I’ve been all around the world, but I have yet to see a place where the largest fishes gather, and where we humans get to mingle with them. This is the claim to fame that brought Oslob into international scene – and that’s something I want to see! But there’s also more to this locality than the famous whale shark watching activities – I want to see for myself the welcoming charm that many tourists have reported when they set foot here.
I left Skyblue Hotel in Cebu City before noon in high spirits – it was finally my long-awaited Oslob adventure! I booked a Grab to Cebu South Bus Terminal. Cebu South Bus Terminal is one of the two major transport hubs in the city (the other being the North Terminal) and it serves all south-bound bus routes including Oslob.
Oslob is located near the very tip of Cebu’s banana-shaped island, so I have a lot of travel time ahead of me.
The bus finally left the terminal. I paid PHP 185 for a seat in an aircon bus, and the speakers overhead blared out some good music so it was overall a comfortable and enjoyable ride. This was important, because I didn’t want to just doze off on the whole trip. I wanted to see the sights we will be passing through, including the centuries-old churches in each of the towns. Cebu, being one of the earliest pit stops in the Spanish quest for nationwide Christianization, has a lot of these stone churches dating back to the colonial era. The fact that most of them were along the highway is a real treat for tourists!
The bus arrived at Oslob, and my first view of this town made me forget a breath or two. It was the idyllic Filipino suburban scene, bathed in the perfect glow of the afternoon sun. It’s like a modern rendition of one of Jose Honorato Lozano’s paintings! It made me all the more excited to explore the town on foot as soon as I alighted.
Hidden under Oslob’s humble trappings is a history that dates back to the Spanish era. This was the primary draw for most of the (few) tourists that made their way here before, way before the whale sharks became a popular attraction. You can still ask the locals about what they remember from Oslob’s past, and they would be very happy to regale you with a story or two.
I booked a room at Guilly’s Place even before I went home to the Philippines, so my lodgings had been pre-arranged. After I checked in, I can’t wait to start exploring! It’s really convenient that I did not have to go far, because one can see the remnants of the colonial times in the town proper itself.
There’s the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, which was first established in 1690 and became an independent parish “only” in the mid-1800s.
The Baluarte, a Spanish watchtower, was part of the town’s fortifications that began in 1788.
There’s also the coral Cuartel, which was originally meant to be a Spanish barracks. It is said that its stones were taken from the collapsed bell tower of a nearby church.
Museo Oslob where you’ll see antiques contributed by the town’s locals. Taking photos is strictly not allowed inside. Entrance to Oslob Museum is free.
All of these are located in the Town Plaza, which itself is located by the seafront. You get a dose of history, a magnificent ocean view, a cool breeze, and a place where you can relax, without going far from your lodgings! The fact that nowadays I spend more time at sea than on land may be the reason why I’m drawn to this place, but I can think of a few good reasons why you would want to stay here too.
If there’s anything that any tourist would come looking for at this hour, it’s a good meal at a good place. Of course, one cannot let slip the chance to taste the local specialties! I asked around and ended up at The Big J’s Restaurant on Natalio Bacalso street. They had really good food, all Filipino specialties. There’s some international cuisine too, but I didn’t try them. It hasn’t been long since I’d disembarked from our ship, and I was really craving for some home-style Filipino dishes. Big J’s did not fail me, and I left with a satisfied stomach and a satisfied heart.
I went back to Guilly’s Place, took a shower, and got ready for bed. This first half-day was pretty much only a teaser of what I should be expecting tomorrow. But if I were to judge now, I’m liking what I’m seeing. Oslob, despite being practically overrun by tourists during whaleshark-watching season, still retains that warm small-town charm. The locals are really friendly, and there are lots to see even if you don’t venture out to the big blue out yonder.
Tomorrow, I have the following activities lined up:
Who can say they’ve gone to Oslob without doing this? I’ve heard a few tales about the unique way the locals are taking care of this tourist attraction (a couple that are pretty controversial, too), and I want to check them out myself.
Sumilon Island Tour. Sumilon is a great Nature hideaway! While in Oslob, I should check out the beauty of this still-pristine patch of land. I just have to make my way to Puerto Sumilon for the jump off point. I bet Guilly’s has some good ideas about how to get there easiest.
Tumalog Falls Trip. I’m also gearing up for a hike in one of Oslob’s less-known jewels. Nature has been pretty generous to this part of Cebu.
Heart still jittery with excitement, I made my way to a peaceful night’s sleep —- and into the adventurous arms of tomorrow!