[It's been a long time since I made a formal travel blog so I decided to make something that's special and close to my heart. It took me almost a week to write this one, but it was all worth it. Reliving the experience while writing made me love travel blogging.]
Please don't be confused with Toledo, Spain. This Toledo is in Cebu, Philippines.
When I go to places for the first time, I always have this inkling that I have heightened my senses. I don't know why, but everything around me seemed to be sharp, dynamic, and teeming with life. All my senses were taking in everything they can pluck from the surroundings, while my mind was trying process all the sensations into long term memories. As a result, I can recount the experience more vividly and share it in a detailed manner. This kind of experience is best paired with a photographer friend because you have all the liberty to enjoy the sights and sceneries without minding the idea of taking photos.
With the aim of promoting Cebu to a larger community, I would like to share all the sensations that I've experienced in Toledo City, Cebu. As sort of a disclaimer, this is my personal account and I will share everything (the not so good, the good, and the best) that I encountered. When you visit, be ready for everything. After all, travelling is not always a smooth ride.
Let's start, shall we?
All About Toledo City
From the slogan itself, you will probably have a slight idea of what this city has to offer. When we planned to spend a weekend on this city, many of the members were discouraged. They said that Toledo is just a mining pit where you will get nothing but dust, crushed rocks, and tailings from the mined. I can't blame them because when you search it on the internet, you will not really get something notable to discover. Also, most blogs that could be used as reference for the trip dated 2007-2008. A lot of things might have changed that the information might be obsolete.
To continue with the charade of misadventure, the planned trip was postponed due to lack of considerable number of people. It might be a lost cause, but @legendarryll and I insisted that we might be surprised if we just go there, explore the city, and ask the locals more about their city.
How to Get There
There are two options to get there: via bus or via V-hire. We took the former and it was a nightmare. If you are planning to go there, I suggest you choose V-hire as your mode of transportation. It's faster and more convenient than the bus. Buses are usually not air-conditioned and the drivers would continue accepting as many passengers as they can to the point that the number of passengers standing in the aisle is more than those who are sitting. You can just imagine if someone's having a body odor. Anyway, I did not complain as that was part of the experience.
Toledo City is just 2 to 3 hours away from Cebu South Bus Terminal, depending on the traffic. It was early afternoon when we reached the city proper. There are a few affordable places to stay around the city proper so you don't have to worry about where you'll spend the night. If you're prepared, booking ahead in your chosen inn is preferrable. After checking in, we immediately decided to explore the area.
Things to Do
A. Explore the Boulevard
This is best to be done late in the afternoon. The boulevard runs from Toledo Power to Toledo Port. Since the boulevard is facing Tañon Strait in the west, you can enjoy the afternoon stroll while basking in the afternoon sun. If the weather in Negros Island is nice, you can enjoy the sunset near the port. It's also a great time to observe the afternoon activities of the locals.
You can also enjoy the boulevard at night, with Toledo Power providing illumination. Just be extra careful when exploring the area at night. Although the locals are generally hospitable and good mannered, it would be best if you're just careful.
B. Visit Capilla Santa Ana Museum
Capilla Santa Ana Museum and Community Center is a privately owned chapel which was adorned by religious artifacts, paintings, sculptures, and relics. It is located at Diosdado Macapagal Highway, Poblacion, Toledo. As the chapel is teeming with valuable artifacts, taking of photos inside the private rooms is prohibited.
What we're really after was the maze garden at the side of the chapel. The Labyrinth, as what they have called it, made a buzz in Cebu with a number of people posted instagrammable photos on social media. It was just a small maze of ornamental plants, but if you will try to get to the center of the maze, you will really feel exhausted. That's what happened to used when we tried to play in the maze.
C. Experience Toploading on a Jeepney Going to Malubog Lake
When talking about toploading, I thought of Baguio or Benguet and I never thought it would be possible in Toledo. The experience while on the roof of the jeepney is one-of-a-kind.
This is one of the best experiences we had in Toledo. Going to Barangay General Climaco, where Malubog Lake is located, you need to ride a jeepney. To fully enjoy the view, you can ask the driver if you can try toploading or sitting on the rooftop of the jeep. It's generally safe since the road is mostly paved, but you just have to be very careful by securing yourself a proper position on top of the jeep.
The journey would take 45 minutes to 1 hour and it's best to go to Malubog Lake early in the morning to avoid the blistering heat of the sun. You will definitely enjoy the scenery while being caressed by the cool morning air. A few bumps here and there and you will not notice that you're already in your destination.
D. Marvel the Serenity of Malubog Lake
Malubog Lake is one of the hidden gems of Toledo City. As stated above, it is located in Barangay General Climaco and considered as one of the biggest lakes in Cebu. The lake was man-made to cater the water needs of the nearby mining area. If you don't know its history, you will never think that the whole area is the aftermath of Malubog Dam construction.
The lake is so serene; as if nothing will ever dare to touch its surface. An occasional breeze would slightly disturb the virtually flat surface, but other than that, the lake seemed to be frozen in time.
The lake is not immune of myths and legends. Stories that propagate in the communities along the banks of the lake are all worthy to hear. When you hire a local guide, you will surely hear stories like the presence of "mantalaga" or freshwater octopus in the lake. Other stories like disappearance of people in the lake is also prevalent. While I don't believe in those stories, I still respected their beliefs.
It's best to just marvel the lake as it is while respecting the communities around it.
E. Soak Your Feet in One of the Rivers that Feed Malubog Lake
This one's inevitable if you want to tour the other side of the lake, towards Malubog Dam. Since there's no bridge in the river at the north of the lake, the path should cross a knee-deep river. For me, it was the best experience while in Toledo. If I had a spare of clothes, I already made a splash in the river.
While soaking my feet in the river, the mountains surrounding the area seemed to be calling me. They're exuding their majesty which made me want to scale them one day.
While in the river, you will witness the lives of the people near the lake. While I was there, I felt that rural vibe where people are just having a time of their own. It's a refreshing sight if you're living in the city.
F. Be Enchanted by Malubog Falls
After crossing the river, about 500 meters to the other side of the lake, you will pass by Malubog Falls. It's just along the road going to Malubog Dam. I think people just coined it Malubog Falls, but the locals really don't have a name for the falls.
Malubog Falls is magnificent as it is toxic. You can just enjoy by sightseeing, but you can't even dip your feet in the water. It's because the water came from the tailings pond in one of the mining facilities in the area. By just examining the rocks in the falls, you can say that it's acidic since they're slowly eaten away. Not to mention that the water is loaded with heavy metals from mining.
G. Explore Malubog Tunnel
At the other side of the lake is Malubog Dam. In the dam is a man-made tunnel which serves as an access to the base of the dam and to the river below. When you go there, it's best to have a local guide with you so that you won't get apprehended by the guards of the dam. They said that it's not allowed to go there since it's a private property, but I think it's possible with a local guide.
When travelling, it will not be always a smooth ride. There will always be roadblocks along the way. By choosing carefully who you're with in your travels, it will definitely be a huge factor in your experience. Make sure to choose those who are always cool to explore. As much as possible, never travel with control freaks and over thinkers.
Just explore more in the area that you will be travelling. You might be surprised if what's in store for you that's not in the tourists guide. Be patient in wandering around since most gems are hidden in plain sight.
Respect everyone's belief. Do not impose yourself when you are in a different territory. As I always say, you're just a tourist or a traveller. Don't act like a conqueror.
See you in my next adventure!