My serving of SOUTHERN HERITAGE TRAIL (Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2019)

I love the bukhayo balls in Malabuyoc. I have always loved the young coconut meat for its ingredient. I miss Malabuyoc too for its rural charm that I have repeatedly come for since I was 27 years old. 

CEBU, PHILIPPINES (November 20, 2019) --- Just got off from the staging of "Southern Heritage Trail," the first of four legs of the rejuvenated Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2019. A couple of times it was reiterated that Suroy Suroy did not take a six-year hiatus contrary to what our team has been writing.

We have not used the word "revived" either without emphasizing that this is the real Suroy Suroy.

One, the Suroy Suroy is not to leave out any of the 19 municipalities and three component cities south of Cebu Province.

Malabuyoc produces its own "buwahan" or lanzones in the upland barangay of Lombo.

Second, the Suroy Suroy is supposedly to showcase every town of Cebuano talents, dances, songs, indigenous ensemble, drama group, farmers groups and livelihood cooperatives. The Suroy is a flagship tourism program of the Provincial Government of Cebu and therefore should include all forms of tourism possibilities - eco, adventure, pilgrimage, sports, heritage. It should not be limited to just a few spots. Or select sites.

The palagsing is steamed buli flour wrapped in coconut frond.

Third, it is the real Suroy Suroy in that it is to supposedly converge constituents and their leaders. People get to meet the people they elect, to the point of hob-nobs and taking selfies --- or groufies --- in the process. The leaders also get to meet the farmers and fisherfolk, investors in the area and growing livelihood programs such as that of the Caliongan Skilled Women's Association in Dalaguete town which produces squash-malunggay noodles, a healthy alternative to imported cup noodles dominating grocery shelves.

Buli sinakol is a must-try. Well, to people who prefer other food products this is nothing fancy. But if one learns the life of a buli or buri (palm tree), one gets to appreciate the production of buli flour and how this fed millions in crises of sorts. One of which is the Second World War. 

Fourth, there is the vibrant presence of representatives from commerce and industry chambers. These are investors who can work well with the initiatives of the Provincial Government to invigorate countryside economy aside from promoting pride of place, natural and man-made heritage conservation.

I am not new to Suroy Suroy. As an ex-mainstream media practitioner, I joined all legs - Northern Escapade, Enjoy the Midwest, Enchanting Camotes - for coverage for both the News and Lifestyle sections of The FREEMAN (a community newspaper with Banat News and Philippine Star for sister publications).

Transitioning into the communication information officer that I am now, I was tasked to join once more the Southern Heritage Trail which began in Mnglanilla. It was my first time in Anjo World. It is said to be the first theme park in Cebu of international standards. It provides a snow world experience to a literal brrrrrrr with its negative 15-degree Celsius temperature inside. It has thrill rides such as that of the colossal Ferris wheel with awesome air-conditioned gondolas. That was not scary because the rotation took a slow pace. Very slow, actually. A gondola can accommodate four riders. The slow ascent gives one the pricks in the sole at the sight of going above the buildings and getting a vantage view Minglanilla and its seascape with Bohol on the horizon. The slow descent doesn't give the guest that nauseous feel and annoying knot in the stomach. The gondola just went down on slow motion.

This blogger (in shades) with colleagues in government work - Paula (foreground) and Liberty inside the gondola of Anjo World's massive Ferris wheel in Minglanilla.

I would say that the rest of the activities in every stop is repetitive. I have seen those already - lots of goodies and delicacies, native cuisine as well as catered dishes. Literally, catering. Though it was already overemphasized by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia that towns need not really come up with an ostentatious display of food, there were a couple of towns that still stuck to the comfort of a catering service.

Reliving the joy of Ferris wheel rides. I think that the vintage Ferris wheel rides may be outmoded but they are still the best when you are the quintessential acrobat. But for those who would want to stick to play-safe mode, you have a gondola in Anjo World. Fees are around P600 for unlimited rides, whole day. How about that, children at heart?

As always, it was Dalaguete and Malabuyoc that best got the idea. To stick to what is simply Cebuano. Dalaguete, established as a Vegetable Basket in Cebu, showcased not just farm produce but also delicacies that replaced staples during World War II.

A display dubbed "Mga lagutmon sa Ikaduhang Gubat" showed an array of rice cakes - one baked in a traditional oven of tin with embers on top and embers below the stove (bingka hinudno with 'latik' or caramelized coco cream), steamed glutinous rice cake (bingka pinalutaw), sinakol (there are two varieties - buli or buri palm, and cassava tuber mixed with coconut meat), and malagkit or glutinous rice cake with syrup (arnibal) on top to sweeten. I think I underestimated the malagkit. I just picked one. But when I discovered that there is that elating feeling bite after bite, I went back and shoved into my eco-bag four more pieces. Lol!

An interesting food product development of Caliongan Skilled Women's Association in Dalaguete.

I have always been a believer of the potency of Suroy Suroy. As a regular visitor of Malabuyoc in the past - back when the world is a bit younger and life is a lot less complicated - I spent much time in idyll in Malabuyoc. So, in a way, I have felt how much it has changed in the last decade. It has its own Museo de Malabuyoc today with a ton of information about the role of Malabuyoc in precolonial Cebu, in the trading of celadon (a chinaware), in defending Cebu. In fact, it lists all baluartes (watchtowers) otherwise known as Bantayan sa Hari in all of the province. The baluarte-turned-museum could be a mute witness to how we survived the marauders or pirate attacks. Nevertheless, one can decipher so much information just by looking where it is situated and the old structures nearby, highlighting its relevance.

Guests get a help to free vegetables in Dalaguete. The tourists were issued a brown paper bag and were instructed to get from the crates everything they could take home. I'm like --- just woooow!

Well, every event has its moments and glitches. I think that the glitch there is not allowing writers onboard the Silverlines tourist bus. I see it better that we join the guests and establish rapport with them to learn of their stories and that we follow a story of their life - that which is a segment - their presence in the Suroy Suroy as retirees, for example.

Student-dancers in Malabuyoc lead to the 'dance floor' participants to the Southern Heritage Trail caravan to experience the Kuradang (ang sayaw nga kinaraan) to the tune of Cebuano Novelty King Max Surban's song of the same title.

I met couple Boy and Elma Mantua of Baybay, Leyte and I find it very interesting that a couple - in their septuagenarian years - would take the opportunity to walk on a hanging bridge to Mantayupan Falls in Barili. It is a lovely and charming sight, an image so powerful that it represents our desire to underscore #everythingCebuano #everythingCebu #everythingGood #everythingProsperity despite the ages overtaking us. Suroy Suroy may just be a jaunt, or simply an excursion to some, but for me it is the story of us. Beautiful, beautiful us.##

Kinugay is a delicacy in Dalaguete made of buli palm flour wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.