Madridejos, Cebu: Tracing My Visayan Roots In Bantayan Island

Cornfields Madridejos Bantayan Island Cebu
Today, my travel set off on a different course. This time was not completely about leisure and adventure but for a more personal purpose. I went an extra mile down south back to my Dad’s hometown where I haven’t been for more or less than 10 years. Many things probably changed according to relatives who told me stories of recent developments on the small island. I was young when I first set foot on the island, and I have no idea how I got there. Above all, I was not so familiar with the language. Heading to one Cebuana island taking a more traveler and artistic approach, get to know the culture, and experience the daily rural life. This travel is less about me, and more of my Dad, and besides, it’s his birthday, so I’m visiting, and celebrate his day in Madridejos, Cebu.

Right after I took off from office, I went straight to NAIA Terminal 3 where I’m boarded my plane to Cebu. It was rush hour and I need to be at the airport before 9PM, so I walked as far as I could to avoid the Makati traffic and hailed a cab near the Osmeña Highway. Departure was less than an hour and I had completed all the inspections and check ins, so I had a P60.00 local beer before I flew. Ahead of me is a lot of traveling so I need some a good nap few thousand feet above sea level. The plane lifted its huge wheels off the tarmac and I waited for the nice amazing view of the city at night before I finally went to sleep.

sleeping at terminal 2 airport manila
A man sleeps on Gate 118’s lounge chairs while waiting to board.

I woke up to the sound of bags thudding over my head and murmurs of passengers eager to exit the aircraft. The plane was on the ground. Avoiding the clump of passengers boxing their way to baggage carousel, I stepped a few meters further and patiently wait for my bag. Still half awake, I grabbed my tripod and pack and walked towards the taxi stand. surprised with the long cue that time of night. A few meters past the taxi stand were people who got off cabs. I hailed the taxi and asked for the North Bus Terminal (NBT) in Mandaue City. My hour flight was only the first part of my journey and still have a long way ahead of me.

mactan airportInside Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

Cruising down the empty streets of Cebu, I tried to get a sense of direction but unfortunately I was not able to remember specific landmarks so I let the taxi driver do his job hoping not to circle around the city then overcharge. The Friday night was still young and it seemed like the city was at the peak of its sleep. Probably I was at the wrong place to be seeing people partying late at night in one of the most popular cities in the Philippines.

Passengers were sleeping on chairs, vendors on their stalls, and bus personnel inside their respective non air-conditioned buses. It was 11:30 PM and quiet when I got to NBT.

The North Bus Terminal has direct routes to several towns on the Northern part of Cebu. I was advised to take the bus to Hagnaya but it’s not leaving until 1AM or the vehicle gets filled with passengers. A non-air conditioned  bus to Hagnaya arrived and I settled on nice window seat just beside the door. Luckily, the bus was almost filled 30 minutes before it’s departure time and left early picking up passengers along the way. I was bound for Hagnaya but I’m going for a quick early morning visit to my aunt in Bogo Unfamiliar with the place, I asked the conductor to drop me off at the Sports Complex or wake me up in case I slept and I did.

Once again, I woke up with thudding of bags bumping its corners to nearby seats. I looked around and saw an address below a signboard of a local sari sari store – I’m now in Bogo City. A few kilometers passed the sari-sari store, I saw the Sports Complex along the highway and got off the bus. I had some warm cup of coffee and warm welcome from my aunt as well. After having a nice chat, I took a nap and woke up after one hour, got back on the road to Hagnaya Port.

Hagnaya port cebu philippinesSignboards and notices written in Cebuano language at the passenger’s waiting area.

fishermen in hagnaya cebuFishermen on their fresh catch early morning in Hagnaya.

Beautiful rural scenery greeted me a good morning at the outskirts of Bogo as the bus ran on a downhill winding road before it reached Hagnaya Port. Flown from Manila and a three hour bus ride from Mandaue, then a sea voyage in Visayan waters toward the small Cebuana island on the north called Bantayan Island. I missed the first trip so I got on the 6:30 trip to Santa Fe Port in Bantayan. A Roll On Roll Off (RORO) ferry similar to that of Catanduanes and other islands in the country docked and loaded passengers and cargo on board. After 30 minutes, the sea vessel left and I was kilometers away from my destination. It was an hour and a half trip and took all the sleep I could get for the long day ahead of me. I don’t want to spend my Dad’s birthday sleeping and maximize my overnight stay instead.

Bantayan Island Port Pier Sta. FeFerry docked at Santa Fe Port.

Waving from afar was my uncle who I haven’t seen for quite some time. After some hi’s and hello’s I rode the back of the motorcycle and as we drove from the port he shared stories of the slight urbanization. The motorcycle ride was the last part of my journey and as we drove farther, my heart beat faster due to excitement.

Motorcycle for transportation in bantayan island cebuMotorcycles, the primary mode of transportation, running on unpaved roads on the more rural side of the island.

Tricycles transportation in bantayan island cebuGet around the island with public tricycles.

As far as I can remember, there were less paved roads when I first got here. Houses, especially those on the outskirts of town, are a few hundred meters sometimes kilometers away from each other. My uncle told me to wait until I see Bantayan Town Proper which have developed over time. But for now, all I can think of is how the small baranggay where my Dad used to lived, and where my siblings, cousins,  and I used to run around the vast open fields when we were kids.

Farming in Madridejos Bantayan Island CebuA typical rural scene in Madridejos.

Finally I arrived in Madridejos. My long haul was finally over and from afar I know that it was Dad sitting in front of the construction site. I greeted my Dad with a tight hug, and told him how the trip was. Both of us we’re excited – I was excited to see his project, a poultry farm which was a retirement dream, and at the same time, he eager to show me his developing project.

Without even unpacking my bags, he toured me around his half built farm pointing out recent developments and obstacles encountered in the project. From our house in Rizal Province, he transferred to his sawali-walled humble hut, for temporary housing, which will eventually be the warehouse for feeds and vitamins for the chicks and chickens. Behind his hut is a vast open space of greens with rolling green hills at the far end. Serenity embraced the sun kissed grass and luscious green vegetation. Sense of hearing was delighted with the symphony of birds chirping, chickens chuckling, cows mooing, and brushes of swaying trees. At the evening, the howling winds and the sound of crickets greets you good night. It was peaceful and quiet.

kamalig under construction madridejos cebuLimestone – a cheaper alternative to cement used for the flooring of the pen.

kamalig poultryBamboos stood as foundation and primary material used in Kamalig 1.

Kamalig of dad in madridejos cebuBackbone of Kamalig 2 still under construction.

Dad's hut in cebuDad’s humble hut.

sawali wallsHut’s walls made of sawali.

After the tour, I unpacked my bags, grabbed my camera and shot some photos of the site while my Dad is preparing for the mass. Since we were young, my parents took us to Church every birthday so it’s kind of a tradition to thank the Lord for another year passed and the new year ahead of us.

Motorcycle is the primary mode of transportation since roads within barrios are narrow and practically, the motorcycle is  cheaper, fuel for motorcycle is cheaper, although I saw some cars in the area. Habal habal is a single motorcycle taking 1-2 (some could take 3) commuters from one place to another like a taxicab. It’s faster and it doesn’t wait to be filled up before it leaves unlike tricycles.

Immcaulate Concepcion Parish Madridejos Bantayan Island CebuImmaculate Conception Parish in Madridejos.

bike in a church in madridejos bantayan island cebuA bike beside the Church’s backdoor.

prayer church in madridejos cebu bantayan islandDad offering prayers inside the small gazebo beside the Church.

Located at the heart of Madridejos is the Immaculate Conception Parish. Standing in Bermuda grass garden is the off white and pink themed miraculous church where a beautiful lady in white, topped with blue mantle was said have appeared. On the right side of the church is a small gazebo which has a life size image of the Lord in the Holy Cross under a dome shaped roof similar  to Mactan Shrine. We offered candles and prayed for the beautiful day, the safe trip, our loved ones, and the departed.

After we went to Church, we took time to rest at the Madridejos town plaza, which is in front of the Church. It has a basketball court and a stage which serve as venue for holding small and big events and town meetings. There’s also a field shaded with trees which is a perfect place for picnics and school activities.

Saturday morning at the plaza is football day for the kids. Instead of playing video games, children attended a weekly football clinic and practice in preparation for an upcoming league. Football is really a booming sport in the country and I’m happy to see Filipinos are starting to appreciate the world’s most popular sport.

saturday football in madridejos cebu bantayan islandA local kid kicking off some tricks.

In the middle of an open cornfield in Baranggay Malbago is my aunt-grandmother’s house where we stayed for that night. When we were kids, that field was a playground where my siblings and cousins ran and played. Crossing the field from my aunt’s was late grandmother’s house, and Uncle’s house. Similar to other provinces, most relatives more or less likely to live in not far from each other, or maybe a cornfield away.  It’s a classic display of the Filipino distinct characteristic of closely knit family.

open land in Bantayan island madridejos cebuA tree in the middle of the field which serves as resting place for farmers during midday.

Madridejos Cebu Bantayan Island child brings cornKid carries the day’s harvest.

uncle fixing his bike madridejos cebuUncle fixing his bike.

my cousin in Madridejos Bantayan Island CebuMy little cousin.

I was up even before the sun was. It’s my last day in Bantayan, and I don’t want to waste a single minute to maximize my short visit. After a nice cup of coffee, I grabbed my camera and decided to have a short walk and see the daily rural life of Madridejos. After some snapshots, I went across the cornfield roamed by the goats then through a narrow dried mud path towards back home. I packed my stuff and said goodbye to my aunt-grandmother promising her to bring her more Skippy on my next visit.

biking in the ricefields madridejos cebuWhere motored vehicles cannot reach, the bike is the best mode of transportation.

biking to town Madridejos CebuEarly morning on the way to town.

goat in madridejos cebuThe goat smilingto a good morning.

Before Dad took me to Santa Fe’s port on a rented tricycle, we had a quick side trip to Bantayan Town Proper to have an early lunch before I leave. He treated Uncle and I to a native themed carinderia serving a wide variety of home cooked meals where he spent P300.00 for buying six viands, 6 cups of rice, softdrinks, and fruits for dessert.

To help digest the hefty servings of cholesterol packed meals that I ate, I took a stroll around the town proper. From the carinderia, you wouldn’t help but notice the large speakers playing loud music beside the flagpole, in lieu of the celebration of Independence Day.

Bantayan Island Town HallA pedicab driver sits on his bike under a nice shade while waiting for a passenger in the Bantayan Town Hall.

Across the town plaza is Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church which is similar to the baroque architecture of other Spanish churches in the country built with huge adobe stones, a large wooden door, decorated with stained glass and numerous life size images of saints inside the church. My grandmother told me that it was built during the time of Magellan (but I have to research on that) but no doubt it is considered one of the oldest churches in the country.

Saints Peter and Paul Parish Bantayan Island CebuFacade of Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church in Bantayan.

Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church in Bantayan IslandA large wooden door at the side of the church.

Again, I was short on time and have to be back in Manila by Monday so we headed straight to the pier to catch the ferry. I hugged and waved Dad goodbye but promising longer visit. Next time, I’ll be on 5-day  vacation because there are lots to explore, see and write a helpful blog for our fellow travelers. This trip was  for my Dad. I just want to go there, spend time with him, and celebrate his God given day. I know he loves his project and he has my 100% support (and besides, I’m thinking of residing here).

Now here are some fast facts that may help you in your trip:

1. Terminal fee in Naia Terminal 3 and Mactan Airport cost P200.00

2. In Mactan Airport, cabs in the taxi stand are supposed to pay for their own entrance fee at the airport, and should not be asking their passenger to pay for them.

3. Taxi from Mactan Airport to North Terminal ranges from P130.00 – P170.00, depending on the traffic. I was there at midnight so travel time was fast.

4. Non-air conditioned buses from North Bus Terminal to Bogo cost P120 (direct Hagnaya buses may cost P130.00), and air conditioned buses cost P150.00.

5. Island Shipping Ferries from Hagnaya to Santa Fe and vice versa cost P170.00 and a terminal fee in Hagnaya which cost P20.00.

6. I’m sure there is a cheaper way of commuting around Bantayan Island, instead of renting a habal habal or a tricycle.

7. Language here is Bisaya but most locals understand English and Tagalog. Be wary, however, for some take advantage of tourist charging a bit higher than the ordinary price. Try to haggle with price.

8. There are lots of places to be see so plan schedule your trip on a minimum of 3-4 days in the island.

9. See Biyaherong Barat Multiply for more pictures.


11. Enjoy and have a safe trip.

Vacation in Madridejos Bantayan Island cebuRosell Boys: (from L-R) Uncle Nene, Dad, Me. They were my biyahe buddies in the island.


16 thoughts on “Madridejos, Cebu: Tracing My Visayan Roots In Bantayan Island

  1. ei dude, i love travelling as well. if my sched permits me, can i join your adventure? pls inform me of your latest plan. thank you

  2. Pingback: Madridejos, Cebu: Child Helps AdultsIn The Cornfields « Biyaherong Barat

    • Naku, maraming salamat po. Gusto ko nga rin pong bumalik dahil masyadong ipit yung vacation ko nun dahil sa trabaho. Sa susunod magsespend ako ng week kung pwede month pa, mas ok. =)

      Salamat po sa pag-drop by sa Biyaherong Barat.

      Happy travels. =)

  3. Pingback: Rizal Province: Maestro “Pitok” Blanco, His Family, Their Craft, and, Museum in Angono « Biyaherong Barat

  4. Mr. Rosell:

    I look closely and in detail in your trip and as you carefully described different scenario of your trip, I put myself in your trip too because Madridejos is my birthplace. You have not mentioned its old name “Lawis” it seems that this name was taken from the changing current of the sea wherein certain month a small portion of the sand would emerged and create an islet adjacent to a saltbed and in certain month also twas gone by the current of the sea, that is why folks called it madridejos lawis.

    Your blog made me proud of you and your family though we may not know each other but we shared the same culture. Usually people from the same place will likely appreciate and could easily relate the things you have had in “tracing your visayan forebears”.

    Thank you for posting Immaculate Conception Parish, the church where I received my baptism and the threshold of my christian life. Plaza in front of the church reminds my daily route during my elementary days adjacent block from the church. The old Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, the oldest church in Cebu and other familiar spots.

    Expecting more exciting places in Bantayan Island.

    Thank you.

    Arnulfo G. Sevilla
    (formerly residing at sitio fabrica, lawis)
    Poblacion, Madridejos Bantayan, Bantayan Island, Cebu

    • Hello Mr. Sevilla,

      I’m glad you like this post. Lawis, yes, I hear that a lot from my relatives here in Manila and when I visit Bantayan. Thank you for the very wonderful insight. Unfortunately, this trip was for only 2 days and I’d surely get back to write more about our hometown.

      Thank you for those kind words, and maybe one day, our paths may cross somewhere here in Bantayan Island, very beautiful place. Thank you very much.

  5. hello sir! you mentioned your dad is into a poultry farm business producing fresh table eggs, I am a new in table eggs business in Cebu and I am looking for steady supply of fresh eggs for my business. Would appreciate it, if you could give me some information on this. thank you sir! this is my number 09255569503 (kent duran / cebu)

  6. Great.I am barely two months in these areas but it seemed im already blend with the people here. Our office is in Bantayan town..and I alternately stayed in Sta Fe (pantalan to be exact near the port) and in Madridejos/Lawis. Nice people..nice place…

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