The hills were mint flavored during the time of our visit. They were covered with green grass that will eventually turn brown during dry season, hence they will look like chocolates come summer.
There are more than 1,200 cone-shaped hills scattered throughout 3 municipalities. I remember the legends of how the chocolate hills emerged: one version is that of two giants who fought and threw stones and mud against each other, thus the hills were formed; another version is a little romantic, telling that a young giant fell in love with a mortal who died in the palm of the giant’s hands and his tears that fell turned into hills. But a more believable theory is that they are the weathered formations of a kind of marine limestone on top of an impermeable layer of clay.
However way they were formed, they are truly a nature’s splendor, and it is in the Philippines, our Philippines!
Bohol is also famous for being home of one of the world’s smallest and cutest primate, the tarsiers!
Tarsier Quick Facts: They measure just a little smaller than size of my tiny hand. Their eyes are bigger than their brains. They cannot move their eyes so they turn their head 180 degrees. Their tails are longer than their body, which they use for balancing. They eat insects and cling on small shafts of trees. They sleep just like that, clinging on trees, very cute to look at.
Adorable they may be, but please resist the itch of touching them because they are solitary animals and they value their privacy a lot. They commit suicide by banging their heads against the tree when they get stressed and traumatized.
A cool breeze will touch your face as you pass through the man-made forest in Bilar, Bohol. It is a two-kilometer stretch of densely planted Mahogany trees located in the border of Loboc and Bilar towns. This is one tree-planting project that worked, I must say. I was able to capture the sun peeking through the leaves of these tall and proud trees.
Of course we did not miss our chance to experience a truly Pinoy-style cruise in Loboc River. The cruise comes with a buffet lunch/dinner and a stop by at a floating kubo where we experienced an instant Pinoy fiesta.
The fun part of the cruise was we were serenaded by a banduria and invited to dance tinikling with Boholanos in traditional Filipino clothes.
We also did a side trip to a bamboo hanging bridge, at the end of the bridge is where souvenirs and pasalubong are priced the lowest. 🙂
Spell grandeur when you see the century old churches of Bohol!
Baclayon church is one of the more than 40 churches in Bohol. Baclayon Church is one of the oldest churches in the country. It is made of coral stones taken from the sea, cut into square blocks and piled on to each other.
Next to the church is a museum that houses centuries-old relics, artifacts and antiques, dating back to the 16th century. They are priceless! Some of them are made of ivory, gold, embroidered with gold, and really old; there were also music books which pages are made of carabao skin.
On the island of Panglao, another beautiful church is the church of our Lady of the Assumption in Dauis or simply Dauis Church.
The beauty of its architecture is complemented by the remarkable paintings on its ceilings.
We were lucky to witness a wedding when we visited Dauis Church. How beautiful it is to hold a wedding in an old church. I think old churches add nice drama to wedding photos. 🙂
Despite being very near the sea, there is a well with absolutely fresh and potable water at the altar of Dauis Church. Boholanos believe it to be a miracle and that the water in the well have healing powers. You can take home some water from the well for free. And yes, we did took home some bottles of that water.
Who says stopping by at Sandugo Shrine may be crossed out of the itinerary? For those who do not like History so much, this is probably a boring spot. The shrine is just a marker of where Datu Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez De Legaspi sealed a Spanish-Filipino alliance through blood compact. But more than just the bronze, life-sized Sikatuna and company statues, the view from this spot is just picturesque.
And so I thought exploring Bohol ends there. But more than the tarsiers and the chocolate hills, there’s more to discover of Bohol. Just a few-minute boat ride from Panglao Island is Pamilacan Island. The sea around this little island is said to be a breeding nest of dolphins, whale sharks and even manta rays.
The dolphin watching activity included in our tour package turned dolphin chase. It was very thrilling to see the dolphins swimming freely in their natural habitat. They were like playing around, wanting us to chase them. I’ve seen a couple of dolphin shows in the past, but watching them in their most natural playful nature with nobody giving them instructions where to appear, jump and splash in the water is just a different excitement. I hope Pamilacan would stay protected from opportunists that might take advantage of its healthy marine life.
A gorgeous and virgin island indeed is Bohol’s Virgin Island. It is a small uninhabited island that one can explore in 30 minutes.
It has a long stretch of white sandbar during low tide. The water is very clear.
Among the islands of Bohol, my favorite is Balicasag. The underwater world in Balicasag is just amazing! I felt like I was in a very huge aquarium filled with beautiful corals and colorful fishes. I am no swimmer, but discovering how stunning Balicasag is, I regret not learning how to swim, big time!
We snorkeled with life vests on. Much that I wanted to touch the corals, the life vest just kept me floating back to the surface of the water. Hahah. I settled with feeding the fishes. They all frenzied over the bread I stuck inside a bottle.
Truly, Balicasag is a sanctuary of marine life. Deeper into the waters of Balicasag is a haven for divers.
Bohol is very much endowed with nature’s bounty. One would admire this place for obvious reasons. But more than the place, the people are noteworthy.
Boholanos are very friendly and hospitable, a very Filipino trait. You’ll wake up in the morning and be greeted with genuine smiles of people. You can walk at night with no worries, but they sure do retreat early at night. They are very religious, somehow manifested by how they were able to preserve more than 40 century-old churches, which are all grandeur and beautiful architectural spectacles of the old world. They put high value of what nature has given to them, apparent with how they protect and maintain their healthy marine life and green pastures, take note that they were even able to make a 2-km mahogany forest, all through their own efforts.
The simplicity of Boholano lifestyle is admirable—humble and modest yet abundant with nature’s bests. Boholanos must really be proud of Bohol. And I am one proud Pinoy to have experienced my beloved Philippines’ natural splendor through Bohol. I am proud of Bohol! 🙂
Explore Bohol with Kuya Kevin Lustre, our friendly tour guide: 09265755808