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Bohol Part 2: The Tour

by on February 28, 2008

After checking in, we decided to go straight to the tour. We’d been up since 3:00 AM and while it was tempting to go back to bed or just spend a lazy day by the pool, we figured what the hell. We’re up and about already anyway. Let’s do this thing.

Also, Dante advised us to go and take advantage of the sunny day, because the weather had been unpredictable lately. Just a few days before he’d taken some people to Chocolate Hills and they weren’t able to see anything because it was too cloudy.

Our tour started around 9:00 AM and ended around 4:00 PM. It was pretty hectic, zipping from one site to another, but it was very satisfying to cover so much ground in one day.

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Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Dauis) – Founded by Jesuits missionaries in 1695, the church’s beautiful architecture combines Byzantine and Romanesque styles. The frescoes on the ceiling were painted much later in 1916 by Ray Francia. The church’s patron, the Virgin of the Assumption, is said to be miraculous and the water in the well at the foot of the altar is said to have healing powers.

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Blood Compact Site (Tagbilaran) – Commemorates the pact of friendship between Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Datu Sikatuna in 1565. This event is still celebrated in Bohol every year in June with the Sandugo festival.

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Tarsier Sanctuary (Loboc) – I don’t know if the place we went to was an “official” tarsier sanctuary, but apparently you can see tarsiers pretty much anywhere in Bohol. There are all these little places by the side of the road. Some friends who’d been to Bohol before told me that they weren’t allowed to touch the tarsiers, but at the place we went to the attendants even insisted that we do. They’re so cute and tiny and they have surprisingly expressive faces. I should submit loltarsier macros to I Can Has Cheezburger.

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Man-Made Forest (Bilar) – On the way to Chocolate Hills, we drove through the largest man-made forest in the country. It covers an area of 8.574 square kilometers and it was planted to sustain the ecological balance and restore the wildlife habitat in the area. Our one and only picture here was blurry, but we didn’t bother to take another one because we feared for our lives. We were standing in the middle of the road and it seemed like everyone in Bohol (not just Dante) drives like they’re high on shabu.

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Chocolate Hills (Carmen) – Bohol’s main tourist attraction consists of around 1,268 perfectly cone-shaped hills of about the same size, spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometers. School children who fantasize about hills made of actual chocolate are always disappointed to learn that they’re only called chocolate hills because the grass on them turns brown during the dry season. When we got there it looked like Dante’s worst fears were about to come true, but the drizzle never progressed into an actual downpour and though the sky was overcast we still managed to take some decent pictures.

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Simply Butterflies Conservation Center (Bilar) – This place is gorgeous. It’s got a butterfly garden and enclosure, a nature trail, a restaurant and even a wedding venue. But more than just a pretty place to go and enjoy nature, the center works towards wildlife and environmental conservation and provides livelihood development opportunities for people in the area. Guests can enter the butterfly enclosure with a guide, who will introduce them to the different varieties and walk them through the different stages of butterfly breeding. Did you know that butterflies mate for 6 to 8 hours? But they don’t do it for pleasure and they only do it once in their lives and afterwards they die, so it’s not so fun after all.

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Loboc River (Loboc-Loay) – After a hectic morning, a leisurely cruise and a buffet lunch was exactly what we needed. It was so nice to just sit back, relax and take in the beauty of unspoiled nature. Our on-board entertainment was a guy with a guitar who serenaded us with Barry Manilow, The Carpenters and Barbara Streisand. The different floating restaurants have different musical themes, apparently, and thank God we didn’t end up on the one with a Pinoy Idol reject belting out “Paper Roses” or the one playing a remixed version of “Boom-Tarat-Tarat”. Our guy was not half bad and my favorite performance was a song he composed himself. It was about Philippine geography, and it was so cute how he made all the lines rhyme (not because the words he chose actually rhymed but because of his Visayan accent). I’m still kicking myself for not recording it.

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Python Sanctuary (Alburquerque) – With a length of approximately 23 feet and an estimated weight of about 300 kg, Prony is the biggest known python in captivity. Almost as fascinating is Marimar, the acrobatic cross-dresser who gave us the most bizarre performance ever of Gloria Estefan’s “Everlasting Love” before introducing us to Prony. Check out the 80s nostalgia-inducing video here.

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Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (Baclayon) – Built in 1595 by Spanish Jesuit missionaries, Baclayon Church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It’s also said to be one of the best preserved and its rather shabby state is a commentary on the care given to historical buildings. Next to the church is the old convent, which houses a small museum with religious relics, artifacts and other antiquities dating back to the 16th century. I would’ve liked to spend more time there looking for interesting historical tidbits I could share with my class, but it was dusty and dimly lit and honestly it was kind of creepy being surrounded by so many religious statues. No pictures from the museum because cameras aren’t allowed inside.

Baclayon was our last stop, then it was back to Olman’s for a dip and a nap by the pool before having an early dinner. Up next: a full day of lounging around at Bohol Beach Club.

Part 1: Arrival and Olman’s View Resort Hotel, Part 2: The Tour, Part 3: Bohol Beach Club , Part 4: Conclusion

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From → Local, Travel

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