3 reasons this southern town should be in your summer itinerary
Photos & Text by N.S. Villaflor
ARGAO is famous for its torta and Argaoanons vouch that they make the best torta in the country. Yet Argao is more than just this delicacy: it’s a heritage town blessed with wondrous natural sites.
Many travelers, though, usually drive past Argao to more known destinations further South of Cebu, which this time of year is overflowing with tourists trying to escape the metropolis. Argao, surprisingly, seems more laid back these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s less interesting.
Here, Sun.Star Weekend gives you a teaser of sorts on why Argao deserves a spot in your itinerary this summer: three must-see and do sites and activities in this quaint southern town. Make sure you drop by the Argao Tourism Office first so you can be briefed properly on basic wilderness safety and garbage disposal and help the town in its ecotourism sustainability efforts.
Stradling all three barangays of Conalum, Tabayag and Catang, Mt. Lantoy is one handsome karst mountain in a protected forest area of Argao. It is said to be the home of Maria Cacao, the mountain goddess or engkanto who grants the wishes of lowlanders.
Ritche Nuevo, a professor from the Cebu Technological Institute (CTU) Argao Campus who is studying the area and a proponent of the town’s agro-ecotourism projects, says Argao’s other main natural attractions are within a radius of less than a kilometer of the 600-meter Mt. Lantoy. These include the Bugasok Falls and the Balay sa Agta, which requires guides accredited by the Argao Tourism Office and safety gear as the trail going to the cave goes along a narrow cliff.
At the base of Mt. Lantoy is Bugasok Falls, a single drop cascade that gathers into a clear lagoon bounded by smooth rock faces. The water that flows through Bugasok is from the Argao River. The picturesque area makes the hour-long road trip from the town center worth it.
If you want to take a dip in the falls, you need to rappel down the lagoon. This is also one reason you need to coordinate with the tourism office, so you can have the complete nature adventure experience in Argao.
Okay, watching someone weave isn’t everyone’s idea of an adventure, but have you ever wondered how it’s like to be in the weaver’s seat? That is exactly what you can do at the Shared Service Facility for Handloom Weaving at the CTU Argao Campus on Ed Kintanar St. in Lamacan. Here, you’ll get a quick educational tour on how the traditional cloth called hablon is woven.
A project of the Deparment of Trade and Industry along with CTU, the weaving facility offers a glimpse of traditional Argaoanon livelihood as well as what the craft has to offer to the new generation of weavers.
Dr. Jorelyn Conception, Extension Services director of CTU, said the facility explores the many possibilities of hablon, such as in fashion.
“We are getting valuable support from industry practitioners such as fashion designer Dexter Alazas, who uses hablon in his Amano Craft Creations and advocates its use,” says Conception.
At the facility, you can see the broad range of finished products from pillow covers to gowns, and you can also try your hand at the meticulous craft of weaving hablon.
* The Argao Tourism Office is open from Monday to Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They can be reached at 485-8063 or 09198099291. Also, check out more of the town of Argao in Sun.Star Cebu’s South Plus Section in the coming weeks.