Argao in 6 Hours

Situated in South Eastern part of Cebu, approximately 68 km from Cebu City. Approximately, one and a half to two hours travel time from the Cebu South Bus Station.

What to do in Argao?

If you’re an adventure junky just like me, there’s plenty of activities waiting for you. You can choose from spelunking to chasing waterfalls or just simply roaming around the Municipality and see the beautiful old structure that’s being well preserve by the people of Argao.

If you’re up for adventures (e.g. cave diving, and water falls chasing and some food trip), the Municipality of Argao has something to offer for your adrenaline rush cravings.

How to Get to Local Tourism Office of Argao?

From Mactan International Airport, take a cab to Cebu South Bus Station which would cost around 150. Take Ceres bus going to bato via lilo-an and tell the asst. driver (conductor) to drop you at Argao’s Town Proper / poblacion. From the bus stop you may opt to take:

  1. a tricycle ride (around 8 pesos each) going to the Tourism office or
  2. just walk.

If you opt to take the latter, from the bus stop, cross the national road, straight ahead, turn right at the first corner then turn left and straight ahead you will see the Cabecera de Argao sign warmly welcomes you to the Municipality of Argao.

It is best and highly advisable to contact the Local Tourism Office of Argao if you want to try spelunking and exploring Balay sa Agta. The reason is always due to safety precautions and the travel time from the Tourism office to the starting point is quite far.

The standard package of the local tourism office costs us 600 each with the following inclusions:

  • habal-habal(motorcycle) ride to and from the tourism office and starting point;
  • snacks (their famous delicacies- torta over a hot locally grown chocolate de baterol/ Cocoa);
  • transit and guide to Bugasok Falls;
  • Payment for two (2) tour guides;
  • equipments (rappeling ropes, saftey gears, helmets and headlights)
  1. Spelungking (Balay sa Agta)

– Situated in Barangay Conalum and is believed to be the dwelling of Argao’s mythical giant, Mangao. Large quantities of guano or bat droppings are found in this cave. Also, one of the largest caves in Cebu.

It is a standard Procedure to have 2 guides one in the front and one at the back, it was risky to assist a team of 2 or more individuals upon approaching the starting point of the cave.

The entire spelunking took us around 3 hours, (1.5 hours) each way, with fruit bats, various rock formation welcomes you and as if waving their best spot for your camera to capture.

The highlight of the exploration was the image of a giant seems staring at you from above (we were requested by our tour guides to switch off our headlights to see the image). Honestly, it was really creepy as if someone really  staring at you having his cigar on his mouth. We tried to take a photo of the giant but we were failed, as if he’s not social creature. 🙂

  1. Bugasok Falls

As part of the package set by the local tourism office, my travel buddy and I took our liberty to capture the beauty of the falls.

After a creepy encounter with the giant, you will be amazed by the eye candid view of Bugasok Falls from the top. As one of our guides find us (me and my travel buddy) a bit adventurous, our guide opt to take us to a nice view spot of the Bugasok Falls.

Before, some professional mountaineers used to rappel from the top and have a nice dip on the falls. unfortunately, when we visited the place, it was no longer allowed. I am not sure for the reason.

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3.Torta & Tablea

Argao is known for its delicacies such as torta and tablea/cocoa. Torta is their version of “mamon” made out of flour, tuba (coconut wine), margarine, yard, sugar on top and milk. We tried Jessie’s homemade torta over a cup of hot cocoa/tablea. The torta has its soft, yet a bit dry in texture (perhaps due to the wine) and the sweetness hot cocoa (due to its freshly harvest/freshly brewed) compliments the torta which made it irresistible and you would ask for more.

  1. Riverstone Castle

Are you familiar with the Medieval Structures and castles back then in your history class? How about pictures of cavaliers and other Medieval aged personalities settled in one place? That is how Riverstone Castle was made of.

It is actually an inn for those tourist who want to indulged themselves in different time and ambiance. The cost per night is 1,000 pesos without breakfast though.

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  1. San Miguel Church

-Every backpacker has their adrenaline for old churches (which Cebu has a lot to offer). A rococo-baroque church built in 1734 but finished in 1788.

(Sample Itenerary for Argao)

Breakdown of Costs:

TIME ACTIVITY COST
5:00 am – 7: 07 am  MLA- CEBU 2,321.92 (Seat sale for 2)
7:20 am – 8: 20 am Airport to Cebu South Bus Station 257.00 (Cab)

 

8:36 am – 10:30 am Depart Cebu South Bus Station to

Municipality  of Argao (via Ceres Bus)

2  hours travel time

 

 89.00/pax
11:20 am- 12:45 pm *LUNCH

**Waiting time at the Tourism Office

Pay Local Tourism Office of Argao for the

activity

 

 

104 for 2 pax

600.00/pax

included in the package

–       Spelungking

(Balay sa Agta)

–       Bugasok Falls

–       Snack (Jessie’s Torta)

 

12:46 pm-1:20 pm Transit to Brgy. Conalum via habal-habal
1:21 pm-5:30 pm Start of Activity

 

5:30 pm-6:00 pm Eat Snack at Jessie’s Torta

Back to Local Tourism office

 

6:05 pm – 9:00 pm – Transit to Oslob for whale Watching  73.00/pax

 

*You can have your Lunch at Carmen’s Eatery the food is nice and it’s budget friendly, it’s a walking distance from the Bus stop so no need to ride a tricycle; There’s plenty of Carinderia along the Highway so you don’t have to worry about starving.

** If you don’t have reservations you have to wait for at least an hour for your tourguides who’s coming from Conalum. So it’s better to have your reservations ahead of time to avoid waiting.

Source:

Local Tourism Office- Municipality of Argao T: 485-8063

Office of the Mayor: T: 367-7542

Escaping Demands from Metro

I had a not so good week. Demand from work and personal stuff piles up and I am about to give up. 

I missed the simple  life away from the buzzin of the metropolis. For the past few weeks I’ve been sooo eager to move out of my routine and hit the road to nowhere.

Right Time Right Route

As  I went home from my work I told my mom how tired I was from the demands of my routine, she told me we’ll hit the road to somewhere – I agreed

With such enthusiasm, we visit one of our relatives whom I could  consider as awesome.

1. I dont need to grab my backpack just to have a nice buko juice- it has been my water replacement since I went to there place.

2. Kids will always be kids- I love seeing kids roaming and I even asked them if they know sesame street and looney toones and even watched tom and jerry and played ‘bubbles’.

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3. Who could say no Fruits? – I mentioned that I had a nice water replacement and I had a nice meal with native chicken for lunch, jackfruit for snack what else could I think of? 🙂

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4. The awesome Weather that could beat the heat of summer- it was draining 30++ degrees of heat in the  metro that I want to say no in  going back.

5. The Family that eats together stays together- as the saying goes, having a nice  meal with the fam compliments the if not makes the time for everyone to be on the loop ー just like being updated with the current affairs of each member. Continue reading

Can I be a Volunteer again?

Anxiety, excitement and mixed emotions caught me right then and there when I met the next batch of volunteers for Cabiao.

I want to tell loads of stories about our experiences, our moans, hardships, down days, the awesome socials we had, our endless exploration of the this small town. But after my endless stories, I stopped and reckon, I should not deprived them of the learning’s that this small town gave me, my counterpart and the rest of the team had.

It was not as easy as one two and three to go back, face the past, and moved on. But what I’ve got from this weekend getaway? It was the realization of the ff:

  • There will be strange feelings that will just pop out of the box- there was this feeling of deja vu, from the matching up to traveling from Phil rice to Cabiao. I still remembered how anxious and nervous I was when the counterparts was revealed.
  • Things will never be the same again.- this is true, when I went back to my host home, I felt as if I am a guest in their house. Yet, when I talked to my host ‘brother’ not ‘father’, he told me that I am still welcome in the house.
  • It is overwhelming to see the new batch of volunteers who will continue what we have established. Some as I had an opportunity to talk with and shared some stories has feelings of anxiousness and if not worry about the standard we established. Well to be honest as well, I told them to just be ‘yourself’; at the end of the day, expectations just come and go, but who will enjoy this journey? Is for them or for you to cherish?
  • Cabiao has been my second home- I never felt that kind of feeling of being secured even if I am not in my own “home”. Perhaps, this small town gave me the sense of belongingness of being a “tourist” yet being a local at the same time.
  • I had a great volunteer experience with great supervisors- I never thought that my “out of the box” attitude that I had would be made possible because I have a supervisor who is not selfish to tame if not put me in a box of doctrines. He even encouraged me and my counterpart to do things that we want to do, but of course within the limits of being “responsible for your own actions”. I could not think of a single word to describe my supervisor who kept on telling me to learn via experience, since “you know the rules, you can now modify it”.
  • Half-hearted- I don’t know if I really wanted to pursue MBA or MCD, which way it would be, I’m not yet ( I think) ready to pursue any masteral degree for this year, but definitely I will take one.
  • Security over happiness and vice versa- when I was in the small town of Cabiao, it gave me the sense of being secured and happy both at the same time. So why is it, I am living near the metro where the life line of the businesses sets in and go would made me feel inferior?

There are loads of questions and uncertain answers, with uneasy feeling of how will I bang it on. But here I am typing in this keyboard over the papers and numbers of the work for tomorrow. All I will think of is how Cabiao made me a better person.

Need to Breathe

3 hours of sleep did not stop me from doing this trip. I arrived home around 10 pm, due to traffic, and I need to do some bailing out agreements so that I can take this weekend getaway.

Most people who work in the metro would take advantage of holidays, long weekends to get out of their routine and travel. Since, I started to work again in the metro where the lowest temperature of the aircon will give you, plus the traffic, beaming lights inviting you to groove with the hip music.

It was not actually a pure weekend getaway, but I opt for an escape of urbanity via volunteer work.

So far, in day 1 of this ‘spontaneous’ trip things and situations before rekindled:

  •  I now fully understand why my hhc wants to go out most of the time. It is soooo cold in an office that all you want to do is sleep or grab a cup of coffee. While, if you’re on the road, you see loads of things (e.g. The fields, birds, Carabao, farmer tilting the land and etc.) will make you feel good.
  •  Going on a trip stimulates your creativity and imagination. – just look at the clouds, how are they formed? Use your imagination to kill the boredom! 🙂
  • There are ups and downside of traveling in daytime.
  • Happy yet unsecured or unsecured yet happy? – would it be mean being happy as you are would make you a selfish person?
  • Sunrise really gives you good vibes. This is really true, I spent the whole week in the metro and living with it made me feel sick and weak, I can no longer see the sunrise since I need to get on and off the bus before it rise or else I need to endure a hunger games like traffic.

Will I hit the road next time? Probably yes, it gave me a sense of direction and re-aligned my perspectives about life which I think no amount of money and even an nth number of books could give.

Mt. Manalmon

Money should not be an excuse to enjoy life!

It was only a day hike but it was more than body aches that I’ve got- new friends, real-life lessons and a free cultural immersion!

Mt. Manalmon- bring it ON!

There were 12 of us with diverse lifestyle, but with same passion and goal for that day-to conquer Mt. Manalmon.

We met at around 7am at the Fivestar Bus station along EDSA in Cubao, and departed on the same for Brgy. Camias, San Miguel, Bulacan. We took local transportation-tricycle from the drop-off point going to Sitio Madlum. There were at least 3 barangays that you will need to pass by and would entail a 45 minute ride.

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Reached Sitio Madlum! Hello Mt. Manalmon.

There are two ways to get into the registration office through the Monkey Bridge or the “balsa”.

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The Monkey Bridge.

Before the real hiking, we were asked to do register which costs us around 70php per head. We have 2 tour guides since we need a front and back guides in case there will someone might get lost.

Upon the orientation, we were asked which trail are we going to take. My friend and I did the talking- we chose the hard one! as if we are already pros.

Our tour/trail guides are Kuya Dong and Kuya Carling who did an excellent job! No one got harmed, nor lost plus we’ve got some trivia about the Mountain.

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Prepared to get wet!

We passed by a virgin stream which was so cold! as if you would like to spend your night there!

Since we took the hard one, we should expect it would be stiff and yes! it was! I thought my asthma would recur during our hike, but it was a mere reaction  that my lungs are working! hehehe..

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The summit.

The hike to summit took only 1 hour and half depends if you have a lot  breaks and capturing moments. When you get into the summit, all the pain, the hardship that you’ve surpassed were all paid! As if you own the world! No one will tell you to do this and that in a snap of their fingers, no pollutants only the nature and the cool breeze!

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Conquered Mt. Manalmon.

All of us were tired, but our adrenalin keeps on telling us we need more! So we indulged ourselves to Bayukbuk cave.

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Bayukbuk cave.

We sweat as if we went to gym and burned some fabs, but we did not. 🙂  If  you are claustrophobic, I suggest try to do some closed-door encounter with your room, lights off, for you to get a glimpse of what is like inside the cave.

The Spelunking experience would start passing by the “male reproductive organ” room, you got the idea what it is like inside that room 😛

Next would be a rappelling down to the music room. It was a bit tough to do rappelling since it rained the day before our spelunking escapade, so it was muddy and the stalagmites and stalactites were slippery aside from the fact that they are sharp.

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Getting ready for rappelling!

In rappelling, you should trust your guide and your body, if they say stretch do it otherwise say goodbye to the world! 😀

This is the music room, supposedly, if you try to tap one of the stones there, you will hear a drummed like echo . I have been longing to climb a helicopter-ladder, I only used to watch those in Indiana Jones movie doing this!

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Helicopter ladder.

Lessons Learned:

It was my second time to do mountain climbing; yet it was another experience that was worth it! It was not a simple escape from urbanity but a mere enlightenment; to act on your dreams and work for reality. I learned it was not tough to change nor explore something new, it would entail courage – yes, but at the end of the day, there will be no regrets, no what ifs. What if I did not join my friend in this weekend getaway? I might regret, – definitely will; what if I don’t allow myself to get used to crowd? A lot or what ifs that I will surely regret or should set as a challenge?

I think this is just the start- that is for sure! There will be more weekend escapades, more mountains to conquer!