One of the highlights of our Cebu and Bohol trip last year was the Loboc River Cruise, which is part of the accommodation and tour package we availed at Dumaluan Beach Resort in the island of Panglao in Bohol.
The Loboc River is something that we often heard about: the river cruise, of course, the internationally-distinguished and multi-awarded Loboc Children’s Choir, the century-old Loboc Church, and the bizarre unfinished bridge. It is also something that was printed in one of our textbooks during our elementary days showcasing the postcard-perfect places in the Philippines. And more recently, it was featured in Beautiful Destination‘s viral video clip.
It appeared that Loboc River’s reputation precedes it.
So when our driver announced that we were on the way to Loboc River, we were jumping with excitement to finally see the famous river and everything that it promised to offer.
However, when we arrived at bank of the river where tourists log in, it was so crowded and everyone was sweating, swearing, and sweltering. It was already past 1 in the afternoon! We looked for a cooler spot under a tree and waited for our driver to secure our tickets.
We thought that we would be the ones to fall in line and confirm our reservation. But when our driver saw the large crowd gathering around the information cubicle, he asked us to just calm down and trust him. He got lost in the crowd and later, he came back, waving three tickets for us!
We didn’t know what he did, but because we were excited and at the same already starving, we just nodded our heads and forgot about delving into the details. We thanked him profusely and proceeded our way to the floating restaurant.
After we have settled in, the boatmen announced that we were about to begin our journey. We found a good spot to take pictures and took our sits for the meal. Lunch was served in buffet so we ate to our heart’s and stomach’s content.
While we were enjoying our sumptuous buffet lunch, we were serenaded by a local singer/guitarist with his melancholic, folksong. We couldn’t help ourselves but be mesmerized by the way he strummed the guitar and sang his heart out like he was in a trance.
After the singer sang his last piece, we turned our attention to the river banks where children dressed in local costumes started to beat their bamboo drums and danced in the rhythm of the beat. It was interesting to know that these children come to the river banks during weekends to earn their living together with their entire family, instead of spending their time watching television or their mobile phones. One thing we noticed about the people is that they are very proud of what they are doing and do it with overwhelming passion.
After their performance, our cruise continued its way to give tourists the time to have more good look of the environs, most especially the immaculateness of the water despite the human activities that transpire along its banks. If there’s one thing the Loboc River has taught us, it is the fact that human beings can undoubtedly advance its way of life without having the need to destroy nature. The people of Loboc is very good at that.
After almost an hour, we reached the end of the length of the river, or perhaps the area that can only be reached by boats.
On our way back to where we started, we saw a bunch of foreigners swinging on the vines and plunging into the cool waters of the river. With them are local children who struggled to communicate and teaching them how to make a good swing and jump. You can clearly see the joy of the foreigners and the local children in their faces as they try to understand each other not with words, but by goodwill and kindness.
We smiled as the foreigners waved their hands to the passing tourists.
The last spot that we noticed on our way back is an unfinished bridge that is supposed to connect the two banks. What’s puzzling is that the bridge is planned in a way that it would directly hit the church.
We asked a couple of locals and they said that the bridge was unfinished because of bad planning and corruption. Another version tells of the plan of Japanese treasure hunters to dig below the church’s altar for gold. They used the bridge (it is said that the Japanese will build the bridge for free) as a front to excavate the area and take the gold home. Which version is true is left to you.
An hour of cruise of the Loboc River did not only make the pictures we saw from our textbooks came into being, but it reminded us some of the most important life lessons.
One is that life, like a cruise, is short-lived and that you must take in every moment and enjoy them while they last. Second is that it is possible for humanity to advance its way of life while preserving its natural environment. Finally, Loboc River Cruise has taught us that we should not be ashamed or feel inferior of our own history and culture. The more proud you are of it, the more respect and admiration you’ll get from those who have the heart to appreciate the eternal beauty of authenticity and diversity.
Our hands down to the people of Loboc in Bohol, Philippines! We will surely be back soon.