Saturday, March 14, 2009

Destination Bohol: Getting There, Things to Do

Bohol is best known for being home to those little critters called tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills. For me, though, it will always be the place of mind blowing beaches. So how can you enjoy this experience yourself?

Getting There
There best and easiest way to get there would be to take a plane straight to Tagbilaran City, the capital. Do not be surprised, though, as the city isn't much to look at. It looks like a run down town, but since you will not be going there for the city anyway, it does not matter.

Cebu Pacific flies to Tagbilaran from Manila twice a week, and their fares are usually the cheapest. I think Philippine Airlines is offering affordable fares nowadays, too.

An alternative way of going to Bohol is to fly into Cebu City, and take a fast craft (ferry) to Tagbilaran. This is actually what we did, since I bought our airplane tickets to Cebu in December. Our original plan was to go to Camotes Island off the coast of Cebu, but this fell through, so we decided to go to Bohol. I know that there are several ferries plying the Cebu-Bohol route but I got my tickets from SuperCat, a sister company of SuperFerry. You can buy your tickets in advance from two outlets here in Manila - 2Go at the People Support Building in Ayala and at the Pier. A one-way ticket costs PHP500 per person, but they have a promo right now that if you buy a round trip ticket, you only pay PHP600 (or something like that). You can also check out Weesam Express, if you cannot get SuperCat tickets.

Once you get to Tagbilaran City, you can go to the beach resort of your choice.

What to do
This one's a no brainer - HIT THE BEACH!

Seriously, though, aside from the beach, there are some tourist spots that you have to visit when in Bohol. What we did was rent a car and a driver to take us around for one day. Your hotel or resort can arrange this for you. I got a tip from a friend who goes to Bohol on a regular basis, though, and he gave me his contact there. The agency charged us PHP3000 for 8 hours, which was more than enough to visit the places I wanted to go to. If you need the number, leave a comment and I'll give you her number.

So where should you go and what should you see in Bohol?

TarsiersThese cute things are the main reason we went to Bohol. Every Filipino child learns about them in school, and I have been wanting to see a real one ever since I can remember. I heard that the "official" tarsier conservation area is not open to tourists anymore, as the animals have been getting sick due to tourism. No wonder! These are nocturnal creatures, and the countless tourists snapping pictures during the day are not helping.

I really felt bad about the tarsiers, after visiting one of the many roadside stands which house them. I asked the guide if they were legal - they were just makeshift establishments, with little trees as the tarsiers' home! He said that they have DENR permits.... Maybe the government should be stricter regarding this. Considering that the tarsiers are endangered, tourism must be curbed to keep the tarsiers in better condition. One idea would be to make it a rule to visit the tarsiers only at night, to adjust to their sleeping patterns. What do you think?

Chocolate HillsAnother thing that all Filipino children learn about in school - these little mounds of earth that look like chocolate. I found out that they are not so little after all! I barely made it to the top of one (and we even rode the car most of the way), but the view up there was amazing.

Manmade ForestI hadn't heard about the forest until the guide told us about it. I think it is a reforestation project of the government. It is a beautiful place with countless mahogany trees.

Blood Compact Site
This site really embarrassed me - not because of the monument, not because of history, but because of my ignorance. I know that we studied this in grade school but when Jerry asked me what it was for, I simply couldn't answer!

Thank God for Google...This is what the Blood Compact was all about, courtesy of Bohol.ph:

Also at Bohol, Legazpi was given a hostile welcome. From his Malay pilot, he learned that this hostility was due to marauding expeditions of the Portuguese. Coming from the Moluccas, the Portuguese raiders traversed the Visayan seas, and just a few years before, in 1563, had plundered Bohol and killed or enslaved about one thousand of its inhabitants. Of course, the Boholano's easily mistook the Spaniards for Portuguese.

Again with the help of his pilot, Legazpi explained two chiefs of Bohol, Datu Sikatuna of Bool and Datu Sigala of Loboc that they were not Portuguese, and had come in peace, and not to plunder or kill. This convinced the Kings to end their hostility and enter pact of friendship. On 16 March 1565 (or 25 March, records are confused due to the Gregorian calendar reform in 1584), Legazpi and Sikatuna performed the now famous blood compact, probably not far from the modern town of Loay. This event is still celebrated in Bohol every year in June with the Sandugo ("One Blood") festival.
I knew it was for peace!

Loboc River
The Loboc River has this emerald green color - I thought it looked dirty but the locals will swear by its cleanliness. It reminded me of the River Kwai in Thailand, only much smaller. We had lunch on one of the many river boats. A buffet lunch for one costs PHP300. Not bad. The food was okay (nothing spectacular but good anyway) and the experience of floating up and down the river and watching some kids perform was fun.

Prony the PythonThis python is supposed to be the longest and biggest snake kept in captivity. I abhor snakes. They freak me out, but Jerry likes them so we went to take a look. You have to pay PHP5 to enter the backyard - yeah it's kept in a cage behind the owner's house. There are other animals there - birds, monkeys, etc. And there is this stupid sign that says "The animals are stressed when you take they pictures, so to be fair, leave a donation."

I have never seen a stupider sign than that! And the she-male manning the gate of the python cage repeating "be fair" didn't help my mood at all. (No offense intended, but that person was just irritating.)

Those are the places that we visited. There are actually more - the Bohol Bee Farm, the Baclayon Church, some cave (I forget its name), Alona Beach, etc. I was dead tired by 4pm, though, and I couldn't force myself to go to the other places. We did pass by the Church and the Bee Farm but we didn't stop.

NEXT...CEBU

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tour, I have to admit that I knew nothing about that region or your country before reading your post(s)! Beautiful!

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  2. NEAT! I totally want to go there! I love the little nocturnal animal and the enchanged mohagany forest.

    I am glad you and Jer are having fun!

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  3. That must have been an awesome trip! I want to be able to afford going to other countries to visit. Hubby was at Subic (?) Bay when he was in the Marines but I have never been there and would like to.

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  4. @Retired: Glad am sharing some things about my country. It really is a beautiful place!

    @Holly: Hop on a plane, we'll go on a tour.

    @Delaney: Wow, you're husband was in Subic? We went there for New Year's Eve (it's about 2 hours away). Check these out:
    http://www.dreamwalkersworld.com/2009/01/subic-bay-new-years-trip.html

    http://www.dreamwalkersworld.com/2009/01/food-and-shopping-in-subic.html

    I think you've read them but perhaps you weren't aware that it's the same SUBIC. :D Hope one day you can visit!

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  5. Hi we are planning also to go to Bohol in December and visit the different tourist spots there. u mentioned about the agency where we can rent a car to take us around the different places in Bohol. Can you give me the agency's contact number?

    thanks so much.

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  6. Kanji: the number is 09058408022. You can look for Irene. Just make sure that you ask for a car with a good aircon. Have a good trip!

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  7. Thanks for the information - great stuff. I'm planning a trip to Bohol in August. I'm going to be there 3 nights with my girlfriend. We would like to do many of the things you have mentioned and would defintely also like to do some whale/dolphin watching. I'm trying to figure out a practical place to stay and still do everything. Would Alona Beach be good for this? Can you recommend some places?

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  8. Hi Gregg,

    Alona Beach has much cheaper choices when it comes to accommodation and food. It also is the area where a lot of people go. That can work both ways - if you like crowds then it will be good but if you want a more private setting, then I don't Alona would be a good place. For a quieter experience - just the beach and you - try the resort where we stayed: Dumaluan Beach Resort. It's right beside Bohol Beach Club; that stretch of beach is awesome. The good thing about it is that the room rates are not pricey at all. Have fun!

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  9. i just ran across you site.wow, thank you for the nice reports. i hope to go soon,my gf lives in tagbilaran.is it safe,out in the forest or citys for tourist.cant wait to visit. thanks again!!

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  10. Thanks for dropping by. I hope you have a nice trip! Yes, it is very safe there. :)

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  11. Hi,
    Very nice post.
    I am planning to visit Bohol soon. Is it possible to get your contact # of the car service?

    Thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Joy

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  12. Hi Joy. This is the number of Irene: 09058408022. Enjoy!

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  13. oh wow! i wish to try the loboc river cruise next time and i love the man made forest!!!
    http://jotan23.blogspot.com/2010/10/one-fine-day-in-bohol.html

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