Pictrure: Oslob Church (by Arnold Sancover)
Maybe out of boredom, there is this crazy idea that comes out. It is one of the few places that I’ve never been to in Cebu and I’m already a year here in this island paradise. I’m tired of hearing car honks and breathing smoke in the city streets. I want to find a respite for a day….and poof! An idea. Makadto ayhan ko sa south? (What if I go south?) Its jam packed with sights that Governadora Gwen has been promoting on media.
Along with my friends Arnold (the heritage buff of Cebu), James & Phil (computer wiz in our barkada), we set off early at 5:30 in the morning, riding a Ceres Bus bound for Bato via Oslob, our first stop in this leg of the journey. Its a 2 hour 30 minutes ride south, the second to the last town in south Cebu. We’re planing also to make stop-overs to towns of Boljo-on, Dalaguete, Argao & Carcar City along the way back to Cebu City. The fare for non-aircon bus is about PhP115.00. Makit-an na lagi ang Siquijor, my beloved Balicasag, Sumilon og Dumaguete! (You can easily see Siquijor, beloved Balicasag, Sumilon and Dumaguete!)
Oslob: Fuerza Paradiso
As we approached our first destination, we were greeted with a great vista of a seaside cliff and sea road. It was romantic. Wow! And I can see easily the diver’s paradise from a distance. Anyway, our first pit stop is Oslob. Sumilon Island’s hometown.
The second to the last town in southeastern Cebu, it is rustic and surrounded by barren hills and the blue sea. Its main attraction however is the Fortress Church of Immaculada Concepcion. This massive church was most likely served also as a fortres due to its thick butresses and massive walls and tall bell tower, much similar to those back in Iloilo and Ilocos. One of the legacies of Fray Bermejo, (who is famous for creating a security network of watchtowers and fortress churches in south Cebu to protect the residents from marauding Moros of the south) it is one of the few churches that has a seal of the King of Spain.
Surrounding its vicinity is the age-old church walls and a ruin of a Spanish-era establishment. Probably a tribunal, cuartel or casa real (tribubal, prison/guardia civil HQ or town hall). Go to the beach and you’ll see a massive ruin of a bantayan sa hari or a watchtower, decayed by nature’s awesome power. Several meters away, another heritage site for the paranormals, the cemetery. It features an arch with a skull and a crossbone.
Whew! It was quite a hot morning (we arrived there by 8AM), so off we go to an eatery besides the highway and drank Sparkle lemon softdrink. The lady told us that: “Bag-o ko ra kamo kakita diri.” (Your new faces here). She gave us a cool serving of the drink and offered for us something to eat. Oslobnons are very hospitable to their weary visitors. I’m sure we’ll get back here I told the lady and thanked her.
If given time and resources, we will opt to go to the diver’s paradise of Sumilon, just 10 kilometers further south from the town proper.
So, off we waited for a Ceres Bus bound back north. Next stop, Boljo-on!
Boljo-on: Fuerza Iglesia Antigua
Arnold has been counting old watchtowers at the coast along the way. The military genius of Fray Julian Bermejo created these numerous watchtowers, similar to those of relay torch towers of Lord of The Rings. We passed by another old church of Nueva Caceres, it is now just a barangay of Oslob.
After a few minutes of travel, we reached our second destination. The cliff and sea town of Boljo-on. I was so awed seeing just the coast line itself. It was so scenic! Ninduta oi! And this small rustic town is proud of their heritage, the church complex of Nuestra Señora de Patrocino. This 200 year old church has been under renovation through the efforts of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc (RAFI). The blockhouse on the southern edge of the complex was made as a church belfry, a prison with ancient sketches of galleons and as a watchtower. With an old catholic school, a convent with its teja roof still intact and a church ceiling painted in its azure glory. War and urbanity must have rarely touch this town! Almost every Spanish stone establishment hasn’t been touched by modernity.
The church is one of the few who were nominated as a new batch for the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List. Truly, if kept in tact by its citizens, this is a treasure they’ll cherish with.
Whoa! Time was really running slow in the countryside! Too early to go back to the city but we waited, and waited and waited for the next bus to come within 15minutes. Hay abaw kadugay ah! Lucky for us, a multicab bound for our next destination approaced us at the roadside. Next stop: Dalaguete!
To be continued…
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