Argao is a small coastal town that is a 2 hour bus ride from Cebu’s south bus terminal. It is so small that it does not have a Jollibee, the fast food joint that is as common here as McDonalds is in the states.

I went to Argao for a second date with Chris (not her real name) a woman I’d met through a mutual friend. Chris comes to Cebu every Monday to apply for jobs advertised in the Sunday paper, I met her after one such trip.

Argao is everything Cebu isn’t. One smells the sea, not exhaust. Trees abound – coconut, banana, papaya and many more I couldn’t identify. Rice fields interlace the land between the towns, corn is grown on the higher ground. Buildings over two stories as rare as birds and lizards are common. The National Road that rings the island is usually close enough to the shore to easily identify fishing camps without having the benefit of seeing them.

This is a town that most foreigners will find little reason to stop in, let alone stay over night. It was just what I needed. I got to hang out with Chris, see how people lived in the provinces, jumped in the ocean for the first time since San Fernando and got motivated to shoot some photos despite the crummy light.

I also was given a reminder of the importance of carrying lens cleaning tissue. Most of my photos were blessed with the diffuse images of three rain drops on the lens. Oh well, it was fun shooting them.

I stayed at a place about 20 meters from the beach. There was a covered patio, a small restaurant serving basic local dishes, a pool, cold drinks and the ocean to play in. Not exactly Waikiki but a welcome antidote to Cebu.

I stayed here.

These shacks rent for P 200 a day, or about $4.

Beach Shacks For Rent

Beach Shacks For Rent

Loading for a 30 minute trip to Bohol island.

Passenger Boat

Passenger Boat

Unloading the night’s catch.

Unloading Fish

Unloading Fish

The rest of the photos are at

Trikes and motorcycles are the only public transit within Argao. One of the highlights of the trip occurred when we couldn’t get a trike to return from the hills behind town. It was drizzling so after waiting a while we took the first available ride, which meant three adults on the back of a Honda 70 motorcycle.

As we rode off down the hill my concerns were accelerating faster than the bike. The road was wet and I hadn’t checked if the tires were bald, the bike was overload beyond spec (but not beyond practice), we didn’t have helmets and I was trying keep my frontside away from Chris’s backside because she’s not that kind of woman.

But the driver was cautious, keeping the downhill speed low. The road was deserted and he kept the both slight brake usage and lean angles.

Then we hit the National Road and he accelerated up to traffic speed. I knew that was the safe thing to do but also that it magnified any of the previously mentioned dangers. As we rounded the last gentle downhill curve before the road went flat and straight through the rice fields I just let go of safety concerns because there was nothing I could do about the situation.

I took it all in. The rice fields, a lone water buffalo ignoring everything except what was in his mouth, the dappled sky where the sun was almost coming through in spots, the cacophony of green on the hillsides behind the rice paddies and the few strands of Chris’s hair that had escaped her grasp and were now caressing my face in the breeze. I felt fully alive, a glow that persisted long after we were safely off the bike.


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