So you’ve been to Dumaguete City? How about the southern towns of Siaton, Zamboangita, Dauin and Bacong? These southern towns of Negros Oriental boast of many trinkets and historical data only intrepid travels would discover. Hope this virtual tour might inspired you to see it for yourself.
Lake Balanan, Siaton
On board an AC van, we found ourselves close to nature inwards the town of Siaton. Siaton has Lake Balanan where one can visit after 61-kilometer ride (1 hour and 45 minutes). When not raining, its best to visit the lake on a rented motorcycle from Dumaguete City (motorbike rental- Php400/day).
Lake Balanan was squatted by people 10 years ago before the local government decided to develop it as a tourist destination. The people living around the lake where provided a community near it and were trained to guide tourist visiting the area. The mothers were the ones who prepare food and refreshment for the visiting tourist after the tour. It was a nice eco-tourism destination and really helps the locals in a direct way.
Before you approach the lake, you would see lots of huge balete trees near the river, there were soooo big that there roots serve as natural dikes whenever the river overflows.
The lake would stun every visitor, with its thick foliage and clean water, tilapia and some fishes can be caught everyday. The place was serene with all those greens around it. It’s also off-the-beaten-path as the rails around it are covered with moss, its like you are transported in another arena. It also has a waterfalls which we failed to visit because of the bad weather.
Zamboangita: Torta and Trivia
After eating lunch prepared by the local mothers, we continued northwards to check out a town called Zamboangita, “Little Zamboanga” as it faces the province of Zamboanga further down south. It has a small cobblestone church which was established in 1866. The name of the church discernibly tells every visitor that the peole here are mostly farmers.
Zamboangita has a marker near the river which commemorates the surrender of the Japanese soldiers in September 22, 1945 from the Filipino-American forces during the WWII.
After a short history we continued to journey stopping by for while to taste their local bread called “torta” which is made of flour, margarine, egg yolk and the special ingredient tuba (coconut wine). Why the egg yolk only? Read the trivia below:
Trivia: When locals built the church during the economienda (force labor), they bring eggs and use the egg whites and limestones to cement the coral stones to each other creating a strong wall built to last for life. Instead of throwing the egg yolks, they used it to make bread like the ‘torta.” (Argao, Cebu has their own version of torta too.)
We continued weaving your way towards the north stopping by on two important sites like the Dauis Church and Bacong Church.
Trivia: Have you noticed that our country is replete with big coral stone churches located near the shoreline? This is because during the height of the Moro Raids in the 18th and early 19th century, towns are attacked and abled men were carried off as slaves to work in the tea and coffee farms to as far as Acapulco, Mexico. This was the reason why our old churches are built high walls and with a belfry that can also serve as a watchtower. As the Moros approach the towns, the bell is rang and everyone are instructed to either go to the mountains or find refuge inside the church until the Moros leave the town empty-handed.
Dauin: Old Church and World-Class Dive Sites
The towns of Dauin and Bacong have these churches. Dauin, named after Dauis trees that thicken the town many years ago. The San Nicolas de Tolentino Church or Dauin Church is also a testimony to the Recollects who built this church that started in 1854. This is said to be designed with European and Asian architectural motifs.
Dauin not only boast of an old church but also a world-class diving and snorkeling site. Its many marine protected areas are major tourist-drawer in town. In fact, most beachfront resorts are owned by foreigners who
married locals got in-loved with diving the paradise below. 😉
Bacong: A National Cultural Treasure Church
Bacong town also boasts of a centuries-old church. Bacon (not the one you eat with eggs) means “to fight or to rise up” in their local dialect. I believe this is called like that because of the many fighting that happened during the old days between the locals and Moro raiders (There is also a Bacon District in Sorsogon). The defaced sandstone church still commmands respect from a far, over-looking the Negros sea. It was defaced by the foolish addition of red bricks on the frontage of the church. This is sacrilege right? Why would you put red bricks to a beautiful coral stone facade?
The Bacong Church or Church of San Augustine of Hippo is listed among the twenty-six (26) churches as a National Cultural Treasure.
I hope this simple Southern Negros Oriental Map that I made would help you analyze the places I just mentioned. I also hope you get to experience this tour for yourself. It is best to rent a van or a motorbike you are going to tour the southern part of Negros Oriental.
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This trip is courtesy of GoHotels Dumaguete and Cebu Pacific Air. You can read the rest of the series by visiting the links below:
- Zipline at Tierra Alta, Valencia, Negros Oriental
- Dolphin Watching at Bais City + Mangoves and Manjuyod Sandbar
- Southern Negros Oriental Tour
- 10 Food Destinations in Dumaguete City
Where to Sleep in Dumaguete City?
Go Hotels Dumaguete. Its new, clean and affordable. Located near Robinsons Mall and Bus terminal for your convenience. Just a 20-minute drive from the airport.
Cebu Pacific Air flies to Dumaguete from Manila thrice daily and from Cebu daily for as low as P488. For bookings and inquiries, go to www.cebupacificair.com or call (02)7020-888. The latest seat sales and promos can be found on Cebu Pacific Air’s official Twitter and Facebook pages.