Bohol: All Year Paradise
It was raining very hard. Sitting in the airport lounge waiting for the first trip to Tagbilaran and hearing flights to other areas being cancelled, I'm beginning to be apprehensive of this trip.
When the plane encountered strong turbulence and half of the journey got very rough, my apprehension turned to fear.
But then my fear turned to wonder when upon nearing the island of Bohol, the sky suddenly became clear and the weather turned calm.
I said to myself, this must be really the City of Friendship.it even managed to befriend super typhoon Milenya.
While the whole of Metro Manila experienced the wrath of the storm last Sept. 28, Bohol just had a slight drizzle in the morning and then it had blue skies, windy weather all throughout the day. It is really a paradise all throughout the year.
They say you haven't seen Bohol if you haven't seen the Chocolate Hills. In a way, this is true, because the town of Carmen, where the famous Chocolate Hills are, is located at the center of the province. By going through more than 1 hour of road-winding journey, you have already seen half of Bohol.
One can hardly believe these hills, more than 1,000 of them, are not man-made. But if you climb the 214 steps leading to the viewing deck (yes, 214 steps, not actually
for the faint-hearted and the agoraphobic), there is a marker explaining how these nature wonder may have been formed - through weathered formations of marine limestone on top of layers of clay.
Tarsiers - Beside the Loboc River, there is a mini-park where you can see up close, probably, the world's smallest primates. You simply have to donate an amount to enter the mini-park. As first-time visitors, it is understandable that you would want to take pictures (like I did!) but please do not use the camera flash or try to touch them. As they are nocturnal creatures and you only get to see them during the day, it would be best if their sleep is not disturbed.
You can actually rent a van for approx.
PhP 2,800.00, or a car for PhP 2,000.00,
to tour you in all the major tourist attractions
If it's your first time and you want to hear local facts and trivia, you may want to get a tour guide. You may arrange this with your hotel/resort or you may contact the local tourism office directly. It doesn't hurt, of course, to help support the livelihood of the likes of Manong Boyet.
Loboc River Cruise - Eating lunch and being serenaded while cruising the long river is truly a romantic experience. Going upstream, you will see miniature falls and for a small donation, you will be serenaded by a group of old men playing rondalla on a floating raft. The cruise takes about an
hour and costs approx. PhP260.00/person including lunch buffet.
Baclayon Church and Museum - One of the oldest stone churches in the Philippines, I cannot help but admire the effort to preserve its old structure. The glass mosaic windows, when shone, cast a kaleidoscope of colors on the altar, creating a dreamy ambiance. Next to the church is the old convent , which houses a small museum of religious artifacts dating back to the 16th century. Some of the notable items in the collection are: librettos of church
music written in Latin on sheep skins, ecclesiastical vestments, tiaras, chinas, relics of St.. Ignatius of Loyola, a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and an ivory statue of the crucified Christ.
Sandugo (Blood Compact) - A monument of the historic blood compact between Datu Sikatuna (native Bohol chieftain) and Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (representing the King of Spain) can be found in Barangay Bool at Tagbilaran City. The blood compact that took place on March 16, 1565 is considered as the first "Treaty of Friendship" between the brown and white races. (Now you know the historical origin of Bohol's City of Friendship title.)
Did you know?
Baclayon church's structure is made of coral stones cut into square blocks and piled on to each other. Some 200 locals used bamboo to move and lift the stones and egg whites to cement these stones together. The current building was completed in 1727.
Pasalubong - As pasalubongs are a staple to Filipinos when travelling, we passed by the local
Pasalubong items are less expensive when
you buy from the local market or malls in
However, if you're not really going to buy a lot, and you're staying in Panglao, it is more convenient to buy from the local souvenir shops you'll be passing by on the way to the resort.
souvenir shop to buy Bohol's famous delicacies. Just in case you are on a tight budget (or simply don't want to bring back home a lot of baggage), do not be confused at the varieties of peanut-based food items - there are peanut biscuits, peanut pastillas, peanut candies, peanut brittles, star-shaped peanuts, toasted peanuts, peanut butter - and just buy the peanut kisses (my aunt keeps repeating that they must be shaped like that to look like miniature versions of Chocolate Hills). Each box costs PhP 23.00 and has a shelf-life of up to 18 months. They not only look cute, they taste great.
Before heading for the resort, we cannot resist not stopping by Bohol Bee Farm for a late afternoon snack. Lest you might think it looks and smell like a farm, it looks more of a secret garden perched on a cliff. We sampled their fresh organic dishes and bought some of the farm's homemade items.
Beaches, Coral Reefs in Panglao Island - As the land of the whole province is approx. 70% made of low-grade limestone, it really boasts of long, wide expanse of white sands. And given the local efforts to protect the marine life, you don't have to dive deep to see the amazing life underwater.
If you are a beach person like me, it is a must that you visit Panglao Island. In fact, I would recommend that you book your accommodation in one of its resorts so you can have a more relaxing stay.
Did you know?
Panglao Island is located southwest of Bohol province. It is said that biards who came to the island after an unfortunate experience in Cebu named it Panglao, after the Tagalog word 'mapanglao', which means 'lonely'.
For my first Bohol trip, I had the warm hospitality of Tambuli Resorts, more locally known as Bohol Beach Club. Its 60-hectare private beach property and complete amenities offers the ultimate relaxation. (More on Bohol Beach Club.)
If you have more time, I recommend including in your itinerary island hopping to Pamilacan and Balicasag. On a clear day, locals guarantee dolphin watching and the best snorkeling experience.
I cannot wait to go back to this little paradise. In fact, I'm already planning my next visit