Bohol: Heart of the Philippine Islands

On several occasions, I have been able to travel to the island province of Bohol--both for work and personal travels. I would say it is one of the island provinces I would recommend for a vacation--the main reason, it being one of the friendliest and amiable provinces I have been to.

Needless to say, Bohol is a paradise. Touted as "Heart of the Islands", this human heart-shaped island province is also in the middle of the Philippines. True to its physical characteristics, it has made thousands of tourists and travelers every year, literally and figuratively fall in love with the magnificent scenery, the people and their culture and history.

While I have traveled here several times, I realized I have never blogged about it except for featuring some of my photos here and in my Flickr photostream. One of the reasons, perhaps, is the fact that there are already one too many posts about Bohol, and I am still hankering for that unique post so that I could share to you, my readers, of what else to expect about Bohol aside from the "touristy" places.

I want all of my friends from Australia and around the world to have a true perspective of how beautiful this place is. Be that as it may, I feel that I should pay homage to this lovely province and its beautiful people, which has become a "home" for me for several days to a week of work and leisure. One of my favorite things about this place is how easy it is to find cheap deals online for accommodation in Bohol. Booking the trip will be the least of your worries, planning where to go and what to see is a different story since there will be so much to brag about when you go back home to Australia or another foreign country.

So, for first timers in Bohol, what can you expect to see?

Chocolate Hills in Carmen. Bohol is synonymous to Chocolate Hills, which is located in the town of Carmen. No words can explain the beauty of the hills, especially in the morning. The best time to photograph the hills is in mid-afternoon (like 3PM onwards as the view deck faces the post-card images on the eastern side). But if you are into HDR photography, then anytime would be best.

ang mga alun-along burol ng Carmen

Loboc River Cruise. Bohol takes pride in its local cuisine, and love for the arts--music, in particular, their unequaled hospitality and their love for their environment--all combined in the famous Loboc River Cruise. Enjoy the food, music and the fine hospitality of Boholanos. Perfect for a good rest and simply enjoying the clean river.

Push Factor

Bohol Tarsier. Near the docking area for the Loboc River cruise is the tarsier conservation center where one can see several tarsiers in captivity. I will not be showing a photo because I was still a newbie then, and I honestly made a mistake of photographing a tarsier with a flash. So I am not showing it for so that others would not follow. These nocturnal animals are very sensitive to light and they get easily stressed. When they are stressed, they commit suicide by banging their heads which has very, very thin cranial bones. So when visiting the place, keep silent--just because they are sleeping during the daytime--and just imagine yourself being roused from sleep by noisy people. You get the drift?

Bilar's Man-made Forest. Bohol's man-made forest in the town of Bilar is just awe-inspiring! This makes every Filipino realize that, yes, we can indeed implement a real reforestation project. It does not only makes you jealous but makes you ask "If Bohol did it and why can't my province do it, too?"

Passing through this strip of forested area is like walking in a world different from ours. Not only is it cooler in this part of the highway going to and from Carmen, but it is also quieter and more serene. You just got to experience it for yourself. The feeling is simply different.

Bilar forest

The hanging bridge in Sevilla. The last time I have been here in 2009, there was only one bridge. Reading from other blogs, there are two hanging bridges already, making it easier to pass through it. Actually, there is nothing spectacular about the bridge. It is just a simple bridge used by locals passing through the Sipatan River. But then some entrepreneurial Boholanos put up souvenir shops at the other side of the river so that is one attraction in the place. If you are not used to crossing a hanging bridge, then that must be something interesting. Give it a try!

The bridge

Hanging bridge in Bohol

What makes it more interesting, I guess, are the children's rondalla during weekends. They serenade tourists and ask for some donation for their schooling. Indeed, Bohol's got talent!


Meet Prony and Marimar. Having a good laugh and entertainment after a week of work in Bohol was the highlight of my previous Bohol trip. Truth to tell, I am not fond of slapstick comedy in TV but you will definitely enjoy watching Marimar as "he/she" lip syncs the popular females singers in Hollywood and in the Philippines. Her dance moves were out of the ordinary and her stunts--one like a civet cat jumping and hanging from the branches of the tree--was simply "whoa!". LOL!

The last time I heard, the DENR closed this tourist spot, due to lack of a permit for Prony, then a 13-year old python (which is around 15 years). I recently saw one blog post and I think they are now back to business.


With Prony

Of course, do not miss the chance to have a photo with Prony! It is a boa constrictor and be sure he has eaten his meal before you do this.

Baclayon Church. One of the oldest in the Philippines is Baclayon Church. The entire church was built out of coral stones and limestones, and held together by--guess what--egg whites. Hmmmm...makes me think about the environmental destruction back then. But what is special about this church is the fact that this was built without hard prison labor. It was built through the community's faith and dedication. The church has had renovations since I first went to Bohol in 2004. I would want to visit it again.

Baclayon Church Belfry

Panglao Beaches. Panglao Island has one of the finest beaches of the Philippines. Back in 2004, there were only a few resorts operating in the area. As I browse through the net now, there are lots of them already. I just hope it will not become another Boracay. Sad to say, my photos during my first Panglao visit are misplaced in my stacks of photo CDs and DVDs, and our family vacation's photos stored on the hard disk have been corrupted. Be that as it may, our Panglao sojourn will always be remembered--and I will be back there, soon!

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Aside from my day job, I love photography and storytelling. Going places--be it a cliche destination or the far side of the road--stoke and free my soul. I dig deeper into the people’s psyche, culture and ethnicity, and heritage. I love to observe how they thrive and build social institutions, preserve their culture and traditions.


Edmar Guquib said...

Golisha!! Huge snake and a person inside a cage Walang kawala.. parang suicide ang peg. Hahaha!

Admin/Author said...

Edmar, it just had a goat for a meal, so no worries. hahaha. In hibernation sya.

grasya | said...

Bohol is my favorite island so far.. you should also see these small islands in Bohol: Lamanok island in Anda, Doljo in Panglao Island , balicasag and virgin island... its the places not yet popular for tourists ^_^.. enjoy Bohol~

Admin/Author said...

Grasya, I wish I could explore more of Bohol. In the meantime, I will just enjoy it while working there for a very short period...thanks for the tips!

Unknown said...

Wow... so nice.. hope to visit this place...

Admin/Author said...

It really is beautiful, Irvin. Go and visit Bohol!

Juan Carlo Dela Cruz said...

I find the beaches of Panglao a bit better than Boracay. Truly one oh Philippines' gem I Love Bohol

Admin/Author said...

Juan Carlo, indeed! Bora is too commercialized..

bohol said...

Hope to see more of Anda, Bohol in your blog. This is a more beautiful town than Panglao.

Carlo said...

Hey Pinoy Explorer! Great post! I suggest you try out EAT Danao Adventure Park or Pandanon for a different view of Bohol. Anyway we really enjoyed the post so we added it on our Bohol roundup in Bohol Gateway

Admin/Author said...

Thanks, Carlo, for the feature in your blog!

Kaiser | Way Philippines said...

Bohol has a lot to offer! They have beaches, nature, cultural heritage, unique landmarks and of course its people. Kaya nga di ako nagsasawang bumalik dito!

Admin/Author said...

Indeed, Kaiser! Thanks!

Unknown said...

Ding, so envious... I wish I could travel the way you do the write ups and the photos EXCEPT the one with the phython. No way will I go near whether in hibernation or not

Admin/Author said...

Thanks, Ma'am Joy!

JadeJWilkerson said...

bohol is a beautiful place isa rin ito sa ipinagmamalaki ng pilipinas.

Bohol Motorcycle Rentals said...

Not for anything else.. Just the chocolate hills! YEAH! LOVE IT!