Southern comfort, the Suroy Suroy Way-A A +A
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
THE well-loved tourism program Suroy Suroy Sugbo is known for being a chance to visit numerous towns in Cebu within the span of a few days.
The most recent Suroy Suroy Southern Getaway offered a leisurely pace for a relaxing discovery of southern Cebu. The itinerary of this trip consisted of visits to nine towns, compared to over 20 in past excursions. Although fewer destinations were included in this trip, it allowed participants more time to explore each area, instead of being in a town for only a few minutes then getting back on the bus for the next stop.
As a first timer to the Suroy Suroy, I cannot compare previous trips with this one, but can only say that this is a program that both domestic and international tourists, and Cebuanos ourselves, will find both tremendously entertaining and deeply enriching.
To start off our Southern Getaway, colorful coasters transported participants from Plaza Independencia to San Fernando Town Hall, where we breakfasted beneath the Rizal Monument while some of the residents put on a show of song and dance. We proceeded to Argao, where we were served melt-in-your-mouth torta tinged with tuba, and richly-flavored sikwate made from native tablea that grows plentifully in Argao. We had a brief tour of the centuries-old church of St. Michael the Archangel and its museum. My local expert, high school student Reyziel Mondejar , guided me through the museum and told me stories about the artifacts. Caretaker Nicolasita Pangan welcomed every small group that arrived at the museum, showing no lack of energy despite her 83 years.
Our third stop was Sumilon Bluewater Resort. The group feasted on a tasty beachside lunch of kinilaw, lumpia, pork belly, pancit…you will never go hungry during a Suroy Suroy Sugbo tour. Afterwards, some of us kayaked around the 150-meter saltwater lagoon, while others did the 45-minute trek around the island. In the evening, we went to Santander for dinner with entertainment by their festival dance group, concluding in an impressive fireworks show. That first night, we stayed at Club Fort Med in Boljoon, which has free Wifi and a beachside restaurant. There is really nothing like waking up to breakfast by the ocean – and Wifi to Facebook and Instagram about it!
On Day 2, we had lunch in front of the Museo de Samboan while being entertained by rondalla, the Heritage Dancers group made up mostly of senior citizens, and tinikling that some participants excitedly tried out. The crowd favorite was young singer Tommy Jones Herana, whose bellowing voice belied his fourth grader’s physique. Samboan’s heritage site includes the Campanario de Antigua, the watch tower used in the 1800s to look out for raiders. It’s the first structure that can be seen after climbing up Jacob’s Stairs, made of manunggol stone and designed to give coastal residents easier access to the church. Samboan has a life-sized Way of the Cross and its own church under the patronage of St. Michael. The one here was built in 1798 using funds from the Royal Treasury of Spain.
We made a brief stop at St. Gregory Parish in Ginatilan, the town where Blessed Pedro Calungsod is thought to be from, before going to Badian. Guests enjoyed over an hour of fun and swimming in Kawasan Falls. The balikbayans in particular had a fantastic time taking a raft out for a hydro-massage underneath the waterfall. We were then accommodated at HK Resort in Moalboal, which recently added a new building for guest rooms.
Our itinerary for our third and last day did not start until 11 a.m., which meant enough time for another seaside breakfast and going for a swim in Moalboal’s deep waters. We went to Ronda for lunch, where festival dancers performed barefoot for the group despite the rain. Our next stop was Barili for snacks (non-stop food!) and to explore Villa Eliton, the historical home preserved since the 1920s. We were then treated to a surprise stop so we could purchase delicacies and affordable, durable shoes in Carcar. Some participants gamely joined a brief performance with the Sinulog 2013-winning Kabkaban Festival dancers.
Our last stop was dinner at the Talisay City Hall, where we were entertained by Halad
Inasal festival dancers as we tucked into the lechon that Talisay is famous for. With plastic-gloved hands, we reached for warm helpings from a table of several lechons being chopped in front of us, some of the grease splattering our arms and shirts.
When we had had our fill, the coasters brought us back to the Capitol in Cebu city, where we said good-bye to newfound friends to conclude our Southern Getaway.
Best foot forward
The Suroy Suroy Sugbo is designed to promote tourism and encourage LGUs in the towns of Cebu to develop their own programs, according to Cebu Tourism Commissioner Tetta Baad, also Chairman of the Balik Cebu Committee. Each town showed off their most talented people and served the best food that they had to offer. But for all the tourist areas, talent and flavor being showcased, the best display at any place in the province is truly the warmth that Cebuanos greet visitors with. Everywhere we stopped, we were welcomed with genuine cheer by the townspeople and local government officials.
Students and school teachers hopped on board the coasters to act as local tour guides; none better to talk about what the town has to offer but the residents. No regular tour offers the VIP treatment that Suroy Suroy participants received, being able to watch special performances and be immersed in local culture, with the townsfolk smiling from welcome to goodbye.
There are typically three other Suroy Suroy Sugbo trips every year: Northern Escapade, Explore the Midwest, and Rediscover Camotes. Each package ranges from P7,000 to P10,000+ per person depending on the type of accommodation, and includes all meals and transportation. The Tourism Office will be making announcements for trips in 2013. For details, one may contact Tourism Officer Grace Paulino at email@example.com or 253-5642 and 253- 3766. (Joanna Cuenco)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 07, 2013.