One impressive thing about planning a trip to Bohol is the numerous existing tour operators in the area and most are DOT-Accredited. They battled and bid for the price and my award went to the lowest and the most responsive deal. Here’s how Bohol and Panglao Island gave me beautiful moments and stories.Chocolate Hills has been a part of my sweet childhood. The craving for this top spot in beautiful Bohol made me more eager to mark this trip on my calendar.However, the chocolate flavored site has turned into green tea smothered ice cream since the good skies granted abundant water bounty in the season. Just being able to strike a smile in this miracle is but an experience I will keep in my treasure box.If mangoes are best eaten with rice cakes, Cebu with canyoneering and whale sharks, Iloilo with Batchoy and Dinagyang Festival, Bohol, after Chocolate Hills is not complete without Tarsiers, the smallest primate in the world.
Another ‘however’, and though there is a thick excitement to meet them, I really didn’t like seeing them being the subject of the crowd for they are one of the most sensitive animals and can play suicide squad once stressed. The reasons behind their falling numbers are the destruction of the forests and hunting of these animals which make them now endangered. Loboc River Cruise is another thriving tourism destination in Bohol. This tourism fever had us chill to the sound of a local baby boomer singer entertaining us with the sweet melody of classic songs and the vista of lush tropical marvel.How fun it is to cruise in a beautiful river with buffet lunch and some local and traditional sites, destinations and live performances. The vessels are made up of a native-made platform on top of two large outrigger narrow boats which are joined together that has a carrying capacity up to 50 people.Children and women rendered their song and dance performances matched with their traditional Filipino attires.The cruise was part of our tour package so our driver arranged all the admission fees. Expect to pay about 450 php for the cruise – P300 (food) + P150 (cruise).And one of the best things about going places is being able to meet new people and new friends. Jaime and I met this group of friends from Manila and now they are planning to visit Iloilo and my dear island, Guimaras.Of course, my signature jump shot is never absent here in Bilar Man-Made Forest.This man-made forest stretches in a two-kilometer area of densely planted Mahogany trees located in the border of Loboc and Bilar towns. Green foliage and now the Forks of Bohol. Our guide said that is is a result of the tree-planting activity the local government unit conducted years back.If you are afraid of snakes like me, this place is not for you. The picture above is the preserved body of Prony, the biggest python found in Bohol which was self-developed and trained.Because Prony is dead, Albur python is on the rise together with other species of snakes and mammals. A picture with them on your neck corresponds to a hundred bucks.On religious and heritage tourism destination, the ruins of Baclayon Church is a good stop.The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the country. It is one of the best preserved Jesuit build churches in the region and the beautiful architecture was ruined because of the earthquake three years back.Nature time is fun time at the Butterfly Center. They make this a real biz deal for the center has tour guides with scripts. And the butterflies are sold on weddings and other events.Butterflies are fooled to eat this red cloth with honey for them to continue pollinating and I, too, with just standing in front of this glass box to have this fake wings which is so Filipino and corny.Ship Haus is one place that will prove the innovative minds of Filipinos.Located in Poblacion Norte, Batuan, Ship Haus is uniquely shaped like a shipping vessel with all decors displayed like that on ships and of mariners.Capt Gaudencio Dumapias, a native of Batuan who became a successful mariner is the owner of this place.Trust me, if I became a seaman, i will give you everything you want.Love, mansion, luxury cars, world travels. So don’t trust me because I’m not a seaman.Meanwhile, Hinagdanan Cave rooted its name from the word ‘hagdan’ which is ‘stairs’ in English.Underground, it has a natural swimming pool that receives a small amount of light from atop. It is good for swimming and yes, skinny dipping.Shell Museum is another incredible point. There you will see the biggest to the smallest shells coming from the most shallow and the deepest seas.Just like other small destinations in Bohol, the Shell Museum also has some ‘pakulo’ and innovations to earn more of course.They made this large tree house perf for picture-taking after you had a complete tour of all the shell collection.This is no ordinary Bee Farm. It has one of the best and colorful interiors where you can shop, eat, have coffee, pick and pay for your organic flower salad and more ‘pasalubong’ especially the flagship honey.They only have one man-made hive for tourists to hold and snap.Welcome to Panglao Island. Now let me not sugarcoat this experience. The beach is not something to be dreamed of. In the Philippines, ‘sakto’ lang. For the world, it’s mediocre. However, they say, to make a place more fun is on how you make it.Being able to just wait for the sun to set and rest with your most comfortable clothes is just one of the best feelings. Yes, the sunset is so majestic.
Aside from photobombers, what else do you hate about getting a good instagram ready shot?The highlight of this travel is the island hopping adventure.If you choose to go island-hopping, you have to wake up early as 4:30 AM to be ready and have the perfect morning breeze along the meeting of azure skies and legit turquoise waters.And of all the places I have been to in the country, Balicasag Island had the most real turquoise seas even in a few meters deep only.We went snorkeling and fed the schools of fish.Make sure to cover your body so you don’t get burnt. Big tummied fish right there.I have had several tries of catching dolphin sightings and finally, right through my big fish face, a pod of dolphins in the wild steering through the water, flipping, twisting, jumping, diving, speeding, spinning,spiraling. Just a beautiful sight. More than a happy beautiful sight, it was life changing. I have realized how free I am. Being able to sleep and run and go places. These dolphins swim all their life. After seeing them, I felt this trip became the most successful trip this year and I could go back home smiling, happy with the dolphins enjoying their freedom and water trails and routes without traffic.How happy I was, yes?In the middle of the sand bar which they call Virgin Island is this little food hub that sells fresh ‘buko’ juice and banana and sweet potato BBQ.The owner was very jolly as her ‘lechon’ red face. She also has boiled eggs and some cold beverages for all the visitors.This Bohol x Panglao trip was full of destinations and stories that will be forever fresh in my mind. The sites. The dolphins. The chocolates. The late night swim. The ‘sinigang’ made expensive with a few strips of ‘samgeupsal’ sized meat. The Spotify party by the beach sunset. The ‘silog’ mornings. It’s forever. Beautiful Bohol proves that tourism is really anywhere. It just needs a little story and a few kisses of passion. From how a house is turned into a ship, a butterfly morphing into an education tour, a dead python and primate to a crest of eco-history, a floating boat to a world-class cruise experience. This big place will be bigger and continue to share beautiful stories to all of us.Make your own story and live a fulfilling journey ahead.
See you in my next adventure, monkeys!