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Exploring Santander, Samboan and Badian, CebuOct 15, 2011

Exploring Santander, Samboan and Badian, Cebu

Home Alone
It was a long holiday and everybody was out of town...except me. I'd been inundated by work and enough was enough. I had to leave and get lost...even for just a day or two. But where to go? I looked across the water and there was Cebu island. I've heard that the nearest Cebu port, Liloan is only 30 minutes by ferry. I could appreciate a boat ride too. With that, I biked to Sibulan port, caught the pumpboat on its last trip, and in 30 minutes, I was already in Liloan, Santander, Cebu.

The water in the port was clean - I could see through the bottom...a good sign! I roamed around, looking for cheap lodging as usual, but couldn't find any. They had pricey resorts, the cheapest of which was P1500/night. No way! I thought I could still get a shanty-type dwelling for P250, but that did not exist in Liloan. I'm thinking, I'm screwed. I thought I'd be sleeping on a bench by the beach that night.

Eden Resort
Funny thing is, just an hour later, I was already swimming in the infinity pool of the most exclusive resort in Liloan - Eden Resort. I was checked-in at the their P2500/night suite with a balcony overlooking Tanon Strait. That evening, I was feasting on prawns and washing it down with ice-cold beer. All that without reaching down my pocket for cash. How did that happen?

I talked to the owner and showed her what I've done for my clients on the internet, and more importantly, what I can do for her resort - high profile visibility on the search engines. She loved the idea! My terms? Ex-deal on my tab, the difference payable (by them) with cash. In short, the more I order and consume, the less cash they'll have to pay. So, when I asked her if she was interested, her surprisingly pleasant reply was, "How would you like to stay for 2 nights intead?".

Morning the following day was no less pampered. I had my wide balcony all to myself, perched almost right by the reef with Dumaguete in full view across the strait. I enjoy doing my backpacking guerilla-style, but pampered lodging like this isn't bad at all! Notwithstanding, I didn't stay another day. I didn't go backpacking just to be pampered.

Must Eats
I've asked around where to go, what to eat, etc. I already had an itinerary in my head. Firstly, I was told that the famous Carcar chicharon was available at the port, so there was no need for me to take the 2 hour trip to Carcar for chicharon. Cool! Second must-try was their tostado delicacy. But I had to take a motorbike ride to the place where it's sold - Wenceslao Store. Cool!

Jacob's Ladder
Next recommendation by the locals was Jacobs Ladder. That meant going north to the next municipality, Samboan. I boarded a Ceres bus to take me there. Jacob's Ladder was a series of stone steps leading up the church. On the top was what looked like a restored tower-like lookout point (maybe to watch for oncoming pirates, back in the day). Unfortunately, it was closed so I couldn't get to the tower top.

Aguinid Falls
Next stop was Aguinid Falls. I didn't realize that my bus already passed the falls on the way to Samboan. In fact there are 2 waterfalls, the other one is Binalayan Falls. I had to take a tricycle to backtrack a few kilometers. From the highway, it was perhaps a half kilometer walk to the interior. Aguinid Falls is not developed and was rather packed by locals. I can't say it's tourism-grade, but for locals wanting to take a dip and splash around, it was perfect. It's one of those neighborhood secrets you spend your childhood days in - a playground for you and your buddies. It has 5 levels but I didn't go all the way to the top. I noticed that the water had a milky color, which turned me off. I was reminded of the same milky color on a rive in Kalinga that got its color after passing through a mining operation. However, I was told Cebu is mostly limestone so it diffuses with the, it's not a mining issue afterall.

Kawasan Falls
I was told that a bigger and more famous waterfall, the Kawasan Falls, can be seen in Badian, a 90-minute bus ride further up north on the coastal road. Upon reaching Badian, I was told that I had to backtrack a few kilometers again because I already passed it...sigh! A jeep ride solved the problem. From the highway, it was 1.5 kilometers of walking to the interior to reach the falls. The trail is a groomed fire road - you can't get lost. The falls wasn't too high, wasn't thundering, but had a gentle splash where people on a bamboo raft can go under. The plunge pool was pretty wide. But the place was packed. I guess it's because of the long holidays - locals, Koreans, a few Caucasians, etc. There was a hotel, store, resto, picnic tables and benches, etc right by the plunge pool. It was a little too developed for me. Whatever charm it had, I could only imagine. I took a refreshing dip and was back on the road to Liloan to catch the last trip back to Dumaguete.

Fast Craft
This time, I took the Fast Craft (not the pump boat). For P15 more, it delivered me 10 minutes earlier. It helped that we were with the wind and current. The boats coming from the other direction were getting pretty hammered as they battled headon with the choppy waves.

Back to Sibulan
I was glad to still see my bike padlocked on the church wall when I came back to Sibulan. It felt good pedaling my way back knowing the past day has been full of activites and pleasant surprises.

Ending Thoughts

The Irony
It's ironic that I took a road trip to escape work, only to return with a closed deal on a luxurious resort. Instead of my imagined "night on a park bench", I got pampered with upscale amenities on my hotel room.

Nice Little Secrets in Unknown Places
I took off with no itinerary, but I ended up going to new places, meeting new people and eating good shit. Now, I begin to appreciate the little interesting spots an obscure barangay might keep - a local delicacy, a hidden waterfall, caves, scenic view, and you don't necessary get to find these on travel blogs or journals. Next time, I probably will just turn a bottle on a map and take that direction and deliberately not find out anything about the places - I'll just wing it as I ask the locals when I get there.

Being on the Road
While I was back of the motorbike, it was that feeling of epiphany again...a reminder of what I live for - not for work or the money it promises, but the sheer exhilaration of the here-and-now - banking through winding coastal roads with wind in my face, completely unfamiliar with the new place I was in and not knowing what happens next! I was so stoked to be doing this again. I was completely in my elements. I was thinking at that point, "Yeah, this is what it's all about".

--- TheLoneRider

01pumpboat.jpg 02pumpboat.jpg 03pumpboat.jpg 04cebu_view.jpg
05pumpboat_sched.jpg 06fastcraft_sched.jpg 07liloan_port.jpg 08eden_pool.jpg
09eden_room.jpg 10carcar_chicharon.jpg 11tostado.jpg 12jacobs_ladder.jpg
13aguinid_falls.jpg 14kawasan_falls.jpg    
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Journeying JamesJourneying James
(Nov 12, 2011) This is what you were telling me last night. Nice to meet the man behind the blog! Will visit back. Btw, I like the design, so clean...

Team VA PhilippinesTeam VA Philippines
(Nov 1, 2011) Another post from a fellow Pinoy freelancer. We love his succinct style of writing. Do visit his website. Remember Gigit from Survivior Phlippines? :-)

Jove BenosaJove Benosa
(Nov 1, 2011) Santander and Samboan offer ideal spots for snorkeling. Traveled there before in the late 90s and was amazed by the community-based marine sanctuaries. Forgot the extact location though.

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