Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2016: Exploring Camotes Island in Cebu

Local Performers at Danao Lake
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Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2016

Festivity and upbeat music: Exploring the Camotes Island in Cebu

I received an invitation from Tourism Promotions Board in partnership with Cebu Provincial Tourism Office to visit the beautiful Camotes Island in Cebu, and to experience the second installment of this year’s Suroy Suroy Sugbo. As usual, I got very excited about this. Traveling to different cities to experience festivals, food, and culture, has always been my cup of tea. I immediately started preparing my things days ahead of my scheduled flight.

The day of my flight finally came. I arrived at NAIA Terminal 2 at just exactly an hour before our flight—quite late if you ask me. I was planning to arrive way earlier. I left my house in Manila three hours ahead of time in anticipation of the heavy, late-afternoon Metro Manila traffic, but it turned out that the time I allocated was not enough. One of the disadvantages of having late-afternoon flights is that you will always have longer travel time due to the late-afternoon traffic. Nevertheless, I was thankful enough that I wasn’t too late for my flight.

Inside our Suroy Suroy Sugbo Luxury Bus
Inside our Suroy Suroy Sugbo Luxury Bus

What’s funny, however, is that even when I boarded the plane on time, our flight was delayed by an hour due to the usual airport runway congestion. This runway congestion has been a problem, and as a frequent traveler I do admit that it gets on my nerves sometimes. I really hope it gets resolved soon. It’s a good thing that we don’t have an itinerary for that day. The only thing we needed to do once we get to Cebu was to stay overnight at Marco Polo Plaza Hotel. But still, the delay was one hell of a disappointment to all passengers.

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We arrived in Mactan International Airport at around 9 in the evening. From there, we headed to Marco Polo Plaza Cebu in Cebu City, where we were all greeted warmly for our late-night accommodation. I was supposed to meet a couple of friends in Cebu, but I had to reschedule our little get-together at a later date because of the flight delay.

I decided to get rid of all the hassle, stress, and disappointment caused by heavy traffic and runway congestion from the previous day by waking up early the following day. I had an early breakfast at the hotel, and roamed around the hotel for a bit to start the day right.

Red Carpet Arrival in Camotes Island
Red Carpet Arrival in Camotes Island

Before 8 AM, we gathered in the hotel and left for the port. We got there at around 8 AM, a bit too early for our 10:30 AM boat schedule. I guess everyone wanted to start their day right too, after all the hassle from yesterday!

Poro Town Hall
Poro Town Hall

After a while, we met Ms. Mary Grace Paulino of the Provincial Tourism Office. She each gave us Media IDs, welcome kits, and boarding passes. We got in a boat and traversed the sea to reach the Poro Wharf of Camotes Island.

Suroy Suroy sa Sugbo 2016 Official Tour Bus
Suroy Suroy sa Sugbo 2016 Official Tour Bus

After a long boat ride, we got to our destination at around 12:30 in the afternoon. We had a red carpet welcome from the local government before boarding out respective Ceres Luxury Buses. Apart from Mania bloggers and Cebu-based delegates, most of the participants included locals who availed the Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2016 tour package. It was a very nice, festive bus ride. Everyone was enthusiastic and looking forward to the day.

Local Freshwater Shrimps in Camotes
Local Freshwater Shrimps in Camotes

Our first stop was at the Buho Rock Resort, where we had lunch. Buho Rock Resort is managed by the local government of Poro, and is just 2 kilometers away from the Poro Wharf. The resort is famous for its staircases which were built to connect to two huge rocks near the seashore.

For lunch, we had Camotes Lechon, Pork Adobo, Beef Stew, Enseladang Talong, Clam Soup, Sweet and Sour Fish, and various fresh fruits for dessert. We were also served various types of local delicacies like budbud (suman), and bibingka. For our drinks, we were served soda, fresh coconut juice, and even some tuba, for those who wanted to try the famous local refreshment.

Camotes Lechon
Camotes Lechon
Bodbod from Camotes
Bodbod from Camotes

After lunch, the group headed to the Church of Poro. Considered as the oldest church in Cebu Island, this church was established in 1849 by the Spanish colonizers. Today, the coral stone church continues to stand, and is dedicated to Sto. Nino. A feast on every third Friday of January is celebrated in tribute to Sto. Nino.

The Church of Poro
The Church of Poro

Our next stop for the day was the Bukilat Cave in Tudela, the smallest town in the province of Cebu. Bukilat Cave was named after the person who discovered it. The cave served as a shelter for those who hid from the Japanese soldiers during World War II in the 1940s.

Rituals before entering the cave
Rituals before entering the cave

The mouth of Bukilat Cave is very, very accessible. It’s just two to three minutes’ worth of walking from the paved road. This is why Bukilat Cave in Barangay McArthur is the most visited caves in Camotes Island. Despite it being a tourist attraction, however, not all tourists get the chance to enter the cave itself. Certain rituals have to be done first. This ritual involves letting an egg stand, with the smaller tip pointing upwards. If the egg stands on its own, visitors will be allowed to enter the cave. Otherwise, they won’t be allowed to enter.

Bukilat Cave Entrance
Bukilat Cave Entrance

We didn’t have the luxury to test our chances by undergoing the egg ritual, so after the cave, we proceeded immediately to the next destination in our itinerary. We went to the covered court of Tudela town to watch a short cultural presentation prepared for us visitors.

Puto in Banana Leaves
Puto in Banana Leaves
Inside Bukilat Cave
Inside Bukilat Cave

We were all overwhelmed with the warm hospitality of the locals. We were entertained by the colorful Visayan Harana, to the upbeat folkloric dances, and even to modern, hip hop dances by the local performers. It was such a festive afternoon. We were also served the town’s main produce as we watched—the Cassava. Different delicacies made form cassava was served to us alongside fresh fruits, siakong, smoky grilled fish, and freshwater shrimps. I knew we were going to have dinner soon, but I made sure to sample each locally made delicacy. Each slice was a slice of Cebuano culture I didn’t want to miss!

After our festive afternoon in the covered court, we headed to Mangodlong Paradise Beach Resort to freshen up. Shortly after that, we all gathered to have dinner at Santiago Bay Resort, where a White-Themed Dinner by the beach awaited us.

Our dinner was even more festive in Santiago Bay Resort. Cebuano food, which included everyone’s favorite grilled chorizo, liver, fish paired with puso rice, and fresh fruits, among others, were served to us.  A local band performed upbeat music as we ate dinner too.

Cebuano Dinner
Cebuano Dinner

After dinner, we had souvenir group pictures with the other participants. Some chatted while waiting for our awesome dinner to settle in our stomachs. Afterwards, we headed back to our respective resorts to rest.

Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2016 Day 2

Exploring the freshwaters and the best local cuisine

Unlike our first day in Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2016, our second day was not as jam-packed and busy. We had the entire morning in the resort to laze around and live the life. I spent most of my morning blogging and taking photos of my room, and of the resort itself. I joined the others for breakfast buffet at Mangodlong Paradise Beach Resort.

White Sand Beach in San Francisco Camotes Island
White Sand Beach in San Francisco Camotes Island

The beginning of our tour for Day 2 was in the afternoon. We readied for our afternoon tour afterwards.

We left our hotel at around 11:30 AM. Our first destination in our itinerary for the day was at Lake Danao. We arrived at our destination in less than hour.

Lake Danao in Camotes Island
Lake Danao in Camotes Island

Lake Danao is located in the town of San Francisco, and is considered the biggest freshwater lake in Visayas. The lake may be toured with a motorboat that can carry 10-15 people. The park surrounding the lake itself is tour-worthy, and even selfie-worthy.

Lunch at Lake Danao
Lunch at Lake Danao

We were welcomed by the locals with a cultural dance presentation and very appealing Visayan songs by local singers. It was nice how I couldn’t understand most of the words but how the singers were able to portray the emotion and meanings of the songs just by using their voice.

Local Performers at Danao Lake
Local Performers at Danao Lake

We were served lunch as we watched the soli-soli dancers. I commend the official caterer for choosing well the dishes they served. Some of the food they served us were authentic Cebuano dishes like the Utan Bisaya and my super favorite Pork Humba.

Lake Tour in Camotes
Lake Tour in Camotes

After having lunch, we had our chance to tour Danao Lake ourselves. We even had a short visit to one of the small islands inside the lake!

Our cruise was followed by snacks at the lake shore. Just like the town of Tudela, San Francisco is also known for its abundant root crops like cassava and sweet potatoes. We enjoyed their local delicacies which were mostly made from cassava and potatoes. I never imagined that potatoes (which I have always seen as French fries) could be turned into such exquisite delicacies!

Snacks at Lake Danao
Snacks at Lake Danao
Palo Sebo
Palo Sebo

After having our snacks, we watched locals eagerly climbing—and sliding down—a slippery, greased bamboo pole in the game of Palo Sebo. I was so amazed at how some children were even able to make it halfway to the top. After a while, we left the festivity and said goodbye to the friendly locals and their delicious snacks.

Sunset in Camotes Island
Sunset in Camotes Island

We headed back to the hotel to rest and prepare for our Hawaiian-themed dinner at the Mangodlong Rock Resort. Sine we were billeted in a resort right next to the venue of our dinner, we arrived pretty early and didn’t go through much late-afternoon traffic hassles. I took pictures of the place while waiting for the others. As the sun set, participants in their funky Hawaiian attires started arriving one after the other.

After a while, a local band started to serenade us guests. We were cordially invited to go to the buffet table and get our food.  Apart from the well-organized—not to mention fun and festive tour—all the participants were well-treated with good food, and that’s one of the things I loved most about this tour.

After dinner, the Provincial Tourism Office of Cebu surprised us by giving away prices to the best Hawaiian-dressed participants! The night ended with pineapples and serenades.

About Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2016

Suroy Suroy Sugbo is a tour package conceptualized and offered by Cebu Provincial Tourism Office. The tour package includes a three-day, two-night adventure to Camotes Islands in Cebu. The package includes transportation and full-course meals. Packages range from Php 7,925 to Php 13,625 per head depending on your selected choice of accommodation.

This tour caravan aims to promote eco-tourism in Cebu. It was launched in 2005 by the Balik Cebu Group as part of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Cebu Business Month celebration.

To join future Suroy Suroy Sugbo Tours, you may contact Cebu Provincial Tourism Office at 2nd FLOOR, WEST WING OF THE PROVINCIAL CAPITOL BUILDING, or you may call 2535642 or 2533766. For cellphones, you may call or text Beverly Ibarola at 09177761618, Cezar Almirante at 09278856867, or
Lino Belarmino Jr. at 09420690210.

 

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