Monday, April 21, 2014

Bagacay Point Lighthouse and Stories from Liloan (Cebu)

Bagacay Point in Liloan, Cebu - I doubt if sweeping tales of romance were born out of the stark romanticism that the "Parola" (light house) renders to Bagacay Point, north of Cebu City. But it might as well have. After all, there's nothing more cloying or enduring than symbols of benevolence from the light of a structure that guides ships to their harbor.

On my way to Danao City, I decided to take a short stop in Liloan to check out a 110 year old light house standing guard on a hill at the dreamy Bagacay Point. Cansaga Bay Bridge has considerably cut travel time of people going to northern towns. Midway between Consolacion and Compostela, I hopped off my cramped V-Hire upon reaching the town of Liloan, a first class municipality with a population of roughly 101,000. The place itself was named after a legend concerning a natural whirlpool, a "lilo" (glottal stop at the second syllable). There's a considerable manual and commercial activity in the center of town, just as the bus makes its coastal left turn.

The municipal hall is particularly stately, though small, with shrubs diligently shaped into balls of canopy. There is a new light house standing near the market. Its presence is of course a curiosity. Nope, that's not the "Parola" that tourists come here for.

Liloan Church, officially called San Fernando Rey Parish Church, across the munisipio, is likewise fetching. Unfortunately, it was closed during my visit. The church was constructed in 1847. It was an ambitious project then because population that time was only 5,000. So 167 years later, it can still accommodate a sizable crowd.


Another interesting tidbit about Liloan is a biscuit that looked like ringlet cookies. In 1907, Margarita "Titay" Frasco, started selling it to the public. When then Cebu governor Sergio Osmena, who went on to become a Philippine President, got wind of it, he sought for a taste and called the still unnamed cookie as "ronquillos" - after the Spanish term "roscas". Yup, this is the home of ronquillos. Other than this, Liloan is proud of its lechon and "tuyom" (sea urchin) dishes that you find by the roadside and in carinderias.

I went to a pedicab queue and started to negotiate the ride to Bagacay Point located some 15 minutes to the coast. We shook hands on a special one-way tourist rate of P150, which I knew was exorbitant because locals hand over a mere P30 for a 15 minute ride. But I did not want to haggle because it cuts too much into my time and I still had to go to Danao. Off we went. The road was craggy, and dust billowed as we headed to the hill.

The Parola of Bagacay Point gazes towards the Visayan Seas. Fifty years before this present structure, the Spaniards beat the Americans to construct a lighthouse that eventually crumbled. In 1904, then Governor General William Howard Taft, an American, instructed the construction of what we now see. To my mind, this is one of the few "authentic" American-regime architectural relics outside Luzon. There's a Civil War-era American architecture in Carcar (South Cebu), but that's about it. 

I was worried to let go of my pedicab because vehicles rarely go to the hill but I didn't want anyone rushing me up; otherwise, it's a hefty P300 fee for what should usually cost P60, and the drivers are fiercely unrelenting. The area is part of Barangay Catarman


The other barangays dotting the roadside are an interesting lot: Barangay Sayote, Barangay Alugbati, Barangay Ampalaya, Barangay Talong, Barangay Sili, even Barangay Chinese Cabbage... makes you want to head to the nearest salad bar while singing that familiar tune. The place has been known to evince dramatic vistas at sunset, but I didn't want to test my luck. I am sure there will be plenty more sunsets to cover.

Meanwhile, I had to walk down the hill, stroll 500 meters or so towards the barangay center where I eventually found my tricycle back to Liloan town proper. Once again, dust billowed and I found myself humming softly. "Sa paligid ligid ay puro linga."

What the heck is "linga"? Hmmm.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Sugba Sugba sa Parola, the only restaurant near the light house.

The hill of Barangay Catarman is a gentle slope making your ascent relatively easy.

From the hill's parking lot, you could see the main road that goes back to town.

Amara Village flanks both sides of the light house. One hopes that sometime in the future, Ayala Land won't restrict visits to the light house.

From the hill, I walked...

... and walked...

Until I reached the "centro" of Barangay Catarman where I found my pedicab (tricycle) back to town.

Typical "sari sari store" in small Pinoy towns.

Liloan's stately municipal town center

This Rizal statue in front of the munisipio was donated by then Representative Vicente Sotto, the father of the Visayan Literature, in 1927. Fast forward to the present, his namesake wouldn't think twice of plagiarism. An improvement of the race eh?
This new light house is a curiosity. It is found in the center of Liloan near the municipal hall, the market and the church.  
San Fernando Rey Parish Church was built in 1847.

Still part of the church complex.

Turn right from where the trikes are and you will find Liloan Church.

My pedicab ride.

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