It was a relief that after travelling at least four hours from Bantayan Island, then a short 200 meter hike from the roadside, we were welcomed with Cebuano folk songs by the staffs of BAETAS (Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association). I may not fully understand the words but I could feel the collective liveliness from the group vocals to the energetic strums of the lone guitar. We were on the third day of our Oceana Philippines photo safari at Tañon Strait. We traveled southwest to the town of Aloguinsan to experience their Bojo River Cruise, the towns foremost attraction with activities revolving around the 1.4km river leading to Tañon Strait.
We were led to the thatched hut overlooking Bojo River which also serves as the reception area for the Bojo River Cruise guests. It was little past lunch so our eyes lit up at the buffet of local flavors laid on a table from the chicken soup, humba, grilled tuna with a few rice cakes for dessert and special blend of tea. While partaking our lunch, we were also oriented about this community endeavour that seeks to preserve the river, the mangrove ecosystem while providing livelihood to the locals.
The Bojo River Cruise
Our journey starts with a palina ritual, a tradition of wafting smoke along the guest coming from a burning coconut husk in a claypot to ensure safe voyage and in our case, the cruise. An interesting pre-hispanic practice still observed till this day especially during all-saints day. Life vest were given to each which is a requirement. From the small wooden jetty, our outrigger boats paddled through the turquoise-hued Bojo River walled by mangroves and a variety of plants. Our guide was quite knowledgeable of the environ, he cited that there are 96 plant species living by the river which includes 22 species of mangroves. Majority of those are the palm-like mangroves which are used as roof materials for traditional huts. Our guide was even able to distinguish birds from their sounds and there are 61 bird species inhabiting Bojo River.
It was a tranquil cruise as our boatmen paddled towards an inlet where we was saw the transition of the waters from turquoise to a deeper blue. Towering cliff walls open to the vast Tañon Strait like a hole. Interestingly the word “Bojo” pronounced as bo-ho, in Visayan dialect refers to a “hole”, a unique characteristic of this mangrove river cruise. Near the mouth of the cave, guest can snorkel and discover the pristine reef lining the cliffs extending 1km wide across the coastline. It was unfortunate I left my snorkeling gear at our van but one of our companions did snorkel. The dense number of jellyfish dissuaded my interest though.
The cruise only took less than an hour back and forth since not everyone took a swim or snorkeled. When we came back, there were a few women who demonstrated pandan weaving and encouraged us to try and we made our own coasters to take home. There was also a 400-meter boardwalk cutting through the mangroves leading to a hill but it was currently damaged and undergoing repairs when we went there.
The Farmhouse Sidetrip
Since we took a full tour, we also had a snack at the nearby Farmhouse in Aloguinsan. It was a surprise to see an elegant Filipino-home style house turned resto with a warm earthly ambiance with a beautiful garden and organic farm. The hot tsokolate batirol was unforgetably good along with the other snacks like bread, biko and that camote and special house dip. A perfect afternoon snack to cap off this wonderful tour.
Personally, the Bojo River Cruise in Aloguinsan, Cebu isn’t as grand as the other mangrove systems I’ve been to but the effort of the community to instil the local culture and the depth of knowledge the guides have on Bojo River and its environs makes up for an enjoyable and informative experience all throughout.
For booking and inquiries contact Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS):
Phone: (6332) 583.6797
Mobile: Rudney Carcuevas: 0905.9133.055 or 0922.4798.822
Email: [email protected]
Address: Barangay Bojo, Aloguinsan, Cebu, Philippines
The Bojo River Cruise rates are as follow:
- Package 1: Walk-in guests at P400/pax. Inclusion: the river cruise and swimming
- Package 2: Full tour at P650/pax (minimum of 5 pax). Inclusion: welcome lei, welcome drinks, lunch at Bojo River, snack at the Farmhouse, handicraft demo, river cruise and swimming
- Package 3: Students package at P650/pax (minimum of 5 pax). Inclusions: welcome lei, welcome drinks, lunch at Bojo River, snack at the Farmhouse, handicraft demo, river cruise, swimming, Baluarte Heritage Park tour, church tour, parola visit
For those who wish to swim or snorkel, they don’t rent out gears as of the time of writing so bring your own snorkeling gear.
About Oceana Philippines
Oceana Philippines seeks to restore the health, richness, and abundance of the Philippine oceans. By working closely with civil society, academics, fishers, and government, Oceana Philippines will promote the use of sound science based policies to help ensure sustainable fisheries and vibrant marine ecosystems.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.