Bojo River is not a unique tourist attraction. There are many river tours in the Philippines and in the world. What made us admire the river cruise is its organization and the profit-sharing between the local government and the citizens who manage the cruise operations. We think the cruise is one of the best examples of how a government can work together with its citizenry to make the best of what a certain place can offer as a tourist attraction and gain from it in the most socially-responsible and environmentally-sustainable way.
We heard of the Bojo River Cruise some years back at one of the booths exhibiting at the Museo Sugbu on one Gabii sa Kabilin. We thought the concept was interesting, especially with the fact that the locals are managing the affairs of the cruise. Later on, we had the privilege of listening to Mr. Boboi Costas, consultant for the project, where he explained how the project came to be. After those years, we finally found the time to jump in a bus and take the cruise.
Bojo River is several minutes from the town center of Aloguinsan. Because we were early birds, we made immediately made an agreement with a habal-habal driver to take us to the river and fetch us at a certain time. It was still too early though so we decided to have breakfast at the Aloguinsan market. We were expecting a very sleepy and backward town, but we were surprised to find that the town center was very clean and was already awake that early on a Saturday. We paused to eat breakfast at the market and was again surprised to find the food court clean, dry, and devoid with flies. I have to reiterate again my admiration for the local government and the administrator of the public market for maintaining a very clean eating place. It was a rare sight in the Philippines. (Kudos to the Aloguinsan local government and whoever were in charge of the public market!). We ate a simple breakfast (mine was fried fish). After breakfast, we rode a motorcycle to Bojo River, about 10 minutes from the town center. We took the driver’s celphone number so he can pick us up to a certain time because rides are difficult to find in that part of the world.
While waiting for available tour guides (because we were there early), we took a leisurely walk in their boardwalk towards a small hill that has a nipa hut on top. The hike, which took about 1 hour, back and forth, made me thirsty. This made me wish they had a store. They don’t. We were walk-in guests. They have a tour package, which consists of a welcome lei, drink and song, snacks, lectures on the environment and the project, river tour, and buffet lunch. This must be booked in advance with the Tourism Office. We did not book and so we were not welcomed with any leis, drinks, songs or snacks. We also thought we would not be eating lunch there, but Sir Rudney was kind enough to feed us monggo soup, humba, rice, and coke — the food that the staff was eating that day.
Bojo River is located in Aloguinsan, a town in western Cebu (bordered by Carcar, Mantalungon and Pinamungajan). We later learned from the tour guide, Nong Pa-ul, that the name “Aloguinsan” came from the word “kinsan,” which is a type of fish similar to the lapu-lapu. We arrived at the river a little early, around 8AM, although already too late for bird watching. From the road, we were greeted by Sir Rudney, the tour coordinator, and he was still sweeping up trash from the dirt road. There was a heavy rain at the area at dawn that day and the soil was still wet when we got there.
To avail of the cruise, one can either walk-in and pay P300 for a one-hour river + educational tour on the mangroves, birds, and other species living in the locality (This was year 2013 rates). For updated rates and further inquiries, message Aloguinsan River Eco-Cultural Tour. Add to that talks on the town’s history, current affairs, and daily lives. Our tour guide is a fisherman. He related that they were taught by marine biologists about the scientific names of mangroves and birds and the importance of maintaining or improving the balance of the ecosystem. There are some 20 species of mangroves growing along the banks of the Bojo River, including the pagatpat, the bakhaw and the tonog, which is often added to tuba, the local coconut wine. The Bojo River is also home to 60 birds (some endemic) and more than 10 migratory birds. Along the road to Aloguinsan, we already noticed egrets (one was white and the other was mixed gray-pink) dotting the marshlands. During the tour, we saw a blue kingfisher and a fan-tailed bird, and heard many birds singing. Nong Pa-ul also mentioned that two kinds of local foxes can be found in the area, although he did say there is no sigbin.
Nong Pa-ul was talkative and we loved it. He also shared the story of the monkeys who disappeared and fled to Balamban in the 1990s when treasure hunters blasted parts of the rocks to look for treasures hidden by the Japanese. Nong Pa-ul said the Japanese docked their ships in the cove and from there delivered arms and food to their troops in the area. He also pointed out an arched stone, which he said was the home of a mystical (or mythical? or legendary?) creature named Maria who was very kind to grant the locals’ wishes to borrow utensils. In Siquijor, we also have our own “Marias,” and I guess each town has their own version of the Maria legend.
The river opens to Tanon Strait. The view from the mouth of the river was breathtaking.
Call the Aloguinsan Tourism Office for bookings:
0997 371 5698
0933 120 9480
How much does the Bojo River costs? Less than PHP700 per person, including travel expenses. Here’s the breakdown:
How to get to Aloguinsan?
— From Cebu City South Bus Terminal, ride the bus to Pinamungahan. This is via Naga-Uling Road and Toledo. Duration: 5:AM-6:55AM (1 hour and 55 minutes)
— The bus will park at the Pinamungahan Market. From there, take a tricycle or a multicab jeepney to Aloguinsan. When we went there, there was no multicab jeepney yet so we took the tricycle. Duration: 6:55AM-7:15AM (20 minutes)
— Ride a habal-habal from the Aloguinsan market to Bojo River. Bumpy road. Duration: about 15 minutes