The Isla Life: Experiencing Bohol’s Countryside
“Uy, paghuman sa graduation adto ta ug Bohol ha!” (After graduation, we should go to Bohol!)
Everything started with that line several months ago. Back then, there were eight of us who talked and dreamed about escaping to the beautiful island. In the middle of school projects, assignments, and requirements, the dream of graduating and leaving for that 3-days and 2-nights in that island, kept us going. Everyone in the group was all in for a few months, but we got stuck in different circumstances after graduation. Despite it, there were still three of us who were eager to visit, so we went.
At first, we thought we couldn’t make it because the date wasn’t final yet. Also, our friend who lives there can’t be contacted. We didn’t know what exactly we should do. It took us several Google searches, Facebook stalking, calls and texts to create a proper itinerary. We were a bit confident about it so we packed our bags and left Cagayan de Oro. Our ship left around 10 in the evening, and we arrived at Jagna Port around 5 in the morning.
It wasn’t the most convenient route but all ships leaving from CGY to Tagbilaran City was scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. We couldn’t leave on a Tuesday so we took the Jagna route.
Good Morning Jagna!
We then rode an airconditioned van from Jagna to Tagbiliran City. It took almost an hour for us to arrive in Island City Mall (where we decided to leave our bags and start the countryside tour), and the ride cost us 100 pesos each.
According to our plan B, we were supposed to check in and leave our bags in a budget-friendly resort in Panglao, but we were short of time. Our driver/tour guide (Kuya Naldix of Naldix Bohol Tour Packages) advised us to start the countryside tour instead of spending a lot of time looking for a new place to crash in to. We have plenty of time to do that later and he told us he will help us. Thinking that it was the wisest thing to do at the moment, we changed clothes and instructed Kuya Naldix to pick us up outside the mall.
Our first stop was the Tarsier Conservation Area in Loboc. It was everyone’s first time to see a Tarsier but the experience wasn’t very special. There were a lot of tourists that day so we couldn’t stay at one spot for long, which was difficult because we wanted to take good photos of the nocturnal animal. The Tarsiers were also very far from where the tourists are allowed to view them, which is quite understandable because those creatures get stressed easily. I just wished that I had a better and longer lens to take close shots of them.
The entrance fee costs 50 pesos. You also get a post card with a huge photo of the Tarsier printed in front.
I knew beforehand that the said conservation area isn’t a good place to see those creatures up close. There’s a better alternative which is the The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Corella, but the one located in Loboc was more accessible. It’s also close to other popular tourist spots like the Chocolate Hills and the Man-Made Forest. More about why the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella is better can be read in Aileen’s Blog :)
The Man-Made Forest
Our next stop was the popular Man-Made Forest in Bilar. According to Kuya Naldix, it was a reforestation project done in the ‘60s during President Carlos P. Garcia’s time. The tall mahogany trees have been giving shade to the national highway for about 50 years already.
It feels like a hillbilly will come running out of the forest any minute haha!
Do be extra careful (and quick!) in taking a photo in the middle of the road. It’s still a national highway so a lot of buses, vans, cars, and motorcycles pass by the area.
The Famous Hills
When I was still a kid, I have read and seen photos of the famous Chocolate Hills in books, on the internet, and on TV. Back then I thought, “What’s so special about a group of hills?” I never thought seeing the real thing would feel sort-of magical.
On the lower left part of the photo, steel rods can be seen. That’s because a part of the viewing deck is still under construction. The old viewing deck was damaged during the 2013 earthquake
My friends and I climbed the highest hill to see all the other hills. Tons of tourists flocked the area that day so the viewing deck was a bit crowded. Also, you can’t see the rest of the hills because the other part of the viewing deck is under construction. Nevertheless, it didn’t made the experience less magical. It was so cool to see something in person, the stuff you’ve only been seeing in Sibika at Kultura books or in postcards given by people who have been there.
If you want to see the famous hills for yourself, limber up because the climb up and the view is breathtaking, literally and figuratively ;)
The Butterfly Sanctuary
The whole tour was getting very tiring already considering we didn’t get enough rest after arriving from Cagayan de Oro. But when we went to Simply Butterflies Conservation Center in Bilar, we were buzzing with energy again. All thanks to our funny tour guide.
We couldn’t concentrate on all the informative stuff he was saying because he was talking to us in broken english. There were more jokes and laughs than learning, which is a-okay because it was really what we needed after all the long car rides, walking, and climbing. The entrance fee costs us 50 pesos each.
Stops Along The Way
By this point of the tour, our energy levels were terribly low but we still pushed ourselves to check out two stops along the way. First was the Hanging Bridge in Sevilla. It crosses the Sipatan River. The bridge is originally made from just bamboos and rope, but because tons of tourists drop by the place and try to cross it, steel cables are added to ensure safety.
We paid 20 pesos each. There are photographers in the area to take photos of you and your friends, but it’s entirely up to you if you want to buy the photos. Someone took photos of us too but we didn’t buy it because well... we have our own camera. We just asked Kuya Naldix to take a decent group photo instead.
Last stop of the day was the Sandugo or the Blood Compact Site in Tagbilaran. The site was made as a remembrance of the blood compact of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi of Spain and Rajah Sikatuna of Bohol. The said practice symbolizes friendship. Imagine if that still applies to today. I won’t slit my arms for any friend, no siree! Haha :)
We were supposed to check out the old churches, but we shifted all our focus to finding a budget friendly accommodation in Panglao. We wanted to stay near the beach because really, the famous white beach of Panglao is what we went there for. There are tons of semi-expensive places to stay. Most of the room rates we found was around 1,200 to 1,500 per night. This is already good for two persons and can only allow one extra person. Since there were four of us, these weren’t included in our choices.
Good thing there are several decent and inexpensive places too. There are fan rooms ranging from 700 to 900 per night. If you want to save up on your accommodation and you aren’t very picky, this is a good choice for you. We stayed in Liquit. It’s located in Alona Beach, Panglao across Cherry’s Home. The pad was clean, simple, and decent.. There’s a fluffy king size bed (my friends and I slept in it peacefully and there were four of us!), an electric fan, a private bathroom, a fridge, and some cabinets. It was good enough for our stay.
This is it for Day 1! There’ll be more photographs and stories for the next part of this blog post. Day 2 is definitely our favorite day during our trip :)