Sogod highlights beginnings

Sogod is Visayan term for “start”, and locals said the town is so named because it is a place of beginnings.

It is in Sogod that fine white sand stretching farther north begins, ending the string of dark sand beaches in preceding municipalities.

This meeting in contrast of white and dark can be seen only during low tide, at a spot where a sign marks a cave that once served as hiding place of Japanese soldiers during the war.

In this same area are markings resembling hoofs that religious Sogoranons believe were made by the horse of St. James The Apostle, the town’s patron saint, as he makes his way on horseback to the Sogod church through the cave.

Another possible reason for the name “Sogod”, residents say, is because the shift to Catholicism in the north during the Spanish period started in the town.

It’s not therefore surprising that Sogod celebrates beginnings through the “Panagsogod Festival” – which will have its culminating activities on Friday.

Vice Mayor Liza Marie Durano, who is acting mayor, said she sees the potential of the town to become a destination and invites tourists – both local and foreign – to visit and sample the many things that the town has to offer.

About Sogod

Sogod, approximately 60 kilometers from central Cebu City, shares boundaries with Borbon on the north, Catmon on the south, Tuburan and Tabuelan on the west, and Camotes Sea on the east.

It has 18 barangays with a total land area of 12,413.35 hectares, a large part of which is made up mostly of broad alluvial plain (75.85%) while the remaining portions are mountains (25.15%).

The town recorded an annual income of P34 million in 2007, and it had a population of 30,308 or 5,000 households as of the 2005 census.

Unpublished written accounts say Sogod existed as a civil government in 1764 under the authority of the Spanish provincial government known as “Tribunal de Mestizos.”

It was headed by a teniente in the person of Juan Daligdig.

In 1903, Sogod was merged with the town of Catmon but an act of the defunct Philippine Assembly separated them again on January 1, 1921.

Attractions

A landmark destination in the town is the popular Alegre Beach Resort, with its premium on privacy, breathtaking view of the sea, fine sand, cool waters, cabanas taking inspiration from Spanish and Filipino architecture, and lush greens.

Other beach resorts are Calumboyan Public Beach, Tabunok Garden View Resort, and Northsky Beach Resort in Barangay Bawo.

Aside from white sand beaches, Sogod also a number of caves, springs, falls, and rivers.

A spring in the village of Bagatayam supplies water to the town through the Sogod Waterworks System. The spring has attracted tourists because its water has been reputed to have healing powers. A grotto of the Virgin Mary has been constructed in the place.

The St. James the Apostle Parish Church, built in 1842, is 170 years old and is a town cultural destination. Sogod also has a host of old school buildings, houses, and other structures.

At Sogod Central School in Bagatayam are astronomical platforms that served as the International Astronomical Observatory Post of the 1929 total solar eclipse. The town was then the center of the eclipse.

In Nahus-an Hills, 70 percent of farmers produce “kabog” or millet, a kind of cereal under the corn variety. The product is made in the famous Sogod delicacy “budbud kabog.”

Arroyo names Argao mayor consultant on water projects

PRESIDENT Arroyo has designated Argao, Cebu Mayor Edsel Galeos as a consultant for the National Government’s water projects, impressed as she was by the southern town’s irrigation scheme.

Arroyo, who visited Argao last May 19, saw the system that, for only P300,000, has benefited about 80 families without using any electricity.

“The President was very impressed with this because as you know this is part of the government’s program, especially that we are confronted with the global food crisis and we are trying to enhance food production,” Presidential Management Staff Chief Cerge Remonde said.

“So, she has immediately ordered the National Irrigation Administration to go to Argao to study the Galeos model. She has appointed Mayor Galeos as a national consultant for small irrigation projects,” Remonde said.

Galeos can no longer receive a separate salary as consultant because he is already a government official, but as an incentive, President Arroyo will give Argao town P20,000 per small irrigation project that the mayor can help create elsewhere in the country.

“But what is more important here is that once again, we in Cebu have shown the way. And that makes us very proud as Cebuanos. Necessity is really the mother of invention,” Remonde, who hails from Argao, also said.

Also at present, Galeos is constructing the Diosdado Macapagal Sports Complex in Argao, which he wants to finish before the town’s fiesta in September. (EOB/Sun.Star Cebu)

Wireless in Argao

MUNICIPAL WI-FI. I spent a day in Argao and was pleasantly surprised to find several dependable and free Wi-Fi hotspots. I was surprised because in Cebu City, free Wi-Fi access isn’t as widespread as they say it is in places such as Davao City. When I say free, I mean full Internet access without having to enter passwords or keys. At least full “http” access, I don’t mind not being able to use the other protocols.

Many shops, at least the last time I went warbiking or going around on a motorcycle to check for free Wi-Fi hotspots, just depend on zones ofPLDT and Globe for their customers’ wireless Internet access.

But not Argao.

The municipal government turned its beautiful plaza into a free Wi-Fi zone. There you are, surrounded by Spanish-era buildings, three cannons, beautiful masonry, and music that comes from cleverly hidden speakers, and you have free high-speed wireless Internet access.

I was told that the Wi-Fi zone was set up last year by Argao town officials. Now it isn’t, technically, municipal Wi-Fi—the term means the entire city or town is covered by wireless Internet signal—but it’s a start. Its munisipyo Wi-Fi.When I was at the plaza on a Saturday night, I saw one person park his multi-cab near the Argao town hall, take out his laptop and thenaccess the Internet. I opened my Asus Eee PC, which is such amarvelous piece of gadget, and checked my e-mail. The connection was relatively fast.

I wasn’t able to do speed tests, though, because I was supposed to beon a quick vacation—to “get away from it all” and my family was already on their way to the museum.

VOIP. I asked Ruel Rigor, who showed us around, on the extent of the Wi-Fi spot’s usage and he said only a few locals use it. The availability of free Wi-Fi in the town plaza is such a huge help for tourists and locals who need to access the Internet.

It also opens the possibility of using the signal in the plaza to make VOIP calls for free. If you have a Symbian-based phone, you can use Fring with Wi-Fi not only to chat with your friends, but also call themvia Skype or the application itself, if they’re also using it. The call is free because you’re connecting through Wi-Fi.

I was able to chat with some contacts using Fring, but none of my Skypecontacts were online when I was in the town center so I couldn’t testcalling with Fring.

OTHER SPOTS. Wi-Fi access isn’t just limited to the area near the Argao town hall. I was able to detect another Wi-Fi access point, albeit secured, a few meters away. The resort I stayed in near theMahayahay beach resort also offered uninterrupted free Wi-Fi access. The signal covers part of the public beach resort so you can probably get away with piggybacking near the beach, even at night.

I hope other local officials, especially in tourism areas, follow Argao’s Wi-Fi deployment. Heck, I hope more Cebu shops follow Looc Garden Resort and start offering free Wi-Fi to costumers.

The last time I was in a coffee shop in Ayala several months back, I was told to buy a card when I asked about Wi-Fi access. But things are starting to change. I’ve been told many coffee shops are starting to offer free Wi-Fi to costumers.

Asking the city where I live in, Lapu-Lapu, to follow the example of athird class municipality might be a pipe dream or a financial nightmare—remember how much Lapu-Lapu City Hall paid for computers it distributed to schools?

(Max Limpag maintains a blog at max.limpag.com)