My gä and I planned a 3-day adventure to the 10th largest island in the country, Bohol -- home of the famous Chocolate Hills. Located in the Central Visayas region, the island of Bohol is a popular tourist destination with its beaches and resorts. It is also the home province of Carlos P. Garcia, the fourth president of the Republic of the Philippines. Bohol is derived from the word Bo-ho or Bo-ol, the seat of the first international treaty of peace and unity, "Sandugo".
Upon arrival, a staff of Coco Grove Tourist Inn gave us a ride to the hotel. The ambiance of the place was simply nice.
We ate our breakfast, asked for tips from the reception lady, and took off to start our sight-seeing day. We decided to rent an automatic scooter, a 110cc Honda Beat. It was my first time to drive a motorcycle. I do mountain biking so it wasn't that hard to use it (but not on the second day and that's for later Ü)
We set off 6 kilometers east of Tagbilaran City to see Baclayon church, also known as The Immaculate Conception church.
Bohol has a number of very old churches, dating back to the early years of the Spanish colonization of the island. The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It is one of the best preserved Jesuit build churches in the region, although in the 19th century, the Augustinian Recollects added a modern facade and a number of stone buildings that now surround the church.
Next to the church is the old convent, which also houses a small museum with centuries-old religious relics, artifacts and other antiquities, dating back to the 16th century. Included in the collection are an ivory statue of the crucified Christ looking towards heaven; a statue of the Blessed Virgin, said to be presented by Queen Catherine of Aragon; relics of St. Ignatius of Loyola, old gold embroidered ecclesiastical vestments, books with carabao skin covers, and librettos of church music written in Latin on sheep skins. Here you can also find the cuadro paintings made by the Filipino painter Liberato Gatchalian in 1859. Unfortunately taking pictures of the items in the museum were not allowed. It would be better if you see them yourselves to appreciate these well-kept artifacts.
We then went to Loboc River to eat at the famous floating restaurants. Their buffet offered mostly Filipino cuisine. We were entertained by the staff singing a few songs for us. Along the way, a folk group presented some of the country's dances including our national native dance, Tinikling.
After a relaxing lunch, we went to see the famous Tarsier. Man, their eyes are huge! (I haven't had much sleep the day before and was wide awake but I can't imagine these guys sleepier than I am.) Their pupils appeared constricted appearing as tiny as a dot, which I'd guess meant they're hibernating. At night, however, its pupils dilate, filling up most of the iris. The Tarsiers in Bohol measure about 85 to 160 millimetres (3.35 to 6.30 in) in height, making them one of the smallest primates. It is very difficult to spot them because of their small size. The average adult is about the size of a human fist and will fit very comfortably in the human hand. Its eyes are fixed in its skull thus preventing it from turning in its sockets. It cannot glance from the corner of its eyes. Instead, a special adaptation in the neck allows its round head to be rotated 180 degrees. Pretty awesome and scary at the same time. The eyes are disproportionately large, having the largest eye-to-body size ratio of all mammals. These huge eyes provide this nocturnal animal with excellent night vision. The large membranous ears appears to be almost constantly moving, allowing the tarsier to hear any movement. They're cute and cuddly to have as a pet, but take note that Tarsiers have suicidal tendencies in captivity. Some tarsiers captured and placed in enclosures have even been reported to commit suicide by smashing their heads against objects.
We set off to Sipatan's hanging bridge. Along the way, we felt once again how to enjoy and appreciate nature. It's always a refreshing feeling taking in deep breaths of fresh air.
We then went to the Blood Compact Site which marked the first treaty between the Spanish and Filipino races. It was in Bohol where the Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi entered a pact of friendship with the native chiefs Datu Sikatuna of Bool and Datu Sigala of Bool. On March 16, 1565, Legazpi and Sikatuna performed the now famous blood compact which is considered as the First Treaty of Friendship between two different races, religions, cultures and civilizations. It was a treaty of friendship based on respect and equality. This event is commonly known as “Sandugo" and is still celebrated in Bohol every year in June with the Sandugo ("One Blood") festival.
After a long day, we went back to the inn and rested. We had our dinner in the city and returned to the inn in time before the rain poured hard.
On the second day, we were very excited for the higlight of this trip, taking The Plunge at Danao Adventure Park, a 3-hour drive from the city. It was a 100-kilometer ride just going there and it was packed with adventure. It was scorching hot driving a scooter the day before so we came prepared this time with some sun protection.
We first dropped by Dauis church. The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Dauis is located in the Island of Panglao. It is one of the most beautiful churches of Bohol. The church is a mixture of artistic styles and is one of the sophisticated and complex structures of its kind in Bohol. The paintings on the ceiling, over the nave and aisles, bear no biblical scenes. Instead, the illusion of a Renaissance artesonado, or coffered ceiling, was preferred. Beneath the choir loft are murals of St. Anne and the Child, Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph, & Jesus Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem. On the ceiling above the altar are painted biblical scenes.
Another interesting story about the church in Dauis is about a well, known for its water’s healing power that lies at the foot of the main altar. Local history tells that this well was discovered during the Spanish era. Pirates often attacked Christian settlers and it was during one such attack that the people took refuge behind locked doors of the church. Besieged by the enemy for days, the people run out of food and water. The well miraculously sprang up and since then has become the source of drinking water for the populace nearby, especially during droughts. The water tastes truly fresh, despite the well’s closeness to the seashore.
Along the way, we passed by a Butterfly Farm. We thought the place would be nice to visit and so we dropped by. We were welcomed by a tour guide, which I'd say is also an aspiring comedian. He showed us the different kinds of butterflies.
At first, he explained the difference between a moth and a butterfly. He showed us different genders of the butterflies. Hmm, and would you believe a third gender also existed among butterflies. The hermaphrodite usually have asymmetrical wings.
The male butterflies would court the female butterflies by displaying their vibrant wing colors. There was this one species where their wings' color changed in different angles.
There's actually a sad story in every butterfly's life. Did you know that butterflies have very short life spans? Butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species.
Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers. Some also derive nourishment from pollens, tree saps, rotting fruits, dungs, decaying flesh, and dissolved minerals in wet sand or dirt. In the garden, honey-soaked sponges were hanged to help feed the butterflies. Our guide told us that sometimes the flowers in the garden are not enough for all the butterflies. Butterflies are important as pollinators for some species of plants although in general they do not carry as much pollen load as bees. They are however capable of moving pollen over greater distances.
We drove through the man-made forest which spans 2 kilometers between Loboc and Bilar.
It was very relaxing passing through its canopy and again breathing the fresh cool air which you wouldn't find in any city.
We weren't very familiar with some of the mountain roads but thanks to our handy map and a few directions from the locals, we reached Danao safely. However, we took a different route (unintentionally). I've passed thru mountain roads before but not with a scooter, with tires built only for the pavement. It was very challenging traversing the steep, narrow, loose gravel route. Whew! Anyways, we arrived at Danao Adventure Park in one piece, a little exhausted but still very excited, and nervous. We had our lunch and off we went to The Plunge, a canyon swing adventure over 200 meter high and 300 meter wide gorge. This is the most extreme adventure we've had to date. One will have to take a 45-meter free fall before taking the pendulum swing.
There was no one in line for that ride so it was our turn right away. We asked the staff for a few minutes to allow ourselves to prepare mentally to what we were about to do.:) After convincing ourselves that this is gonna be worth it, at least for the 3-hour trip, we're doing it. This is it! We were silently praying while they strap us with the harness. My gä wanted me to go first. Hmmm. Fine. I just thought of my dream of skydiving, and this is a taste of it. I decided to take the "head first" position. After stepping up, a few instructions and reminders, and saying my prayers, the staff began counting down - "Tres, Dos, Uno, bombs away!". The 3 seconds sheer drop left me a feeling of thrill, as I entrusted my life to Him, remembering that this is just one of those things in life that I had no control and just had to trust Him that everything's gonna be okay. As I swung across the gorge, the view, the sound of the gushing river below, the silence, the wind, makes it one of the best experience yet.
It was gä's turn... She was taking the sitting position. I can sense her being nervous wrapped in a courageous face. Hehehe. Honestly, I admire her will to really try it, that only a few would dare to. I knew the prolonged countdown made her all the more nervous, taking each count a chance to back out but the excitement and thrill somehow deemed her speechless and getting more prepared of what's to come. The 3-second free fall was followed with a 3-second scream echoing the gorge. Hahaha! Overall, this was one of the best experience my gä and I had in so many years.
More Plunge pics...
It's time to head back. We were in a bit of hurry to be able to catch a glimpse of the Chocolate Hills along the way before sundown. We're glad that we made it in time. Afterall, one cannot say he's been to Bohol if he hadn't seen the famous Chocolate Hills. The hills were in Carmen which was about 50 kilometers away from the city. It used to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The unusual geographical formation of 1176 hills spread over an area of 50 sq. km. Actually, the hills are covered in grass that turns brown during the dry season, hence the name.
We were just in time to see the hills before sundown. A few minutes after leaving Carmen, it was soon dark and passing along the manmade forest with nothing but the scooter's headlamp was also something of a thrill. We were relieved when we finally reached the city. It was a sunday so we dropped by St. Joseph church to pray. We also noticed that there were a lot of old churches in Bohol. Well, this is after all one of the earliest places that the Spaniards set foot. I remember the tour guide in Baclayon museum showing the second level of the church where only the elite class sat, not wanting to mingle with the rest of the low class populace during the Spanish era. Anyways, here are pics Loboc, San Isidro and St. Joseph churches.
It was Day 3 and it was time to go back to Cebu. But wait, our trip is yet set in the afternoon, so we were still able to visit a few more places. We went to the Hinagdanan Cave. When we saw the entrance stairs to Hinagdanan ("laddered" in Cebuano) Cave, we were a little worried. The steps were slippery.The Hinagdanan Cave in Panglao Island is just 2.5 kilometers from Dauis and is a naturally lighted cavern with a deep lagoon. The cave has a large number of stalactites hanging from the sealing, and matching stalagmites sticking out of the earth below them.
We then went to the Bohol Bee farm. We're really glad we pushed through our plan to go to Bohol Bee Farm during our last day in Bohol. We really enjoyed the tour in the farm. The farm was pretty unique and different from what we've expected. The bees were accustomed to human presence so they don't attack people. In one of the colonies, the guide was showing us the different types of bees. There are the guard bees holding this banner no ID, no entry. Just kidding. They're on guard the holes which is the door to their colony. Did you know that the worker bees are actually female bees? Unlike what's depicted in movies, the male bees' role in the colony are for breeding only. They're called drones. And they're just good for breeding. They don't work, they can even barely fly. We've seen the queen bee checking out the colony while the worker bees give way.
Aside from the bees bred in the farm, we saw women making native products out of raffia cloth that were woven in the farm as well. The farm served and sold organic foods from different dishes to salads, pastries, sandwiches and jams. And what's really cool is that all of the ingredients used are natural with no artificial chemicals and preservatives. We've tasted a few of the honey. The sunflower honey was tastier. They also grow edible roses that are sometimes served in their vegetable salads.
Well, it was time to return the scooter, and checkout from the hotel. A hotel staff gave us a ride to BQ Mall in time for lunch and my gä and I talked about the whole experience while having coffee at Dunkin Donuts. We were preparing for our trip back. This was definitely an adventure to reminisce and we look forward to our next trip. We enjoyed our Bohol trip! =)