Running the river of delights…
by Ronnie Hoyle
TAKING things easy does not mean that you are restricted to sitting on
the sands admiring the distant views and toasting yourself on a local
beach when you visit the Visayas…you can also get off your butt and go
places as well – and still get as brown as a berry! In fact, if you are
not very careful you could turn into a redskin…
Island hopping is one way of achieving this and you can do it from
any of the resorts around Mactan Island or further airfield on Bohol,
which offers a lot of choices for the intrepid explorer.
Properly basted in liberal lashings of sunscreen so you will not cook
too quickly – the reflection of the sun on the water doubles exposure to
harmful infra-red rays – you can, for instance, hire a banca from Alona
Beach on Panglao Island and head for somewhere slightly different…a
Admittedly, this is not the easiest thing to do: boatmen on the beach do
not appear to be all that happy about venturing into what is basically
unknown territory for them when you suggest that you would like to go
from the beach and up the Loboc River a few miles away. I think I now
A while ago I tried to do the trip in a friends’ new speedboat …and we
ended up aground on rocks before we even got to the entrance to the
river: the boss driving should have taken a bit more notice when it was
pointed out to him that a guy in the water just ahead of us appeared to
be walking on the water while half-a-mile out to sea – he was walking on
We had missed the main channel to the river by electing to make a
short-cut right across some rocks just inches under the water – clunk,
clunk, batter, batter, brrr, brrr and boom – but for a fistful of pesos
laughing locals suddenly appeared to rescue us and dragged and pushed
the twin-engine catamaran craft into rock-clear deeper water again.
We had to limp back to the beach taking in gallons of liquid - which
filled the CR at the stern to overflowing and started dragging the boat
down: it wasn’t me in the john…honestly!
Okay, so it was back to the drawing board for the next trip up the
river…and we started out on land.
Taking a car was a far easier way to get to the Loboc River and a bit
safer, although it lacked the salt spray in the face and the wind
riffling through what little hair we had left after the adventure of a
few days before.
Of course, we made a few other diversions before we got to Loboc itself
and our real objective of the day, but we had been travelling up the
river valley all the time so there were always tantalizing visions of
the brown and green flowing water and the activities which go on beside
it, like the nipa palm plantations which seem to spread out for miles on
one side in their muddy domain.
The line of cars and vans – plus the coach – pulled up beside the river
should have told us what to expect by turning up just before lunchtime.
There seemed to be about twenty double-hulled bancas decked out as
restaurants drawn up and hugging the boat station, and hundreds of
people milling about getting on and off and taking pictures of the many
captured tarsiers which were on display at the side of the river.
A trip up and down to the Tontonan Falls with lunch on board as a team
of other boats followed closely in your wake, together with the
inevitable canned music while the scenery zipped by, may have satisfied
most customers, but it was a bit too commercial for us so we hired a
smaller banca and went off on our own, going where we wanted to go.
As it happened, we stopped to have a chat and a swim in the river with a
carabao, docked in front of the resort at Nuts Huts and decided the path
up the side of the hill was too steep for us at that sweaty time of day,
and got to the falls just as the flotilla of bigger boats were turning
around to go home. Our smaller boat took us where the big boys feared to
tread, so we had some fine close-up views of the falls as we pottered
about in the turbulent stream.
On the way back we also had a little mystery trip denied to the other
river rats: just as we were eating our sandwiches – which I’m sure
tasted just as good as the knife and fork feast provided on the other
boats - we turned into a small inlet which was too small for the ‘big
boys’ to get into…and suddenly the murky river disappeared: we had
motored into a circular pool and crystal clear fresh water was erupting
out of the ground like a geyser beneath the boat from an underground
By the time we disembarked back at the boat station, the ‘big boys’ were
chugging their way up the river with another load of hurried and harried
visitors who would not see or do half the things we did during our
leisurely exploration of the upper reaches of the navigable portion of
Loboc River on a sunny afternoon.
And as for the speedboat which never quite made the trip up the river at
all? Well, that’s a story that, frankly, we’d all like to forget: a
couple of nights later we were told that the boat – all seven million
pesos of it – had exploded and caught fire at its’ mooring in front of
Danao Beach on Panglao while awaiting repairs…anyway, we can always go
and pay our last respects to what’s left of it the next time we venture
out from Alona Beach to go diving!
Kilroy Was Here © 2006