It’s easy to lose one’s sense of purpose and identity in a world of highspeed wifi, 100+ cable tv channels, and the repetitive routine of daily work. These modern comforts are rare and few in Daanbantayan – a quaint municipality located in the northernmost tip of Cebu.
No, it’s not the famous tourist island with the tropical beach parties. It does include the diver’s haven, Malapascua island which deserves another article. But unlike its more well-known counterpart, this place is more subtle, more contemplative, and just might be the place to find yourself.
We stayed in Agujo, a part of Daanbantayan where small non-commercialized beach resorts lined the coast. I particularly liked how the coastline wasn’t bordered for each property. Making it easy to walk along the shore during lowtide and not feel like a trespasser. Perfect for those long walks on the beach – if you’re into that. The water recedes far from the shore line, exposing the sea bed into one large sandbar. It’s also a great place to learn skimboarding – so bring one with you.
From the shores of Agujo, one can see the cliff where the watch tower used to stand to inform the locals of incoming pirate attacks from the south. Hence the name Daanbantayan, “bantayan” for watchtower and “daan” for old. Since then the pirate attacks shifted to the nearby island we now know as Bantayan. Remnants of the old tower is no longer there, instead a huge brown mansion now sits on the top.
Daanbantayan’s town center still maintains the Spanish pueblo – the plaza is centered around the old Sta. Rosa de Lima Church, an elementary school, the newly renovated Municipal Hall, and the community complex. When we visited, the locals had already started practicing their dance for the Sinulog Parade. The plaza had been installed with Baroque inspired decors of pillars and fountains while the lamp posts surrounding the plaza glowed brightly – an enchanting view at night!
The best place to see the sunset is behind the Municipal Building. One can sit on the edge to see an unobstructed view of the sky changing hues as the fishing boats blink from a distance. Not to indulge in such a picture perfect romantic moment would be a crime. Cheesy, I know, but that’s how it felt like.
Like most coastal communities, you are assured the fresh catch of the day. Just get to the make shift market where stalls of fish mongers line the street. Once your belly is full of grilled fish and barbecue, you can end the day by sitting along the shore with a cold beer in hand, look up at the star studded sky and simply enjoy the moment.
For those searching for a momentary escape and need to think things over, Daanbantayan is a perfect place for that kind of retreat. In its simplicity is a humbling and calming experience leaving you with a clear mind without burning a hole in your pocket. So take some time to recollect, get a breather from it all, get away from the loud hustle of the city, and pack your bags for Daanbantayan!
How to get there?
Even the journey there is an experience in itself. Getting to Daanbantayan by bus takes around three and a half hours. Just head down to the North Bus Terminal in Mandaue and buy your ticket there. It’s a long ride, but on the bright side, you’ll be able to see the northern towns en route. Bring your MP3 player for the ride and listen to your favourite playlist. You’ll be accompanied by backdrops of seascapes, rice fields, and rural life passing you by.
Perfect for setting the mood to find yourself.