main road and reached through a narrow winding road, it is secluded and very private.
Noordzee Hostel offers both budget rooms that appeal to backpackers. On its rooftop is the Noordzee Restobar which serves Dutch cuisine.
Palanas Farm and Resort distinguishes itself by its location, which is not by the seaboard but in a tranquil valley of the rural town. Getting to this mountain retreat is through a well-paved mountain road. For a list of more places to stay in Boljoon and what they have to offer, go to boljoon.myguide.ph.
Centuries-old churches of various architectural influences that were built during the Spanish occupation of Cebu can be found along the entire stretch of the mainland and even in satellite islands. A trip down Cebu’s southern part is a glimpse into the religious aspect of Spain’s influence on Cebuano heritage.
Spanish period churches in souther towns and cities:
1. Sta. Teresa de Avila Parish Church in Talisay City
• Church construction started in 1836 and was completed in 1848, roof was replaced in 1877 after it was destroyed by a typhoon
• Located at the city center, near the old City Hall
The structure bears influences of Greek and Roman architectural styles in the use of Doric columns to support a second floor balcony that serves as an awning shielding the entrance and in the arches used on the massive domed-roof belfries flanking a recessed facade.