Do you fancy a hot bath or a quick dip somewhere cold? But having problems deciding which of the two to actually choose? Agonize no more as two of Cebu’s northern towns can equally fill your need for spring baths, whether you want it hot or cold.
Northern Cebu, you say?
Aye, aye, aye. The towns of Catmon and Sogod to be specific. The former houses the slightly-hidden-from-plain-sight Esoy Hot Spring while the latter is home to the rumored-to-be-mystical Binaliw cold spring.
There are several ways to reach both Sogod and Catmon. These two northern municipalities are right next to each other. You will most likely reach Catmon first if you’re wayfaring from the city. You can drive all the way up north or hop on a (Ceres) bus or mini-bus at the North Bus Terminal. Vans for hire plying northern routes can also be found at the aforementioned bus hub. Choose whatever mode of transportation suits you best.
Your common sense will probably tell you to initially visit Catmon’s hot spring and proceed to Sogod’s cold spring thereafter. After all, Catmon is first geographically when coming from the city. But for now, put “common sense” in a neat little corner and do a reverse. Commence by breaking the ice of your trip up north with Sogod’s Binaliw spring and warmly conclude it with Sogod’s Esoy spring. Why not?!
So how do I get to cold Binaliw Spring?
Spotting Binaliw Spring is easy-peasy. From the Sogod Public Market, you can ask the habal-habal driver to take you to Binaliw spring. The habal-habal fare is about 15 pesos per person. Or if you don’t feel like spending 15 pesos, you can ask the bus/van-for-hire driver to drop you off at the Bagatayam bridge next to Sogod’s Bagatayam falls. The Bagatayam falls is a mini-waterfall situated by the roadside and is not that difficult to miss. A road sign which reads “Binaliw Spring, Birhen sa Lourdes Shrine, Ecological Park, Calvary Hill” can be spotted near the bridge. Walk (around 5 to 10 minutes) your way into the direction the sign leads you until you reach a concrete stairway that will take you to the cold spring and shrine.
How much will it cost me to take a dip at Binaliw Spring?
Zero! It won’t cost you a dime and you are free to roam around, take photos, get brainfreeze for hours and do a mini-river trek. You will most likely meet a handful of locals along the river – doing the laundry or indulging in a cold bath themselves. The waters are crystal clear so you will want to keep it that way by keeping your trash in your backpack.
It’s time you warm things off at the next town. From Sogod, you can backtrack your way to Catmon by catching a multicab, mini-bus, bus or habal-habal ride. Ask the driver/conductor to drop you off at Esoy Hot Spring’s point of entry.
Before you get warm and fuzzy with the idea of a hot relaxing bath, you might want to make a reservation at Esoy Hot Spring beforehand. A reservation, you say? Yes, you heard it right. The owners of the hot spring resort want to promote safety and comfort thus the need for them to determine the estimated number of hot bath seekers. Entrance fee is 100 pesos for Sogod locals while non-locals are asked to pay 300 pesos. Habal-habal fare from the highway to the hot spring resort will cost you 30 pesos. You can make reservations by contacting them at 09218133296.
What else can I do at Esoy’s?
There’s actually more to the hot spring at Esoy’s. Apart from a warm relaxing bath, you can also ask Sir Esoy (owner/developer) to guide you and your group to a short river trek leading to Catmon’s Katinggo Falls. The 100-meter waterfall is home to hundreds of tilapia. You will have to cross a hanging bridge and keep your swimming skills handy while river trekking.
You can’t swim at all? It won’t really be a problem as Sir Esoy requires all their guests to don a life vest and trekking shoes for safety during the trek. The resort offers life vest and shoe rentals at 50 pesos each.
Snacks are sold at the resort’s shop and you can take your own food with you without paying for corkage fees. Cottage rentals are pegged at 500 pesos. At Esoy’s, you get to commune with nature all you want. Locally known as Mainit Spring, Esoy Hot Spring is the only known hot spring in Northern Cebu.
*Photos by Ronald Grancho