My Bohol Surprise

I was on the earliest plane bound for Tagbilaran on a Monday morning. The sun is yet to rise as I yawned away from the bustling sound of the morning rush of the metro. I was not expecting much from what I was about to see in Bohol so I just shrugged my shoulders and told myself I will just lie on the sand all day and enjoy the sun just like what I always do when I am on the beach. This trip was my third sea getaway in just a month so I was not expecting anything spectacular. The mere beach bumming already excites me. Nothing more. Apparently, I was in for a surprise.

We checked in at a luxurious resort called AMORITA RESORT. On our way to Panglao Island with my headphones stuck to my ears, all I see was the usual Pinoy rural scene. I then asked the resort driver why the name AMORITA. He simply said “a little love”.

My first surprise was that AMORITA is indeed a very nice resort. Seated on top of a rocky hill, it boasts a lush landscape of greens tucking away the villas. Its infinity pool projects a mirage so one would think that the pool is connected to the sea. Such a beautiful sight. I was more than contented with place. There was nothing else I could ask for.

Since official check in time is at 2pm, I found myself sitting on a chair just staring at the magnificence of the sea. So I decided to check out what the place could offer. I found a dive shop just beside the restaurant and a dive master greets me with this huge smile. I immediately asked how much for a good scuba dive. He said intro dives go for 3000 pesos. I stopped and thought “hmmm, not a bad idea to start my day.” So I said yes. I dragged my two other friends to join me for our very first scuba dive. This was my 2nd surprise.

We went through the basics of learning to breath underwater using breathing apparatus as well as other equipment used for underwater diving. The dive master also taught us some hand signals so we can communicate underwater. It was a breeze.

At about 9 am, I just found myself I was on a boat headed for the open waters to try out my very first scuba dive. I was quite scared of the idea. Movie scenes from Jaws, Open Water, Deep Blue Sea, Into the Wild of Nat Geo came rushing in giving me goose bumps. I asked my dive master how deep are we going. He just said “as deep as you can stand” and gave out again that huge Boholano smile.

My 3rd surprise was the beauty and peace I found and felt underwater. I was a natural diver. My overconfidence even led me to think I was a fish in my past life. I went 60 feet deep and can’t get enough of wonders of a different world under. After the dive, I felt that my vacation was all worth it already.

As soon as we got back to the resort, the front desk people said our rooms were ready. I was now excited to see if my room will make it to the top of my charts. It did. Every villa has its own Jacuzzi. The 4th surprise. The room was spectacular with an ocean view to greet your morning and to send you to dreamland with the sound of the waves.

On our 2nd day, I woke up early to prepare for our countryside Bohol tour.  My group hopped on a bus and our tour guide shared to us some interesting facts about Bohol. Here are some of the trivia I remembered that were shared to us:

–       Bohol has a land mass of 4117.3 square kilometers.

–       The town of Danao was an NPA-infested area but now boasts a destination for the extreme sports and is one of the major attractions of Bohol

–       Bohol has historic churches dating way back in the 1500s. Its church structures are from coral stones since the place is rich in marine resources.

–       Most of these churches are in the outer portions of Bohol because the Spaniards cannot penetrate the inlands because of resistance of the native people

Our first stop was the Blood Compact Site. This is a shrine of Datu Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. They cut their arms and dropped blood in a glass with wine and both drank it to seal their friendship.  But rumor has it that Legazpi did this because his ship was running out of food supply and had no intentions of whatsoever to establish friendship. Talk about having BFF with benefits.

I was excited to reach our next destination. It was my first time to see a tarsier. Such a small cute, nocturnal creature that resembles a probable mixed breed of a monkey and a rodent. Our tour guide said that it was prohibited to touch the tarsiers because they have very high suicidal tendencies. If they wanted to kill themselves, they just stop breathing and choke themselves to death. Freaky.

Next stop – Chocolate Hills. Formerly known as Carmen Hills but when a foreigner saw the brownish hills (because of too much heat, the hills dry up), he said they were like Hershey’s Kisses thus the term Chocolate Hills. The perfect view for the hills required 214 steps to reach the top and get a breathtaking view of the hills.

After our trip from the Chocolate Hills, we were quite hungry and went on our way for our Loboc River Cruise with buffet lunch.  Along the way, we passed by the famous man-made forest spearheaded by the late President Carlos P. Garcia. Mahogany trees were planted 2 meters apart from each tree. Now it has become a forest and a water shed which became the main reason why Bohol is spared from floods and from the devastating effects of typhoons.

During the cruise, we ate our hearts away from the sumptuous Filipino served to us by the Loboc River Cruise. It is a hour-long cruise along the Loboc River .  The Loboc River got its name from the word “Lobog”.  Boholanos have a high incidence of kidney diseases because their water supply has very high salinity.

After the Loboc River Cruise, we went to this old church called Baclayon Church. The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It is one of the best preserved Jesuit build churches in the region, although in the 19th century, the Augustinian Recollects added a modern facade and a number of stone buildings that now surround the church.

We stopped at a local souvenir shop to get loads of items and Peanut Kisses – one of their well-known delicacies.

Indeed, as we headed back to our resort, I said to myself that Bohol really surprised me with its rich culture and history and I was amazed at how they make the best efforts to preserve their homeland through a sustainable way without having to resort to commercialization and industrialization. It was my surprise no. 5.

We had free time to enjoy the pristine sapphire blue waters of Alona beach while we wait for a sumptuous buffet dinner at Amorita.  I called the front desk if I could schedule a relaxing massage in my room to cap off my night. Apparently, we have a free complimentary massage from the hotel as part of our package. My surprise number 6 – a relaxing FREE massage as I dozed off to dreamland.

I woke up early the next day to catch a boat on the way to the open waters and catch a glimpse of dolphins.  I found this a little uninteresting since I have seen trained dolphins at Ocean Park in Hong Kong and Sea World in California. So there was really nothing spectacular for me to see. WRONG. We were literally waiting for dolphins to come out from the ocean and it was quite impossible to spot dolphins. But after a while, there they were, jumping and swimming together with our boat giving us free show.  It was a surprise. Surprise no.7.

We got back to the shores happy to have seen wild dolphins happily playing in the open waters.

As we prepared to end our vacation, I realized that I am so blessed to be a Filipino and experience all of these.  So, what are you waiting for? Let Bohol surprise you.

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~ by socgarcia on February 9, 2010.

10 Responses to “My Bohol Surprise”

  1. astig talaga ng camera mo! clap clap!

  2. Hi, I am so glad to know that Bohol surprised you on your visit. Yep, Bohol is beautiful! I am proud to be a Lobocanon! Although I am now in the US and enjoying the freedom we have here, my love for my hometown never ceased. Always enjoy when I visit.

  3. akalain mo yun..nakapagcomment na pala ako dito! i thought this was my first time to read!
    Sana naman pumayag ka na maging writer din ng website… pls? 😦

  4. i meant “my first time to read THIS”.

  5. Very nice blog. I found a site that has a list of hotels in Bohol and to other places. I think it is so helpful. Check it out guys. http://www.philippinehotelreservations.com/hotels-in-bohol/

  6. […] Read more HERE… […]

  7. I’m going to Bohol this November 20 and your photos made me so excited again… I, too, will be surprised… 😀

  8. A great and informative post. Im planning on going to bohol next year. Thank you for this. This really helps me in giving me ideas for our itinerary on the trip.

  9. Interesting post! Most of the attractions you mentioned I am yet to see.

    I’ve just started a blog: TurningBoholano.blogspot.com

    You may want to check it out from time to time.

    Thanks!

    Tito Eric

  10. Wondering what such a trip might cost — can you tell me — so we can plan for it?

    Have you ever found small bed and breakfast type places in Bohol that might be more charming than a resort hotel?

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