Bohol Magic (Day 3)
Bohol Travel Blog› entry 4 of 26 › view all entries
October 11th, 2008 – by: planisphere
My two friends and former colleagues were quite excited for the boat ride to Bohol. It would be their first time to ride a fastcraft like that of SuperCat. Also, they were amazed how organized and clean the boat terminal in Cebu is. Well well well, Manila is not Philippines and Philippines is not Manila. There are just too many good things outside Manila. :)
The trip of about 1.5 hours was a smooth one, no big waves, no rollercoaster ride, no feeling of dizziness. It was, I would say uneventful. I was just sleeping the entire trip. After the ride, I was expecting to see an middle-aged man named Mang Dodong (our designated driver) flashing a sign with my name ("Apo") on it. We met with him and I found him nice and very pleasant.
Mang Dodong gave us a map with the itinerary, and I noticed that he highlighted the places I indicated in our itinerary. From Tagbilaran (the capital city where the port is), there are two possible ways to do our itinerary. Either go west first and see Loon church and Punta Cruz or go east to see the famous Chocolate Hills.
Anyway, we continued with a very long journey to the viewing deck of the nature's wonder of Bohol: The chocolate hills! (A green chocolate).
Reaching the Chocolate hills after passing through the Tina-i sa Manok (chicken's intestine) road, which is very long and zigzag, I can't help but be amazed and amused of what I had seen so far (the man made forest, the grand churches, the view of the sea). I was happy seeing what I saw but nothing prepared me for the "awe" factor of the Chocolate Hills.
The hills are located at the heart of Bohol and probably its most famous attraction. One has to take the 214 steps to reach the viewing deck. From it, the hills look like giant moles of Ate Guy, not black but green. Others said, especially by sexually repressed individuals, the hills look like women's breast, lot's and lots of them. There was a debate arguing that the hills are actually man-made, but most people are drawn to the fact that this is a nature's creation.
Yet not everyone love the hills, enough to take care of this natural treasure. A mayor of one of the towns actually ordered to quarry one of the hills - such a greedy indiviidual with no sense of respect to life in general! So I think the total number of hills are now down to 1267! Anyway, the hills vary from 30 feet to 50 feet high. On wet season (like the time of my visit), the hills are covered with grass thus giving the hills the green color. However, during the dry season, the hills are bare, thus the color of choco brown, giving the hills the look of conical to semi-round shaped chocolates thus the name Chocolate hills. People wonder why there are no big plants growing on the hills.
Actually, there was one theory that suggested that the hills are actually made by aliens. If I am to lazy enough to think, I would just readily accept this theory. :)
After staying at the viewing deck for about an hour, just getting mesmerized by the beauty in front of us, having our photos taken, wacky or not.
As we continued with our trip, we finally reached Loboc. The first thing we wanted to do here was to eat lunch. The town offered a lunch buffet while doing a river cruise. At first I hesitated because of the reviews I read about the lunch and the cruise. The lunch was served even before the cruise started.
There was a stop where a group of men and women would perform - singing and dancing for a donation. I was a bit disappointed because I didn't have money with me that time. We just continued on my the river cruise, enjoying every sight of palm, bamboo and many other trees against the rainy muddy color of the river. I loved every minute I stayed there in the cruise. My favorite sight during the cruise was the view of Loboc Church from the other side of the river. For the price of three hundred pesos, I think it was worth the ride to the cruise despite of the food being not really great. I think we were not just paying for the food, but we also pay for the cruise ride and all. If you want good food for three hundred pesos, just go straight back to Jollibee or McDonalds.
After the cruise, we then went to see Loboc Church, originally a Jesuit church.
One thing a tourist would easily noticed in Loboc is another symbol of lack of engineering planning and stupid governance. Exactly next to the church is a partly finished bridge across the river. If the bridge is to be completed, the detached bell tower has to be destroyed and eventually the Church as well. After learning about the quarry of the Chocolate Hills and the unfinished Loboc bridge, I would say, Bohol despite of its beauty is not immune to human greed and stupidity. Who on earth would destroy a century old church for a new bridge. There's always a workaround as to where the bridge should be built and definitely not on the location where the treasured Church is! (Inday, penge tubig, iinom ako ng gamot sa high blood!) :)
Anyway, I really wanted to watch the Loboc Children's Choir perform but there were no such performance that they.
Next destination was to see Tarsier (locally know as Maumag). Contrary to common knowledge, Philippine tarsier is NOT the smallest primate much more, NOT the smallest monkey (because it is not a monkey). However, the tarsier is one of the smallest primates and is considered the mammal with the biggest eyes. The tarsier didn't look scary at all. It looked too vulnerable and cute. With very few visitors when we went there, the caretaker allowed me to touch and and really handled one tarsier.
After my close encounter to my very distant cousin, we started our way towards the west side of Bohol to see old churches and a watch tower. Right after Loboc is the town of Loay. They have a very pretty and slightly isolated old church, well isolated because it is located not along the highway where the main thoroughfare of going to the Chocolate hills is. The most notable feature of the church is the huge belfry which is slightly detached from the church. The church was close during our visit, and the sun was already behind the church, thus having a decent photo of the church would be difficult.
The next church was another personal favorite, the Alburquerque Church. I call this the Pretty One. Founded in 1869, this church is famous for its sturdy arches supporting a pathway that connects the church to the convent. However, for me the unique feature of this church is the attached belfry over the facade. If ever I want to get married, this church is the perfect choice of church. It is big enough to give an impression of grandeur, small enough to give a romantic feel. Jeez, I am getting mushy now. Lolz.
Next place to visit was the most famous church of Bohol, the Baclayon Church. This is another favorite and I call it the Magnificent One.
Next to the church is the old convent, which also houses a small museum with centuries-old religious relics, artifacts and other antiquities, dating back to the 16th century.
We had a slight stopover to the Blood Compact Shrine as a memorial to the pact made by Spanish Legaspi and Bohol chieftain Sikatuna.
After which, we drove pass the capital city of Tagbilaran unto the quite far town of Loon. The church in this town is my fourth favorite church here in Bohol, and I call it the Big One. The church in Loon is actually the biggest church in Bohol. The church is in Ionic and Corinthian style. The building has two towers octagonal bell towers, and is fully symmetrical. Giving its facade a very imposing feel. The ceiling of the church, common to the churches in Bohol is painted with different biblical stories in bright colors.
With the sun not yet fully set, we backtracked to Punta Cruz, a Spanish watchtower. It is in Maribojoc town, the town before Loon from Tagbilaran City. The Punta Cruz is a triangular watch tower overseeing the seas South of Bohol. At the top, can already see the islands of Cebu, Siquijor, and Mindanao. The Spanish had build this in 1796 as a look-out post to watch out for the pirates and Muslim raiders, who at that time where a plague to the people of Bohol. The reason why Muslims raided the towns of Bohol and other Visayan Islands and even as far as Luzon was because they got angry that their fellow Indios converted to Christianity.
Anyway, we stayed on top of the watchtower for few minutes to have our "moments" there and take some pictures. We went down and had some few drinks before going back to the road. We didn't not wait for the full setting of the sun because we wanted to catch some daylight when we visited the last church in our itinerary, the Maribojoc church. One of my companions were already tired, dead tired that she didn't leave the car and just waited for us to finish exploring the very old Maribojoc Church. We still managed to see this church in daylight but dusk was already approaching. The inside of the church was already very dark, we could not take some picture of the interior of the church. There is one detail that I found to be very off. An old door which I think served as a secondary door was blocked with modern looking hollow blocks and not the typical stone blocks commonly used in all the churches we visited.
After Maribojoc, I knew by then that visiting Dauis Church on our way to our hotel was already futile. We drove directly to Panglao where we will be staying overnight. This is when our adventure started - see my review about our accommodation in Panglao.
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