What is it to be Filipino? Is it ethnicity or regional? Could it possibly be national identity or patriotism? In an attempt to not spark a major debate on the issue, I would like to challenge the conventional line of thinking and state I believe being Filipino is in the heart. It is something that combines courage, resilience, passion and ingenuity all into a defining term that represents a people.
And it is found woven into the community of San Remigio.
An almost forgotten Jewel of northern Cebu, this once sought-after tourist destination was hit hard by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. The one minute sustained winds of 195 mph were enough to make Yolanda the most devastating typhoon, on record, to make land-fall. In the Philippines alone 6,300 people lost their lives to nature’s wrath during the event.
San Remigio sustained a level of destruction that has been carried through the years to today, in 2019. The community struggles to regain its once coveted tourist destination status and once again become the jewel of Central Visayan tourism, as it had once been recognized. Even with a recovered coastline, the stumps of toppled coconut trees and foundations of destroyed homes punctuate the coast as a reminder of the hardships and loss the community endured.
San Remigio boasts the longest shoreline of any municipality in Cebu. Here, several beach resorts as well as public beaches share the benefit from the long stretches of white sand that line the northwestern region of the island. The culmination over the devastation from Typhoon Yolanda and overfishing has diminished the quality of the diving and fishing from what it was in the past.
Today however, San Remigio has become a new emerging diving destination. There are several marine sanctuaries, with new dive sites being developed on a constant basis. There is the presences of a PADI dive shop at San Remigio Beach Club that will cater to both beginner and experienced divers who want to enjoy San Remigio’s marine life.
The port of Hagnaya offers a frequent ferry service to Bantayan Island and is also the main source of travel to various points along the Daanbatayan as well as several smaller islands located just of the coast.
San Remigio was formerly known as “Kanghagas”, an indigenous tree that grew prolifically in the area. When the Spanish explorers came into the region, they identified a town site by clearing the Kanghagas trees and the town eventually became a part of barangay Punta.
It was first identified that the visita of Kanghagas was to be in the governance jurisdiction of Bantayan. In 1850 Bogo established a parish, and the three barrios of Kanghagas, Lambusan and Victoria (Maarat) came under the civil governance of Bogo. Kangahagas was renamed Isabel after the queen of Spain. In 1864 these barrios establish a new parish named as San Juan Nepomuceno Parish and the new town was called San Remigio.
As rich and colorful as the history of the region is, the true beauty lies in the resilience of the people. Small fishing villages rise early to get the days first catches and remain late into the night fishing by lantern and bringing up nets of meager catches just to sustain a livelihood. Yet each day the community gathers and children play in the slow lapping waters of the blue coves of the region. The fishing boats line the shores in a colorful display that plays against the contrasting white sands of the beach.
As you travel thru the main streets of San Remigio, one gets the sense of longevity present in the pride and attitudes of the residences of the town. Recovery has been slow, but it has been occurring. Many of the main buildings and homes of those who stayed, after the destruction of Yolanda, stand tall in an almost defiance of the nature’s act of aggression.
The Casa Del Sur Resort is no different. The battered structures of the resort have slowly received the care needed to keep the grounds in business. The resort itself reflects an almost “Casa Blanca” sense to its presence. Quite beach combing and cold beers will be the only thing to crowd your afternoon schedule here.
An excellent menu and great service oriented staff makes the stay delightful. The staff will cater to your needs and even schedule your tours using local guides. They had a banka boat come in and take us Island hopping for the day where we able to explore the close by neighboring islands and take in the breath-taking beauty of Batayan and Virgin Islands. Both places calling to the adventurer to bask in the sun while laying lazily on the sand beaches as the surf ripples softly lapping against the shoreline.
There is a sense of soul to the region. A sense of belonging to anyone willing to dare to endeavor in the splendor and beauty that this part of Northern Cebu has to offer. It may not be the bustling streets of Cebu City, but is everything that can be offered by other exotic locations within Cebu, like Oslob or Moal Boal.
This is a place the beckons one to lay down the cell phone and walk away from the laptop. The people and the views entice you to their version of time in a slower place, one that seems make you reason within yourself to a different line of thinking. While sitting along the shoreline, I myself got caught up in a day dream of beach side bungalows and morning coffee with a beach haven view.
I suppose this trip should come with a warning, travel at your own risk of a change in priorities and a sense of a slower way of life. One can become lost to reason in a place like this, the romance of retirement called me daily.