I knew I would be stepping foot on this tamed, religious town the moment I saw a picture of it over the internet. Boljoon (read as Bol-ho-on) came first to my knowledge in dear friend Ephraim‘s blog post over two years ago. My mind did not need a long time to ponder, I knew I loved Boljoon even before going there.
|Elevated view of Boljoon town proper with Ili Rock
Nestled in a secluded cove protected by a natural rock formation called Ili Rock, it is no wonder as to why Boljoanon’s forebears chose to settle here permanently. A small strip of flat land is bounded by azure waters and thickly-forested curving hills. Boljoon, in anybody’s view, can be described as nothing but picturesque.
Boljoon can be reached by bus or private vehicle just three hours south of Cebu City passing by several coastal scenic towns. However, for me it is the most charming town among them all.
My visit was often clouded by my worries of weather disturbances. But the god of the sea has ordered his minions to hold their crying feast only at night. I was a happy traveler. Sunshine, sands and seas.
I was in contact with the town’s budget officer cum tourism officer, Mr. Ronald Villanueva. I dropped by the municipal hall as soon as I arrived in town and met with him. He was more than kind enough to tour me around, let me borrow his cute bike and even invited me for dinner at their humble abode. My first afternoon in the sleepy town was packed but productive at its best.
|L-R: With Mayor Merlo Derama, Mr. Ronald Villanueva,
Mrs. Gemma Ancheta-Card and Mr. Pablo Ruela
I was very fortunate to have been introduced to Mayor Merlo Derama by Sir Ronald that afternoon. Dressed comfortably, no one would notice he is someone of stature. He gamely posed for a couple of shots with me. Thank you sir!
|Boljoon Municipal Hall
Mr. Villanueva, or Sir Ronald as I call him, introduced me to Kuya Pablo Ruela and Ate Gemma Ancheta-Card, a former College Professor. Boljoon’s tourism boomed and Sir Ronald relayed that the local government unit has thought of founding the Assosasyon sa mga Boljo-anong Mag-pakabana sa Kulturang Kabilin (ASBOMAKK). Simply, locals who do not have tenured jobs are taught on tour-guiding and are often tapped to show visitors around if they are not available.
|Can you spot the white yacht?
The effort above is commendable. It does not only promote the love for one’s own but at the same time creates a helpful livelihood for their residents. I also learned from him that the schools have the initiative to include activities that would instill in the younger Boljoanons of their colorful past.
|The oldest street in Boljoon, Patrocinio St.
Sleepy this town might seem to be, a plethora of activities can be done here. Since it has been very blessed by natural wonders, water-related activities are becoming popular. Some resorts offer diving, kayaking and snorkeling. Just passing by the town? You can just simply wade in the shallow waters fronting the church just what the locals do. I did not swim because my eyes got glued on the heritage structures in Boljoon 😉
Boljoon is a heritage town. Boljoon Church or the Patrocinio de Maria Parish serves as the town’s main tourist attraction. The parish was established in 1599 while the present church was finished in 1873. A National Historical Marker stands before the church and is declared as a National Cultural Treasure.
The present church has only been completed in 1873 due to the centuries-long struggle with Moro pirates coming from Mindanao. A former parish priest in the name of Fr. Julian Bermejo, started the watchtower defense system in this part of Southern Cebu. It has been a success – resulting to the continued flourishing of Cebu’s coastal towns including Boljoon.
|Escuela Catolica was built in the 1940s by the friars
to combat the arrival of American influence
The Old Houses
|I have created a separate post for Boljoon’s old houses
Watch out for the next part in the series
Of course, a town like this will not be complete without its old houses. I have been to many heritage towns around the country but Boljoon’s ancestral homes vary from the 18th century house, to the American-inspired structures to the traditional wooden house. Its old homes may not be as grand as in other towns but it definitely has its own character. It is beguiling actually.
|Boljoon’s scenic coastline|
What To Do in Boljoon
A. Do the Boljoon Heritage Walk
(1) Patrocinio de Maria Church Complex
Established in 1599 and is a National Cultural Treasure.
(2) Dr. Dionisio Niere House
The ancestral home of Boljoon’s first Doctor of Medicine.
(3) Cirilo Sestoso House
The oldest house existing in Boljoon, built in 1881.
(3) Boljoon Bridge
(4) Baluarte sa Fuente
(5) Gabaldon Building (Boljoon Central School)
Built in 1913 by the Americans. This building served as a garrison during WWII and is still in use today.
(6) Baño sa Poblacion
The place is believed to be where locals and the Spaniards first had contact. Locals congregate here either to wash clothes or fetch water for their daily chores.
(7) Ili Rock
A rock formation which served as a natural fortress in the early days. Ili Rock today is one of the town’s most distinctive landmarks.
– Biking along the road facing the sea is a must-do when visiting Boljoon. You can also bike inside the church grounds. Mr. Ronald Villanueva rents bikes at only Php 50 per day!
– Not surprisingly, a couple of dive shops have opened up here. A dive shop operated by Japanese Nationals can be found at Club Fort Med. You can explore the waters of Boljoon or drop by at Bohol’s underworld which is just two hours away by boat.
D. Do town/church-hopping
– South Cebu’s eastern coast is decorated by quaint towns. Start from the Santander, passing by Oslob, Boljoon, Alcoy, Dalaguete, Argao and ending in Carcar City.
– Boljoon have several caves and falls hidden and still largely unexplored in its uplands. Contact the local tourism office to know more about wandering in these sites. Please be reminded that we must all practice the traveling mantra ‘Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures. Kill nothing but time.’
– You can just simply enjoy the provincial life by hiking up to Brgys. Danao and Campfranco like I did.
|Greens and fresh air everywhere!|
My two-day visit in Boljoon was definitely worth it. It is a perfect place to commune with Mother Earth, to reflect on life’s blessings and to realize we need to move forward and never be still again.
* Download a QR Code Reader Application. This will be useful when visiting several places here such as the watch tower ruins in the church complex. Scan the code, and voila! A wealth of information about the site becomes available. Perfect for a DIY trip. This is what we call Digital Tourism.
* You may contact Ate Gemma (+63.916.442.1310) for tour-guiding services. Just tell that me, Paula, referred you. I guarantee you she knows a lot about this town I now call home. 🙂
How To Get In Boljoon
* Local airlines ply daily to Cebu from Manila or from other major gateways. Take a taxi/cab from the airport to South Cebu Bus Terminal then hop on a bus towards Boljoon. Boljoon is approximately three hours from Cebu proper.
Where To Stay in Boljoon
Several mid-range resorts have sprouted in the outskirts of the town. Homestays are also an option for the budget-travelers.
* Club Fort Med
– Natl Hway, Arbor, Boljoon | 63.32.4829050 | email@example.com
* Nordzee Hostel
– South Cebu Road, Boljoon | 63.2.482.9013 | firstname.lastname@example.org
** Book Here for discounted rates! **
* Granada Beach House
– South Cebu Road, Boljoon | 63.939.7711722 | email@example.com
* Lola Remy’s Family Beach Resort