Bohol: Communing with History and Nature

I woke up early the next morning after a tiring tour of Tagbilaran on foot. I was happy to  hear the quiet hum of the air conditioning unit rather than the honks of impatient drivers in the busy streets of Makati. It was a refreshing morning. I took a shower to get ready to tour the countryside of the famed island. 

A call from the receptionist came to inform me that the driver has arrived and we’ll be off for an early start. I took the stairs to the ground floor to meet my driver-Oscar and his white Hyundai Accent. He was fixing his car plate when I met him. He introduced himself and opened the door for me. 

Oscar made a brief introduction while we were heading out in the city proper. He told me that Tagbilaran is really a small city. I couldn’t agree more because I was able to go around the city the day before. We passed by a sort of rotunda. It’s a small circular park. It’s also called Rizal Park. The traditional colonial Spanish set up, The San Jose Cathedral is facing the park. Oscar mentioned that Saint Joseph is the city’s patron saint.

As we inch away from the center of civilization I noticed the beauty of the shoreline. Oscar was very proud to say that their shorelines are one of the most clean beaches around the country. The water’s calm and brilliantly blue and turquoise. It was a beauty!
SANDUGO


Blood Compact Site



Sandugo is a visayan word which means “one blood”. Sandugo is a blood compact between the Spanish Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Bohol’s Datu Sikatuna in 1565 signifying the bond of friendship between the two tribes. This event in history is considered as the first treaty between the Filipinos and the Spaniards. 

“In his report to Philip II, López de Legazpi wrote:

It is observed in the following manner: one from each party draws two or three drops of blood from his own arm or breast and mixes them in the same cup, with water or wine. Then the mixture must be divided equally between two cups and neither person may depart until both cups are alike drained.”–Wikipedia


BACLAYON CHURCH

When I was scanning the map before arriving in Bohol, I thought the places were really close to each other. But when we hit the road it was different. Really, it is a countryside tour so to speak. According to Oscar, my driver cum tour guide, the church was made from coral stones and eggs whites. Would you believe that? Like how many eggs did they use? 




The church is really old and the you can see that very well in the furnitures and all that things surrounding and embellishing the church.

Trivia on the exterior: one of the supporting pillars would picture the old parish priest. Above one of the old doors is a fading imade of a mother and child. I have the photo but I will have to work on making it more clear.



Padre Pio



Padre Pio on the wall!
 Here are some of my other shots of the centuries-old church.

You could definitely tell that the church is old with the battered roof and “lumot” infested walls.
One of the oldest and still working pipe organs in the country.  According to Oscar, there’s only three in the Philippines
I wonder if the parish priest still delivers his sermon in this pulpit.
The bell tower
A pool of colors from the original stained glass windows.

LOBOC RIVER CRUISE 



I don’t like boats, but I gotta try it! Talk about a huge turtle on a green river!



Since I did not have breakfast before starting the tour, we had an early lunch. Well, brunch at around 11 in the morning. I was the first customer of the day at Rio Verde Floating Restaurant. I took some pictures while waiting for other people to join. Actually, the meals aren’t served just yet. A Korean couple came just before the food was ready. The fact that I am alone in a table good for five, I was joined by a Korean family. Then came more Koreans. A group of pinoys came as well as a japanese family and more Koreans! 

The first customer boarding
Korean father and daughter 
Contrary to the feedback I got back home about the cruise’s meal, I found them to be delicious. I had pork skewers, steamed crabs and shrimps,as well as pansit cooked in a non-traditonal way. I also tried the fish fillet. Even without the tartar sauce (which came in a bit late) it tasted good. I also had a piece of fried chicken. Their soup was good too. For dessert I had banana and a couple of slices of watermelon. 

I saw other floating restaurants stationed on the other end of the river.  I was told that that’s where food isn’t spectacular.  So if you’re in for a treat, try Rio Verde floating restaurant,  It’s under the bridge near the Loboc River delta.  

Blue sky, emerald water coo breeze and great food…
A stop to see the Ati Tribe living in the banks of the river.

Welcome to Ati Tribe


The boat’s host was amazing. Given that he has a regional accent, he is able to entertain foreign and  local guests. He sang American, some Korean, Japanese and a medley of local songs. He just didn’t know the songs by lyrics and tune but he even speaks the languages. He often go around greeting and striking conversations with the Korean and Japanese guests!

The river was emerald in the brilliant light of the sun while the shore’s lined with nipa palms. The wind was refreshing too. In fact it would entice you to take a nap (if only I can afford to take a nap). You will not smell anything slimy or stinky. I feels great to cruise the river.

OFF TO SEE THE TARSIERS

After the sumptuous meal over the river, we went to see the famed tarsiers. 


Smile!
For a shy creature,marunong syang mag project sa harap ng camera!

Nocturnal creatures disturbed by amazed spectators. They’re really small, kind of like a rat. They’ve got huge circular eyes, a furry hair and tiny fingers and a hairless tail. Tarsiers tend to be extremely shy animals. Contact with human beings (including being petted by humans) often leads to their death within a few months.

Sporting an evil grin…My precious!

CHOCOLATE HILLS


With the fear of the looming clouds over the horizon, my driver hurried to get me to Carmen Peak-the top of one of the famous chocolate hills. The viewing deck is accessible by foot at 214 steps! It’s really a good way to burn the calories gained from the sumptuous meal at Loboc.


Stairway to heaven and drama! 214 steps to the top!

The hills were not chocolatey because it’s the rainy season. Although you can see the hint of brown on the peaks of those similarly shaped mounds of coral deposits. It was cool up there especially after enduring the 214 plights of stairs.

herb-coated chocolate mounds!
The hills are alive with the sound of thunder! Yes! ang lakas ng kulog! Parang uulan any minute!
The rain made these choco mounds green.  They’re more spectacular when the sun dries up the vegetation.

MAN-MADE FOREST

Man-made forest.  Sounds like an artificial forest huh.  It’s a forest of mahogany trees stretching two kilometers between the towns of Loboc and Bilar. According to Oscar, the trees were planted by the people who constructed the road some 60 years ago.  Some materials also mentioned that the forest was an effort of the students of a certain university in Bohol.  Well, regardless of the veracity of the stories of the origin of the forest, it is nice to know that there are still people who care about our natural resources.  

Would you take a hitchhiker here?  
See how dense the forest is? ang lamig and madilim sa loob!
the roots! just the roots of these huge trees!
The green-ness of the forest is great. It’s really nice to just stay here for quite some time.  Oscar and I stayed for a couple more minutes to smell the fresh air and relax.  It’s refreshing and cool inside the forest.  The darkness somehow gives me the creeps but when you look up and see the light (more like pin lights to me), you know that it is still early outside the forest.  One thing more, it’s quiet out there! It’s nice to talk to your self and God.

BUTTERFLY GARDEN

I became a butterfly even just in a photo.

Fly like a butterfly
Then I was educated about butterflies. Mariposa is a spanish term for butterflies. More often than not, a huge moth gets to be mistaken as a butterfly. People call them mariposa when they’re actually moths. 

Other things to note about butterflies:
  • Female butterflies are the superior ones in their world. 
  • When mating, the’re on top. 
  • Mating process takes place between 6-24 hours non-stop. The guide made a joke tha he wanted to be a butterfly because of this. 
  • Female butterflies, after laying the eggs die. It is such a sad thing. 
Butterfly cocoons…you can feel them move when you touch the tip of the cocoon much like a baby pushing on mommy’s preggy tummy.
The golden cocoons yield butterflies commonly used in weddings. 

Butterfly egg (practicing macro photography for the first time)
Some friends made at the butterfly garden
I got to have butterfly cling to my nose!


Before capping the day, we made some brief stops.

Loboc Eco-tourism Park – there’s a new attraction being developed by the tourism arm of the state. It’s a counterpart of the E.A.T Danao adventure park. Since it’s new, the park only has ziplines and the cable cars for families. It’s zip-lining across two mountains and a river dividing them! Since I’m all alone I cannot find the thrill of doing it so I was contented with taking photos of the mountains.



It is not your usual cable cars.  You have to take a grip on the the handle bars! The “cars” aren’t really a glass enclosed carriage.  It is like a metal bench with straps and handles hanging on steel cables connecting two mountains!


Ship Haus – it’s a restaurant shaped like a ship. Complete with all it’s crew.  It was featured once in Rated K by Korina Sanchez.




I discovered that I love Bo’s Coffee better than Starbucks it’sonly for the hazelnut cappuccino.

If you’d like to tour Bohol, you may get in touch with Oscar of Bohol Bliss Tours at +63 905 729 5063      
The rain finally poured while we were heading home. Oscar and I just talked about life and how we are coping with the changes.  We talked about the bars and the coffee and wine.  Mahilig pala sya sa red wine.  I share some thoughts about wines and coffee on the road to Taver’s. 

Before calling it a day, I spent an hour or so buying bits and pieces as “pasalubong” at BQ Mall. I decided to have a cup of hazelnut cappuccino at Bo’s coffee while waiting for the rain to finally stop. 



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