Monday, April 26, 2010


This is that town in the province of Cebu where the poblacion or center is a virtual unknown having been overshadowed by one of its barrios made famous (or infamous,
whichever way you wanna look at it) by monks up in the hills. And I have gone twice to that monastery but never even seen center of town.

Going to Sibonga, me and the friend were waiting for a bus along Carcar City’s main road across the market. However, we heard habal-habal and tricycle drivers calling out for passengers to Simala. We looked at each other and deduced that if vehicles were getting passengers to Simala, then they must also be taking people going just to Sibonga – nearer and center of town. So we hailed a trike and went off with our P30 ride (P15 each)!

Of course we headed to the Sibonga church first, the Nuestra Senora Del Pilar Parish. Oh my, that church is really old, even almost ugly. But its very rustic look makes it more interesting. And if the ceiling of Carcar’s church mesmerized me, this one in Sibonga just had me looking at it with an open mouth. The ceiling above the center aisle is also made of long wooden strips BUT the painting is not just of lacey or ribbony designs. Those are big big murals that depict the people’s church life. The faces are still clear and discernable. Another “perishable art” – am not sure there’d be anyone available to help restore it since the elements seem to have seeped in through time. Ah, remember the squares (diamonds) at the side ceilings of Carcar’s church? Well, it is similar in Sibonga’s – they’re just smaller/finer, therefore more difficult to make and maintain.

There is a big big convent by the side of the church and one side of it even hugs the highway. It is also aging yet still functional. Looking at that huge house reminds me of the convent in Lazi, Siquijor. Both will require forests to maintain as the amount of wood needed is OMG plenty hehe! That probably is the reason why they have started sprucing up this house with concrete at ground level. Enormous! Hey, that’s the case over at Lazi too, remember?!

After the church, we thought a quick stroll would be fine, just to see what else is there in the tree-crowded town center. This place is very airy and thanks to the big trees, the shades give folks a restful area to while away their time or wait for their rides. Oh, a tarp describing how Sibonga got its name is nailed to an acacia tree. I silently said, oh thanks! At least it’s a brief introduction to what this town is. Bonga is the visayan term for betel nut. Take note it is different from “bunga” – meaning “fruit in general”! Aside from the big ancestral houses that we have already started seeing here and there, the town’s outskirts has rice terraces, a waterfall and a cave. But there is also an old railway. Yes, rail way! where trains pass? Hmm, that was new knowledge to me. See?! A mere tarpaulin tacked to an acacia tree educated me about Sibonga!

We ambled more going sea-side. Ah there’s a weird-looking ancestral house. Am not sure if the lower floor (ground) has been spruced up but the stones used as wall seem still ancient. The upper floor is definitely untouched, seemingly left to oblivion. I know those now-open windows (without anything to close them with) is a result of decay so the owners probably tore them down. However, and this is what makes it weird, anything on that upper floor that is not an open window is covered by capiz shells. Two things come to mind… either there was great abundance and great obsession of the then owners of the house on capiz shells that they made all the external walls of the upper floor with it.. or the recent owners of that house tore all windows and doors made of capiz shells and re-installed them as walls! Ah hehe! I think the more believable scenario is the former! Here is more… what I saw on ground floor was a sari-sari store but the signs surrounding the house were 1) Century KTV and refreshment, 2) Family Dental Clinic, and 3) JV Cellshop! Where are those?!! Ah hehehe, lastly, all of those open windows upstairs still have Christmas lanterns (star, parol, whatever) hanging in each! And this is already Santcruzan season!

Onwards, there is another ancestral house with a sign that says it was built 1820-1821 and is owned by Mrs. Evangeline Ordeniza. Its old house number is 018 carved into the wood of one post with the country’s olden seal… and its new number is 609 painted on a tin plate and nailed to the same post just above the old house number. Coolness! Oh looking at this house from the outside tells me that everything upstairs seem to be still intact. But for all the windows to be closed… either the owners are living abroad (as is the usual case in this country) or it already has centralized air-conditioning system. Downstairs though there is already an air-conditioner provision and metallic (and motorized) roll-up doors! Still good I must say!

We walked on bypassing the municipal hall unto the town’s pier. Whoa! The beauty of living in a beach area town. Like anywhere else with wide shallow shores, Sibonga’s wharf is a long piece of concrete straddling amidst shallow waters and mangrove areas, thus, commanding a nice view of the island across and the mountains just above town.

Oh crabs! Yes, there are a lot of little crabs with colorful claws (pincers) bigger
than their bodies. Cute! And only one pincer is big and colorful in each crab! Oh crabs! Now am curious! How do those big brightly colored pincers get to be?! With some crabs, those are on their right while with others, those are on the left. Hmm, and the colors vary too from white to yellow to bright yellow to orange to flaming red! Interesting little crabs. They burrow little holes unto the muddy sand for a home.

Onwards near the tip of the pier, big boys were swimming and diving unto the deep emerald waters while on the other side men were casting long nets to catch fish. Turning around and looking at the shoreline, there were folks enjoying the brown sandy beach towards the southern end of town while the views to the north can be as far as Naga. Well, most commanding view is the island of Bohol just across the sea and it looks nearer from this place.

Back in town we passed by the municipal hall that looks like an American or Spanish era house. Its beautiful and almost like a mini-Malacanang! Its back is a picnic area by the still growing mangroves while the front is a wide and beautifully landscaped park. Wow! There are flowering trees that reminds me of the cherry blossoms. And from the middle of the park, the view of the big and old convent is commanding. But turning back to see the municipal hall is also quite a fantastic view. The tennis courts are rather busy – probably cuz its vacation time for the kids.

Oh well, now I can say that Sibonga is an interesting township with or without Simala!

1 comment :

  1. Wow, nice article about Sibonga! The serenity it has is also one of the best things the town can also offer.