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.

OSLOB, CEBU: An Ultimate South Cebu Escape

Thursday. 7:45 PM. It was drizzling when we flew from Davao City to Cebu. I was a bit worried a low pressure area that day would ruin my most anticipated South Cebu journey. Luckily, it was a fine weather that welcomed us as we landed Mactan International Airport. As I gotten out of the plane, the humid evening breeze was the first thing that I sensed. “Alas, I’m back at Sugbu again!” I mumbled to myself. As soon as we gotten out of the airport, we hurried to a cab to bring us to Cebu South Bus Terminal. Twenty minutes later, we found ourselves sitting at the comfortable seats of Ceres Liner heading to our first destination in South Cebu – the Municipality of OSLOB.

I was mixed emotions while traveling down south of Cebu. I have been to the Island Province for quite a few times now but exploring its southern countryside would be my first. Among the many enticing stories I heard about South Cebu, it is the coastal town of Oslob that convinces me to travel and explore this part of the province. From my research, Oslob teems with different destinations a travel enthusiast like me would love to go. Knowing that, there was a kind of unfathomable excitement that consumed me. In fact, I was wide awake during the course of the 2½-hour travel trying to figure out what was there hidden in the darkness.

It was almost midnight when we arrived at Oslob. We dropped off right at the very gate of the resort we will be staying for the night, the quaint Garden Stay Resort just situated along the highway of the town. It is a very charming little resort with a fresh and tranquil ambiance that pervades an intimate atmosphere of serenity and comfort. The rooms are complemented by fabulous finish and stylish furniture. If the main entrance of Garden Stay Resort faces the highway, I was amazed to find out its backyard faces a charming white sand beach. While inside, I can hear the waves splashing on the shores. I slept the night away with those soothing sounds of the waves tickling my ears. Ahhhh, beach life it is in Oslob!

We woke up early the next day to prepare ourselves for the most anticipated activity one can do these days in Oslob – the whale shark watching. From the Garden Stay Resort, we headed straight to the Whaleshark Briefing and Orientation Center located in Barangay Tan-awan about 15 minutes ride from the town proper. Briefing and orientation is a requisite before diving or snorkeling with the whale sharks they locally called Tuki. With only Php 500.00 fee, we got to encounter face to face with gentle giants of Oslob. (My encounter with the whale sharks of Oslob will be tackled in full account on my next post.)

From our tiring yet breathtaking encounter with the Tukis, we headed off Tumalog Falls about 15 minutes away from Barangay Tan-awan. Also called by the locals as Toslob Falls, it is a beautiful waterfalls nestled in the mountains of Barangay Tumalog. It has different waterfalls features so picturesque to behold. At one side, the waters dropping from a towering height fall directly to the natural pool while on the other side the waters cascade from mini-multi-tiered levels – such a marvelous God’s creation! Seeing it, I became so excited. I ran to the pool and dipped into its cold refreshing waters.

The moment I soaked myself into the cold waters of Tumalog Falls, I instantly felt refreshed. I was like a child enjoying the pouring rain showers from heavens. More than these refreshing waters, Tumalog Falls retains its natural beauty. Though it is slowly eyed to become one of the main tourist attractions of Oslob, it is aptly developed as an eco-tourism site without hurting its natural allure.

From Tumalog Falls, we headed back to the town center to visit the Heritage Sites of Oslob. Not known to many, this southern coastal town of Cebu shared a very colorful historical past during the Spanish occupation in the Philippines. Proofs to that are those heritage sites admirably preserved around the town center.

(inscribed on the stones are as follows)

CUARTEL. This unique structure was built through the effort of El Gran Maestro Don Marcos Sabandal to serve as barracks for Spanish Armies but was halted during the arrivals of American in 1899. The coral stones used for its constructions came from remnants of the collapsed floor of the Church Bell Tower. The walls of the structure which measures 19 centimeter thick still stand. The façade built of coral stones features a double row of arches.

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION PARISH CHURCH. The foundation of the Church was laid on May 4, 1830. The church plan was drawn by Bishop Santos Gomes Marañon, the same prelate who had the kiosk of Magellan Cross in Cebu City constructed. The site was chosen by Fr. Julian Bermejo since it has a bigger size for settlement and at the same time to replace the destroyed church of Daanlungsod, and officially became and independent parish on January 8, 1847. A fire destroyed the church on November 7, 1955. It was restored but was hit again by fire on March 26, 2008. The church was completely restored once again on December 10, 2010.

CHURCH WALLS AND GATES. The Church walls and gates were constructed in 1875 to serve as one of the defense frontlines of the complex against the Moro Marauders. The wall features a series of pyramid top piers that gives a unique townscape component to the old street of Aragones and Eternidad. Some of its part has an inscription indicating the name of the street and the year of its construction.

Having gone whale shark watching, waterfalls trekking and visiting heritage sites, I felt like Oslob alone completed my South Cebu journey. In fact, I now consider it “An Ultimate South Cebu Escape”. Experiencing its enticing attractions was a very good start of my Southern Trip to the province of Cebu. It was a welcome taste of what to expect in this charming part of the province. But of course, just as always said, there is more to see, more to explore in this once sleepy town and the whole South Cebu!

I can sit here all daylong fascinating myself with the coastal beauty of Oslob!

Suroy na! Suroy sa Oslob na!