Saturday, September 27, 2008

CULTURE-RICH BOHOL

I wasn't able to blog again in Bohol, so much for the "live blogging" I promised. It was very hard to be in front of a laptop when you are in paradise!

So here's the continuing saga of our Bohol vacation...

Our first agenda was the Cutural and Historical Tour. We got a Tour Guide, Kuya Willy, and he took us all over the province with matching commentaries and trivia about the province. We also learned through him that 70% of Bohol's income comes from tourism. Marj sat in front of the van and matched Kuya Willy's history-filled stories with her questions while Anna, Libay and I sat in the back and took turns sleeping as we go from one destination to another.

We were so hungry from the flight so our first stop was at the Loboc River where the Riverwatch Floating Restaurant was. It was a one-of-a-kind lunch cruise that let you sail through the majestic Loboc River with stops at river banks where rondalla music entertains. The food is okay and the buffet has a good selection. I wasn't able to enjoy much of it though because of an unexpected work call. The river cruise and the buffet lunch was only Php 250.00 ($6.00).

The Majestic Loboc River
The Loboc River where we had lunch cruise-style

At the Loboc River Riverwatch Cruise
Enjoying the cruise and the nice weather

The buffet at the Riverwatch Cruise
The Riverwatch Cruise's buffet


We immediately traveled north after lunch to go to the world famous Chocolate Hills in Carmen. Travel from Tagbilaran to Carmen is more than an hour by van but the surrounding towns are picturesque enough not to bore you. For the uninitiated, Chocolate Hills is an unusual geological formation of around 1,200 perfectly-shaped cones scattered in three Bohol towns. Scientific explanation claimed that this might be caused by volcanic eruptions or sea floor uplift in the past. The cones turn brown during the dry season thus the "chocolate hills". Since it is the middle of the rainy season, the hills were green when we visited.

The hills are definitely one of kind! I've never seen anything quite like it. I cannot believe that they are all-natural and were not man-made. Pictures wouldn't be able to give justice to its beauty. True to this, the Chocolate Hills is nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Marj, Lib, Anna, me and the Choclate Hills
Marj, Lib, Anna, me and the Chocolate Hills

High jump amidst the hills
High jump amidst the hills! Weeee!

Leal & Real On Top of the World
Leal & Real on top of the world!

Witches in broom!
Witches in Broom!

Cave-like entry way of the view deck
Marj and I at the cave-like entry way of the view deck


Our next stop was the Butterfly Farm near the Chocolate Hills in the Batuan Town. There was nothing great about it except for the actual larvae and pupa specimens that they have. They take Butterfly breeding seriously and can identify expertly who's doing "it" among their charges. Hah!

Cooky Fun at the Butterfly Farm
Cooky fun at the Buttefly Farn


As we travel back to Tagbilaran, we stopped by at the Man-made Mahogany Forest in Bilar, Bohol. The scenery was great for pictorials even if it reminded me of Blairwitch Project. It also reminded me of Quezon Province and one of its parks where you will pass on your way to Bicol.

At the Man-Made Forest
At the Man-Made Mahogany Forest

Posing at Mahogany Man-Made Forest
I love this shot of 'em three


The scariest part of the tour was probably our Hanging Bridge experience. I initial took it in stride since it was already my 2nd or 3rd time to cross a hanging bridge. But it was my 1st time to cross a hanging bridge made of bamboo shoots! How scary is that?! Every step we took made the wooden slabs create some crunching sound you don't want to hear. Whew! What an experience!

Me at the Hanging Bridge
Still smiling after the experience

Lib, Anna and Marj at the Hanging Bridge
Lib, Anna and Marj at the hanging bridge


We went back to the Loboc town to check out the Tarsier Conservatory where the smallest primates live. I thought it will be a "farm of tarsiers" but we only got to see around four (4) in the small garden and most of them were sleeping (they are nocturnal creatures). I've always thought that it was a huge complex based on the pictures I've seen before.

The Tarsier and Us
The tarsier and us

Overlooking Loboc River
Photo op with the Loboc River as background


Our third to the last stop is my favorite, the old Immaculate Conception Church otherwise known as the Baclayon Church. I've always been fascinated by old churches and is actually planning to travel and take photos of the numerous beautiful churches here in the Philippines. I've already started last summer and will continue to pursue it in the coming months.

The Baclayon Church is the oldest church and the first symbol of Christianity in Bohol built in 1596 by the Jesuits. Aside from its rich history, the church is also known for the miraculous appearance of the image of a Jesuit priest in one of the cobblestone walls. The image cannot be seen clearly by the naked eye but check the camera viewer and you would be able to see the Jesuit father. For showbiz watchers, Baclayon is also known as the hometown of Cesar Montano (future gubernatorial candidate?).

Baclayon Church
The Immaculate Conception Church in Baclayon

Miraculous Baclayon
Check out the wall pillar on the right to see the Jesuit's face


The last historical site we visited was the Blood Compact Site in Tagbilaran City. The site commemorates and re-enacts the "blood" and friendship agreement of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi of Spain and the then chieftain of Bohol, Rajah Sikatuna. We truly had fun posing and fooling around with the men of old. The compact site was the last leg of our very rich historical tour. There were still some tourist spots we were not able to go to like the Hinagdanan Cave, Mag-Aso Falls and some museums and old churches.

Blood Compact Site
Posing with Miguel, Sikatuna and friends

A kiss to Miguel Lopez De Legazpi
Libay and I kissing Migs


Before we went back to our hotel, we dropped by at the Bohol Bee Farm Resort where I recommend you spend, spend, spend your money on their organic delights! Marj and I had a fun time sampling almost all of their jams, spreads, home-made breads, muffins, chocolate and coffee. The products are all delicious and 100% organic! We were able to buy some spreads, tsokolate eh, coffee grains and dried cassavas. Too bad we were not able to buy the delicious newly-baked Camote Bread before our flight back to Manila. Make sure to include in your Bohol itinerary a trip to the farm and you'll surely not be sorry.

Bohol Bee Farm FTW!
The "yummy" Bohol Bee Farm


After an all-day tiring tour it was expected that we were all famished. We had a very nice al fresco by the beach feast at Alona Pyramid, one of the resto-beach along Alona. The Alona stretch at night looks like a little Boracay with rows of restaurants along the sea shore. The one of Panglao's is just more somber, peaceful and fresh. It was actually the kind of ambiance I was looking for in Boracay on my last trip. Night life in Bohol was also not as rowdy and friends can be seen quietly bonding under the stars with bottles in hand. It's the kind of night I actually want. :)

Beach-resto at Alona
Alona Beach night scene

Smoke in my eyes
Smoke in my eyes

A stroll along Alona Beach
Life's a beach!


Credits to Marj for most of the photos. More of our snaps at my Multiply photo page.

Bohol Tour Guide
Kuya Willy
Mobile No. +63-919-243-7742
Php 2,500 ($55.00) includes van, one-day Bohol tour, and commentaries.

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