Postcards from Behold Bohol, Day 1

I always treat Bohol an an important island, in terms of history, for the following reasons — the “Blood Compact,” Dagohoy’s 80-year revolution, and Pres. Carlos P. Garcia. Oh, and I should add Yoyoy Villame, who made recalling Philippine history easier by making a song out of it. Despite these, I think Bohol remains largely under the radar and is underrated.

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I always drop by Tagbilaran City in Bohol on my way to Siquijor when I’m taking the long trip via boat. But I would only have two hours and my destination would always be the same — Buzz Cafe at Galeria Luisa to buy dinner and eat ice cream, and buy lipstick at Watsons in the same mall. Sometimes I eat at the restaurant, often times, I just go back to the boat as soon as my order is ready and eat in the boat. I have only toured our neighbor island twice, and every time felt like the island was not for me. But in February, I had a quick trip to Bohol with my husband’s family, and the whole time I realized how much this neighbor has improved, has matured.

Bohol is not very progressive in terms of modern industries. Most of the island is still agricultural and I have not glimpsed factories or processing zones despite the island’s huge tracts of land. I think this is one of the charms of Bohol. It has retained its “nayong Pilipino” environment despite the pressure to modernize.

On our first day, we did a typical countryside tour with stops at the Tarsier Sanctuary, Loboc River, Chocolate Hills, Manmade Forest, and Butterfly Sanctuary.

Our first stop was at the Tarsier Sanctuary in the town of Corella, which was about 20-30 minutes ride from Tagbilaran. There is an entrance fee of Php60 that includes a 20-30 minute guided tour. The sanctuary tour guide said she spends time in the morning to look for tarsiers so that she can easily point them out to guests. The tarsiers get easily stressed, and they have a high suicide rate, which is why I think they should be left alone, like totally alone. I did not really enjoy this tour, especially because the tour guide was not very cheerful (probably hungry because it was lunch time already).

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Our next stop was the Loboc River. We arrived almost 1PM already and there was waiting time because, despite it being a Monday, there were still several tourists at the river. I could no longer recognize the Loboc I saw because it has improved a lot (and, I’m glad in a good way). There was a proper waiting area, and clean toilets, and covered walkways to the boats. The river cruise + lunch buffet is Php450 per person. The tour runs for about an hour. I loved that the boats were not crowded and the food was plenty. I also loved that the river was not crowded with boats. I found the lunch buffet delicious — not very special in taste but just right. I also loved that the people we were with in the boat were not rowdy. We all just enjoyed the scenery and waved to people in other boats. What I didn’t like was the presentation of the town’s people in one of the kiosks in the river bank. The town’s people were no longer smiling (maybe they were tired).

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Our next stop was the Chocolate Hills at Carmen. We passed by the manmade forest for about 10 minutes just to have a picture taken. I also was unable to recognize the chocolate hill at Carmen. It seemed bald. I took the time to climb the 200+ steps because I know the view would not be the same as the last time I was here, which was 13 years ago. And, I was not wrong. Because at the time we visited last month, it was foggy and the fog added drama to the small mountains.

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Our last stop was the Butterfly Sanctuary in between Chocolate Hills and Loboc River. Our nephew enjoyed the mutated butterflies and I highly recommend their guide because he was very lively despite it almost closing time. The sanctuary had a resort-vibe and I loved it especially their huge outdoor swings. My brother-in-law also bought ice cream and it was delicious, more delicious than Buzz Cafe’s ice cream. Although I would still choose Buzz Cafe’s malunggay ice cream. I  forgot to take note of the entrance fee at the Butterfly Sanctuary but I would say it was worth it just for the tour guide.

We stayed at the Belian Hotel (thank you to my in-laws!), booked our countryside tour with Metroland Travel & Tours, and traveled from Cebu to Tagbilaran via Oceanjet.

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