His wife’s birthday was fast approaching. Michael Loreto, 31 and a seaman, just got back from a four-month voyage around West Africa, Spain and Portugal. He wanted to give a special birthday celebration for the love of his life.
Aloguinsan was their first choice. But when Michael and wife, Lorelie, found the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo booth while strolling in a mall in Mandaue City, they immediately changed destination.
“My wife’s birthday falls on May 2. Also, she loves Camotes Island. So this Suroy-Suroy is on perfect timing. That’s why we opted to join,” said Michael.
Michael, Lorelie and their kids Leila Myiesha, 5, and Mykho Liam, 2, along with almost 160 participants spent a relaxing summer escapade in Camotes Island via Suroy-Suroy Sugbo of the Cebu Provincial Government last May 1 to 3.
“This is our first time joining the Suroy-Suroy and we had so much fun. My wife feels like we’re having a birthday party! And the kids really enjoyed the trip. It’s safe and all worth it. We will join again,” Michael happily said.
Retired businessman Antonio Lim, 76, came with friend Renato Ouano. After three invitations from another friend, the two finally joined Suroy-Suroy Sugbo.
Ouano admitted they decided to join just now because of some negative feedbacks about the past Suroy-Suroy travels.
“But now, we see that this is a wonderful program, especially for senior citizens like us, to safely visit local tourist spots. The organizers also have given us the chance to roam around and really enjoy the place,” he said.
Lim also expressed his satisfaction.
“Lingaw mulang! Mubalik pa unya mi (It was absolutely fun! We will join again),” he shared.
Thanking the participants, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale explained that “Suroy-Suroy Sugbo is Capitol’s way of promoting the Province of Cebu and not a profit-making endeavor.”
“There’s more to see outside Cebu City. The whole province is composed of about 150 beautiful towns and cities. Our goal is to bring you guys to these places and see the beauty of Cebu,” expressed Magpale.
She encouraged the participants to share their Suroy-Suroy experiences to their friends.
“Word-of-mouth, I think, is the best and I expect you to tell your friends wherever they are how beautiful Camotes Island is and how warm the people are,” said Magpale.
Day 1: Dazon kamo sa Camotes!
The tour’s first stop was Poro town where the group feasted on a sumptuous lunch prepared by the local government. Mayor Luciano D. Rama, Jr. and the rest of the town officials welcomed the guests with Poro’s very own live band and cultural dance troupe.
Rama described the effects of Suroy-Suroy in his town as “spectacular.”
“Spectacular ang improvement, spectacular ang change. Daghan na kaayo ang mga turistang manganhi (The improvement and change are spectacular. Many tourists have come in) and I think the number one reason is the Suroy-Suroy,” expressed Rama.
He further revealed that the local government is currently developing more tourism sites, such as waterfalls and mountain view, overlooking the entire island.
“There are many things to see in Camotes Island that will make tourists really stay for a couple of days,” expressed Rama.
After lunch, the group proceeded to the famous Buho Rock Resort of the town. Native snacks were served while the participants took photos of the area. The scorching heat of the sun was remedied by fresh buko juice and coco wine prepared by the personnel of resort.
Buho Rock is a quiet sanctuary situated in a ship-like rock formation in Poro town. From the viewing deck, the guests braved the flight of steep stairs leading to a cliff by the sea, perfect for diving. Now abandoned, the local government of Poro maintains and enhances the resort as numerous tourists visit the place.
The group then went to two of the best resorts in Camotes Island – Mangodlong Rock Resort and Santiago Bay Garden and Resort – both in San Francisco town. They were given time to rest and freshen up for the white-themed dinner party in Santiago Bay.
The guests enjoyed an intimate dinner by the beach with a buffet of grilled meat and fish, chicken stew and fresh fruits.
The sudden loss of electricity made the dinner even more intimate along with the local band’s serenades and lighted torches surrounding the dinner area.
Day 2: Prepare to be enchanted
The following day, Suroy-Suroy Sugbo participants woke up to the beautiful scenery of Camotes’ crystal blue waters, wide span of fine white sand, fresh air, and clear, blue sky full of pure white fluffy clouds.
Breakfast buffet was served in both resorts while guests were preparing for another day of adventure.
First stop of the second day of the tour was Bukilat Cave in Tudela town where the group was welcomed with a grand feast of local food and entertainment.
Located underground, Bukilat Cave is one of the most visited caves in Camotes Island. It used to be hiding place of the locals during the Battle of Japanese Armada during the American colonization. After Rev. Fr. Joseph Weirtz, Tudela’s parish priest, developed the cave in the 1970’s, many locals and later on, tourists visit the cave.
Before entering Bukilat Cave, a ritual was required to be performed since the group was composed of too many people.
“It’s (ritual) a way of asking permission from the owners of the cave to let a large crowd enter,” said 60-year-old Demetrio Lanuza who performed the ritual.
The ritual involves letting an egg stand with the smaller side pointing upwards and the larger side steady on the ground. If the egg successfully stands, the crowd may enter. However, if after three tries the egg still loses its balance, the crowd then cannot go inside the cave.
Thankfully, Lanuza was successful in letting the egg stand.
Upon entering Bukilat Cave, the guests were astounded by the clear pool of water inside. The cave is well-lighted as natural light comes in through the caves seven windows (holes on its ceiling). Further inside are stalactites and stalagmites that resemble thrones and pedestals perfect for out-of-this-world photo shoots.
Tudela Mayor Erwin Yu noted the significant change in the number of tourists visiting their town ever since the tour caravan started.
“Naa gyuy feedback nga ang mga nag-Suroy-Suroy ganahan mubalik dinhi magdala sa ilang friends. Bisan sa mga kalsada daghan naming nakita nga mga turista (We received feedback that Suroy-Suroy participants want to visit Tudela again with their friends. Even in the streets, we see more tourists), he expressed.
After an hour of sightseeing, the group proceeded to Lake Danao Park in San Francisco town. The lake is also one of the best tourist destinations in Camotes Island. Its lush greeneries and healthy flora and fauna are always a welcome sight for city-dwellers aching for a break from the busy city life.
A wide array of native delicacies, tranquil waters of the lake and festive Soli-soli dancers welcomed the guests. While enjoying the afternoon snacks, other guests toured in the lake through a motor-powered boat carrying 10-15 people. Many took turns taking photos around the park; others had fun horse-riding while a few played palo-sebo with the locals.
The relaxing afternoon was then followed by a refreshing Hawaiian dinner party in Mangodlong Rock Beach Resort. While enjoying the sumptuous feast, the guests were entertained by a live band and a series of dance numbers.
For having the coolest Hawaiian look around, Mely Cahiles and Ellen Villar were named the winners of Best in Hawaiian Costume. Prizes were given courtesy of Marco Polo Plaza Hotel.
The night ended with flying of lanterns carrying the guests’ wishes into the heavens.
Day 3: “Suroyans” cheer for Pacquiao
The following day, Suroy-Suroy participants enjoyed a leisurely morning taking a dip in Camotes sea and the resorts’ swimming pool while waiting for the much-awaited fight of the century.
All guests then gathered in Santiago Bay Garden and Resort where the pay-per-view coverage of Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather fight was set.
While having lunch, the group was all hyped up cheering for Pacquiao.
After the fight, the participants packed up their things and bade goodbye to Camotes Island.
Most of the participants of Suroy-Suroy Sugbo: Camotes Isles Summer Interlude 2015 were first-timers, senior citizens and Chinese nationals.
“Maybe because it’s a three-day weekend, the weather is perfect to cross the island. Most of them are big businessmen in Cebu,” said Provincial Tourism Officer Grace Paulino about the group’s composition.
Paulino also announced another set of Suroy-Suroy Sugbo caravan in the entire province for the whole month of September in celebration of the tourism month.
The special Suroy-suroy tours are scheduled on the four weekends of September bringing the participants to Cebu’s north, south and mid-west areas including Malapascua Island.
Paulino also revealed an eco-tourism adventure package will be offered in the September Suroy-Suroy for the young adults. (Lianne Llesol/Heart Rizarri)
Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2015: Camotes Isles Summer Interlude
Suroy Suroy Sugbo Camotes 2015
Posted by Cebu Provincial Government on Friday, 15 May 2015