Dalaguete, Cebu: Visiting The Vegetable Basket
One town in Cebu was named after a massive tree which was used as a landmark or a place where the townsfolk held gatherings, congregations, or simply just to seek respite from the scorching heat. Tagalogs call this gigantic tree balete, but Cebuanos refer to it as dalakit – a tree which gave name to a town called Dalaguete, and this is where my southern Cebu sojourn began.
Teen carrying a basket used to transport newly-harvested vegetables in the mountainous baranggay of Mantalongon in Dalaguete, Cebu.
San Guillermo de Aquitania Parish Church (Poblacion)
The dalakit tree lies within proximity of a National Historical Landmark, the Parish Church of San Guillermo de Aquitania. The 18th-century late baroque structure began construction in 1802 using thick adobe walls to fortify the church from vicious pirate attacks. The church, a rectory, and the three-storey belfry was completed in 1860. However, the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook Bohol also damaged the church’s belfry. Restorations are currently underway to preserve the religious edifice which played a big role in the history of Dalaguete.
Restoring San Guillermo de Aquitania Parish Church which was damaged by the Bohol earthquake.
A series of watchtowers were strategically installed along Cebu’s shoreline which act as a first line of defense to attacking moro pirates. One of those towers can be found in Dalaguete’s coast and is called “Kiosko“, while some refer to it as “Bantay Moro.” No more moro raids nowadays so the lower section of the tower was converted into a small grocery now open to serve you.
Dalaguete Watchtower also known as “Kiosko” or “Bantay Moro”
Vegetable Basket of Cebu (Mantalongon)
Crops and vegetables distributed in several towns of Cebu and Central Visayas come from high above the mountain ranges of Dalaguete in a village called Mantalongon. Cold temperature measuring an average of 22 degrees Celsius makes Mantalongon the perfect area to grow vegetables, which is also the main livelihood of the locale. About 60 tons of produce comes into the “bagsakan” (a bargain market for the produce) wholesalers bid, before being distributed around Cebu. Sixty tons of crops and vegetables is equal to 8.5 male African elephants, no wonder Mantalongon is dubbed as the “vegetable basket of Cebu.”
Weighing freshly-harvested produce at Mantalongon’s “bagsakan”
Preparing cabbages for selling or shipping.
Osmeña Peak (Mantalongon)
At 1,013 meters above sea level, Dalaguete’s Osmeña Peak reigns as highest point of elevation in the island of Cebu. From Mantalongon’s public market, the hike spans for about an hour, but if you take a habal-habal (single motorcycle for rent) to the main jump-off point, only a 10-minute steep ascend stands between you and the peak. Easy, right? And besides, view from top will be worth the effort. Osmeña Peak leaves you no excuse not to climb it, even the late president walked those trails.
The 10-year old guide Kenken looking at Osmeña Peak’s campsite
Kulabyaw Cave (Mantalongon)
The 10-year-old guide told me about a cave not far from Osmeña Peak so I decided to take a detour and check it out. Kulabyaw is a vertical cave home to a number of nocturnal species. According to the guide, a team of spelunkers explored the cave and exited in Negros (it’s the island opposite to Cebu). If I’m not mistaken, the expedition went for about a year (I still have to research on this though though).
Checking out Kulabyaw Cave of Mantalongon.
We’ve seen numerous historical attractions and natural wonders in Dalaguete alone, and this is only the first of the many towns we’re about to discover during this journey. This southern Cebu sojourn will take us further down to the towns of Boljoon and Oslob, then traversing western coast via Badian, Moalboal, and Barili. To make this trip more fun, we’ll push up north back to the Cebu City, then to Liloan, Danao City, and to our final destination Bantayan Island. Stay tune for more destinations.
Here are some fast facts that may help you on your trip:
1. Directions to Dalaguete: Take a Ceres bus bound for Oslob or Bato from South Bus Terminal. Fare is less than P120.00
2. From the highway, cross the road, and head east towards the sea and you will find the San Guillermo de Aquitania Parish Church, and the Dalaguete Watchtower. You could also take a pedicab if you don’t feel like walking.
3. Mantalongon goes up the mountain. You could hire a habal-habal to take you to Mantalongon, which will cost around P100.00 if you’re alone. There are also jeeps but I’m not sure about the schedule.
4. When you get off the bus, tricycle drivers will swarm around you and offer you a ride. I just sat down for a moment, and wait for everyone to calm down.
5. I met the guide Kenken at the bus stop, he was the son of one habal-habal drivers. I gave a P100.00 for guiding me (I was alone), but a more generous offer would be much appreciated.
6. More destinations in Biyaheng Cebu
7. This is my 1st post in the Southern Cebu Sojourn series.
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9. Enjoy surfing and have a safe trip.