Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Try Tabuelan

Sarah Nengasca - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – “Serene” is the one word to generally describe the quite unknown town of Tabuelan. The pristine beaches, the powder-fine sands, the buzz of the busy market, the cock-a-doodle-doo’s at daybreak and the lush, long lines of coconut trees are but few of the many features that make this place an exciting hideaway.

Tabuelan is a small municipality which lies on the northwestern seaboard of Cebu island, and is approximately 90 kilometers away from Cebu City. Getting there can be long haul, though. Visitors have two options on the route to take. They may take the via-Lugo (Borbon) public buses or go by v-hires at the city’s North Bus Terminal, both routes traversing the main northward highways for three to four hours. A shorter alternative route is by Tuburan-bound v-hires at the Ayala Center Cebu Terminal that go through the scenic Transcentral Highway. From Tuburan, a 25-minute tricycle ride completes the way to Tabuelan.

While the town has been on a slow but steady development, it has also been benefitting from its natural attractions being a coastal resort town. In Tabuelan, it is beach season the whole year round. Barangay Tabunok and the outskirt barangays of Tigbawan and Maravilla have a string of budget-friendly beach resorts that offer five-star tranquility. These are a quick 10- to 20-minute motorcycle or mini-bus ride from the Poblacion.

Whole families and groups of friends come to the seaside to enjoy swimming, go snorkeling or diving in into the turquoise blue waters. To some, it is enough to walk on the powdery fine sands. Local and foreign tourists come for a short stopover, to marvel at the glorious sunset along the Tañon Strait from an inexpensive wooden cottage by the beachfront. They find the pristine ambiance refreshing. Some are tempted to stay longer, to experience the place some more – go fishing or biking or just stroll around. Others opt for a visit to a nearby islet.

Local resorts give travelers a taste of the town’s cuisine, usually consisting of seafood specials at a fair price. Another gustatory treat is the town’s delicacy, which is “binangkal,” a fried ball-shaped pastry made from flour, eggs, margarine and sugar, topped with sesame seeds. Recently, the town has come up with a new delicacy called “corntik,” a cookie made from very fine corn grits called “tiktik” which is a by-product in milling the corn.

There are other natural attractions to be enjoyed in Tabuelan. It has a number of unsullied caves, waterfalls, rivers and springs. Most frequented is the Ylaya River in barangay Olivo, Owangan Falls and Kantakuyan and Gumbang Springs in barangay Bongon. Kantakuyan Spring used to teem with women doing their laundry there. Tourists have since overtaken the laundry women at the spring; they come for a relaxing dip in the cool waters.

The public park in the Poblacion is surrounded by green grass, inviting visitors for a stroll and fitness-conscious locals to do their zumba sessions, especially on Sundays. Soon there’s going to be another attraction at the park – a view of a floating restaurant in the nearby Batawang River, which is expected to be a big crowd drawer among the northern towns.

The watchful eyes of the hospitable and peace-loving natives will not annoy the visitors who are taking a stroll along the barrio streets.

Adding another dimension to a Tabuelan experience is the rich heritage of the town kept alive by the well-kept ancestral houses, structures and places like the landmark burial site of World War 2 Japanese soldiers in barangay Olivo, among others.

During the annual town fiesta, on June 24, the streets bubble up with smiling dancers in splendid costumes in the Ani-anihan Festival. It is a thanksgiving celebration in honor of Saint John the Baptist, the town’s patron saint. The street performance depicts the planting and harvest traditions of the place, Tabuelan being basically an agricultural town. Ani-anihan is derived from the Cebuano term “ani,” meaning “harvest.”

And the best part of a visit to Tabuelan is that it does not have to cost the visitor a lot. The bus fare is only P100 to P150, per person, one way. An overnight stay at the local resorts ranges from P800 to P2,000. Rental at the beachfront cottages is from P500 to P750 for a day’s use. The entrance fee to privately-owned beaches is from P30 to P50.

But a word of caution: Road lighting in the town is poor and availability of transportation for going back to the city can be a problem at times. As mentioned earlier, Tabuelan is not yet fully developed. But that is its charm; the laid back, rustic environment allows for time to reflect, reconnect or just while away the moments.

Tabuelan is really worth a try.












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