AN article in yesterday’s issue of SunStar Cebu titled “How Easy is it to Enter Cebu, Bohol” written by Nicko Tubo had me thinking of the time I was in Bohol. My stay was short, only more than a year, but some of the memories—fun, illuminating, even harrowing--are still embedded in my mind. It’s an island I have learned to love next to my birthplace, Cebu.
The portion of the article I found interesting was about travel from Cebu, particularly from Mactan island to Bohol’s northern coastal towns. It’s a largely underdeveloped route, much like travel from Danao City in mainland Cebu to the birthplace of my parents, the Camotes group of islands, in the very early years. That’s why when I first followed the Pasil to Ubay route in the late ‘80s, I recalled those times when I vacationed in Camotes during high school breaks.
I didn’t know that a pumpboat route has been developed from two points in Cebu to Getafe town in Bohol (I know the third point, which is from Pier 1 in Cebu City to Getafe). The mentioned points were Hilton Port in Punta Engaño, which is is Lapu-Lapu City, and the Cordova town port. I reckon those routes were developed not by government but by the people themselves, out of necessity. That is also why those routes are largely unguarded.
What I rode in when I followed this largely unguarded route in the late ‘80s was a “banca,” which is basically a small wooden ship with lumber for outriggers. They reminded me of the bancas San Martin and Ave Maria that plied the Cebu (Mandaue City)-Camotes route in the ‘70s. They were way bigger than pumpboats and plodding, traversing the route in four to six hours.
In the ‘80s, the wooden bancas that plied the Mandaue-Camotes route were replaced by a couple of bigger steel ships that plied the Cebu City-Camotes route. These were rusty and had seen better days in longer routes in other parts of the country. These were rickety, with engines that were prone to malfunction. Their exploiting that route ended when the last one of them sank near the Camotes coast.
When fast crafts became popular, a few of the smaller ones tried doing business in the Cebu City-Camotes route. The attempt failed. Eventually, only the pumpboats plying the Danao City-Camotes route remained, until growth of the tourist industry in Camotes made the use of small ro-ro ships viable.
But I am digressing.
If you look at the map, both the eastern part of Mactan island and the northern coast of Bohol can be considered the backdoor in terms of travel. The major route is from Cebu City-Tagbilaran City, with the next important one from Cebu City to Tubigon town. That’s why I am not surprised when the SunStar article noted the lack of security blanket in the routes from Cebu to Bohol’s northen part.
Interestingly, while Bohol’s northern shoreline is economically backward, the coast of Mactan island is well developed and dotted with resorts frequented by tourists. This must have been what attracted the Abu Sayyaf members that figured in a clash in Inabanga, Bohol last week. They must have done their homework.
Will the government learn from this and give attention to this Cebu and Bohol backwater?