• Mags Rafael-Salvador

BOHOL is love from the smallest primates to the chocolatiest of hills

Updated: Apr 29


Going back to Bohol is exciting, first because it’s my kids first time and second because I want to see the improvements from our last visit in 2013 after the massive earthquake that left most of the old churches ruined. I learned that Baclayon Church has been renovated and that’s definitely good news.

Surprisingly, flight from Manila to Tagbilaran is on time thanks to Philippine Airlines. There’s a new airport in Tagbilaran that’s due to open third quarter of this year, so we still had to land at the old Tagbilaran Airport which is a small airport as compared to other domestic airports such as Kalibo, Cebu or Davao.

Arriving in Tagbilaran, we had to stay overnight in a city bed and breakfast as we had the afternoon flight departing from Manila. Next day, we went to explore the island visiting Baclayon Church, Corella town for the tarsiers, Carmen for the Chocolate Hills, Loboc for the Rivercruise, Dauis Church in Poblacion, and finally settling at our beach destination Panglao.

The four days three nights we spent in Bohol, just was not enough. I am definitely going back (though this has been my second time in the island) to explore more. Our tour sked is full and we really had to squeeze in activities in between to immerse ourselves on this vacation with the whole family. I listed a couple of things a 1st time tourist must do when visiting Bohol:

A visit to the churches

Baclayon Church is also known as the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It was said that native forced laborers constructed the church from coral stones, which they took from the sea, cut into square blocks, and piled on to each other. The church has very artistic ceiling and paintings were very colorful inside, Baclayon Church also has a huge bell towel and an old convent on the back end. The old convent now houses a small museum with centuries old religious relics, artifacts and local souvenirs. It is inspiring that the locals were able to restore the Baclayon Church into its architectural beauty even after its ruins in 2013.

Dauis Church is also known as Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, on the Island of Panglao. Inside the church are impressive watercolor paintings on the ceiling, a choir was in the area practicing when we visited. The church also has a lot of pictures framed outside to show the before and aftermath of the earthquake that hit the province in 2013.

Encounter with the Tarsiers

We were able to have a close encounter with 5 tarsiers while exploring the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary. As the smallest primates, they look very fragile and shy, it saddens me that the local guides are saying the tarsiers are now threatened or endangered because of habitat destruction, hunting, and maybe human disturbance. Much as we want to see more of it, the local guide showed us only those that can be seen. As Tarsier’s are nocturnal, they sleep at daytime and must not be disturbed they were probably sleeping where travellers are unable to bother them.

Rivercruising at Loboc with Filipino buffet lunch

45 to 50 minutes away from the Tarsier Sanctuary brings you to the town of Loboc Bohol where you will be serenaded by a local band while having your lunch at a “banca” or floating restaurant while cruising the Loboc River (one of the cleanest rivers in the country).

Loboc is also home of the famous Loboc Children’s Choir, that showcases their talent when the floating restaurant stops by their floating stage. Foreigners are very fond of the kids and manages to join in their song and dance number. This is one of the must-do’s when in Bohol that you don’t want to miss, the cruise takes you about 1 hour back and forth.

Mahogany Forest

There were a lot of Mahogany trees, kudos to local DENR for making sure that the area is still full of greens and looking healthy. Mahogany Forest is a picturesque area that’s instagrammable and worth sharing. However, you must be careful taking a selfie as it is along the highway. We had to stop for a while in the shoulder area to capture a good shot, it was raining and quite hard to pose or do the jump shot so I promise I’ll do this on my next visit.

Chocolate Hills

Rolling hills with monochromatic shades of green and brown will welcome you as you get to the town of Carmen in Bohol. The view gets more beautiful climbing the 214 steps that leads you to an improved viewing deck on top of the hill. Almost a thousand hills of odd geological formation that looks equally splendid when you’re on a plane about to land in Tagbilaran.

This gift of nature is also considered as one of the Eight Wonders of the World since 2008. It is very unique, it’s also known to be limestone chocolate hills cone shape that’s covered with grass that gets more brown during the summer season and gets greener when it’s a little cold. Truly, a must visit destination when in Bohol!

Explore Balicasag Island

It took us an hour boat ride from Panglao resort to Balicasag island. The weather was good considering there was a coming typhoon. We didn’t get to see dolphins or whales as according to the boatmen and locals during this season their sighting is very minimal. We settled for snorkeling and fish feeding instead.

My kids were able to see small and big turtles swimming within the snorkeling area. Lunch at the island is quite expensive, they have small restaurants in the island that serves fresh seafood, grilled pork and fish, you can even order fried chicken as well. Balicasag Island also has it’s own Powerplant where gensets are also placed to give electricity in the island during the day. At night, sometimes they only use light lamps and no electricity use. We’re happy to say the island is not commercialized as with other beach destinations, so we really get a slice of how island living should be.

Sun, sea, sand and recreation

Rest and relaxation in mind, we stayed in one of the secluded resorts in Panglao, South Palms Resort. The ambiance was great, the people were accommodating and friendly, the food is superb, a bit pricey but well worth it. What’s most interesting I would say is that, this is the first time I saw a lot of palm trees along the stretch of shoreline, with hammocks and bamboo bikes around in a beach destination.

Also, plus points would be the recreational facilities that hubby and kids enjoyed (basketball court, table tennis, billiards and gym) not to mention the two swimming pools which are both inviting and very instagrammable! Experience it for yourself, I would definitely come back.

After our stay, I’d say Bohol or Panglao Island is still one of the best islands in the Philippines. Our summer escape this year brought us to a destination where we experienced a lot of what nature has to offer. A lot of coconut and palm trees, long shoreline and never ending sea waters where you can see clearly corals and schools of fish that truly makes me appreciate our country so much.

We are so blessed being given wonderful beaches that we really should be responsible for taking care of it in our own little ways. Let’s continue to travel and explore the Philippine islands, because there’s much more to it than what we really know. Happy travels!

#Bohol #leisuretravel

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