Exploring the Small But Incredible Bohol, Philippines

Bohol of me loves Bohol of you. <3

It’s been almost two years, but the blissful memories of our Bohol trip are still vivid in my mind. I can only think of two reasons why this particular trip has become one of the most unforgettable: (1) It happened during my 22nd birthday, so everything felt celebratory; and (2) Bohol was simply amazing. Hands down.

Bohol is an island province situated in the heart of the Visayas region. Tourism being one of its key economic drivers, it offers a wide array of destinations that will surely captivate and keep both local and foreign tourists coming back for more.

Knowing how blessed the island is with numerous natural and historical wonders can be pretty overwhelming especially for tourists. But even though Bohol is small and rhymes with “all”, we didn’t go “all out” just to hit “all” those spots in one visit. Our goal was to make our stay adventurous and relaxed at the same time, and we did it by not squeezing in a lot in our 3D2N itinerary.

Nonetheless, whether you’re a chill (and broken) traveler or not, feel free to join me as I recount our experiences in this small but incredible pride of the countryside.

Ready? G! 😉


DAY 1

Dauis Church

Background: We arrived at Tagbilaran Airport as scheduled (hooray, no delay! :P). That was a few hours before noon, just in time for having our first decent meal of the day. But before stuffing ourselves with food, we first dropped by the Dauis Church (Our Lady of Assumption Parish) to offer some prayers and say our “wishes” as we were then first-time visitors. Can’t relate? Well, this practice is evident among Filipino Roman Catholics.

We all know that Bohol was struck by a strong earthquake in 2013, and so I was already expecting to see structures like churches in their damaged states. But despite the anticipation, I still felt shocked and disheartened upon seeing the ruins in actual. My expectation of the aftermath’s severity didn’t match that of reality. But on a positive note, we encountered a few carpenters working inside the church—a manifestation that rehabilitation projects in the island are in full swing and continuously progressing.

What Made It Special: The water from the church’s well which is believed to heal the sick. Bottles containing the said miraculous water are available for sale. We were able to try it.

Overall: The best way to kick off a getaway? Pray. 🙂

Water from the miraculous well at Dauis Church, Bohol

Bohol Bee Farm

Background: We spent my birthday lunch at the Bohol Bee Farm, a resort in Panglao which has become a household name mainly because of its farm-to-table restaurant that serves healthy and delicious organic food.

What Made It Special: The food and the view.

We were first served with their complimentary squash bread which I liked surprisingly given how picky I am when it comes to food. We then ordered vegetable salad, red rice, grilled seafoods and liempo platter, sinigang na isda, and sauteed mixed vegetables. I was satisfied with them all, although I found the sinigang quite different. Little did I know that the Bisaya people refer to sinigang as tinola, thus the absence of the familiar sour taste. For dessert, we came across The Buzzz Ice Cream booth that sells fruit- and vegetable-flavored ice cream. However, only my mom bothered to try one. Boo. Haha.

Meanwhile, I’ve got no negative words to say as far as the place’s ambiance is concerned. Bohol Bee Farm is situated atop a cliff overlooking the sea that dons various shades of blue. Its vibe couldn’t get any more serene and refreshing. There’s also a deck downstairs where you can sunbathe or renew your headspace (tutal, humingi s’ya ng space. #ouch).

Overall: Bohol Bee Farm was BEE-utiful but BEE-tin. BEE-anca would love to come back to try out other dishes now that she’s a health buff and partly pescatarian. Plus, she wants to satisfy her sweet tooth with that malunggay-flavored ice cream!

Organic food at Bohol Bee Farm

Hinagdanan Cave

Background: Hinagdanan Cave is the hidden gem of Dauis, Bohol. It is literally hidden for it is found underground. To enter, you will have to go down a hole. It’s quite a struggle but it’ll be worth it when you see the cave’s unique features—the various formations of stalactites and stalagmites as well as the small turquoise lagoon that calls for a refreshing dive.

What Made It Special: The tour guide. Got to thank the heavens because the guide assigned to tour us around the cave was the funniest! He was so witty, entertaining, and he took not just good but great photos. He made me realize that it’s not just the tourist spot that makes a huge difference.

Overall: Hinagdanan Cave is simply a stairway to golden displays.

Hinagdanan Cave, Bohol
You are GOLD.

Nova Shell Museum

Background: Another worth-visiting spot in Panglao is the Nova Shell Museum. Personally, I have high regard for collectors who willingly spend and exert effort to express their passion towards their respective interests.

What Made It Special: The biggest shell I’ve seen so far in my life. Got to name her SHELLen Heusaff. Acheche.

Overall: The Nova Shell Museum fascinated and turned me into a legit kabibabe. 😛

Dumaluan Beach Resort

Background: A mid-range accommodation in Panglao, Dumaluan Beach Resort served as our home away from home for three days.

What Made It Special: The warm staff and the live band.

Dumaluan’s staff were very nice and hospitable. They gamely responded to my mom and our common friend’s (Ate Cecil) gimmicks to surprise me for my birthday. But more than the surprise birthday banner, balloons, and cake, what I really admire about Dumaluan is that they don’t discriminate people with disabilities by providing them jobs. We were amazed and touched by their two special waiters who spread nothing but positivity every time they attended to our needs. They were the highlight of our dining experience in the resort. Salute.

Moreover, the live band made our first night in Bohol memorable. Jamming with them was the best way to cap off the night. I enjoyed it too much that I sang two songs. LOL. Hindi ka nga mamamanglaw sa Panglao. 😉

Overall: Dumaluan Beach Resort deserved a rating of 5/5. More than their good facilities, it’s their people and service that truly left a mark.


DAY 2

Man-made Forest

Background: The Bohol Man-made Forest is comprised of lanky mahogany trees towering on both sides of the two-kilometer highway that traverses the municipalities of Bilar and Loboc. It’s amusing how these trees have grown in uniformity over the years, with leaves from both wings meeting in the middle, thus blocking the sunlight and cooling the temperature.

What Made It Special: The purpose of building the forest itself. Knowing that this forest is a product of human labor restores my faith in humanity. Makes me think, why not bring this project to other provinces as well? Not only will it boost tourist influx; it will also benefit the environment in the long run. 🙂

Overall: The Bohol Man-made Forest definitely got a thumbs-up from me. It reignited my advocacy for environmental conservation, and believe it or not—it unleashed my courageous self. How? Well, it’s not easy to lie and have your pictures taken in the middle of a road where speedy cars pass through from time to time, right? LOL.

Chocolate Hills

Background: Bohol has been synonymous to Chocolate Hills ever since. It’s a crime to exclude this natural jewel of Carmen town in your itinerary. Just to provide a review, Chocolate Hills are identical slopes that look like giant Kisses chocolates—dark during dry season and matcha during wet season. 😉 We were told that there are more than a thousand of them. Undoubtedly, no man could bring such a creation to life other than the Man above. 🙂

What Made It Special: The ATV ride. The good news is, the viewing deck is not the only way to witness the Chocolate Hills anymore. You can now rent an ATV, ride a zipline or a sky bicycle to see the famous hills up-close; thanks to the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park. The photos below can tell how much we enjoyed our ATV experience. Indeed, worth the money and sweat!

Overall: With its unexplainable beauty, Chocolate Hills just makes me want to “hill” the world and make it a better place. 🙂

Chocolate Hills, Bohol
My Sibika textbook in first grade has come to life!

Twin Bamboo Hanging Bridges

Background: Crossing these hanging bridges in Sevilla, Bohol was nerve-wracking, but boy was it fun, too! The thought that the bridges were just made of bamboo may tempt you all the more to back out, but I hope that when I tell you they’re supported by steel to ensure everybody’s safety, you’ll give it a try. Not yet convinced? Here’s a tip to lessen your worries: Experience this while you’re still free from the excess pounds that you’ll surely be gaining at the Loboc Floating Restaurant. LOL.

What Made It Special: The bridges themselves. I find them very Filipino because they’re made of bamboo. Plus, I know how it feels to be like them. Duh. Kaway-kaway sa mga naging tulay! 😛

Overall: I consider this side trip as another milestone of conquering my fear of heights. Sorry, #FamiLea; I’ve switched to #KampKawayan now. Charot.

Bamboo Bridge, Bohol

Loboc River

Background: Loboc is home to talented people. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Loboc Children’s Choir whose voices have reached both the local and international music scene. Well, there’s another town talent deserving of recognition—the minds behind the Loboc River Cruise. I must say that these people are innovative and creative enough for coming up with a unique way to showcase the town’s clean and green river. They thought of putting up floating restaurants that will cruise the river as tourists eat (note: buffet style!) scrumptious Filipino delicacies, listen to a serenading band, and watch a short cultural presentation in between. Ahhhh, Rayver Cruz would be so proud (joke courtesy of officemate). 😛

What Made It Special: The cultural presentation. It was a delight to see young and old people alike actively participating in such a meaningful initiative while having a good time.

Overall: Our Loboc River Cruise experience left me “greening” from ear to ear. 😉

Cultural show during the Loboc River Cruise in Bohol

Loboc Tarsier Conservation Area

Background: The Loboc Tarsier Conservation Area is one of the places in Bohol that houses tarsiers, the smallest primates in the world. It is arguably the most popular given its close proximity to the island’s other famous destinations, and inclusion in packaged countryside tours. Turns out, however, that this conservation area is not an accredited tarsier sanctuary, considering that it’s not affiliated nor recognized by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation, the primary non-profit private organization dedicated to protect the said endangered species. Thing is, it doesn’t practice responsible tourism by exposing the tarsiers under poor conditions (Source: Aileen Adalid).

Too bad I wasn’t able to read about Adalid’s article prior our visit there. But as I recount our experience inside, I can now see her point. During our tour, I remember the staff not being strict enough with the tourists. As a result, prohibited acts were tolerated. Did they need to be reminded that tarsiers are highly sensitive creatures that easily get stressed by noise, camera flashes, and human contact, among others? You could actually tell that something’s wrong with the management, because several of the tarsiers inside were wide awake. It shouldn’t be the case because they are nocturnal in nature.

What Made It Special: The tarsiers, of course. I was really fascinated by them because of their huge eyes, tiny size, and innate cuteness. But then again, I felt sorry for them upon learning how they are treated by the Loboc Tarsier Conservation Area. Hope the government will act on this the soonest possible.

Overall: I won’t patronize this self-proclaimed conservation area anymore, and will definitely spread the word about it. When I come back to Bohol, I’ll visit this alternative as suggested by Adalid in her post—the Tarsier Research and Development Center (also known as the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary) in Corella, Bohol. This one’s being run by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation itself, so rest assured that the tarsiers there are properly taken care of. 🙂

Baclayon Church

Background: Of the many churches in Bohol, the Baclayon Church seems to be the most prominent, being one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to see its interiors, particularly its beautiful altar, for it was still being reconstructed due to the earthquake.

What Made It Special: The mysterious image that can be seen on one side of its outdoor walls. Baclayon Church couldn’t let us inside, so it just surprised us outside. It made sure it left something worth-remembering. See the picture below? When you look closely, you’ll see an image of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Definitely gave us goosebumps.

Overall: The Baclayon Church and the other churches in the province that were greatly destroyed by the earthquake somehow reflect the resilience and faith of the Boholanos, motivating us to stay strong and to just keep going amidst life’s unpleasant surprises. 🙂

Image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Baclayon Church, Bohol

Blood Compact Shrine

Background: Standing before the Tagbilaran seascape is the historic Blood Compact Shrine which depicts the “sanduguan” between Spain’s Miguel Lopez De Legazpi and the Philippines’ Datu Sikatuna way back 1565. This momentous event was dubbed as the “first treaty of friendship and alliance between Spaniards and Filipinos”. Yes, millennials, friendships were built then by drinking one another’s blood.

What Made It Special: My favorite subject in elementary was History, so it felt nostalgic to be reminded of these things which I once studied, and well, memorized. Haha.

Overall: For me, the Blood Compact Shrine isn’t really a must-visit. But then again, learning a bit of our history won’t hurt, right? Hindi naman history n’yo ang babalikan, e. 😉

Blood Compact Shrine, Bohol


DAY 3

Virgin Island

Background: The Virgin Island is one of Panglao’s surrounding islands. Accessible via an approximately 40-minute boat ride from Panglao main island, this uninhabited paradise is famous for its powdery white sandbar that curvedly stretches for quite long. However, timing is essential when visiting this island because the sandbar only gets visible during low tide.

What Made It Special: The sandbar and the holy atmosphere.

It was my first time seeing a sandbar. Good thing we had the island to ourselves during that morning, allowing me to roll over the sand like a kid deprived of playtime. Add to that the fact that it was also my first time to step foot on a legit fine white sand (stop deceiving us, Laiya! :P).

Well, aside from the main attraction that is the sandbar, I liked that Virgin Island portrays religiosity by displaying a life-size rosary that lies on the shallow part of the sea. There’s also a Padre Pio monument where you can pray and pay respects (we’re devotees of the said healing saint, by the way).

Overall: Virgin Island felt like home. Perhaps because we’re virgins? Charot! Kidding aside, I found out that vendors have been permitted to sell in the island. I understand that they’re just taking advantage of the market, but having them there somehow ruins the peaceful ambiance of the place. There should be a conscious effort to ensure that the island stays true to its name.


WRAP-UP

4 ladies. 13 destinations. Countless learnings and memories. That concludes our Bohol trip!

This is quite a long read (didn’t expect that I’d be this inspired to write), but I’m glad that you’re still here. 🙂 Hope I was able to give you a glimpse of Bohol through our own stories and experiences. 🙂

P.S. This trip was not DIY-ed. We booked a tour and just customized their suggested itinerary according to our preferences. 😉


BANAT NG BIYAHE

 It’s okay not to fall in love IN Bohol. Falling in love WITH it is a much better feeling. <3


YOUR TURN

Did this post convince you to book a ticket and express your FEELS in this part of the FEELippines? Let’s talk below! 😉

About Author

Broken Biyahera

Bianca is a banker by day, blogger by night, biyahera by nature, and broken by heart. Chos.

Comments

  1. Janine Ella says:

    I haven’t explored Bohol that much pa that’s why I’ve been longing to come back! Hehe. Hopefully soon!

    1. You’re one ferry ride away lang naman from Bohol, right? Hope this post will help you as you plan your Bohol trip. 🙂

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