Saturday, April 4, 2015

9 Things To Do in Argao, Cebu

By far, the most captivating sunrise I have seen in my life.

It was the spur of the moment that made me suggest Argao to Breinn. Before he could put a sense in me with my another incredible idea, soon after we hopped on a night bus bound to the southern part of Cebu. At least, there's already no turning back at that point. Although both of us had clearly no idea what we would be getting at. But it's alright. It turned out memorable in the end. I hope Breinn feels the same way too.

Here is a rundown of the things that we managed to come up in Argao, with the help of the resort staff. We came in at night and by that time, everything in this sleepy town was almost in pitch dark so, we officially started our wandering the following day.

(1) Watch the Sunrise

The municipality of Argao is a coastal town that faces the Bohol island. There are a few resorts that line up its coast and although, the town might not have the best beach in the province, watching the sun rise up from the mountains in Bohol, is a breathtaking scene nonetheless. Just look at the kaleidoscope of pastel colors mirrored by the sea!

(2) Explore a Castle

As recommended by a resort staff, we headed over to the Riverstone Castle to get some feel of a castle, a rather peculiar structure in Argao or in the Philippines even. Breinn and I hired a tricycle to get there since it is located far off from the town center. I wasn't expecting much about the place and thankfully, I did just that. To be honest, the castle obviously had its heydays. We paid Php30 each to roam around the property which includes having to cross a moat with real crocodiles underneath. Apart from that, the place looks like it was left off to the cares of time. Dust has already settled and the only signs of life are of the actual caretakers and the mini zoo that they also have. Yes, castles are meant to be old and crumbling but this castle is actually not from some bygone era. This castle came about only in 2002 and it was designed by a Belgian national who got married to a woman from Argao. But it was still an interesting visit and the afterthought of being able to help a local tricycle driver even by a little bit, is just nice.

(3) Chill at Argao Nature Park

With the tropical heat, we whiled away beneath the canopy of trees at the Argao Nature Park. I think it's really good when a place and especially in a city of concrete jungle, makes way for a patch of greenery. We paid a nominal fee to get to the park. There was still an undergoing construction on the zoo during our visit and I just hope they house the animals not in deplorable conditions. There are also huts in the midst of the pocket forest and you can get refreshments from the two stalls situated in their own huts. Beware of mosquitoes though.

(4) Play at a Children's Playground

The playground is right in front of the nature park and with a stick of tempura in my hand, I dashed gleefully towards the swing like nobody cares. Wee! Swiftly gobbled down my tempura before all this happened.

(5) Taking a Moment Beside a Rice field

It is not everyday that I see an actual rice field so, seeing one is indeed wonderful! I hail from Northern Cebu and what we get up there, are only sugarcane plantations and cornfields. It is only in the south that you can see rice fields, even while on commute along the highway.

(6) Head to the Local Market

Easily, my favorite part when visiting a new place, groceries and local markets! Fresh coconut juice was then in order for us.

(7) Revisiting History

Argao Catholic Church

Municipal Town Hall

Argao Hall of Justice

What I know of Argao is that it has preserved well the historical structures during the Spanish regime in our country. I remember there is a history class tour back in college, around a number of southern towns in Cebu and one of them is Argao. The above buildings are located in one area, a typical town layout wherein the church and state are intertwined in running the government. But that was over a hundred years ago.

(8) Dip Your Toes into the Sea

Not the most inviting beach alright but I still had a grand time with the crashing waves against my feet. Wee again!

(9) Eat Torta!

And last but not the least, eat and hoard tortas! Torta is a famous delicacy in Argao, with Chitang's bakery shop already considered to be an institution of all tortas in the world! Uhm, I mean in Cebu. Lucky for us, we arrived at the right bakery shop without knowing all about it. Torta is of Spanish origin but there are many variations of this pastry across the world. Torta even refers to omelette in Luzon, the northern mainland of the Philippines. In Cebu however, it is a baked mini cake, which consists mainly of eggs and flour. It informally runs a tagline in Cebuano, "Magkabahaw, magkalami." which translates to "The older it gets, the more tasty it becomes." or something to that extent. My mother used to make tortas at home and one thing I can remember is that she puts lard in the batter. So unhealthy I know, but so good!

Heading to Argao, anytime soon?

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