It took me 3 hours from Santander to reach Alcantara, one of the lesser known municipalities located at the western coast of Cebu in Central Philippines.
“What’s in Alcantara anyway?” one of my friends asked me over the weekend.
“I don’t know but I’m headed there to find out for myself,” I answered.
I actually second-guessed this decision while our Ceres bus neared Alcantara. You see, our bus was already packed to the rafters or along the aisle in this case. I began to worry if I could still hop on a ride back to the city later on.
The Kugtong backstory
“I’ll just wing it out,” I managed to convince myself as I alighted by the St. Agustin Church. A statue of Saint Augustine of Hippo stands near the entrance. His writings (such as The City of God and Confessions) have greatly influenced the development of Western Christianity.
Across the church are various government offices and the town plaza with the requisite Rizal monument. At the center of it all is a large concrete grouper swimming in a murky green pond. A half-naked mermaid sat a few feet from its gaping mouth.
It is said that a kugtong or a large fish thrived around these parts. In fact, the town was named ‘Kugtong’ before the Spaniards came and decided to name it after the landlocked district in Spain.
Surprised by Sea Paradise
The biggest surprise that afternoon was Alcantara’s Sea Paradise. Based from online blogs, I expected to see a creaky bamboo path and a handful of sad-looking caged animals.
There were none of these. What greeted me instead was a sturdier elevated walkway that beautifully wove through the mangrove forest.
All I could hear at that time were the rustling leaves, the gentle waves and the chirping birds. It sounded and looked like paradise.
The ~300m boardwalk is still a work in progress though. I don’t know what the Alcantara local government planned especially at the section that opens to the shallow bay. I imagine this could be a jump-off for SUP (stand-up paddling), kayak and other similar adventures.
But if you’re not into these water activities, then maybe waiting for the sun to set behind the Negros mountains would not be a bad idea at all. I actually had that in mind but since I still had to catch a bus (or any mode of transportation) back to the city, I begrudgingly walked back to the Sea Paradise entrance and then to the highway.
Stopping by Alcantara allowed me to learn about its interesting kugtong backstory and to see one of its promising tourist destinations. It also made me realize that there’s still a lot to explore in Cebu, an island I now consider as my second home.