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What to do in Argao

Argao is a surprising and refreshing mix of the antiquated and the modern, the coast and the mountain, the traditional and unusual.

A trip to Argao should make the most of its many facets - as a town steeped in history, rich in socio-cultural heritage, and with an abundance of natural resources.

Here are some of the top activities for visitors in Argao.

Explore the San Miguel Arcangel Church

While the town church may look like any other built in Cebu by the Spanish clergy, this structure in Argao differs in the high artistic quality and symbolism of its masonry.

Like other similar Augustinian structures built in the late 18th century in the archipelago, the church is an edifice of impressive dimensions. It is set in stone and measures 72 meters in length, 16 meters in width, and 10 meters in height.

Its cruciform shape is typical of other Spanish colonial churches in the Philippines. Worthy of note, however, is the artistic and elaborate ornamentation that can be found on the facade, pediment, retablo, pulpit, ceiling, and other interior portions.

Here are the things to watch out for when you go visiting.

On the facade:
Source: Paul Gerschwiler's "Argao, A Historical Outline"

Church interior

Try the home-made torta and sikwate

Argao is known for its torta, a kind of sponge cake, and tableya (bitter chocolate rounds made from cacao beans). The indigenous industries of torta baking and tableya making are believed to have started during or even before Spain came to colonize the country.

The best tortas are those still cooked in the hurno (clay oven) and use tuba (coconut wine) instead of yeast as leavening. Some of Argao's torta makers continue to bake using these methods, and the good thing is visitors can request a side trip to their bakeries and witness torta-making firsthand.

One of Argao's homemade torta makers is Jessie Magallones. She accepts visitors to her home bakery, which also serves as her only outlet for her products. Jessie serves torta and sikwate (hot chocolate drink made from tableya) at an open cottage beside her house.

Jessie's Homemade Torta
Location: Barangay Canbanua
Call: (landline) 367-7455 and (mobile) 0947-6994027

Other torta makers in the town:
Chitang's Torta | 485-8095 or 09204046002
Oj's Torta | 367-7572
Argao Bakeshop | 367-7253

The most popular tableya marker in town is Nang Guilang. Guilang's Tableya sells tableya rounds for sikwate (hot chocolate drink). Her product is a popular pasalubong from Argao.

Guilang's Tableya | call 0909-8226747

Take a swim by the waterfall

Hidden far deep in Argao’s mountain barangay called Conalum is the town’s majestic Bugasok Falls. A trip to this southern town in the province of Cebu would not be complete without a visit to the upland river that flows down a rocky cliff to create this rumbling water form in the heart of Argao.

The way to Bugasok Falls is by a trek through the riverside, starting at the bridge built over the river in the mainland.

The trail upriver to the falls is an enchanted walk along "forested cliffs and solid rock boulders" where you get to see unique plants and birds.

The Argao Tourism Commission organizes trips to Bugasok Falls.

Go spelunking

Argao's most popular cave goes by an unusual name. It's called Balay sa Agta (House of the Ogre). To learn why it is so named and to better appreciate the explanation, you need to reach the cave's end.

The cave is so big people believe a whole church could fit inside it. It is also said to be the biggest cave in Cebu.

A four-wheel vehicle or a habal-habal (motorcycle for hire) can bring visitors near the entrance to the Balay sa Agta, which is located in the mountainous barangay of Conalum.

Since the way inside and through the cave is perilous for those not familiar with the terrain, this is one trip that needs the expertise of a trained guide. Ask for a guide at the Argao Tourism Commission before going spelunking at the Balay sa Agta.

Contact details: (landline) 485-8880

Explore a mine tunnel

There is a new mountain resort in Barangay Linut-od that features among its many activities a mine tunnel exploration.

Coal Mountain Resort, which is owned by the Caminero family, is located 468 meters above sea level. Visitors can choose to visit for the day or stay overnight at the resort. Room rates range from P1,000 to P1,200.

The resort describes its demo tunnel as 475 feet in length. It goes down to 70 feet below the ground. Visitors who choose to explore the tunnel in mining gear, which the resort provides, are charged P30 while those who go without pay P30.

Other activities at Coal Mountain Resort: 220-meter cable car ride for only P100 one way, 220-meter zipline ride priced at P100-P120, and hanging bridge walk.

Coal Mountain Resort is an hour's travel from the Argao town center. The resort can arrange transportation for its guests, either from the Argao mainland or Cebu City.

Contact details: (landline) 516-5166, 514-8577, (mobile) 0907-5830075, (email)

Get a day tour package

You can enjoy the sights of Argao without having to go through the hassle of arranging the trip by availing yourself of the “Celebrate Argao Day Tour Package” arranged by the Argao Tourism Commission.

The package costs just P1,950 person and covers a lot of activities.

If you book the package, you will leave for Argao from Cebu City at 8 a.m. on board the Argao Suroy-Suroy bus at the Cebu South Bus Terminal.

The tour package includes:

To book a tour, contact the Argao Tourism Commission and look for Jotham Saragena
Call: (032)4858-063 / 0933-426-1375 / 0916-431-5383

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This guide to Argao is a collaboration among InnoPub Media, Smart Communications Inc., the Municipal Government of Argao, Cebu Provincial Government, Department of Tourism, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu and The Island Group.