Explore the natural and historical marvels of Bohol
By Carla Casanova-Perlas
BOHOL IS THE TENTH LARGEST ISLAND IN THE COUNTRY AND, BECAUSE OF ITS NATURAL AND HISTORICAL ATTRACTIONS, APPEALS TO A WIDE RANGE OF TOURISTS FROM BEACHCOMBERS AND NATURE LOVERS TO HISTORY BUFFS. Boholanos are proud of their “unspoilt” heritage (read: no mestizo blood) and are said to be the descendants of the pintados(painted ones), who were the last group of inhabitants in the Visayas during the Spanish colonial period. The island province is also famously known as the location of the first treaty of friendship between the Filipinos and the Spanish.
• Chocolate Hills.There are 1776 hills and they are called as such because the vegetation turns brown during the dry season, but turn verdantly green during the rainy season. To enjoy the breathtaking view of the hills, be prepared to climb over 250 steps. Don’t forget to ring the bell at the observation post and make a wish!
• The Tarsier Sanctuary.
The smallest primate in the world, the tarsier is about 3.5-6.25 inches high and weighs 70-165 grams. It is nocturnal so refrain from using flash photography and making loud noises to allow the animal to sleep. Tarsiers are also very territorial, so don’t shake the trees or get too close to their spot lest you want to be attacked.
• Blood Compact Site.
Located in Barangay Bool, the monument features life-size images of fi ve men gathered around a table, sculpted by NationalArtist and Boholano, Napoleon Abueva. The two men seated are DatuSikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who are each raising a mug to toast the treaty. At the site, visitors get a panoramic view of the Bohol Sea as well.
• Baclayon Church.
Completed in 1717, the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is one of the oldest churches in the country. The ceilinghigh gilded altars areimpressive and the pipeorgan that was installed in 1800 is still there (though in disrepair). The church also has a museum that showcases religious art, ecclesiastical vestments, librettos of church music printed in Latin on animal skins and other priceless relics and artifacts dating back to the early 16th century.
Bohol hosts several festivals throughout the year. The biggest of which is the Sandugo Festival, held in July, which commemorates the blood compact alliance between DatuSikatuna and Miguel López de Legazpi. For a unique experience, visit the municipality of Loon during the fi rst week of September for the SidlaKasilak(Festival of Lights). Held at night, the festival features artfully decorated lanterns created by the locals.
How to Get There
FROM MANILA, take a plane to Tagbilaran City via the local airline of your choice.
FROM CEBU, you can get there via fastcraft ferry to the Tagbilaran City Tourist Pier.
Renting a tour van is the best way to see the sites. A van for 10 people costs P3500 for the whole day.