Baluarte Park in Aloguinsan: A Testament of Resilience
Looking for the perfect panoramic view to watch the sunset over Tañon Strait in Aloguinsan? Want to stroll around a beautiful and historical park filled with remnants of the old watchtower? Want to learn more about the townsfolk’s resilience and courage in the face of slave raiding expeditions?
The King of Sinulog is off to Baluarte Heritage Park located right behind the municipal building of Aloguinsan’s town proper. Read on as I share to you my experience in this 18th century watchtower.
From Mactan Cebu International Airport, hail a white taxi cab to Cebu South Bus Terminal and pay about PHP350 for more than an hour ride. Hop on a yellow Sepo bus plying to Aloguinsan, tell the bus ticketer to drop you off at Aloguinsan Public Market and pay about PHP80 for a two-hour land travel. From there, you can ask directions from the locals and just walk to Baluarte Heritage Park and pay PHP10 for the entrance fee.
The Baluarte of the Past
They say that to truly appreciate a destination, you must read about their history, a story of how they came about as a community. The Baluarte is a testament of the people of Aloguinsan’s resilience in times of crisis and adversity. In the early 1800s, slave raiding expeditions conducted by Moro pirates were rampant. They would take villagers and sell them as slaves. To prevent or minimize this, defense and counter attack fortifications were constructed on coastal villages. An early warning system that’s interconnected with other coastal villages, watchtowers provided strategic vantage points to spot Moro vinta sailboats approaching the towns. The military genius behind all this was El Padre Capitan, Fr. Julian Bermejo. The Baluarte of the past was indeed a symbol of stress and disturbance.
The Baluarte of the Present
Arriving at the police station, you’ll immediately see a brown concrete welcome structure by the entrance of the Baluarte that says donated by Mr. Lim Kee, a chinese merchant during the 1940s. The pathway to the watchtowers is made up of red tiles with brick-like patterns. On your left is also a grotto of the Virgin Mary on top of a mini zen-like pond with a concrete bridge. Walking up a few more steps, you’ll see a stadium-like concrete cascade on your left that serve as seating areas for visitors. Near the edges of the cliffs are the gazebos that provide a stunning view of the sea. I think there were about four gazebos strategically scattered in the park.
Erected on the center hill are the remnants of the Baluarte, made up of manunggul or coral stones. Spanish watchtowers were usually two-level structures. The ground level is made up of solid rock foundations while the second level is made up of wood and thatch. It is surrounded by metal posts interconnected with metal chains as to preserve the old structure.
Looking around in 360 degrees, you’ll see a number of trees providing natural shade to the area and well-maintained plants and flowers that beautify the landscaped path walk. A few steps at the back of the grotto you’ll see a public restroom constructed like a fort so that it could blend in with the historical landmark.
Now, the Baluarte has been transformed to a beautiful park with flower-laden landscapes and strategically positioned gazebos used as viewing deck for Tañon Strait. The Baluarte of the present is now a symbol of peace and tranquility.
Other Things to Do and Places to Stay
After visiting the Baluarte, you should also try out the Eco-Cultural Bojo River Cruise, the green culinary experience at The Farmhouse, the pristine shores of Hermit’s Cove and Hidden Beach, the Parola and other interesting spots. If you’re planning on staying overnight, you have four accommodation options when in Aloguinsan. Hidden Beach Resort offers rooms at PHP600 a night. Next would be the Green House that offers rooms at PHP500 a night. Al Maxi Apartelle, the yellow building, also offers rooms at PHP800 a night. If you’re looking something of hotel caliber with a swimming pool, you can book a stay at the private villas at Lunhaw Farm Resort at PHP3,000 a night through (032) 469 9042. (prices above may change without prior notice)
Overall, if you’re looking for a perfect place to spend the afternoon in Aloguinsan while learning about their rich heritage, then the Baluarte is perfect for you. Later!