It won't be called as such if I didn't ended up at the southernmost tip of Cebu. Santander was the furthest destination I had on my southern Cebu trip last month. Right after my quick dip at the fine white sand beach in Tingko, Alcoy, I waited at the side of the road, with my shorts dripping wet, I motioned to an incoming ordinary bus bound for Barangay Liloan in Santander, it halted with semi-screeching tires and the conductor let me climbed the bus and I sat down on a seat by the window at the back, with pure intention of taking a nap.
However as the bus rolled into the towns of Boljoon and later on to Oslob, I found myself fighting off sleep so as not to miss the amazing scenery. After an hour I arrived at the town of Santander. The other passengers alighted at the port in Liloan to purchase tickets for the RORO (roll-on, roll-off) ferry to Dumaguete. Other smaller ports in Santander also serves as the hub going to the islands of Apo, Siquijor, Pescador, Balicasag and Sumilon.
|Dumaguete from afar|
My rendezvous with my other traveler friends was put on hold till the next day since they will be spending another day at Malapascua Island, located at the opposite part of Cebu. I found myself with no place to stay for the night and as I asked my friend Kissy if she knew any resorts within the area that offers cheap accommodation, she told me that I could stay at their family house in Santander.
|a watchtower ruins|
At that time, she was still on the bus heading to Santander as she just finished her shift for the day and will have her weekend off. While waiting for her I walked to the nearby Pebbles beach where from it, one could see the island of Negros, Dumaguete in particular and the nearby island of Siquijor. Both places I just visited a month earlier.
Kissy arrived a few minutes after 3:00 pm, from the Lilioan port we boarded another bus for a few minutes trip to their house. We stayed a few minutes to rest and went back to the town to explore it. We visited the ruins of a watchtower located at a top of a small hill, which overlooks the sea and provides a clear view of the island of Siquijor and Negros. Cebu is known to have many watchtowers built all over by the Spanish between the 18th and the 19th century as a means of providing a lookout for incoming Moro slave attacks.
|St. Gabriel Archangel Parish|
Within the center of the town just across the municipal hall is the St. Gabriel Archangel Parish Church, It was built by the Augustinians in 1898, a relatively newer church compared to other Spanish Colonial Churches in the Philippines. It started to rain a little so we went to the house of Kissy's friend nearby where we hanged out for a few minutes.
Santander, surprisingly has a free WiFi and it easily connects to my phone easier than trying to connect one inside Ayala Mall. A quiet evening was about to start as we made our way back to Kissy's place and as the moon takes over the sky and the sun falters down to the other side of the planet, the town went into darkness with little specks of lights visibly grouped together in rows of houses and other small establishments by the side of the road.
Such is the ordinary and simple setting of Santander. Many miles away from the bustling city of Cebu, so near from the romantic setting of Dumaguete and the mystical allure of Siquijor. Next door neighbor of a thriving tourism hotspot in Oslob and Boljoon, this southernmost town of Cebu presents a unique alternative to the many places you could visit while in the province of Cebu.
|My friend Kissy, who saved me from being roofless in Santander|
If only I have time, we could've further explore the highway from Santander and into Samboan and into Badian, circling the scenic province of Cebu from the opposite part of where I came from earlier the day. We had dinner at Kissy's house with her lovely mom and her three year old nephew who was born blind, but who shows an uncanny love for music. I told Kissy about a blind traveler named Douglas Abledan whom I read in a magazine, the one who uses the sense of smell to differentiate places he'd been to. I should have told her about Tony Giles - another independent blind traveler but his name escaped my mind that moment.
As I left the town of Santander the next day to meet my friends in the town of Oslob, I leave behind a great memory not only of a quaint town but also of good nature gesture from a friend and a young boy whose inability to see the world like we do, hasn't let it dampened his spirits even a bit. It just made me more appreciative of the world and people around me.