cebu_south_07

Rugged but beautiful South Cebu

At the southern tip of Cebu, the familiar mountains of Southern Negros dominated by the Cuernos de Negros Mountains or Horns of Negros.

At the southern tip of Cebu, in Santander, white sands and pristine waters can be found while the familiar mountains of Southern Negros dominated by the Cuernos Mountains comes into view.

The island province of Cebu can be toured around for two short days with minimal stopovers.

Cebu Ocho. The island province of Cebu can be toured around in two days with minimal stopovers. And that's what we did.

Speak of Cebu and images of the Sto. Niño , the province’s patron, come to mind. And so does the valiant Lapu-Lapu, sweet mangoes, the famous lechon, guitars and beaches. But it is more than that. Cebu is a special and beautiful place. It is also my home.

Cebu's surrounding sea is rich in marine life. Early in the morning, it's a common sight to see fishermen coming in from a dawn catch.

Cebu is an island and the surrounding sea is rich in marine life. Early in the morning, it's a common sight to see fishermen coming in from a dawn catch. Click on photo for a larger image.

Our vehicle sped, tracing the wide cement and asphalt road down south in the first leg of our Cebu Ocho. Concrete houses and buildings gave way to wooden ones, open fields and rolling hills. As we pushed through, kilometer by kilometer, town by town, rural Cebu is unfolding. It’s ruggedness fascinating and it’s bucolic sceneries, breathtaking.

Tourists and travelers don’t get to experience the real Cebu. They just confine themselves within the four corners of their hotel rooms as well as the predictability, comforts and triteness of the city. For most, it’s the highlight of their visit without really knowing what’s beyond the perimeter of the concrete jungle, and thus missing out the real Cebuano character of thriving in adversity and persevering despite the odds.

The island is not as fertile as Negros which has been blessed with soil enriched by a millenia of volcanic eruptions. It is a sliver of land that is mostly elevated limestone, a testament to its geological past. Of the few remaining flat lands, it is hardy that it can only support limited kind of crops. Because of these circumstances, the Cebuano is left with no choice but to look out to the sea or confront and strive to thrive in these conditions.

The white surface of a limestone cliff along the highway tells the traveller that he is nearing the old town of Boljoon. it is one of the scenic spots in the south.

The white surface of a limestone cliff along the highway tells the traveller that he is nearing the old town of Boljoon. it is one of the scenic spots in the south.

An afternoon stroll infront of the Oslob church is refreshing

An afternoon stroll infront of the Oslob church is refreshing and soothing. Click on photo for a larger image.

South Cebu is no exception. Most of it’s land area is mountainous and inhospitable. Roads wind, rise and drop as one drives through but it has one of the beautiful landscapes in the province. Around two hours from the city, the approach to Boljoon is one example.

From a high elevation, the seascape is just breathtaking. One then goes down through curving roads cut through the side of a limestone cliff at the right and the left opens to the sea with a low vertical drop. And suddenly, rounding off the massive chalk of a rocky face, into a cove, the small town of Boljoon comes into view. The waters are just pristine with small bancas anchored a few meters from the coastline. Small houses line the road and then, the centuries old coral stone church looms at the end of a clearing. Awesome!

Decades old acacia trees line the road near the church of Nueva Caceres in Oslob, an old settlement.

Decades old acacia trees line the road near the church of Nueva Caceres in Oslob, an old settlement.

The roads in southern Cebu are well paved and with less vehicles. In Asturias, trees form an arch along a section of the road.

The roads in southern Cebu are well paved and with less vehicles. In Asturias, the branches of trees at both sides of the road meet and form an arch. Click on the photo for a larger image.

The southern part has one of the most pleasant drives I had in the province. Well paved and wide roads is almost always empty except for the occassional bus plying the route. Tricycles as well as passenger multicabs pass from time to time but it is often all yours. Human traffic is also at a minimum.

However, even if there are few vehicles, speed limits are not often observed and with many blind curves. Couple this with the people’s lax attitude in these parts and it can be disastrous. A few years ago, I was speeding near Oslob and suddenly, a child crossed the street. It sent me shaking with fear. Well, unless you are in Tuburan.

In many parts, large, decades, and perhaps, even centuries old trees line the sides and a brief stop under the shade is always advisable.

The western part of Cebu has beautiful and pristine beaches I have seen in the province. These are mostly undeveloped with very few or no bathers at all.

The western part of Cebu has beautiful and pristine beaches I have seen in the province. These are mostly undeveloped with very few or no bathers at all.

A beautifully carved part of a banca along the coast of Barili. Some are in the form of birds and other animals.

A beautifully carved part of a banca along the coast of Barili. Some are in the form of birds and other animals. Click on photo for a larger image.

One thing that will easily catch a traveler’s attention are the pristine and beautiful beaches along the road. There are white sandy coastlines or the ordinary brown and black ones with their occasional bathers and frolickers but most of the time, empty. These are undeveloped, with no resorts or huts or other familiar amenities but still inviting. I can’t just help think that the people living here are really blessed. In other places, people pay to enter into resorts but here, one can just stop, go down and enjoy the sea.

Fishing is a fact of life here but in one stopover, where bancas were lined, I was just surprised and impressed that some parts had beautiful carvings on them. There is always room for artistic expression and Cebuanos are known for it. During low tide in the afternoon, its easy to spot shell gatherers at the shallow waters.

Market day in Dalaguete brings out produce and livestock from the surrounding barrios.

Market day in Dalaguete brings out produce and livestock from the surrounding barrios.

A fruit stall along the highway sells backyard produce at very cheap prices. Just imagine, a big ripe jackfruit, probably three kilos just costs 30 pesos.

A fruit stall along the highway sells backyard produce at very cheap prices. Click on photo for a larger image.

Market day in towns bring out goods and produce and a clearing beside the market can transform into a thriving spot where livestock and bundles of vegetables and fruits are haggled and sold. Piglets in sacks are bought for a future celebration while a herd of goats are tied to a tree trunk waiting for a good price.

Along the road, it is common to see many stalls selling cheap fruits from the backyard and in such stop, one big jackfruit can be yours for as low as 30 pesos. It’s that affordable.

The south of Cebu is rugged but beautiful. It brings you to another face of the province that most travelers and visitors often fail to see. It is a simple but hardy life that molds the persevering spirit of the Cebuanos.

After more than three hours trip to the south, one can't help but stop and admire the coastal beauty in Oslob.

After more than three hours trip to the south, one can't help but stop and admire the coastal beauty in Oslob.

Road trips are always a treat for me. You not only get to see more of the country and know more about the people, but you are humbled to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around yourself. That there are bigger things beyond the city or travel should not be limited to tourist traps and staying at a posh hotel. It’s more than that and the south of Cebu is one good place to go.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

24 Comments

  1. reena
    May 25, 2009 @ 23:57

    guilty! i only stay in the hotels esp in Cebu. 🙂 i enjoy all the photos here.

    btw, i have your e-book na. My fave is the Boat Passenger in Romblon.

  2. gonli
    May 26, 2009 @ 6:41

    Estan, your hometown is one of the best part of the Philippines. The cloud formation along the coast line are truly sights to behold. “Sarap mag-munimuni”I truly like your ending shot!

  3. estan
    May 26, 2009 @ 20:59

    @reena, you really need to go out 🙂 thanx pala, appreciated that you liked the ebook 🙂

    @gonli, thanx 🙂

  4. reena
    May 27, 2009 @ 8:52

    lol. oo nga. i think i’m stuck with the built environment.

  5. Photo Cache
    May 27, 2009 @ 9:17

    Parang brochure itong post mo, gleng gleng. I love that limestone cliff, wow!

  6. Lantaw
    May 27, 2009 @ 14:42

    great vistas bai! I’ll take a roadtrip against staying in a hotel or mall anytime of the day!

  7. Sidney
    May 28, 2009 @ 9:34

    Beautiful… what a shame… I only set foot in Cebu some 20 years ago… and never had the chance to go back :-0
    When I see your pictures I just want to hop on the first plane going there…

  8. An enjoyable ride around north Cebu | langyaw
    May 30, 2009 @ 14:25

    […] roads. It’s a much longer route, more rough and more interesting for me. Earlier, we did the southern end. This, I fondly call Cebu Ocho, in reference to the route we took that resembles the number […]

  9. dee
    June 4, 2009 @ 4:51

    wow…thanks for sharing your road trip down south…i’m from santander and the 3hr. journey home from the city is never boring…breathtaking views.i live out of the country now and seeing your pics just made me homesick.thanks anyway!

  10. jessforget
    June 5, 2009 @ 7:03

    wow! maayo jud! 🙂 great posting about cebu. i’ve been to cebu and have stayed for almost a year never got the chance to wander around tge island. tama ka bai experiencing real cebu is stepping out of the 4 corners of the hotel and the bustling city…

  11. 7 foodstops in Cebu: Catmon/Borbon & Argao | part 2 | langyaw
    August 12, 2009 @ 15:29

    […] Argao A road trip to the south especially after Carcar is a pleasant one and when one reaches Argao, one can see several stands of […]

  12. Cebu’s lonely sentinels of the sea | langyaw
    September 21, 2009 @ 19:07

    […] trip down southeastern Cebu is a trip into a history of blood, predation and the Cebuano’s attempt to defend themselves […]

  13. Outrigger
    December 17, 2009 @ 21:36

    Very informative, thanks for the tips. Photos are great!

  14. Arnaldo
    January 18, 2010 @ 6:08

    I love this Estan. Great job!

  15. Jonathan
    January 21, 2010 @ 19:24

    Sakto gyud ka bai, that bend in the coastal road before Boljoon suddenly comes into view is one of my favorite spots in the south.

    Waaaaaaah, I miss Cebu so much it aches.

    But I will be going home for a short vacation this March!

    Thanks for the splendidly spectacular photos.

  16. estan
    January 21, 2010 @ 20:30

    good luck sa imo bakasyon jon 🙂

  17. It’s all a blur as I’m shuttling to and fro | langyaw
    August 11, 2010 @ 22:49

    […] round of the southern end, […]

  18. michael troy leria
    August 12, 2010 @ 11:48

    About a decade ago, I was assigned to this area (Cebu-South) as a van-salesman in Dranix for three years. I didn’t appreciate this place that much until I read your column–Langyaw. It really made me realize how precious Cebu is and vow to go back pretty soon. On the other hand, I’ve seen beautiful beaches here in California, but Cebu is by far the best in terms of scenic view and white sand. I would like to bring up on something to put some portable restrooms to our beaches.

  19. cute programmer
    April 4, 2011 @ 13:37

    wow! i never been in the deep south of cebu. im planning to be there!

  20. cebuano programmer
    April 4, 2011 @ 13:44

    by the way bro, why is it you have tarsier in your logo? diba wa may tarsier ang cebu? hehehehe

  21. estan
    April 4, 2011 @ 22:17

    @cebuano programmer, that was my langaw logo before, not necessarily for this post. thanx for visiting

  22. AB
    September 18, 2011 @ 11:23

    Estan
    Big huge thanks for producing this piece. My girlfriend and I (currently living in Bali) are planning to move to Cebu, and now, wow, I can not wait. 🙂

  23. estan
    September 19, 2011 @ 21:11

    Andrew, thanx and happy that you find this useful 🙂

  24. xylem
    July 7, 2014 @ 14:48

    Amazing! Cebu is really a wonderful place to visit and explore. =)

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