THE SAN GUILLERMO DE AQUITANIA CHURCH OF DALAGUETE

The Municipality of Dalaguete in Southern Cebu is also a destination of its own. I discovered this when we hurriedly toured around the town before ascending to Osmeña Peak. The town in itself is a heritage site to consider. It is dotted with several historical structures, heritage parks, and old colonial houses that defined the antiquity of this once a sleepy town. The most famous among these structures is the baroque-rococo church of Dalaguete – the Parish Church of San Guillermo de Aquitania.

The institution of Dalaguete as a town started when it became a Visita of Carcar in 1690. It was later established as an independent parish in 1711. The present church today that erected at the town’s Poblacion was constructed in 1802 and was completed in 1825. Following that year, a church rectory was constructed and was finished in 1832. In 1860, a grand octagonal three-story church belfry was also built.

From the inscriptions found on the front door, I learned that in the early 1800s, the church served as a fortification protection of the townspeople against the Moro attacks. In the following years, the church underwent series of renovation and restoration. On April 16, 2004, Parish Church of San Guillermo de Aquitania is declared as National Historical Landmark. Today, it is one of the most well-preserved baroque-rococo churches in the whole Province of Cebu.

Dalaguete’s San Guillermo de Aquitania Church is a significant example of Filipino-Spanish great architecture and now one of the few remaining grand church-fortress complexes in the Philippines. 

Traveling to Dalaguete made me see how blessed the Province of Cebu is being home of the different heritage sites to boast in the country. In fact, it makes the town worth seeing and discovering. Visiting the town is very easy. It is two hours away from Cebu City. There are no classy hotels to stay here. If you’re the type of a traveler looking for posh hotels, you cannot find it in Dalaguete. But rest assured all the destinations that await for you there will definitely take your breath away. 

DALAGUETE is the Summer Capital and Vegetable Basket of Cebu Province

Aside from historical places and heritages sites, there are other destinations worth visiting when in this southern town of Cebu. Being the Summer Capital and Vegetable Basket of the Province, Dalaguete is host to some of Cebu’s remaining natural heritage sites – breathtaking mountain ranges with its chilling natural breeze, enchanting forest patches that are home to some of the world’s most endangered flora and fauna, and coral reefs teeming with diverse marine life.

Mantalongon Highlands, the gateway to Osmeñs Peak

MOST OF ALL, Dalaguete is the gateway to reach Cebu’s highest point – the photogenic OSMEÑA PEAK. Watch out for my next post.

Getting to Dalaguete From Cebu City
One can find the Municipality of Dalaguete in the Southern part of the beautiful Island Province of Cebu.  Once you arrive in Mactan International Airport, just call for a taxi or a vehicle for hire to bring you to the Cebu South Bus Terminal. From the terminal, choose any of the buses available:

Air-conditioned Vehicles:
– Ceres Bus Liner
– Sunrays Bus Liner

Non Air-conditioned Vehicles:
– Ceres Bus Liner
– Sunrays Bus Liner
– Natalie Bus Liner
– Villahermosa Bus Liner
– D Rough Riders Bus Liner

The Travel Teller with the Locales of Dalaguete

TINGKO BEACH OF ALCOY, CEBU

Two years ago, when I was planning holidays in Borneo, I listed several must-see places based on my research from the internet. Most of those are within Kota Kinabalu, the heart of the tropical island of Borneo. Just when I thought everything on the list is superb, my unplanned adventure to Kinabatangan River outside of Kota Kinabalu as recommended by some locals proved that there is more to discover, more to explore than relying everything on the internet. Tip of advice, just ask the locals.

The same thing happened during my South Cebu trip. If I never asked a local about other spectacular destinations other than what’s on our list, I would have no inkling of how exciting South Cebu can be. Just like the ones in Alcoy. If I never asked what lies ahead there, I would never have a clue that there is one beach in this town endowed with crystal clear blue sea and sparkling white sands so beautiful yet open to the public. They call this – the Tingko Beach.

Highly recommended by the locals, Tingko Beach was our next stop after our informational tour at Boljoon. And so from Boljoon, we took a bus bound for Alcoy. As we traveled our way to our destination, the inviting coastal view of Southern Cebu made me more thrilled to see this spot. I remembered how excited the local was while narrating beauty of this beach. I should find that out, I said to myself.

After twenty minutes of traveling, the bus conductor signaled we were already at Tingko Beach. As we dropped off, the midday sea breeze gently caressing my suntanned skin was the first thing that I noticed. “Oh the beach, I can feel the touch of the beach”, I thought. Excited, we followed the trail from the main road going exactly to the shores of Tingko Beach. In just a minute or two, we found ourselves marveling at one of the finest white sand public beaches in the Southern Cebu.

Tingko Beach boasts of its extensive stretch of arcing shoreline, about a mile long with sparkling powdery white sand and crystal clear blue water. Adjacent to the shoreline are lined up coconut palm grooves and some limestone cliffs attributing more to the beauty of the beach.

Stunned by what I saw, I put down my backpack and hurried to the shores. We were so lucky there were only a number of beach goers that day. That meant the beach can be ours as along we wanted it. Not wasting a second, I took every opportunity photographing every inch of this paradise. The view was just so implausible. More than its picturesque seascape, the tranquility of Tingko Beach is so infectious. Being on the road almost sleepless for two days was really exhausting but seeing the serene beauty of this beach awakened my senses. I felt so recharged.

Talking to some local beach goers there, I learned that the beach is so famous among the locals of Alcoy including its neighboring towns. It becomes even crowded during weekends where beach lovers from different places, locals and foreigners alike, flock to enjoy the sand, sea and sun. Although a public beach, Tingko retains its clean and sparkling environment apt for swimming or just bumming around. At nearby limestone cliffs, I noticed numbers of charming white houses and stunning arrays of nipa huts specially built for visiting guests who want to spend overnight or stay for a short vacation.

Still overwhelmed by the enticing allure of Tingko Beach, we stayed there for a couple of minutes trying to memorize everything it has to offer. I wished I had the luxury of time I could stay there even for a week, I muttered to myself. But only in my dreams, I added.

After luxuriating ourselves by the marvelous seascape before us, we decided to move on and head off for our next destination! Thanks to the helpful locals of Cebu, it was not on our list but we’ve made it. We had a taste of Tingko Beach! It was such a lovely public beach!

TRAVELING TO ALCOY: The Municpality of Alcoy can be reached in less than two hours from Cebu City. Buses that travel to the Southern part of Cebu province including Alcoy are all stationed at Cebu South Bus Terminal.

BOLJOON: The Heritage Frontier of Cebu Province

Continuing my South Cebu journey, our next destination after Oslob is the Municipality of Boljoon, one of the oldest towns in the southern part of Cebu Province.

Boljoon is about 20-minute bus ride from the town center of Oslob passing the scenic coastal roads of South Cebu. Unlike Oslob, this quaint coastal town is bordered by cliff and luxuriant hills with an imposing view of Bohol Strait in its eastern side. The tall mountain ranges dotting on the side with lushes of natural forests made the town more picturesque and serenely quaintest.

As we got to the town, we dropped off the nearby Municipal Hall just situated along the highway. Like most Municipal Halls of South Cebu, it is situated along the coasts of the town. The moment I stepped out of the bus, I was carried away by the beautiful scene that swathed me at an instant. The serene Bohol Strait, the verdant hills, the striking coastal road and the old rugged structures blended together creating an irresistible charming scene that left us dumbfounded.

Being one of the oldest towns in southern Cebu, Boljoon’s history is rich and diverse dating back pre-Spanish occupation in the Philippines. Before the Spanish occupation in 16th century, Boljoon is already an established settlement of the early inhabitants of Cebu. They already had a complete community system long before foreign invaders arrived in the Island. 

Five years back, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the University of San Carlos-Cebu in collaboration with the National Museum initiated series of excavations known as Boljoon Archaeological Project to gather archaeological finds to support the accuracy of the pre-Spanish history of the province.

The project was a huge success. All archeological finds unearthed during the excavation including those skeletons, artifacts, antique jars and plates prove that even before the Spaniards came and claimed to have brought civilization to our land, our country already had a thriving community system and cultural heritage that is distinctly Filipino. Boljoon is a perfect example.

All the archeological finds excavated in Boljoon are now housed in Boljoon Musuem including a golden necklace and a golden earring dating back 15th century said to be worn by the most important person of this ancient community.

When the Spaniards conquered Cebu, Boljoon flourished as one of the most important towns of the South. According to the history, the town was created in 1598 and a year later, the Parish of Boljoon was established. Although there were disputes of when the parish was officially established, the present parish church however was first constructed in 1783. It was fully completed with a church convent in 1841.

Boljoon Church or the Patrocinio De Maria Church is veritable showcase of old and intricate carvings and bass relief. It is also pseudo-baroque rococo with beautifully decorated interior. It has a main nave and transcript and has twenty-eight pillars, two meters thick and made of mortar and lime, which support the walls as thick as the pillars.

Today, the Boljoon Church is the oldest remaining original stone church in the whole Province of Cebu that is relatively well preserved. It was declared as National Historical Landmark in 1999 by the National Historical Institute and a year after that the National Museum declared it as a National Cultural Treasure.

Aside from the Patrocinio De Maria Church, there are other heritage sites and structures that are well preserved in Boljoon until today.

Boljoon Church Archaeological Site
Boljoon Municipal Hall
Patrocinio De Maria Church Belfry & Rizal Monument
Escuela Catolica

HAVING GONE TO BOLJOON, I’ve learned things that made me proud of my race as a Filipino. The ancient finds prove that we have cultural heritage that is distinctly – lahing Pinoy! Seeing all these, I came to believe that indeed Boljoon  is the heritage frontier of Cebu Province!

TRAVELING TO BOLJOON: The Municpality of Boljoon can be reached in two hours from Cebu City. Buses that travel to the Southern part of Cebu province are all stationed at Cebu South Bus Terminal.