Bohol Magic (Day 3)

Bohol Travel Blog

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Arrival in Tagbilaran pier via SuperCat
Having to wake up after just having 2 hours of sleep and still tasting the metallic taste of mixture of cigarette and beer in the morning, normally is just terrible. However, that day was a different day.I was just too eager to see Bohol. Our fastcraft would leave Cebu at 8 AM and we need to be up by 6:30 AM to prepare for this trip. I have not packed my things yet since I was out all day and night the previous day touring the city and visiting my school and meeting up with college friends. Still feeling heavy, I dragged myself to the nearest McDo for a quick breakfast of sausage and milo. After that, we were on our way to the pier which took us about less that 20 minutes from the Hotel.
Our driver, Manong Dodong


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.
Tagbilaran Cathedral
At first he was speaking in a not-so straight Tagalog (lingua franca of the Philippines) but upon learning that I can speak and understand Bisaya (the languange of Cebu and Bohol), he immediately shifted to Bisaya. And for the entire trip, I acted as the translator of Mang Dodong to my friends. We had a Sedan in a good condition for our day trip of Bohol.

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.
St. Joseph, the patron of Tagbilaran
It was a handsdown for the group, we would like to see the Chocolate Hills first! From the pier, we first dropped by the Tagbilaran Cathedral. The Cathedral is not really as impressive as the other Cathedral that I have seen. It was a blasphemy of mixing Neo-Romanesque and Modern, it is like mixing Green Bean (Mungo) with dark sauce of squid adobo. As I said in my previous blogs, I want old stracture too actually look old. Though, in the defense of the Cathedral, they need to renovate to give more space to the growing number of the parishoners and just forget the past where blood and sweat of Filipinos were sacrificed during the forced labor just to build the old church. Am I getting too over-acting here? Lolz, pardon my being histrionic. :)

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).
The Bohol Man Made Forest
It took us about two hours to reach the chocolate hills, it was a very long but paved zigzag road. If you are a byahilo person, better take some pills for dizziness an hour before the ride. Anyway, we had one stop in the Man-made forest before going to the hills. The Bohol Forest is a man-made mahogany forest stretching in a two-kilometer stretch of densely planted Mahogany trees located in the border of Loboc and Bilar towns. This mahogany trees were planted by students in circa 1950. Now, the forest stands out because of the uniformity in height of the big trees, the spread of its branches, thickness and design of leaves.
Natural Wonder: Chocolate Hills of Bohol
This is something I have not seen in any area in the Philippines.

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.
Caressing the Chocolate Hill
If this is man-made, the effort to create the 1268 hills surpassed that effort to build the pyramids of Egypt.

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.
The Bilar Church
It is because the hills are actually covered with limestone and there's no possibility for trees to grow on those hills. The most commonly accept theory of how the hills are formed is the weathered formations of a kind of marine limestone on top of a impermeable layer of clay. So i think, Bohol was once under the sea - or maybe the entire Philippines was once under water. And if I lived during the time in the Philippines, I was probably named Dyesabel or maybe Ursula. Tehehehe.

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.
The Cruise in Loboc River
We decided to go down of the deck. Still feeling surreal of what had just happened, we continued back to our trip back to Loboc. However, before reaching our next destination, we stopped by Bilar church. It is a small church elevated from the highway. The settings of this church is like a pretty girl sitting on a hill. It was built in 1831, so this is one of the many old churches of Bohol. And for a sleepy town of Bilar to have such pretty church is incredible.

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.
Feels like in the movie, Panaghoy Sa Suba
We were only three in our group,so we were seated in a table where we had to share it with two total strangers. The lunch was not really incredible, but it was still acceptable. I was just too hungry to notice the quality of the food. The important thing was to eat as much carbo as possible. While eating, the two strangers turned out to be the owner of the boat and the other one is the substitute Mayor of Loboc town. Both of them were very nice to us, asking questions about our work, where we came from and even suggested us to come back for the night cruise which I think I will do on my next visit to Bohol. It was a very pleasant encounter with a politician I would say. As we continued with the cruise, there's a singer on board. Everyone was in jolly mood except for the next table who were frowning because of the food.
The facade of Loboc Church, the beautiful one


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.
The view of Loboc river from the other side of the river
This is one of my favorite churches in Bohol. And for my favorites, I am giving them some sort of nickname. Loboc for me is the Beautiful One. The Church of San Pedro, the second oldest church in Bohol was originally built in 1602, but soon reduced to ashes. In 1638, a stronger one was build. The facade of the church looks plain and simple in the pictures but in reality, it is very beautiful. The interior of the church is even more grand. The ceiling of the church have this beautiful paintings which are still the original paintings (no restoration). The altar is just beautiful. The exterior and the interior of the church looks old, yet still beautiful. Also, at the back of the church is a small museum with some antique statue of saints and of Jesus. There's this room too old that the bats are actually permanently living in it.
The Tarsier
It was a creepy experienced with that winged creatures.

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.
My very very very very distant cousin. :)
I would certainly be coming back for them, for sure. I simply can't miss in my lifetime to hear the voices of 30 school children so pure and angelic. This choir has gathered awards both local and international. I once watched them in Lonely Planet and I'm sure I won't miss their performance for anything else. For my next visit to Bohol, to watch them would be the top of my itinerary.

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.
The facade of Loay Church
It felt so warm and smooth. I liked the experience of touching such an incredible creature and a very endangered creature. I was so glad I was able to touch a tarsier in this lifetime. (Drama...)

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 Alburquerque Church, the pretty one
Anyway the church is built on a plateau facing the sea and near the mouth of the Loboc River. This makes the church location special.

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.
Baclayon Church, the magnificent one
Baclayon is the second oldest church in the Philippines, only younger to San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila. It took 200 native Boholanos as forced laborers to construct the church from coral stones, which they took from the sea, cut into square blocks, and piled on to each other. Using bamboo to move and lift the stones in position, and used the white of a million eggs as to cement them together. How incredible could that be! And I pity the locals to be subjected into such pitiful labor just to create a grand church like this. The current building was completed in 1727. One inside story I gathered, the Baclayon church was once used as a dungeon, to punish natives who violated the rules of the Roman Catholic church.

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.
Loon Church, the big one
However, since I noticed that the sun was already about to set and we still had to cover a lot of churches, we decided to skip the museum and went back to our car.

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.
Punta Cruz
These churches may not be like Sistine Chapel but the painted ceilings of the churches here in Bohol are truly special in their own rights.

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.
On top of Punta Cruz


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.
Maribojoc Church
It looked very artificial that it ruined the facade of the church. I think priests should have an additional subject in their 10 years stay in seminary about the importance of art history and art preservation - this will avoid a lot of restoration or alteration to the old churches that are totally in bad taste that would totally ruin the value and destroyed the legacy of the things they want to change.

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.
planisphere says:
Hi, bushan. I totally lost all my contact. However, my friends just went there 2 weeks ago, and they had fun with their tour provider: Bohol Tours and Packages

Email: boholtoursandpackages@gmail.com

Yahoo ID: boholtourandpackages

Mobile: +639154216421 / +639128390652 / +639328655289


You may want to try their tours.
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012
bhush2006 says:
Fantastic. So nicely written. Are there any companies in BOHOL who organise regular trips to these destination. I mean - If I am traveling alone then I would like to join a group.Any reputed name?
Posted on: Jul 21, 2012
planisphere says:
wala diay malaagan dira? hehehe
Posted on: Feb 04, 2010
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Arrival in Tagbilaran pier via Sup…
Arrival in Tagbilaran pier via Su…
Our driver, Manong Dodong
Our driver, Manong Dodong
Tagbilaran Cathedral
Tagbilaran Cathedral
St. Joseph, the patron of Tagbilar…
St. Joseph, the patron of Tagbila…
The Bohol Man Made Forest
The Bohol Man Made Forest
Natural Wonder: Chocolate Hills of…
Natural Wonder: Chocolate Hills o…
Caressing the Chocolate Hill
Caressing the Chocolate Hill
The Bilar Church
The Bilar Church
The Cruise in Loboc River
The Cruise in Loboc River
Feels like in the movie, Panaghoy …
Feels like in the movie, Panaghoy…
The facade of Loboc Church, the be…
The facade of Loboc Church, the b…
The view of Loboc river from the o…
The view of Loboc river from the …
The Tarsier
The Tarsier
My very very very very distant cou…
My very very very very distant co…
The facade of Loay Church
The facade of Loay Church
The Alburquerque Church, the prett…
The Alburquerque Church, the pret…
Baclayon Church, the magnificent o…
Baclayon Church, the magnificent …
Loon Church, the big one
Loon Church, the big one
Punta Cruz
Punta Cruz
On top of Punta Cruz
On top of Punta Cruz
Maribojoc Church
Maribojoc Church
Hills
Hills
Hills
Hills
The big moles, the Chocolate Hills.
The big moles, the Chocolate Hills.
Gate of Bilar Church
Gate of Bilar Church
The watch tower of Loboc Church
The watch tower of Loboc Church
Loboc church interior
Loboc church interior
Loboc church interior
Loboc church interior
Sandugo (Blood Compact) Shrine
Sandugo (Blood Compact) Shrine
Bohol General Tips & Advice review
Mang Jun/Mang Dodong
I got Mang Jun's number from a friend in Singapore who sought for their car service when they visited Bohol. I closed our deal with Mang Jun, however… read entire review
Bohol
photo by: ted332