Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beautiful Bohol, Philippines 2010

There are not enough words to describe how magical Bohol was. It is said to be the land of enchantment due to its beautiful landscape, gorgeous beaches, blazing sunsets and rich Spanish-colonial history. It is home to the world famous Chocolate Hills and the endangered Tarsiers. There is little wonder why locals call it encantado. My first visit to Bohol was a very memorable one. My parents took us on a road in trip in 1992 that started in Davao City, Mindanao and ended in Bohol, Visayas. I remember my parents packing up our car with pillows, food, cooking utensils, water containers, blankets, comic books, a Donkey ki Kong gamewatch, a Tetris gamewatch and a sony cassette walkman (all to share between my siblings and I, to avoid fighting. We had an allocated time of one hour for each item.) We didn't have Ipods or Nintendo DS during those days. It didn't take much to entertain or to please us. My brothers and I were very excited to go somewhere. And so our summer odyssey began. We drove for hundreds of kilometers, ferrying our car in ships to cross the waters and back. Out of the many places we visited that summer. Bohol was one of my favorites. I remember having to climb the tallest hill which felt like a scaling a mountain and was rewarded by a breathtaking view of over a hundred similar looking mounds. The Chocolate Hills reminded me of giant Hershey Kisses, except they were green (the hills turn brown in the peak of summer, thus dubbed the chocolate hills). So when I had an opportunity to revisit the place again after many, many years, I jumped at the chance.

This time I went with friends. We stayed in Alona Beach, where most tourists opt to reside during their stint. I was surprised at its dichotomy. It was both trendy and peaceful. There were several beach front resorts and restaurants that line the long stretch of Alona's white sanded beaches which reminded me of Boracay minus the crowd, noise and pollution. And it's a lot cheaper too!

Alona Beach and Restaurant Row

World Famous Oops Bar

Alona Beach at Night

Pina Colada and Mojito (Island style)
My friends and I weren't expecting to have such a wonderful time in Alona Beach. We were only scheduled to stay for one night, but decided to extend our visit. So we found ourselves with more time on our hands. However, during the day, Alona Beach was a lot more quiet than we expected. So we decided to go sightseeing around Bohol Island. Naturally, we checked out the Chocolate Hills, the Tarsier Sanctuary, the Second Growth Forest, Bohol Cathedral and a few other tourist destinations.
The Chocolate Hills


Tarsier Monkies (Endangered Specie) - more primate than rodent. They are known to commit suicide when handled by humans. The cause is unknown. Presently the Philippine Government and the Local Tourism Board are taking drastic measures to keep them safe. Touching them is prohibited. They are roughly 4" in size.


Second Growth Forest (Roughly 60 years old)
Seeing this gave me hope. In a country filled with corruption and bribery, where leaders who are supposed to lead with integrity choose to profit through illegal means and continuously destroy forest reserves to feed their own greed; a glimmer of hope stand tall - a testament to a few good and noble men who chose to do what is right. This second growth forest was donated and planted by a family who saw wealth in a healthy ecosystem.

Suspension Bridge - I really don't know what's so special about this bridge, other than, there were some nice souvenir shopping on the other end of it. It's a good spot to jump from into the river. I'd say, roughly 30 feet high.

River Cruise and Lunch Buffet


Church Grounds

After a long day of sightseeing, we settled in for some ice cold beer and a crab dinner.

The next day, we enjoyed the quiet beach and had a relaxing breakfast before boarding a Fastcraft Boat headed for Cebu.

This concludes our trip to Beautiful Bohol!

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