I heard of the Bojo River Cruise some years back at one of the booths exhibiting at the Museo Sugbu on one Gabii sa Kabilin. I thought the concept was interesting, especially with the fact that the locals are managing the affairs of the cruise. Later on, I was privileged to listen to Mr. Boboi Costas, consultant for the project, where he explained how the project came to be. After those years, my boyfriend and I finally found the time to jump in a bus and take the cruise.
Bojo River is located in Aloguinsan, a town in western Cebu (bordered by Carcar, Mantalungon and Pinamungajan). We later learned from the tour guide, Nong Pa-ul, that the name “Aloguinsan” came from the word “kinsan,” which is a type of fish similar to the lapu-lapu. We arrived at the river a little early, around 8AM, although already too late for bird watching. From the road, we were greeted by Sir Rudney, the tour coordinator, and he was still sweeping up trash from the dirt road. There was a heavy rain at the area at dawn that day and the soil was still wet when we got there.
To avail of the cruise, one can either walk-in and pay P300 for a one-hour river + educational tour on the mangroves, birds, and other species living in the locality. Add to that talks on the town’s history, current affairs, and daily lives. Our tour guide is a fisherman. He related that they were taught by marine biologists about the scientific names of mangroves and birds and the importance of maintaining or improving the balance of the ecosystem. There are some 20 species of mangroves growing along the banks of the Bojo River, including the pagatpat, the bakhaw and the tonog, which is often added to tuba, the local coconut wine. The Bojo River is also home to 60 birds (some endemic) and more than 10 migratory birds. Along the road to Aloguinsan, we already noticed egrets (one was white and the other was mixed gray-pink) dotting the marshlands. During the tour, we saw a blue kingfisher and a fan-tailed bird, and heard many birds singing. Nong Pa-ul also mentioned that two kinds of local foxes can be found in the area, although he did say there is no sigbin.
Nong Pa-ul was talkative and we loved it. He also shared the story of the monkeys who disappeared and fled to Balamban in the 1990s when treasure hunters blasted parts of the rocks to look for treasures hidden by the Japanese. Nong Pa-ul said the Japanese docked their ships in the cove and from there delivered arms and food to their troops in the area. He also pointed out an arched stone, which he said was the home of a mystical (or mythical? or legendary?) creature named Maria who was very kind to grant the locals’ wishes to borrow utensils. In Siquijor, we also have our own “Marias,” and I guess each town has their own version of the Maria legend.
When we got to the cove, I held my breath. I felt like I was an adventurer seeking for the fountain of youth, and found it. (corny). But, truly, I was amazed because the cove opens to the Tanon Strait and offered us the view of Mt. Kanlaon (albeit hidden by thick clouds) and an area in Guihulngan that collapsed during the 2012 earthquake. Speaking of earthquakes, Nong Pa-ul said that was not the first earthquake he experienced and that his mother said that the strategy to drive away earthquakes is to “bugaw” them as in the way you drive away a pig (brruuu..).
In order to avail of the complete tour package, which consists of a welcome lei, drink and song, snacks, lectures on the environment and the project, river tour, and buffet lunch, one must book in advance. The minimum number of persons required to book is 5, to pay P600 each. We did not book and so we were not welcomed with any leis, drinks, songs or snacks. We also thought we would not be eating lunch there, but Sir Rudney was kind enough to feed us monggo soup, humba, rice, and coke — the food that the staff was eating that day.
To get to the river, we took a 5AM bus to Pinamungajan, then rode a tricycle to Aloguinsan. We arrived in Aloguinsan at around 7:15. We had breakfast at the Aloguinsan Market, clean and dry, and has relatively several choices of food stalls. After that, we rode a habal-habal to Bojo, arriving there at 8AM. We were very prompt, Sir Rudney was surprised. We chatted a bit with Sir Rudney, and then proceeded to walk the 100 meters boardwalk and climbed 115 steps to the top of a hill to get a view of the river from above. There was a hut at the hill and we were there for about an hour because I fell asleep. I could fall asleep anywhere. We went down, back to the main reception area, and proceeded with the river tour that took us around 40 minutes (back and forth). We could have swam at the mouth of the cove but seeing sea lap the rocks sent chills to my bone and froze me to my seat. I asked Nong Pa-ul to turn the boat around. After more chatting with Nong Pa-ul, eating our surprise lunch and paying for it, we bid adieu, and rode a habal-habal to Carcar via a transcentral road. Scenic, I must say, but kinda dangerous.
By 3PM, we were back home in Cebu City. I thought that the river cruise is a great idea, not novel, but great. I loved that each person is a real stakeholder in the project, and we saw that each member of the organization performed their roles well. The river was really clean and well-maintained. There were no 5-star cottages and no concrete pathways, but there was warmth and friendship in the tour guides.
Check out the VIDEO here –> Bojo River Tour
We spent less than P700 for the whole trip. The breakdown is as follows:
Bus from Cebu to Pinamungajan – 80
Trike from Pinamungajan to Aloguinsan – 15
Breakfast @ Aloguinsan Market – 47
Motorride to Bojo – 15 (ask the habal-habal driver to fetch you at a certain time)
Bojo river tour – 300
Lunch – 100 (although one can’t order food there, we were just lucky)
Motorride to Carcar – 100
Bus ride to Cebu City – 40
Contact Sir Rudney, the tour guide, at 0905-913-3055 or 0922-479-8822