I love Cebu.

This 34th Cebu Popular Music Festival winning song got played and danced to in every place guests visited during this year’s southern sojourn of the Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018.

It has become a staple song to greet visitors, and with compelling reason, as it describes the Cebu the guests, mostly balikbayans, had come to discover during the three-day “Adventure Round South”. The experience, rightly so, made them say “I love Cebu”.

Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests made themselves comfortable prior to departure from the Capitol compound.

Daw paraiso ang kaanindot mo

After a short stop in San Fernando town, the guests got to taste Argawanon hospitality, when they stayed for lunch in the historic town of Argao, with no less than Mayor Stanley Caminero leading the townsfolk in meeting them and Vice Governor Agnes Magpale.

Aside from visiting the 230-year-old Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel church, the guests also got to listen to “sacred music” from the church’s newly-restored, centuries old pipe organ, which was silent for 40 years. The pipe organ was installed in the church’s side balcony in the 1800s by Father Diego Cera, an Augustinian Recollect from Graus, Spain. It was refurbished and heard again for the first time after four decades only last December 2017. The mural of the church’s vaulted ceiling, on the other hand, was made by Cebuano painter Raymundo Francia.

 

“Sacred music” fills the air as the sound of Argao church’s newly restored pipe organ reverberated throughout the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel’s premises.

Ang mga tawo wa gyuy ikareklamo

From the church the guests were brought to the cabecera, where they were welcomed by the booming sound of the town’s colonial era cannons being fired. There was also Colawin’s rondalla as well as a fashion show of hablon dresses designed by Dexter Alazas, and demonstrations of hablon making (with an actual loom brought to the park), and torta and tableya making.

And, of course, food was overflowing. There was the binusogang manok, pork humba, inun-unang sinardinas, inapay, imbaw sa Taloot, monggos tinunuan, talong kinilaw, torta, sikwate, and tuba.

From Argao, the guests went 1,000 above sea level to Dalaguete town’s upland village of Mantalongon, the “vegetable basket of Cebu”. Acting Mayor Jeffrey Belciña was there waiting with a brass band, to the delight of the guests, who were served with local delicacies like budbud paired with sikwate (cocoa drink).

Typical of Cebuano hospitality, the guest left Mantalongon for Boljoon town with each hugging as parting gift a basket of vegetables.

A functional loom was brought to Argao town plaza just so guests could witness how hablon is made.

Bisa’g asa ko paingon wa’y puas ang pagdayeg ko

The winding road to Boljoon was a welcome experience, as it offered one of the most scenic views in the south Cebu tour.  And seeing the cabecera of Boljoon upon the final turn of the road around the popular limestone cliff Ili Rock was like seeing a gem of a town being uncovered.

With the kind of welcome and hospitality it offered, a gem Boljoon really turned out. Not only that the guests got to visit the Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio de Maria Parish Church and its museum, Mayor Merlo Derama and his people served them with local food and refreshments right next to the town’s El Gran Baluarte, the town’s bell tower made of coral stone that in the past served to warn the people on incoming raiders as part of a defense system along the southern Cebu coastline.

Local guide Nozzie Medida explains to guests the stories and history of Boljoon town’s Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio de Maria Parish Church and its museum.

Magpabilin ka, ni’ng dughan ko

Local guide Nozzie Medida impressed the guests with his knowledge on the items inside the museum that included old church records and artifacts unearthed during archaeological excavations in 2008, like an earring found on a male skeleton and ceramic bowl designed with Chinese characters, which were determined to be from the town’s pre-colonial period. The church is also the only edifice in Cebu officially declared as “national treasure” and a “national heritage site”.

From Boljoon, the guests got to hear again the Angelus, or the traditional six-o’-clock prayer, in Oslob town, where the tolling of the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception church bells brought back memories of yesteryear, when young boys and girls rush back to reach home from play before the clanging grew silent and the night started to claim all space.

Before dinner and calling it a day, the guests got to stroll around the town’s beautiful heritage park by the sea and visit the nearby museum and cuartel (colonial era barracks).  Mayor Jose Tumulak Jr. wished them well during their short stay.

Aside from enjoying Boljoon’s heritage structures and learning their stories, guests also got to

I love Cebu! Bahandi ka ning dughan ko

The second day saw a few guests going swimming with whale sharks, which Oslob town has become famous for, before all left for Sanayon in Santander, where Mayor Mayor Marilyn Wenceslao introduced them to her town’s specialty delicacies.

Mayor Wenceslao bade them farewell an hour later, as the guests had to leave for Tangbo, Samboan, where Mayor Emerito Calderon and his wife Ma. Victoria “Marivic” Calderon, who heads the local tourism and heritage council, welcomed them to a feast of local food and entertainment, after a heritage tour.

Barangay Calumpang dancers perform their Tuslob Festival winning moves for Suroy-Suroy 2018 guests at Oslob town’s heritage park.

The tour took the guests to the town plaza, the St. Michael the Archangel church, “Jacob’s Ladder” tower, and town museum. Tangbo is also the site of the five-tier Aguinid Falls, which was overflowing with water when a few guests went waterfall trekking.

Before the convoy left Samboan, there were guests who broke away from the group to go canyoneering in Kanlaob River in Alegria town, while the main group headed to Ginatilan town for the San Pedro Calungsod Shrine, which is situated right next to the St. Gregory the Great parish church.

The ceiling painting of Samboan town’s St. Michael the Archangel church.

I love Cebu! Isinggit ko ni’ng kalibotan

Martyred in Guam in the 17th century, Pedro was a young mission helper whom the Roman Catholic Church canonized as the Philippines’ second saint in 2012.  Families with the Calungsod surname are many in the town.  After the short stopover, the guests went to Alegria’s Que Alegre farm managed by Dr. Gilbert Magallon, husband of Mayor Verna Magallon, who was there to welcome them at the demo farm.

San Pedro Calungsod’s shrine in Ginatilan town was an important stopover for the Suroy-Suroy 2018 guests, several of whom visited it for the first time.

Aside from introducing the guests to the health benefits of turmeric and moringa and the beauty of organic farming, the Magallon’s also had them do a quick tour around the farm before bringing them to the town proper, where they visited the St. Francis Xavier Church and were treated to a late afternoon of folk dances and Cebuano songs. There were also demonstrations on pottery making, corn milling using a manual wooden mill, and coco coir making using coconut husk—which the guests may have seen in their younger days but never in the countries they now called home.

Angay lang nga ikaw ipasigarbo ko. I love Cebu!

Time flew so fast so that after over an hour it was already time to go. The guests bid Alegria goodbye as they had to depart for Moalboal town, which is world famous for a year-round sardine run, snorkeling, diving, and beaches.

A brass band in a truck met the guests at the boundary, adding a more festive mood to their arrival at the town’s heritage park by the sea, where they had dinner serenaded by a live band. Vice Mayor Paz Lingling Rozgoni welcomed the guests and encouraged them to discover what her town could offer. After dancing to their favorite music of old, the guests retired for the night following a fireworks display that completed their second day of Suroy-Suroy Sugbu.

Bisa’g asa ko paingon wa’y puas ang kalipay ko

Billeted in three separate resorts, the guests got the opportunity to go to the beach and explore and soak in the sights the morning of the third and final day, before having a delightful lunch at the Hale Manna Beach Resort and Coastal Gardens in Moalboal.

Pottery making was among the demonstrations Alegria town prepared that Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests and local alike especially took time to witness.

After a photo opportunity at the green resort, the guests left for Barili town, where they visited its century-old Sta. Anna Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish Church and the church museum which, similar to the one in Boljoon, had religious icons and priest vestments as museum pieces.

Tourism Office staff and trainees from Balao National High School greeted the guests and served as guides and ushers, both in the church and at the museum.

Bisa’g asa ko paingon ipanghambog gyud tika

From Barili, the guests traveled next to neighboring Carcar City, where they were served ampao, chicharon, and bucarillo that the city is known for. Of course, a visit to Carcar is not complete without shopping for locally-made shoes and sandals—a homegrown industry that is already synonymous with the city. It was made easy for the guests as the stopover was at the Acacia Grill in Barangay Valladolid, where the shops are.

From Carcar, the guests did a quick stop without disembarking from their tour bus in Barangay Sangat, San Fernando to see the marker at the area where Bishop Teofilo Camomot met his demise following a road accident. The priest, said to be with the power of bilocation and healing, has been nominated for sainthood for his life of dedicated to serving the poor.

Following a timely warning by San Fernando town’s tourism officer, the Suroy-Suroy convoy hastened its pace for Talisay City, the last stop of the whole tour, so it would not get caught behind two religious processions in honor of the Holy Child at the Poblacion and in Barangay Balud, which surely would have resulted to delay.

Talisay City’s award-winning Sinulog dancers greet the guests immediately upon their arrival at the Talisay City Hall.

Bisa’g asa ko paingon wa’y puas ang pagdayeg ko

A grand welcome awaited the guests in Talisay City.

Dancers of this year’s Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan champion contingent lined up the path towards the majestic City Hall and greeted them upon their arrival. A huge tent was erected in front of the beautiful building for the guests, who were made prouder of their Cebuano blood by the song and dance performances of Talisay’s young talents.

And since it is Talisay, dinner was served with lechon in abundance. A four-minute fireworks display concluded a successful staging of the Suroy-Suroy, that the city made even more beautiful for the wonderful hosting.

Vice Governor Agnes Magpale arrives to a colorful welcome at the Talisay City Hall. She was thankful for the city government for the beautiful Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 culminating program.

Magpabilin ka, ni’ng dughan ko

Vice Governor Magpale, too, was happy for the experience. Like the guests, she likewise noted how the participating towns and cities showcased the famous Cebuano hospitality, and was especially thankful for them for “trying to outdo each other” in who was the better host.

The guests, ebullient in praise, said they would join again and would bring family and friends.

After all, they were one in declaring:  I love Cebu!

 

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