Road to Ecstasy: The Amazing Bohol Adventure

The Department Of Tourism’s famous campaign slogan “It’s more FUN in the Philippines” redefines the essence of travelling the day I set foot in Bohol.

Together with my older cousin, Tracy. We discover the surprising wonders of the 10th largest island in the Philippines that offers breath taking natural and manmade resources both in land and water. A paradise beyond reach that I will share through my collected photographs and expressive thoughts. Join me and Let us journey in Bohol.
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THE STORY:
During my Northern Mindanao escapade with my college classmates we consistently post pictures in our social networking page. Ate Tracy saw my stunning photos in Camiguin and dropped comments of endearment. Right there and then, I eagerly proposed to her to visit Bohol and lucky us Cebu Pacific offers seat sale from time to time, without second thought we booked a flight bound to Tagbilaran for four days and three night.

As a seasoned researcher for travel adventures, Ate Tracy trusted and approved my itinerary for our Bohol trip. She’s so excited upon seeing the places and activities that we will visit and experience but a day before our much anticipated flight going to Tagbilaran. Typhoon Luis hit Luzon with storm signal number 1 in Isabela and neighboring provinces while in NCR was experiencing heavy downfall of rain.

Confident in all means we pursue our desire to travel in our destined getaway with so much optimism and prayers in hand. In timely manner we check the web for flight status and weather forecast. 

God answered our prayers as He shown sunshine upon our arrival in Tagbilaran Airport. We happily left the airfield, ride a tricycle bound to the jeepney terminal that will take us to Pangalao Island.
Here we go, Bohol!

I’ve learned during my extensive research that there’s three set of tours to choose from. We maximize our time to visit all the packages famous in Bohol, namely the Pangalao Tour, Country side bundle and the astonishing Island Hopping adventure 

PANGLAO TOUR:
From the jeepney terminal in Tagbilaran it took us 45 minutes to an hour going to Alona Beach due to road repairs. I patiently seated in the middle of the vehicle observing and listening the locals whispering in their dialects as well as glancing in the window seeing the impressive rivers, old houses, towering mountains and man-made infrastructure. I politely asked the old lady in front of me about our destination, she spoke in her sweet visayan twang that the place is near and a minute later she smiled at me and excitedly murmur “Go Straight ahead, Enjoy!”. I cheerfully say “Thank you” with so much excitement seeing the sign board “ALONA BEACH 250 meters”. 

First in our list is to locate affordable accommodation. Since June to November is the low season in Bohol. There are pension houses and hotels with discounted price. Ate and I checked in near the beach front for 880 pesos per day we reserve the room for two days and two nights and immediately unloaded our belongings to have our late lunch.

Hello Panglao Island
The white powdery coastline of Alona is consist of bars, restaurant with different variation of menu, coffee and souvenir shops. Quite pricey I must say but as long as it satisfies my taste buds it’s absolutely fine with me, I’m here in Bohol to pamper myself.

We waste no time, after our classy lunch at the bay overlooking the awesome beach of Panglao we headed directly at Hinagdanan Cave.

My friend Ashley and Francis whom visited Bohol for several times reminds me that public vehicles are few in Panglao, we needed to hire tricycle or car enable for us to roam around in the Island. Similar observation when I traveled in Mindanao.

For 300 pesos deal Ate Tracy and I rented a Tricycle or universally known for trike, we first visited Hinagdanan Cave. Upon our arrival in the area I’m looking for an opening of a cave or mountains. The assigned tour guide to us directed us in the ground, I was amazed on the fact that we’re going down in a small opening as if we’re journeying in the middle earth. Cemented pathway with steel railways and spotlight are constructed and installed inside the cavern. In the distance I saw kids jumping in the water hearing their giggles. I eagerly asked our tour guide the depth of the stream. He energetically answered me that 200 meters from the cave is the Bohol Sea that supplies water inside the grotto. During high and low tides the depth of the water is 15 and 12 feet respectively.
Dark Inside

I removed my white sando and jumped into the cold water! Shouting at the top of my lungs! And man, did it thrice. I missed jumping and splashing, that heartbeat of excitement is priceless. Thanks to our tour guide for adjusting and blending the colors of my dslr and the results – Stunning Photos.

We exited the cave sweating with smiles, indeed a memorable experience. The tricycle driver told us that we will be heading to Bayoyoy, all along I thought it’s a small sculpture later did I know that Bayoyoy is the smallest man in Bohol, forever young at 67 years old. Now I remembered him, a local show feature his unique situation.

Seaside at the Bee Farm
Near the house of the famous man in Bohol is the Dauis Church. The front structure was destroyed during the earthquake last year but the façade remains strong. We whisper our devotions and headed back in our Hotel to retire our body from the air-land-water travel quest.

Bee Farm is included in the Panglao Tour due to time constraint we visited the said place in our Day 3. Aside from the famous bees, the place caters organic products, top of the line amenities and restaurant with organic food menu. We had a mini tour in the area and learned different types of flowers and leaves that totally edible as well as lettuce has four kinds. Oh! Food stuff is not my thing, I’m an IT professional though.

ISLAND HOPPING:
In Bohol, Canvasser or fixers in layman’s term offers the packages I've mentioned. Since it’s expensive to rent a boat just the two of us. We've shared the vessel to other tourist and pays 500 pesos each inclusive of passage to Balicasag and Virgin Island plus Dolphin watching. Snorkeling, fish feeding and Turtle sighting in Balicasag has different fee – 200 pesos each activities.
We kick off our majestic paradise tour in Bohol pimping in the motor boat waiting to witness the friendliest mammal to submerge from the surface of the Sea– the Dolphins of Bohol.
Good Morning Panglao! Island Hopping here we go!
The flipping and splashing caught my attention, groups of dolphin swimming together to entertain us. I continuously click my camera to capture the one of a kind encounter with this creature. Reminiscing my Oslob trip swimming side by side with the Butanding’s [Whale Shark].

My happiness is beyond compared and my adrenaline intensified the moment the dolphins showed up near our boat, all the 9 passengers including me and Ate all shouted with pure joy as if everyone won the lottery.
Speechless! I wanna chase you guys.
We bid farewell with the dolphins and continued our escapade in Balicasag Island. We transferred to a small boat and paddle forward in the right most part of the said isle. The boatman instructed us to wear the life vest and snorkeling goggles and we carefully jump in the water by turns. I started to swim and deep dive, my heart melts with so much color of gladness. Fishes dancing around me, crystal like corals and clear salt water. Heaven must be underwater. I chuckled with pleasure when the boatman hand me over the crackers to feed the small fish and they are all around me as if they kissing and hugging me.
Marveleous
I keenly assisted Ate Tracy as she’s afraid in the water, during our childhood we almost drown in the sea as the tides shifted rapidly. From time to time I hold her hands and together we hold our breath to see what’s within our foot. She’s surprised to see the kingdom of Poseidon.

There lots of foreigner in the area having their technical dives. I followed their direction and found out they headed in the deepest part of the ocean. The darkest shades of blue is seen underneath and again for the nth time my heart bangs for joyfulness. I thank you Lord for giving me the chance to see in my own naked eyes the world below the skies.
Say Cheese! Awesome!
After our close encounter with nemo and friends we’re now on the quest finding the turtles in the western part of Balicasag. I've joined our boatman as he dive in the deepest part of the sea and a moment later he is pointing his finger. My eyes widen and I barely catch my breath for excitement. For the very first time in my life I saw in the wild, a turtle enjoying the freedom to swim in the vast ocean. I watched them swim with so much fascination .
15 feet and below watching the Turtle to freely swim, on their way to the deepest part of the sea

All our underwater shots is owned by Iya, we met her together with her officemate Melai during our Island Hopping tour. Thank you so much I had awesome photos.

Amen
Time flies so fast, how I wish I could stay long to be with the turtles and fishes. We’re now on our last destination – the Virgin Island.

From the distance, my eyes pops with the desire to hurriedly set foot in white powdery sands of our last stop. I’ve been in different coastline but this one is so unique long tail like of sandbar with trees setup at the end, I asked myself is this place real, am I just dreaming with all the encounters I’ve experienced later that day.

Ate and I took pictures by turns and explored the island together. Our tour guide shared to us that the said islet is private owned with religious sculptures as if there’s a station of the cross in a mystic paradise. One last look and I left my footsteps in the sands with my extraordinary Island Hopping in Balicasag.

Its almost 1 in the afternoon when we reached the bay of Panglao. I took a quick shower and check different restaurant to have our late lunch. We chose to dine in at Alona Hidden Dream. It’s near the main road and the price range is really affordable and the food were tasty too.
Enjoying the sunset and the view with Ate Tracy

After our fistful lunch we went back to the beach and stayed there till sunset, we resist the heat of the blazing sun and enjoyed the waves of the sea after all we rarely experience to be with the nature. Sharing and updating each other life stresses, dreams and ambitions and future engagement, we're all grown ups now.

Tracy and Baron was here
We ended our day two by pampering ourselves to the fullest by having an hour of Swedish massage at the bay. So relaxing I must say, plus hearing the waves and some acoustic music at the background makes me feel sleepy.

COUNTRY SIDE BUNDLE:
Around 9 o’clock in the morning Kuya Dimitri fetch us in front of our hotel, he will be our driver slash tour guide for the whole day will leave his mobile number below. We availed his service for 1600 pesos, since we wanted to explore the Bee Farm we added 200 pesos because the said place was out route. indeed, I've observed it too. From Panglao going to Bee Farm is quite far and from there all the way to Tagbilaran took us 30 -45 Minutes.
Wacky Pose at the Bee Farm | Fave shot blurry background

After our informative tour in Bee Farm we headed directly at Baclayon Church and Museum to have our historical trip, taking pictures is not allowed inside the Museum so I just listened attentively with the talk of the female tour guide. She shared to us that the said Church is celebrating its 417 years of foundation. I’m really amazed that the local government along with NGO preserve this kind of landmark.

As we roam around, I saw treasure of the past that signifies the rich culture and history of Bohol and the Philippines as well. Strong influence of the Spaniards still exist in this province as Catholicism flourish here.

Without further delay we visited Bohol Phyton and Wildlife. There’s few animals here and according Marimar, the famous gay guide in the area some of the creatures died during the earthquake due to luck of food supply. He ended up lip singing a Lani Misalucha song. He’s so funny and entertaining, we gave him 100 pesos tip for bringing smile in our faces. See video below entitled "DA DUR" read The Door.

video

Kuya Dimitri told us that we will be having our river cruise at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. We still have time to have our Photo Op in Blood Compact Monument wherein Datu Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi had there oneness and agreement through the traditional drinking of wine mixed with their own blood known as SANDUGO in 1565. As you recall my entry visiting Butuan in Agusan del Norte, historian is now claiming that the blood compact and the first arrival of the Spaniards happened in the said province, it will be a great change in Philippine history if proven legitimate. Afterwards we drop by to Aproniana Souvenir Shop to buy some Bohol goodies. I purchased peanut kisses and tablea or pure chocolate table for Mom and Dad.

After our shopping spree, we’re now headed at Loboc River for our buffet lunch. We avail the Hi – End or Pawikan for 500 plus 50 pesos entrance fee a 100 pesos difference with the regular cruise. According to Kuya Dimitri, there’s additional crab, buttered chicken, pork barbeque and chicken soup in the menu.
Floating Restaurant | Bloated

We've started eating upon the queue of the coordinator while hearing live performance of classic rock, pinoy disco and love songs as well as Visayan melodies that I personally fell in love with adding up the amazon like view.

I’m so full when we've reached a station where group of talented Boholanos singing and dancing local traditional music, rare opportunity to witness such performance. After the short show the boat maneuver to the other side of the river and had stop over at the Atti Tribe, place wherein tourist can interact with our indigenous people.

The singer in the cruise ended up his mini concert by singing a local song and a line from his jingle struck me “Balik balik sa Bohol” in English “Go Back to Bohol”. Definitely “YES”.

Gotta Eat you raw
I’m so excited when our tour guide slash driver announced that we’re headed at the Tarsier Conservatory Park. Finally, seen in my own naked eyes the small primate in the Philippines. They’re so tiny that I can hold them in my hands, oh it’s not allowed though.

Kuya Dimitri advised us to be quick in our tour. I took some pictures and we journey bound to the butterfly garden.

Upon our arrival at the Butterfly Garden a cheerful teenager assisted us in the registration area and began tripping us in the vicinity. First he explained different common insects that we see in the field followed by a hands on description of the life cycle of the butterflies. He even gave us an information about hermaphrodite butterfly which have uneven wings plus the fact that female is much bigger than male. As if I’m having my biology class again.

Along our journey off to Chocolate Hills, we stopped in the middle of road to have our grand Photo Op in the man-made forest, approximately kilometer stretch of towering trees that almost covers the skies. By turns we framed this priceless moment in our camera. Thinking the place again, as if I’m in a different country.
Mystic Forest

Without further delay, we’re now off to the Philippines’ famous geological landmark, the Chocolate Hills of Carmen, Bohol. For the record it counted 1216 hills and whenever I’m travelling by airplane down south of the country, its amazing aerial wonder seeing hundreds similar peaks together.

There’s a station near the area wherein tarpaulin is installed in the wall for close up and clear image of the hills. Ate and I pose wacky and creative shots individually and by group simultaneously to save time. There are photographers in the vicinity taking pictures of the tourist and it’s optional to purchase and print copy of your chosen photos.

Amazing!!! Oh! It's just a Tarpaulin
I feel cold and quite tired, it’s almost 5 in the afternoon when we reached the peak of the highest point of the man-made view deck climbing 200 steps with 360 degree panoramic sight of the worlds’ remarkable geological marvel. As if I’m just dreaming and holding my postcard, I pinched myself so many times and smiled, finally I’m here - Chocolate Hills.

Our friendly driver patiently waited in the parking lot when we saw him, he immediately get inside the car and started the engine. He genuinely asked about our happiness seeing the world renowned hills and we shared our thoughts of excitements as we’re headed to the man-made bridge a few kilometers from the man-made forest, this would be our last destination in our day three tour.

Let's cross the bridge
A 20 pesos entrance fee is collected before heading to the other side of the river. The bridge is made of bamboo with concrete foundation both side. Forgot to mentioned, there’s two constructed passage in the area an entrée and exit point.

I’m really eager to cross the other side while Ate just took picture of her near the bridge she’s afraid to be in the middle of the bridge feeling the height and wiggling sensation she shared to me. So, I just did it all by myself wondering alone and fascinated with the river’s beauty.

All my senses came into life as I’m walking towards the end of the second bridge. Tomorrow will leave Bohol and be back in our normal routine. I’m thankful to our God the Father for allowing me to experience such opportunity. While I’m inside the car gazing at the window I continued my day dreaming. We’ve explored and had a close and personal encounter with tiny colorful fish cousin to Nemo, how will I forget to remember my first sighting of the turtles of Balicasag that I almost failed to breath. Lastly, the free show of the flipping dolphins somewhere in the middle of Bohol Sea. That would be the best Island hopping that I've had to date.
Sun Kissed Skin | Panglao

The sensation of jumping and swimming inside the cave, a new experience to me – that was in Hinagdanan Cave. Meet and greet with Bayoyoy and visiting different damage churches in the area and ending our day one tour having our dinner by the bay hearing the relaxing sounds of the waves.

Day three is rewarding as we’ve all visited the must see landmarks in Bohol.

We retire our body in Matig-a pension house near Saint Joseph Cathedral [Tagbilaran] and bid farewell with so much gratitude to Kuya Dimitri for taking good care of us.

LAST DAY:
Prayers
We woke up early to catch the first local mass. Praying and thanking for our safety travel. Before heading in our pension house we lighted candles for personally intentions.

One hour before our scheduled flight bound to Manila, we arrived at Tagbilaran Airport with so much memories.

AUTHORS NOTE: I fell in love the moment I set foot in Panglao Island [I repeat], the inviting shoreline more than half kilometer stretch white powdery beach of Alona with its crystal clear water plus the fact that the people of Bohol are very friendly by showing their passion for customer. Visit the province of Bohol and I will prove you that there's so much wonders to be discovered. From land to water activities you’ll definitely enjoy every single moment with nature. Thanks for journeying with me, till next adventure.

Kuya Dimitri [Country Side Tour / Van]  : 09497346519

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