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This is a nice tour once you have done the usual Cebu tour of the Magellan’s Cross, Taoist Temple, the Sto Nino Shrine, the Gorordo Mansion, Tops, etc. Time to head south.

Hit the road going to Argao and Cagbalete and head back via Toledo, Balamban, and return to Cebu City via Nivel Hills – – where Marco Polo Hotel is.

You will be passing thru The cities and towns of Talisay, Minglanilla, San Fernando, Naga, Carcar, Sibonga, Argao, and then return via the coastal city of Toledo. You need to rent a car or hire a taxi for this wonderful tour. Hotel cars can be arranged for P5,000 for 8 hours, taxi’s can be negotiated for P3,000.00.

Stop and take photos.



This Naga is not in Bicol

This Naga is not in Bicol



Carcar is a major stop. You can buy shoes and slippers, or ampawa and chicharon. These are the major finds in this city. But the visitor will most likely spend a bit more time taking photos of Carcar’s beautiful church, the museum beside it, and its many old homes.

stop by the stalls around the rotunda for chicharon and ampao

stop by the stalls around the rotunda for chicharon and ampao

shop for shoes and bags - - this is Cebu's Marikina

shop for shoes and bags – – this is Cebu’s Marikina

the old church

the old church

and the museum

and the museum

one of the many old houses

one of the many old houses


Among photo hobbyists, the biggest stop is probably Sibonga with the castle-like Simala Church. The structure is very much unlike any other church in the country. Perhaps unlike any other church in the world.

To non hobbyists, it is a pilgrimage place, pretty much like the Manaoag church in Pangasinan where devotees queue to get to touch the statue of the virgin


as if it is not grand enough, construction is ongoing to surround the church with moat-like bridge/passageways

as if it is not grand enough, construction is ongoing to surround the church with moat-like bridge/passageways


The top attracation of Argao is the cathedral. There is a nearby cafe for the weary and the famished, before heading back to the city.



the church in Toledo

the church in Toledo



when you get up the hill, look down and see the beauty of the place you just came from

when you get up the hill, look down and see the beauty of the place you just came from

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Argao, to visit a dear friend


I gave my mom, resident of Sydney, a Cebu vacation. She has never been to Cebu all her life.

Marcelo Fernan Bridge in Cebu

After doing the usual tourist itinerary, I asked her if we can go to a place outside the city so I could visit a friend.

On a rented car, we were driving to Argao. I wasn’t sure though where exactly my friend was laid to rest. I thought that, surely, the local residents would be able to lead me to his tomb. After all, he passed away while serving as Press Secretary, and he was a much loved son of Argao.


These "leaning to the center" posts lead to Talisay

The first city outside of Cebu on the way to Argao is Talisay. I remembered having seafood lunch once or twice many years in the past, when a trip to the seaside restaurants in Talisay were de riguer. I am told business is not as brisk, with locals opting for the sutukil stores in Lapulapu City instead when the urge to have fresh seafoods out of town hits them.

Minglanilla is next. And then Naga City.

Naga City figured in the news in the past year, when the town was granted cityhood, and the same was taken away. What was taken away was eventually granted one more time. Naga town has, therefore, moved to cityhood, returned to being a town, and is now finally a city. Maybe for this reason, the “city” officials have not changed the signage to indicate Naga being a city. The city derives income from the power plant that it hosts, as well as cement factories within its jurisdiction.

Naga "Municipal" Hall

San Fernando comes next. I made a detour to Pulchra, a 5-star resort in the area owned by a Filipino and Indonesian group, done in a Balinese theme. I was not able to check out the rooms, but with the way the place was set-up, from the manicured garden leading to the reception, to the spacious reception area, and the poolside next to the sea, I can safely say the facilities, and the accommodations, are first class. Rates are quoted in US dollars, and definitely high-end.

Rooms here are quoted in US $, and the cheapest room for 2 is the equivalent of P12,000 when off-peak

landscaped road leading to the high-end property

reception area at the Pulchra

the poolside, and the sea, just past the reception area

Carcar is next. It shares the same town-city-town-city saga as Naga. Carcar is famous for its shoe industry, and it seems like Marikina has moved to Carcar. Travelers also make sure they stop and buy the local delicacies  – – – ampaw and chicharon. I wrote about Carcar as a separate post, and showed photos of shoes shoes shoes and more shoes in their “permanent” trade expo.

a seemingly permanent trade expo to promote Carcar's shoe industry

Sibonga comes next. We stopped at the boundary of Sibonga and Argao to have some refreshments.  We had some “torta”,  an Argao delicacy. This shop at the boundary probably felt entitled to the “torta” industry of Argao. The storekeeper was very pleasant.

torta in Sibonga, near the Argao boundary

We finally hit Argao. On the way to the center, the view to the left was fantastic. Pristine beaches. In fact a premier beach resort in the area was once a top destination in Cebu province – – the old Argao Beach Club. Technically within the next town of Dalaguete, but the resort made Argao famous.

seaside road in Argao

I was able to contact relatives of my departed friend, and we decided to have lunch before visiting his tomb. Lunch was at Alex Kafe, the undisputed best place for lunch or dinner for visitors to Argao.

relatives of my friend in Argao, and my visiting mom

Alex Kafe is interesting. The restaurant has an old-world character, with old bric a brac adorning the place. An old sewing machine, an old book case, etc. They are famous for their tsokolate (chocolate) but everything on the menu that we tried were very very good. The place is shabby chic, actually more shabby than chic. It was very hot and humid inside the restaurant, made worse by the GI sheet roofing that does not have a ceiling to block the heat caused by the tin roof. I figure the place must be much better at night when the temperature is cooler.

While waiting for lunch to be served, I decided to walk to the old church where my friend received his final blessings before being laid to rest. It is beautiful.

After lunch, we went to his tomb. I prayed. It felt very good to travel the distance to pray for a dear departed friend. I felt consoled that I was finally able to visit him in Argao because I had wanted to be there when he was being laid to rest, and I just couldn’t go.

Rest in peace, my friend

May he rest in peace. But in my heart he lives, and is still having fun. Doing a “back-to-back” videoke number with me, literally standing behind me, our backs joined together like we were Siamese twins.

And ready to jump to the river with us, and enjoy a bottle of beer.

Fond memories: after shooting the rapids, we swam in the river, and enjoyed a bottle of beer