Chronicling: When in BOHOL…

*Bohol – a group of small islands located in the Visayas region of the Philippines, best known for the tourist spot Chocolate Hills, and is now a famous diving destination.

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1. Do bring your camera!! I cannot even stress how important this is. I even brought 2, my Canon EOS 400D Rebel XTi, and my Canon Ixus I-Zoom. The Ixus (which I’ve named Poopie-Penz; pronounced “pooh-pie-pahns” and with a thick German accent) was for the times when I didn’t feel like lugging my bulky EOS (which I’ve named simply Schultz) around. It also helped a lot when Schultz ran out of juice. (See some of my Bohol shots here:


2. Do prepare yourself for a loOooong and bumpy ride from the small airport in Tagbilaran City to the beaches of Panglao Island, if you’re headed there, that is. Meaning, better finish your business first in the plane or airport john before engaging in that loOooong and bumpy ride, even when nature isn’t calling. Trust me, you do not want to be riding the back of a “matagtag” trike (there’s a van, too, but that cost more and we’re cheapskates. ^_^) for the next 45 minutes to an hour with your bladder about to burst.

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3. Do book yourselves in a nice resort in advance. Like in December or even November of last year. We barely managed to book ourselves in January, as everywhere else was already full. Although I have to say, we found it a little weird that when we first arrived there, there didn’t seem to be that many people, and that some resorts (they were all beside each other on one long beach strip) still had plenty of rooms to spare. The beach did start filling up on our second day though, but still…

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4. Do check with the many manongs first before agreeing to one (yes, they will approach you; those people were hard-sellers, man!) for the cheapest boat deal. Why? Because you’ll need one to go dolphin-watching! And island-hopping! And snorkeling! And diving, if you know how and can afford it, unlike me!!

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5. Do buy one of these prior to the trip:

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It’s a “weatherproof” bag by SACK. Got it from SPF, a store in Glorietta that carries “beach” stuffs, and comes in black and white aside from this neon orange (which I opted for since I knew it would make me look like a lifeguard on the beach. *laughs maniacally*). It’s not 100% waterproof, but it will protect your things (like cameras) when you’re a brain-dead klutz and you accidentally knock it off the boat and into the water for a few minutes. But seriuosly, this bag was so worth the money because when you’re in a small boat, you’ll inevitably get splashed with water, and this bag saves your non-waterproof things from getting wet, like yous cameras and yous monies.

6. Do buy an underwater camera prior to the trip. I really regretted not buying one. Even a disposable one would’ve been worth it, I think, if it meant you’ll be able to take lots of gorgeous underwater photos, or not even, since it’ll still be great to carry around while you’re wading in the water, and not worry about it getting it wet or leaving it on the beach. I didn’t have much photos from when we were snorkeling or wading… *wails*

7. Do buy your own snorkel gear prior to the trip. I had to rent mine, and, well, I don’t think I have to elaborate what that entails. *shivers*

8. Do not, under any circumstances, forget to bring SUNBLOCK! Believe me, I forgot mine (stupid, I know) and got really, really, and I mean REALLY burned. It hurt like hell for the next few days. Or week. *cries* Seriously, I couldn’t change clothes without wincing, and I yelped everytime someone touched or accidentally (sometimes intentionally) bumped into the burnt areas.


9. Do bring a first aid kit. Especially if you’re a dorky klutz like me. Somehow I keep forgetting that there isn’t a single time when I swam in the sea and didn’t end up with “battle wounds”. *whistles*

10. Do check out the many restaurants. We rated the restaurants based on their halo-halo (a Filipino dessert), lolz! Their halo-halos there were weird, though. It was very customized for foreigners. They had cornflakes instead of pinipig, and they had pineapple, mango, regular banana, and kaong, instead of the usual sweet mung beans, sweetened banana, jackfruit, flan, and yam. And while the staple ice cream is still there, it didn’t feel as authentic. But we still enjoyed eating them by the shore. ^_^

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11. For the more prudent ones out there, do expect some boobies. Some foreign women are, of course, much more liberated than our local women folk, and preferred to lounge by the beach topless. *swivels eyebrows* Actually, make that bake under the sun! Again, people, bring sunblock! It seemed that every foreigner we bumped into there was hell-bent on getting skin cancer or something. Apparently, it was winter over wherever they came from. But still, I’m finding a hard time dealing with my burns (and now flaking, peeling skin, which is gross) because they’re so unattractive and painful, so I just don’t get how these people could deliberately do that to their own skin.

12. Do check out this underground cave, Hinagadanan (“laddered”). There wasn’t anything special to it, and frankly, it was REALLY creepy there. Seriously.

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There was a large pool of water inside, and while our guide said people can actually swim there, I wouldn’t advise it since it’s 8 feet deep, and really dark.

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Our guide also mentioned that this cave was used as a location in an old foreign film, and the filmmaking people did these cave drawings. When they finished shooting, the locals asked them not to erase them.

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13. Do check out the old Baclayon Immaculate Conception Church, one of the oldest in the Philippines, as it dates back to the time when the country was colonized by Spain. Make it early if you plan on attending mass, though. We got there around 10 and it was already over.

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I think I should also mention that people are allowed to climb the back of the altar, and pay their respects to the statue of the Immaculate Conception. No cameras allowed, though.

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14. Do check out Bohol’s Chocolate Hills. Duh, that’s only, like, what it’s famous for. But quite honestly, I thought it was pretty boring. The hills are probably not as lush as they used to be or something. Plus I couldn’t get any nice shots from our vantage point. So yeah, the hills sucked! Well, maybe not, but they weren’t very pretty.

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Oh, and make sure you stop by this area with the really tall trees along the way. There’s nothing special about them, but there were bats, and the trees were kinda eerie-looking. It was nice, sort of reminded us of The Blair Witch Project. ^_^

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15. Do have lunch in one of Loboc River’s floating restaurants. For a mere 250 Philippine buckeroos, you’ll get to experience a Filipino buffet on a small ferry-type water vehicle. The one we were on wasn’t as fun as the other one, though. It was very unfortunate to get to see the other floating restaurant with their passengers dancing away to cheesy oldies music and other forms of merriment, whereas all we got was man-strumming-oldies-songs-on-his-acoustic-guitar-while-singing-solo-and-not-very-audibly.

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The slow ride will take you throughout the length of the Loboc River, then turn around at a dead end which had these tiny waterfalls, then back to the dock.

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Along the way, we passed by a group of locals on their own raft-like water vehicle who performed novelty songs.


16. Do stop by this place where they keep the Tarsiers! We were told that these little critters are the smallest breed of monkeys in the world. They’re very sensitive. You can’t use flash on them, otherwise they’d go blind. And it’s not advisable to hold them or pet them because if you accidentally drop them they’ll get depressed. And once they’ve found their mate, and if said mate dies, they’ll commit suicide. >_<

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Sometimes they’d get this gremlin-like look on their faces. I don’t whether that meant you’ve angered them, or if their huge eyes got strained from too much light.


17. Do, or don’t, drop by this very small zoo. I didn’t really like it at all. And the one thing that they were proud of, what they claim to be the longest python in captivity, seemed dead. Plus the only other animals they had there were birds, and a drag queen who’s lip-syncing “You’re Gonna Love Me”.

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18. Do not expect that there would be a night life here. Bohol is very rural and peaceful and tranquil. It’s meant for some alone time and reflection and much needed r&r.

19. Lastly, do prepare lots of petty cash because not every place accepts plastics. And trust me, you’re gonna need it for the souvenirs and the pasalubong! And the Peanut Kisses, which is the native delicacy in Bohol! Yum!


*   *   *   *   * 

And that’s Bohol for you, folks! God, that was a long one…


~ by iamnotfrodo on March 11, 2008.

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