Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alluring Argao

Argao, a quaint sleepy little town, Southeast of Cebu City. It is the hometown of our classmate Danilo Ngujo. After our grueling, fun and memorable school reunion, Batch '93 made the leisurely two-hour drive (in SPO4's silver Toyota Altis) to Argao, reaching it at about 9ish pm.

Danilo, was expecting us, together with our classmate Jay Francisco, and our younger schoolmates, JB & Raymund, whom they tagged along. "Baka saan pa mapunta yan sa Cebu City, kaya sinama na lang namin, " says Jay. Bait talaga ng mga Kuya. We also tagged along my cuz Ruby, whose with me since we both came from Manila.

You think we would have had too much lechon already at the reunion? No, siree. Another porky was waiting for us to decimate, courtesy of Aldrin & Richel. Unfortunately, Capt. Richel had a flight to Hongkong that night, so he wasn't unable to join us.

You think Dzo & I talked had done too much talking as emcees, that we want to rest our voices? No, siree. A Videoke machine was standing there, challenging us, with our favorite songs waiting to be conquered. The Climb by Miley Cyrus, I don't Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith, the whole of slew of gut-wrenching Aegis and soul siren Nina.

This is gonna be a looooooog night....

At on or about 1am, when we were so inebriated (that's high brow for drunk, so don't bother getting your dictionary 'dahling) We jumped into the pool.

You think, being in the pool, will make us miss our Reserved songs? No way! Walang ligtas si Bon Jovi. Just careful with the mic, you might get electricuted!

I think we finished around 3am. Dead to the world, despite Dzo's and JB's incessant snoring. :)

We woke up to a bright and sunny day, and the beautiful sight of Ngujo's residence amidst the morning sun.

"Dandan! You are living in resort!" They also have a private Chapel and dandan has a workshop for his wakeboard-making hobby below the property. I missed taking photos of those, I don't want the Ngujos to think, I was snooping :)

Breakfast was washed down with fresh tuba, harvested at 5am from the coconut trees around the compound.

Dandan was excited to show us his Argao. First on our agenda was the municipal plaza.

Unity Plaza, is a very well maintained and well-restored plaza, dating back to 1600s. It still has 3 huge original cannons, remnants of late Spanish era and early American occupation.

There's also a Well that has quenched the thirst of Filipinos and Spaniards alike during that significant time.

I felt like I was transported to an old era, where life is laid-back and people take their time, strolling, chatting............ Whoops! I got a text message :) It brought me back to 21st century, & guess what?! The Plaza has Free WiFi! Talk about merging of the old and new. astig!

This is the Argao Hall of Justice, dating back 1605. It served as military barracks during the olden times. According to our reliable tour guide Dandan, it has now been rehabilitated to function as the current municipality’s Hall of Justice.

A typical Spanish town, central to the municipio and town plaza, is the Catholic Church. In Argao, it's the beautiful St. Michael the Archangel Church.

If my Humanities serves me right, this church is Rococo-Baroque style. It's ornate, fluid, over-the-top and playful, and you can see it more in its interior.

Dew: Dan, Did you get married here? It's so beautiful...
DanDan: No, Dew. I got married in the city... Siguro, next time. If the Catholic Church would allow polygamy.
Dew: Buang!

Old paintings on the church's ceilings. You know how I got this shot, right?! Laying-down on the aisle, on my back? Stir..;)

Argao Church also has the Philippines' oldest pipe Organ, made in Leather. Don't debate with Danilo. The pipe organ in Las Pinas is made of Bamboo. Argao's is made of leather. To be more precise, I did my research. Argao's pipe organ is older than the Las Pinas' bamboo organ by 108years. So there!

There are 14 remaining pipe organs the Philippines and 3 of them can be found in Cebu. (Argao's,Church of Patrocinio de Maria in Boljoon, and the Cathedral's)

I hope this one in Argao can be restored to play beautiful music again.

Outside the church, a relic of St. Michael the Archangel is displayed.
St. Michael is actually San Miguel in Filipino, but I'd rather use his English name, since the Pinoy version connotes a different kind of Spirit, not the religious kind. The Samahang Walang Katulad kind. ;)

A little walk outside the church, is a lovely stone arc. I automatically posed for photos, only to be told that it's actually a cemetery! Ngii..

Altar de Sacrificio, served as a cemetery during the Spanish occupation up until the 1800’s. In 2007, the government decided to have it restored and now serves as a resting place for unborn children.

Dandan is telling us to hurry a bit. He still have lots of places to show us.

Our next destination was Argao's mini-park & wildlife. Entrance is a measly 5.00 pesos, but if you're locals like Dandan & Wella, bringing tourist regularly, they come and go for free. With all the people we encountered who knew Dandan by name, I swear, he can run for Mayor of Argao.

This one is pa-cute. But there are wilder creatures out there..

Reticulated phython or "sawa" probably had its daily meal already, hibernating.

This little guy really hates Aldrin. It was rattling the cage, wants to claw him.

I wish all our munipalities have this kind of "pasyalan," mini-zoo. The animals don't have to be imported or the wild kind. Just a place where children can go,and learn a thing or two about local animals.

There's a mini-Zipline and canopy walk for only 35 Pesos! It's so short that Half-way on your shrieking Weeeee..... tapos na!

A boat ride for 25 pesos, that Jay jokes there are crocodiles under the water.

Another cool place in Argao is the RiverStone Castle. I honestly don't know how an English Castle sprouted in an old town, whose history is more on Spanish-American colonialization. So, I'll just say, it's like a theme-park / resort / bar.

There is even a cute little Moat / drawbridge. I'm imagining soldiers in battle, driving through the doors with a battering ram, only to be poured down with hot water by the defending Kingdom.

Riverstone Castle, I will venture a no-brainer guess, probably derived its name from the stones that they got from a nearby river, to make this structure. More likely, constructed at that time when Quarrying was still a legal activity.

Modern Knights of the Round Table..

A Victorian-theme Party / Gig would be nice to have around here.. with the ladies in ballgowns and men in royal cravats.

There is a swimming pool atop the castle, which is totally out of place for a castle, but a good come-on for those who want to take a dip. It can get really hot in Argao.

But we needed to go back to Dan's place. It was his father's birthday, and there was a small gathering, they wouldn't want to start without us.

I normally shy away from goat or lamb, but this one, is irristible!

Ooh, the many, many tales from Mr. Ngujo. MGO days, his stint at Amanpulo, his favorite dishes...and oopps, before he can extend the stories about his son's lovelife... Dandan restrained him!

"Tita Willie, Take home ako nung Pound Cake at Banana-Cinnamon cupcake mo, ha."

Thank you, to our generous hosts in Argao, the Ngujo family. I wish we could visit your place, again. Dandan was talking about Bugasok Falls, Mt. Lantoy, fishing and more places to explore...

But we had to rush to the airport, not only to catch our afternoon flight... but, because we have another batchmate waiting... the good-looking Captain of the Fleet, who was on-reserve that night.. Richel Sale.

What a beautiful way to cap a School reunion!
A day spend with schoolmates, and another day with just our batchmates..and a new place of discovery... Argao.

Sana Maulit Muli !!!


butterfly said...

beautiful!!! Cebu will always be on my bucket list. f only i have all the tiem in the world i would travel every places i want. =)

RipeMango said...

thanks teena! most of my friends are based in cebu. whenever i go, i can always count on them to show me around. so many interesting places to see. :) especially if you're a devout catholic ;)