After the 1.5-hour flight via Zest Air from Manila, we landed in the 10th largest island in the Philippines: Bohol. This was the first time that we have traveled without me even bothering to know about the itinerary. I was really so occupied with work that I hardly had the time to get fine impressions on our travel plan. 😛
My only idea on Bohol was that it’s the home of chocolate hills and tarsiers. Haha. I can’t remember tackling about this province during social studies or history classes in elementary. Poor memory? Pardon me, please. 😀 Now I bring more information about this “paradise” in the Philippines as we got to the tourist attractions Bohol offers up close and personal. Old churches, wonderful caves, native Filipino food and the wild? GAME ON!
Our 3D2N Bohol Itinerary
We arrived at the Tagbilaran City Airport at 9AM and were welcomed by our tour guide who quickly drove us to the first destination: Blood Compact Shrine in Barangay Bool, Tagbilaran City (the city capital).
Having the Sandugo (translation: one blood) or Blood Compact Shrine monument on the background, we had our pictures taken and we viewed the magnificent Bohol Sea behind. This landmark was worth visiting because you don’t have to pay anything to enter! With only gas and time as investments, you can witness the masterpiece of the Boholano sculptor and National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva: bronze statues of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, Rajah Sikatuna and several other witnesses.
The Sandugo was the first treaty of friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos. It was a blood compact between the Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, the chieftain of Bohol, on March 16, 1565, to seal their friendship as part of the tribal tradition.
The second destination of our Bohol Countryside Tour was the Baclayon Church, the second oldest stone church in the Philippines. It was established in 1595 by the Jesuits and completed by the Augustinians and the Recollects when the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines in 1768. Our driver/tourist guide mentioned that the cement of the walls inside were made from egg whites. It’s incredible how the walls are still extraordinarily strong!
Next, we had a close encounter with Prony, the Python Snake, the world’s largest living snake in captivity, in Bohol Python and Wildlife Park, a mini zoo – along with rare animals such as: the Malay civet cat, the Philippine mongoose, a flying lemur, Brahminy Kite, Green Heron, hornbill, crakes, rails and a few orioles.
Marimar, one of Prony’s caretakers, divulged that the python snake is fed with 60 kilograms of live pigs every day. It was brought to Bohol 17 years ago measuring five feet in length and five kilograms in weight. Now, it measures 28 feet, weighs over 300 kilograms. NEWS: The giant python died just last August 14, 2013 with cause still unknown.
Upon exit, we saw a snack bar selling unique flavors of ice cream. Black Forest Hut serves food with a European touch and without the help of artificial food colors and ingredients. Mom was tempted to try so we ordered one scoop each of Spicy Chocolate, Green Apple, Carrot and Malunggay (Moringa) ice cream on a crispy malunggay container. There remained a smile on my face as I recall the crunch of the malunggay crust. The flavors had an assortment of deliciousness, hence by law of deductive reasoning, the synergies all ended up good!
We also bought a homemade vegetarian pizza and a vegetarian burger which did not consist of gluten or veggie meat but authentic vegetable ingredients such as carrots, malunggay, onions, celery, tomatoes and potatoes. For vegetarians, these stuff are a no-brainer and always be a crowd-pleaser. 😀
With growling stomachs, we went to Loay River Cruise: Rio Verde Floating Resto for lunch, as recommended by our driver, instead of going to Loboc River Cruise and Luncheon. Price per head is PHp 392 (Regular Buffet) and PHp 500 (High-end Buffet).
This was inclusive of the unique experience to dine in a buffet setup while listening to a singer sing and play guitar live and having the cool breeze brush against your face as the boat cruises down the river surrounded by tall coconut trees and banana trees for an hour. The musician was really entertaining as he sang English, Filipino, Chinese and Korean songs! Whoa. Talk about talent. 😀
The lunch buffet consisted of crabs, shrimps, pork barbecue, sweet and sour fish fillet, fried chicken, vegetable dishes, pancit canton, clams soup, langka and rice with a choice of bottled water, Sprite and Coke for drinks. Desserts were fresh fruits and Filipino native sweet delicacies. Everything was good, but I heard the foreigners (Koreans and Chinese) who were in the same boat say that they were not much satisfied.
The boat stopped by an island where we took pictures with authentic Ati-Tribe who live along the Loay River. Hand-made bracelets and necklaces and mini bow and arrows were also sold.
After lunch, we visited the Tarsier Conservation Area where we learned more about the world’s smallest primate, the tarsiers! Tourists are allowed to take pictures of the tarsiers but not with camera flash. Because tarsiers are nocturnal, we didn’t see most of them in action at stark daylight. Nonetheless, we saw how they turn their heads 180 degrees like owls. 😯
En route to Chocolate Hills, we passed by the Man-made Forest in the municipalities of Bilar and Loboc. With mahogany trees planted in the 1960s by the Boholanos, this forest makes up to a beautiful scenery that appears like those in romantic Koreanovelas!
Moving on, we climbed up 214 steps leading to the observation deck where a seemingly border-less landscape abound featuring over 1200 individuals mounds collectively known as the Chocolate Hills. They were truly an awesome sight. 😀
Another “outbound educational tour” was our trip to Simply Butterfly Conservation Center located in Bilar, Bohol, about 41 kilometers from Tagbilaran City. This was where we’ve known about the different stages of the life of a butterfly (cocoon, pupa, caterpillar, butterfly) and different types of butterflies (female, male, half male, half female).
Our last stop before proceeding to the hotel to check in was the Sipatan Hanging Bridge. At about 5PM, I already felt sleepy because we woke up at 5AM that day to catch the early morning flight.
The two hanging bridges in the Municipality of Sevilla, Bohol made me feel super awake. How? I was the last in our group to step onto the bridge. In the middle of our crossing, a kid suddenly came rushing behind me. He was jumping all the way. As a result, the hanging bridge made of bamboos and ropes kept on bouncing up and down! 😐
Anxious and nervous, my adrenaline increased four fold. With jiggling knees, I concentrated to keep my balance while walking to the end almost sidewards like a crab. 🙄 If I were the confrontational type, I would have scolded the twisted kid and I could have told him to stop being mischievous for goodness’ sake — while his parents were just behind him also laughing. 👿 GRRRR.
We met Mang Peping, the Buko (Coconut) King of Bohol, upon reaching the end of the first bridge. He offered us to watch a performance of him peeling the coconut using his teeth fast in exchange of PHp 100. We declined because we knew we can already just watch a YouTube video of him doing that. Here’s a sample. I waited for the kid to finish crossing the second bridge back first before us, to make sure that we survive without being sweaty and too shaky.
Then, we were brought to Bohol Plaza Resort for dinner and hotel accommodation (also part of the packaged tour). It was top-notch, with terraces from the top floor overlooking like the whole of Bohol! The structure and layout of the hotel was quite unique, because all the bedrooms are in the 1st floor, including a bar and a swimming pool, while the functional rooms that can be reserved and used for any gathering are in the 2nd and 3rd floors and the main lobby and main dining areas are in the fourth floor.
☑ Bohol – Wrap Up of Day 1
Alright, it’s time to wrap Day 1 up. Here’s the list of places we came across on our first day:
- Blood Compact Shrine
- Baclayon Church
- Bohol Python and Wildlife Park
- Rio Verde Floating Resto
- Tarsier Conservation Area
- Man-made Forest
- Chocolate Hills
- Simply Butterfly Conservation Center
- Sipatan Hanging Bridge
- Bohol Plaza Resort
We’ve played a part of tourists yet again in our own country in another domestic destination. Traveling as a family is never the same as traveling with friends. This experience provided a great opportunity for us to spend quality time together away from hectic schedules that tie up our everyday lives.