Silmugi River: The Enchanting Emerald Waters in Borbon

Many places in Cebu unclaimed by man is said to host dwellings for the unseen. There’s just something different for wilderness and natural wonders not influenced by the touch of humans. A certain river up north is surrounded by such mystical stories.

Regardless of folklore, the sole river of Borbon holds a haunting beauty. Its striking green waters and proximity to mangroves gives it an isolated, yet peaceful feeling.

Silmugi River winds for 12 kilometers from source to sea. Its clean and enchanting emerald waters originate inland from the rainwater collected in the mountains and calmly flows to meet the wide-open sea ahead.

Photo from provided by Hannah Mae Arrabis
Photo from provided by Jerry Guzman

The river’s simple “old river” charm is accentuated by the bordering mangroves that embrace its banks and the fishing boats parked lazily along its banks.

Locals say that the river is enchanted, and there are folk stories of a phantom ship making its way inland passing from the sea through the river – right through the bridge. Sightings have been reported and passed by word-of-mouth for years and years, yet there is no evidence of the ship.

Nonetheless, it’s still fair to say that the river is captivating. Its allure precedes everything else and seeing it in person is just lovely. Even locals celebrate Silmugi’s wonder and relevance to their town by throwing a lively festival every January.

Silmugi River was used as a trade and ferry route in the past. Dozens of boats would paddle up and down the river to carry goods and people around. In the advent of technological improvement, the river is being used less and less, but the people still remember its old significance. 

Photo from Instagram Account of ingridstravel
Photo from Instagram Account of ingridstravel
Photo from Instagram Account of ingridstravel

The annual Silmugi Festival involves street dancing and a traditional prayer asking God for bountiful harvest. The festivities also double as a sign of gratitude to the town’s patron saint, the martyr St. Sebastian.

If you’re on a trip going far north, it’s a good idea to stop by the enchanting Silmugi River to appreciate a rare view. There is a boardwalk complete with a footbridge and a jetty to allow a closer look at the calm waters, however, the overall project was discontinued.



Exact location: Maslog Provincial Road, Borbon, Cebu – 2 to 3 hours from Cebu City

BY COMMUTE: Starting at the North Bus Terminal in SM City Cebu, you can ride a bus bound for Bogo or Borbon. Ask the driver to drop you off at Silmugi River, past the bridge after the public market.

BY CAR: Navigate with Waze or Google Maps and set your destination to “Silmugi River” in Borbon, Cebu

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