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Bojo River | The Secret Hideaway in Cebu, Philippines

In the island of Cebu there is one captivating river that exist that is not yet  popular among the usual visitors of the island. This river is 59 Km south of Cebu City in Brgy. Bojo, one of the 15 barangays of the Municipality of Aloguinsan.

This beautiful river is being managed and protected by Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS), a local people's organization  (PO) in Aloguinsan. The PO was created in June 2009 to operate a livelihood project through eco-tourism  and highly supported  by the local government unit  and the Department of Tourism.

Empowering Women

The association is composed largely of women in promoting the place since most of the men in their barangay are not around during the weekdays, committed with their common day job which is fishing . The men participate usually on weekends during their free time.

Bojo has a long rich history and had been silent for so many years.
Inside the BAETAS Center, women operate and directly supervise the day to day operation. They even do the actual paddling of the boat, serving as guide of the tourists visiting their place. 

The members of the association have received their proper trainings on the concept of biodiversity and protecting the environment in general. That was the first time I have encountered an association in which all members can speak fluently about the value of biodiversity and its importance to human existence. 

They can easily spot species of plants and animals  that even I failed to recognize in a single sighting. And mind you, the members can give the scientific names of those organisms in an instant glance without hesitation. I was simply amazed the way this organization have managed and have educated all the members and made them contribute in the simple means they can.

The Royalty Effect

Picking up our favorite dish prepared by the BAETAS
Our trip in Bojo was actually a  summer escapade of my friends and colleagues from Pasig River Dredging Project. It was also timely to be at Bojo River because we were seeking new ideas and have thought we can learn from the  actual experiences and challenges faced by the people of Bojo. We were hoping we  can apply or suggest some knowledge and concepts gained from this trip on  the future activities for the Pasig River Rehabilitation Project.

Arriving at the site, we were greeted by the locals of Bojo with matching laces made from gumamela twigs. We felt like we were some kind of celebrities.

They have a receiving area in a form of an open hut  where we were served immediately with coconut drinks    with gumamela on top  for our refreshment.

After a few minutes of rest, we munched on the freshly prepared food we requested prior to our arrival. It was truly a different experience for city dwellers to have a taste of the "probinsya" type of dishes freshly caught from Bojo and from the nearby coastal areas.

While we were eating, a group of folk singers suddenly hit the strings of the famous Cebu guitar and serenaded us with their traditional folk songs. Sang in visayan dialect, some of us hardly understood the lyrics so we asked the locals to make an interpretation in Tagalog. Hearing the actual and interpreted message of the song made us all burst to laughter after learning what the song was all about. Holding a copy of the lyrics, we even jokingly sang together with them, bringing the house to more of laughter and out of nowhere the singing  turned into some kind of a scene in a  comedy bar .

After doing some little fun with our bisaya singing trip, they informed us that prior to our Bojo River Tour, we needed to receive a lecture first on the ecological status of the river just like anybody else.

We Got Schooled!

Equipped with tarpaulins filled with drawings and pictures, they provided us information on the diversity of various plants and animals that can be seen in Bojo River. They proudly presented that the mangrove forest in Bojo is totally protected by the people as they believe that the mangrove ecosystem serves as a nursery for thousands of marine species that  fuels the fishery industry in the locality which is  the primary livelihood of the community.

I was awed as well with the number of bird species that shelter in their barangay. During the lecture, they even made mentioned of the rare Black Shama that resides in the nearby Mt. Alcoy, Cebu and the interesting Philippine Bulbul (don't laugh! it is a beautiful bird, ok now you can laugh). According to them, these species of birds are very important as these take part in the intricate web of interactions in the ecosystem.

Row, Row Your Boat!

After the environment-friendly nurturing lecture, we set sailed towards the river. I was astonished to discover that the paddlers were all women and not a single man was on board to guide us. Ate Jemalyn, their president,  assured us that these women were all trained and knows the river better that anyone else.

Rowing slowly in the cool bluish green river placed the Loboc River of Bohol into shame. Bojo is a river guarded with pristine mangrove vegetation ranging from Nipa (Nypa fruticans), some Bruguiera gymnorrhiza , Rhizophora stylosa and Avicennia sp.  that were all properly recognized and identified by the paddling tour guides (nose bleed!). 

As we moved and paddled forward, I realized that river was actually an ecotone or an area where two major ecosystems meet. It was  the site where fresh and marine water meet, creating a new type of habitat suitable  for specific type of organisms. 

The meeting of fresh and salty water in other places usually produce a brackish and turbid type of water due to  the turbation, causing the upwelling of riverbed deposits. But  in the case of Bojo River, the supposedly brackish  water  turned so clear and bluish in color instead. It only proves that the siltation in the river is successfully being prevented by the dense riparian  vegetation particularly the mangrove forest.

We even witnessed thousands of fish fry that were swimming in queue towards the pneumatopores of the mangroves, seeking refuge  against its common predators. Pneumatopores are the protruding roots growing upward instead of downward for the purpose of breathing . YES TREES RESPIRE TOO!

Looking at the river, I felt like I was charmed that I jumped into the crystal clear water of Bojo without any warning. The water was so deep that you won’t be able to see the bottom of the river bed.  Reaching  the mouth of the river, we were amazed with the grand  scenery of the sea. It was a paradise. Both sides of the river has cliffs with grandeur rock formations accentuated with unique flora growing on its walls.

Weave it Tashey!

Natasha weaving a Filipino traditional mat or banig
The river tour lasted for about an hour, and upon  return, the BAETAS personnel provided us with a little snacks. While taking a little break, the folks brought in a sample of handicraft known as banig or a sleeping mat. 

They gave us an actual demonstration on how to weave the traditional banig. It turned out  that weaving the buri  threads was very fun and addicting for art enthusiasts. Patience and love of work are needed to perfectly create a meter-length of the Filipino traditional mat. The task was a back cracking activity for those who have no love and interest on art. Ahemm! 

Witnessing how difficult it was to create a banig gave me a sense of appreciating the common Filipino mat being sold in the local market. From then on, sleeping in the banig has  never been the same.

The whole experience in Bojo River gave us a new insight on how a river should be in which  very far from the current condition of the Pasig River where we are working on during that time .

More to that, it gave me an additional pushing confidence that  sustainable ecotourism in the Philippines can  be achieved and  economic development  can progress without sacrificing much of the natural resources.  The place was truly a perfect getaway to have some fun while learning to appreciate the environment at the same time.

I would like to give my thanks to my friends and colleagues who tagged me in this trip : Natasha Dawn Roscom-Dideles, her bana CJ and sister , Ruth Ramos, Maricris Elemos, ErnestineVelasco , Elaine Velasco and  BF,and  Theresa Aranas. I dedicate this article to our Pasig River Multi-Partite Monitoring Team or MMT Memorable (not memorial) Days.

L-R: Ruth, EJ,Natasha,Terey,Lovemindanao,Maricris, BF GF (Elaine), CJ (Natasha's bana)

 (Note: Most of the pictures are borrowed from them and no copyright infringement intended)

Getting There

Aloguinsan can be reached by commuters. You can take a bus bound for Toledo at Cebu South Bus Terminal Station. The fare is more or less Php 80.00. The travel time is approximately 1.5 hours. Tell the conductor to drop you at the Municipality of Aloguinsan . Take a tricycle bound for Bojo River with fare of Php 15.00 per head. Just tell the driver that you are visiting BAETAS or Bojo River. You will be greeted with matching gumamela laces by the women of Brgy. Bojo. I suggest seize and embrace that moment.

River Tour Package

Php 630.00/head
Inclusive of Lunch, snacks, welcome drinks, lecture, river tour and handicraft demonstration

Php 300.00/head
Lecture and River Tour only

For reservation/information

Ate Jomalyn :     +63 926 490 6670

Kuya Rodney:    +63  905 913 3055

Daghan Salamat BAETAS!

This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Blogger (PTB) Blog Carnival for the month of September 2012 with the theme "Visayas Round Up" hosted by "Pinoy Explorer"  Ding Fuellos

The Pinoy Explorer - The Visayas Roundup

Click on the PTB logo to check on the other  carnival themes and posts

Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival


  1. Aloguinsan was just like the river in bohol pero mas stunning 'to promise ..

  2. indeed it is .. its better than the loboc river of bohol minus of course the loboc children choice and the dancing performances in loboc... :D

  3. wow ganda sir :)

  4. breathe taking jan ... when you visit cebu don't miss Bojo River

  5. Ganda, based sa pictures, mas malinaw yung tubig kaysa sa Loboc. Sana mapuntahan ko rin yan.:)

  6. One of the things that I admire about you is your passion for promoting not only Mindanao but of other places in the Philippines, especially this one. You always make it a point to write very detailed entries, as not to leave your readers with questions in their mind. Truly, the Bojo River is a well-kept treasure. I would love to visit this part of Cebu sometime in the future! :) Kudos to your Visayas Round Up! :)

  7. I'm really happy that there are already some destinations in our country that promotes sustainable eco-tourism. Kumikita pa mga locals. This is a nice discovery discovery Dennis. I'll sure to include this in my list when I get back to Cebu.

  8. I'm really happy that there are already some destinations in our country that promotes sustainable eco-tourism. Kumikita pa mga locals. This is a nice discovery discovery Dennis. I'll sure to include this in my list when I get back to Cebu. - Pang Seguban

  9. This is an aspect of Cebu I have yet to explore. It's nice that they have pooled their resources to promote tourism and have additional income for the women.

  10. Barangay Bojo serves as an inspiration to other barangays. I enjoyed reading your post, It felt like I'm traveling with you with reading your post. :)

  11. Given the splendor of the place plus the chance to appreciate nature all the more, the cost is very reasonable. Bojo river is definitely a place to go.

  12. Good to know that new municipalities are adopting a eco-tourism projects. Looking at your pic, it seems that Bojo River is a nice destination not only for local tourists but as well as foreign guests.

  13. "They can easily spot species of plants and animals that even I failed to recognize in a single sighting. And mind you, the members can give the scientific names of those organisms in an instant snap without hesitation."

    which reminds me of my college days. sometimes, nalilimutan ko na ang common name! Hahaha! Anyway, I've been to Cebu many times already and this is only my first time to hear about the place! Buti nalang this particular ecotone is preserved. Sayang talaga pag nasira to, right?

  14. impressive trip, fascinating scenic views. nice to know active people saying no to poverty.

  15. I was particularly struck by that picture showing a native of the place providing information about the place. That is the way to do it. No one knows the place better than them.

  16. if one plans to make an itinerary, would the river tour take up the whole day?

  17. half day is enough for this tour ... going to the area from main cebu city is only 1.5 hours and the actual paddling to the river will only take an hour... hope you visit the place soon :) happy trip

  18. hope to see your post about your experience in bojo river soon:)

  19. I am coming to Cebu next week and I wish I could go to Bojo River. Too bad I dont have enough time.

  20. I lived in Cebu for 13 years ang my mom is a Cebuana but I am unfamiliar with so many places including Bojo River. Thanks for sharing a place I can add to my list of places to discover. :)

  21. This is a nice place and good thing there are really people who manage the tour in this place. I am amazed by the work done here, educating locals and teaching them to make the place a first class tourist destination.

  22. Ganda ng place. And very educational. Nice read.

  23. This is no longer a secret hideaway because you invaded and explored the place already. Such a thrilling experience you had here.

  24. Definitely NO to Exploitation of nature and a resounding YES to Sustainable, low impact eco-tourism...

  25. Look at those waters! I wish we can bring back nature to Manila. It's a dream, but I hope it happens.

  26. it still makes one feels welcome when welcomed with garlands. Thumbs up to the NO TO POVERTY campaign. :) that should be the thinking of our people. :)

  27. i've been here when i stayed in cebu for 2yrs. such a nice river.

  28. A beautiful river, how I wish all rivers in Metro Manila are as beautiful as that :)

  29. The place is really awesome. Living in an urban area, I usually don't see things like these.. It's a disappointment that all of these are kept secret. However, I think that the secrecy of the place is kinda good, as the beauty is being preserved.

  30. wow, great place. i love everything in it. Sweet, the people are hospitable and you feel how welcome you are in the place.

  31. Good thing we discover something fascinating to visit to almost every single day. I'll add this to my to visit places. ^_^

  32. That was a very inspiring and educational trip! How I wish our waterways are like that :3

  33. boodle fight... that's one way to party. pretty interesting sights and views you shared. thanks!

  34. I simply love the place just by looking it. What more if I can experience visiting and having fun at it.

  35. Lovely. I am so happy to see this post because I never thought that there is river like this in Cebu. I also like the last photo "No to Poverty. Yes to Sustainable Eco-Tourism"

  36. pretty awesome package for a wonderful tour experience.

  37. I hope they'll be able to effectively protect the mangroves and the maintain the cleanliness of the river.

  38. interesting! gotta see Philippine Bulbul on my visit! haha

  39. That's why I love reading travel post like yours because it's like I'm also there visiting and exploring the beautiful place.