Text by: Andrew “Doyzkie” Buenaviaje | Photos by: Reymond and Doyzkie Buenaviaje
It was a gloomy Saturday as we headed to Poblacion Aloguinsan for an afternoon of mangrove planting with IBM Philippines people and RAFI Foundation. It was about a 2-3 hour bus ride from the city of Cebu, and with CBS Founder Mark Monta and IBM’s Owen Cammayo as my bus buddies, talking about camote and food, I am positive that the ride’s not going to be a drab. hahahaha. We know, we are weird like that! When we arrived in Aloguinsan, we headed to Bojo River before partaking lunch.
Around 2 kilometers from the town center, we arrived at the Bojo River Nature Reserve. Alighting from the van, we are set on to walk for 5-10 minutes to the river.
After an orientation and a short lecture on mangroves and wildlife, we were now off to the river cruise, where we learned more about mangroves and the wildlife that benefit the river and of course, the Bojo River fairy, Diwata Maria Tang-an.
The Tale of Diwata Maria Tang-an
The river was once the docking area for big ships during the Spanish colonial period and was said to be very mystical and mysterious. It has been said that a very beautiful fairy named Diwata Maria Tang-an guards the Bojo river and the forest. She had protected the area from Spaniards digging for treasures in the area and banish them from the land. Diwata Maria Tang-an was the townsfolk provider of things as well.
Its been told that every time there’s a celebration,whether it’s a wedding, a birthday or a fiesta, the town’s people would go to the “cathedral” – the rivers opening to the sea and call Diwata Maria Tang-an and borrow things they need for the celebration, provided they return them a few days after they have used the borrowed items and should be returned exactly the same when they borrowed the items.
But what happens to borrowers who do not return the items they loaned or returned incomplete or damaged items? The local medicine woman said that the borrower would suffer a misfortune, a sickness or a temporary abnormality.
With Diwata Maria Tang-an, were birds and monkeys that made the forest full of life and wild orchids that beautified it. But one day, a girl had borrowed a dress for her wedding and returned it to the fairy with parts of the dress burnt. Diwata Maria Tang-an was so angry she punished the girl with an misaligned jaw and from then on, Diwata Maria Tang-an was gone, with the monkeys and the birds never to be seen again. Spanish then started digging for treasures in the area and with no one to protect the forest and the river, the Spaniards took advantage of the Bojo River and Forest. Today, some say Diwata Maria Tang-an still visits the river’s opening to the sea and is still protecting the area and punishing those who came to destroy the protected area. ^_^
Today, Bojo River Nature Reserve, includes 1.4 Kilometer-long Bojo river and its riparian zone — home to about 61 bird species and remarkable native Flora. You can hop on the traditional baroto as local guides interpret the river’s natural and cultural heritage. You can also trek the 400-meter long boardwalk cutting across a mangrove forest and a 150-step natural trail carved on a hillside which will bring you to a gazebo overlooking the river landscape.
Bojo Tour is organized by Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS.)
Special Thanks to Rudney Carcuevas. Contact him at +639059133055 | 0922479822 for more information and booking about Bojo Ecotourism tours.