Sunday, January 20, 2013

Kopi Talk Another reason to love Cebu

Another reason to love Cebu
If you think you have seen much of Cebu, then try exploring beyond the city for a change.   One of the sleepy towns south of the province endowed with pristine beaches, enchanting falls and undiscovered caves is Alegria.  This 4th class municipality was baptized as Tuburan after the vibrant spring, locally called tubod.

Tubod spring
An important structure in Alegria is the St. Francis Xavier Parish Church built in 1857. It is dedicated to the patron saint of the town and is believed to be the last bastion of the Japanese forces during the World War II.
St. Francis Xavier Parish Church built in 1857 (Gael Hilotin)

Fronting the church is a heavily ruined watch tower, the Bantayan sa Hari, another historic landmark.  You may also visit the nearby Alegria Museum where artifacts unearthed from Kambulakan Cave in 1999 are on display.  The unassuming town center is dappled with rundown old colonial houses.

Old colonial house in Cebu (Gael Hilotin)

In recent years, Alegria has struggled to showcase its natural resources to visitors.  It prides itself with majestic caves mostly uncharted by tourists; one of them  is the enormous Salay Cave.  It is accredited by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) so it is generally safe for exploration.  The local government has organized a local caving group to facilitate spelunking for visitors.

The jump off point to Salay Cave can be reached by habal-habal (motorcycle) 30 minutes away from Alegria’s center.   The cave itself is roughly 20 minutes by foot from the jump-off point.  Hiring a guide is recommended since the entrance to the cave is barely noticeable.

Salay cave (Photo by Gael Hilotin)
Salay Cave is clad by fragile draws, stylish drapers and stalactites hanging down the ceiling.  Its floor is bursting with robust columns attached to slippery flowstones and majestic stalagmites.
For adventure-seekers, hike up Mt.Lanaya for a scenic view of Alegria town, Badian and Malabuyoc.  At the summit called Kalo-Kalo Peak, marvel at the view of Osmeña Peak from the north, and Mt.Kanlaon and Mt.Talinis of Negros.  Mt.Lanaya is clad by limestone hills and tropical jungles. 

In fact, the Black Shama a bird species of the Muscicapidae family is known to inhabit this mountain.  You can also plunge into the volcanic hot springs dotting the Lanaya-Kangbulagsing massif. Or go river trekking and see the pristine waterfalls of Alegria like the Cambais Falls and Kawa-Kawa Falls.

If you are looking forward to a luxurious vacation, Alegria also houses a posh resort - Costa de Leticia Resort and Spa.  And discover the magnificent dive sites or snorkeling spots hidden in the confines of Alegria.

Gael Hilotin traveled around the Philippines for 7 months. She blogs at The Pinay Solo Backpacker.