Caduawan Hills: Little Batanes of Tabogon, Cebu?

Do the Caduawan Hills deserve to be called “Little Batanes”?

After visiting Gibitngil Island and spending the night at Two Crazy Monkeys, my friends and I stopped by a few tourist attractions en route back to Cebu City. One of the spots on our list was Caduawan Hills in Tabogon, dubbed the “Little Batanes of Cebu”.

From Medellin, we boarded a southbound bus and, by mid-afternoon, alighted across Caduawan Elementary School, where we hired a tricycle to take us to the hills. From the highway, we entered a small road next to the school. The passage was paved near the junction but soon became rough and bumpy. The elderly driver struggled with maneuvering the vehicle, but he was determined to take us to our destination.

Fortunately, the rough road opened up to open grassland, and we were back on a narrow concrete road that meandered across an open, rolling countryside. These were the Caduawan Hills. After about a kilometer, we reached the end of the concrete road. The driver told us this was as far as he could take us, and directed us to hike towards the biggest hill, which offered the best vantage point of the landscape.

A farmer collects his carabaos from a watering hole.
Limestone cliffs across the valley with cave opening.

We left our bags at the tricycle, and hiked towards to the top of the hill. The ascent was gradual in the beginning but became very steep as we climbed the shoulder of the peak. A number of trails led up to the big hill, created by hikers and off-road bikers.

After the 10 minute hike, we reached the very top of the big hill. Indeed, the lookout point offered 360-degree views of the entire landscape. To the west, we could see our tricycle parked at the end of the concrete road, now a speck in the midst of a grassy, undulating landscape. Farther away, what looks like a densely packed village is actually a cemetery of concrete tombs. Far below, a farmer arrives at a watering hole to collect three carabaos wallowing in the mud.

To east, the hill we were standing on dropped down into a valley, hemmed in by limestone cliffs on the other side. We could see the large opening of a cave on one side of the cliffs. A row of transmission towers supporting power lines followed the valley.

Arriving at the lookout point
New Japanese Surrender Site Marker

Do the Caduawan Hills deserve to be called a “Little Batanes”? I think the landscape falls short when compared to the northernmost isles of the Philippines. When I think of Batanes, I instantly imagine rolling hills with sheer cliffs dropping into the ocean. For example, the Little Batanes of Sual, Pangasinan deserves its epithet with its dramatic headlands stretching out to sea. At Caduawan, I’m missing out on the ocean views. Actually, its rolling hills are scenic in its own way and attaching the unnecessary epithet is a disservice to its beauty because it consequently overpromises what visitors should expect. This is the reason why I’m not particularly fond of epithets to promote a destination, but if there’s one destination in Cebu that reminded me Batanes, it would be the roughhewn island of Kinatarcan off the coast of Daanbantayan.

After spending almost an hour on the hill enjoying the views, a sudden drizzle prompted us to hurry back down to the tricycle waiting for us. We were driven back to highway, and dropped off at the New Japanese Surrender Site Marker, 1.6 km south of Caduawan Elementary School. This World War II monument memorializes the surrender of Japanese forces in northern Cebu on August 28, 1945.

How to Get There

From Cebu City, take any bus at the SM North Cebu Bus Terminal bound for Bogo City and alight at Caduawan Elementary School. From the highway, hire a tricycle or hike to “Little Batanes” hills.

(Weekend tip: If like us, you’re heading south after visiting Caduawan Hills, it might be necessary to take a northbound bus to Bogo City Bus Terminal and transfer to a southbound bus. Passing buses were all full with passengers heading back to Metro Cebu after the weekend.)

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