Bohol: The Heart of the Islands

Bohol is a first class island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region, consisting of Bohol Island and 75 minor surrounding islands. Its capital is Tagbilaran City. With a land area of 4,117.26 square kilometers (1,589.68 sq. mi) and a coastline 261 kilometers (162 mi) long, Bohol is the tenth largest island of the Philippines. To the west of Bohol is Cebu, to the northeast is the island of Leyte and to the south, across the Bohol Sea is Mindanao.

The province is a popular tourist destination with its beaches and resorts. The Chocolate Hills, numerous mounds of limestone formation, is the most popular attraction. Panglao Island, located just southwest of Tagbilaran City, is famous for its diving locations and routinely listed as one of the top ten diving locations in the world. Numerous tourist resorts dot the southern beaches and cater to divers from around the world. The Philippine Tarsier, considered the second-smallest primate in the world, is indigenous to the island.

Boholanos refer to their island homeland as the “Republic of Bohol” with both conviction and pride. A narrow strait separates the island of Cebu and Bohol and both share a common language, but the Boholanos retain a conscious distinction from the Cebuanos. Bohol’s climate is generally dry, with maximum rainfall between the months of June and October. The interior is cooler than the coast.

It is the home province of Carlos P. Garcia, the eighth president of the Republic of the Philippines (1957–1961) who was born in Talibon, Bohol.

Tourism in the Philippines is one of the main economic contributors to the economy.

 

Tourist Attractions

Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills is an unusual geological formation in Bohol Province, Philippines. There are at least 1,260 hills but there may be as many as 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres (20 sq mi). They are covered in green grass that turns brown during the dry season, hence the name.
The Chocolate Hills is a famous tourist attraction of Bohol. They are featured in the provincial flag and seal to symbolize the abundance of natural attractions in the province. They are in the Philippine Tourism Authority’s list of tourist destinations in the Philippines; they have been declared the country’s third National Geological Monument and proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Baclayon Church

Declared by the National Historical Institute (NHI) a national historical landmark in 1995. Definitely not the oldest stone church in the country, but the best preserved Jesuit-built church in the region. A Christian community was organized by the Jesuits on November 17, 1596 and thereafter a visita was erected; canonically raised to the status of a parish in 1717, present stone church completed in 1727. Casa parroquial built by the Agustinian recollects in 1872. Ecclesiastical museum established in 1969/70; now a branch of the Diocesan Museum of Tagbilaran museum system. Its narthex has the cuadro paintings of the historically acclaimed Filipino painter Liberato Gatchalian. Paintings were executed in 1859. This ancient massive edifice still retains its century-old architectural design. Both the external and internal portions of the church contain various interesting relics and artifacts dating back to the early 16th century.

 Bohol Museum

(Tagbilaran City) – Once home of the former President Carlos P. Garcia and his family – the fourth President of the Philippine Republic and the greatest statesman Bohol has ever had. The museum gives the visitor a feel of what Bohol was, is and will be. On display are the late President and his family’s memorabilia, old relics plus a collection of shells found on Bohol’s shores.

Clarin Ancestral House

(18 kms. from Tagbilaran City -Loay, Bohol) – Owned and maintained by descendants of the Clarin family, the ancestral house is located at the Poblacion. Guests are in for a nostalgic trip as they enter the house replete with interesting antique jars, lamps, kitchenwares and furniture.

 Blood Compact Site

(Barangay Bool, Tagbilaran City) – A commemorative shrine depicting Datu Sikatuna, a native chieftain, forged a Blood compact with Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, representing the King of Spain, for the purpose of fostering friendly relations between the two countries. The Blood Compact on March 16, 1565 is considered as the first “Treaty of Friendship” between the brown and white races.

 Punta Cruz Watch Tower

(Maribojoc, bohol) – an ancient watch tower built of stones many years back. In slightly indented place fronting the tower, a wooden cross was planted. Legend has it that its mysterious spell had saved many people from the ravages of pirates as the cross extended its mysterious arms straight to the sea thus preventing marauders. The tower served as a lookout point for incoming pirates. Atop the tower are windows overlooking Cebu, Siquijor and Mindanao Sea.

Loboc River Cruise

(Loboc, Bohol) – A fascinating boat ride along the Loboc River. Starting from Loay Bridge which is the outlet of the Loboc River, motorized pumpboats start the exciting boat ride along palm-hinged banks inland. The water is serene. The boat ride ends near the Tontonan waterfalls where several falls with cascading water provides a pleasant bathing session.

Panglao Island

Accessible in a 35 minute ride by tricycle from Tagbilaran City. Declared a scuba diving area where tourist frequent. It has a lighthouse and has a beautiful beach around the island bounded by colored coral flowers and rocks. The deep sea is very clear and clean. Scuba divers can see beautiful creatures and marine resources around. Panglao town (the main center) is 19 kilometers from Tagbilaran City.

Panglao Watchtower

Adjacent to San Agustin Parish Church, the watchtower is a five story which was built in 1851. It is octagonal in shaped and covered by a pitched roof. The tower is considered as one of the tallest of its kind in the country.

 Mag-Aso Falls

(20 kms. from Tagbilaran City – Antequera) – About 25 feet tall with verdant green forest as fitting background for the placid waters. A beautiful bathing resort with its cool cascading water and scenic surroundings.

 The Historic Ermita Ruins

(36.7 kms. from Tagbilaran City; Town : Dimiao) – Another old Spanish structure located just across the street from the town’s Catholic Church. According to the accounts of local residents, the structure was allegedly used as a military fortress, chapel, and as final resting place of members of the Spanish clergy at the time. The questions about its mysterious past, however, remained unanswered to this day that even experts from the National Museum have recommended its immediate excavation for further study in order to have a clear perspective of the town during the Spanish-era.

 Balicasag Island

Accessible by a 35 minute boat ride (6 kms. distance) from the town off Panglao Island. Balicasag Island has a total land area of 25 hectares, of which 1.5 hectares have been developed into a resort complex. The island has been developed into a dive resort for people who has a keen sense of awareness for marine preservation . Whale watching expeditions can be organized from here.

Balicasag Towers (Old and New)

The century-old watchtower and the new one are both situated in Balicasag Island. The old-one was used as a guide for incoming vessels but it was put into disuse when the new watchtower was made. As such, it now serves as a historical monument in the island. The new watchtower is very different to the old one. It has a modern design.   Visiting the two towers is one of the experiences that can be done on the island.  Tourists can take pictures with the old and new towers.

Pamilacan Island

Accessible by a one-hour pumpboat ride from the mainland in Baclayon. Pamilacan Island and its surrounding waters are popular for its rich marine ecosystem. Its underwater terrain features a coral garden which is home to Spanish mackerel, queen triggerfish, moray eels and manta rays. Pamilacan seas boast of several species of dolphins and whales. Dolphin contact is almost certain, while whale sightings is equally high. The Pamilacan Marine Life Tour, a community-based ecotourism enterprise, allows one to enjoy the island’s beautiful sandy white beaches, a 200-year old Spanish fort, the warmth and hospitality of the island’s inhabitants and its rich marine life.

Philippine Tarsier

(Corella – 10 kms. from Tagbilaran City) The Philippine Archipelago that has been a part of mainland Asia is considered as one of the havens of rare floras and faunas. One of the rare faunas that is usually the favorite subject of scientific researches is the tarsier. Considered as the smallest primate in the whole world. A nocturnal primate measuring from four to five inches, it has a tail which is longer than its body. However, if you’re really interested to see this famous tarsier, you’re always welcomed by the Boholanos to see it in its natural abode in the hills in the town of Corella.

 Eco/Extreme/Educational Adventure (E.A.T) Danao

(Magtangtang, Danao, Bohol) – E.A.T. Danao is an eco-adventure tour set up to promote Magtangtang’s natural and historical attractions as well as preserve the environment by involving the locals in its operations. Nature and adventure-oriented tourists can experience outdoor activities, such as the Sky Ride, Plunge, Suislide (zip-line cliff to cliff crossing), River Trekkng, River Tubing, Village Tour, Organic Farm Visitation, Root Climbing & Rappeling. Spelunking or caving to some of the nearby caves which are known as temporary hideouts and escape routes of the legendary revolutionary hero “Francisco Dagohoy” (1744-1829) is also one of the attractions of the tour. Food and accommodations are available at the Visitor’s Center.

 Sierra Bullones

The various adventure activities (like river trekking, caving, forest hiking, agriculture tours & mountain biking) found in the town (Sierra Bullones) are managed by community based ecotourism program. This program is part of the local government effort to generate funds for residents while providing protection for the area’s natural resources. Local residents provide visitors with all the services they will need to enjoy the natural settings of the barangays as well as a comfortable stays in the locality.

 Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape

(Towns of Bilar, Valencia, Carmen, Sierra Bullones, Garcia Hernandez, Dimiao and Batuan) – was established to ensure that a large patch of forest shall remain in Bohol. It has a total area of 4,700 hectares is made up of natural forests, 1,600 hectares of man-made forest, 690 hectares occupied and the rest is of cogonal features (subject to rehabilitation). The Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape is a forest of undisturbed wildlife and biodiversity in Bohol . Forest animals roam freely in the park’s interior. Among the park’s attraction is the Logarita Spring located in Magsaysay Park, Bilar which is popular with local excurtionist. Plans for constructing a butterfly garden, viewing platform suspended bridge and new trails on the park are in the works.

Cambuhat River and Village Tour

(Buenavista) – The Cambuhat River & Village Tour is an environment-friendly village enterprise owned and managed by the Cambuhat Enterprise Development & Fisheries Association (CEDFA). It showcases rustic village life and local management of river, estuarine and mangrove areas. Enjoy paddling with a fisherman along a mangrove-lined river, watch demonstration of oyster farming, visit villages to see the making of traditional handicrafts, and learn about local interpretation of the value of river management.

Candijay Mangrove Forest

(Barangay Panadtaran, Candijay) – the mangrove area of Cogtong Bay covers 2,200 hectares of primary growth mangrove forest of which 598 hectares are located in Barangay Panadtaran . Since 1999, efforts to protect and rehabilitate the mangrove stands have been stepped up to stop further destruction. At least 21 out of 47 true mangrove species known to grow naturally in the Philippines are found in Panadtaran. The protection of this valuable natural treasure is shared by the DENR, the local government of Candijay and resident communities, assisted by the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP).

Banacon Island Mangrove Forest

(Jetaffe) – said to be the largest man-made mangrove plantation in Asia. It is a low lying island where most areas are under water during high tide. Only a small elevated area is above the water. Vast intertidal sandflats are found around the island.

Our Lady of All Nations Shrine

(Garcia-Hernadez) – The Shrine is located on a hill at Sitio Cogon, Barangay Ulbujan. It was constructed on March 2002 through the efforts of the Couples for Christ (CFC) local chapter headed by Mr. & Mrs. Danny-Bong Ido. One special feature is the six (6) feet concrete image of Our Lady of All Nations that stands at the upper center of the site. Today, the place has become a religious sanctuary and a favourite venue for prayers, retreats and recollections. It is not only a quiet place for introspection but also a respite from the modern world’s pollution.

Bohol’s Celebrations

Sandugo Festival (July 1-31)

This annual festival of the province commemorates the sandugo or blood compact between Datu Sikatuna and Miguel López de Legazpi. The highlights of the festival are agro-industrial fair, cultural and historical showcase, sports events, a beauty pageant, balls and dances, entertainment shows, and streetdancing which culminates with the re-enactment of the blood compact or Sandugo between Datu Sikatuna and Don Miguel López de Legazpi.

Tagbilaran City Fiesta (May 1)

The feast of Saint Joseph, patron saint of Tagbilaran City, starts the month-long fiestas in Bohol. It is one of the most exciting and fun-filled occasions of the year. During the novena, or nine days before the day itself, nightly entertaining activities are held, such as the “Mutya sa Tagbilaran” beauty pageant, literary musical shows, concerts, dramas and stage plays, and many more.

Agbunan Festival (June 28)

The culture and traditions of the people of San Isidro are displayed. The festival is a great means for the promotion of tourism, of ecological and agricultural pursuits, the enhancement of folk beliefs and of the natural environment. The festival comprises a street-dancing and a showdown. Showcases of organic farm products from the different barangays of the town are also displayed.

Bolibongkingking Festival (May 23-24)

This is a music and dance festivity depicting the history, folklore, and traditions of the Loboc, Bohol. Bolibong Kingking is a term applied to the drums and gongs and their rhythm used to accompany the supplication dance ritual in front of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the 2nd Patron of Loboc, Bohol.

Hudyaka sa Panglao (August 28)

The Hudyaka sa Panglao takes place on August 28th every year in the grounds of its parish church. The ten barangays of the municipality compete fiercely with each other to see which is the best of the best. Its own dance festival brings back ex-Panglao residents from all over the world, and instead of making a day of it, the music and dance lovers of Panglao try and make a whole week of it…and more. Actually, they take nine days and the whole town has a festive atmosphere with parties all over the place.

Katigbawan Festival (June 17-24)

What distinguishes Catigbian from other towns is its annual festival, the Katigbawan. A week-long festival comprising various activities like carabao-racing, hog-catching, agrofair, motorcross and a search for Miss Katigbawan. This affair happens only in June.

Pahinungod Festival (month of May)

A 10-day fiesta in the month of May commemorating the Municipality of Calape’s rich ancestry and devotion to the San Vicente Ferrer, its town saint and the Calapenhons “pahinungod” (offer) to come home annually. Highlights include Search for Miss Calape, a One-Night Dace Concert and a street dancing.

Pana-ad sa Loboc (Holy Thursday & Good Friday)

In observance of the Semana Santa or Holy Week, the Lobocanons read the “Pasyon” and do a penitential procession through the way of the cross that culminates at “Cruz Daku,” a huge cross 80 feet in height which is on top of the highest hill of Loboc where one can view the neighboring towns, including Tagbilaran City.

Pandayan Festival (February 27)

The Pandayan Festival is held at Barangay Lonoy, Jagna to celebrate the canonical erection or the parochial anniversary of St. Joseph the Worker Parish. All eight upland barangays of Jagna which is under the parochial jurisdiction of the Parish participates in the activities. Activities include a nine-day novena in honor of the patron saint, a procession of the image of St. Joseph the Worker, Carpentry and Handicrafts Fair, an inter – barangay basketball tournament and last but not least, the street dancing competition.

Sambat Mascara y Regatta Festival (1st Saturday of December)

The festival is celebrated in honor of Loay town’s second patron, St. Francis Xavier. Colorful activities are lined up, like the agro-industrial fair, group masked street dancing, drum and bugle competition, boat racing along the river, and many more. The event is highlighted by a fluvial parade of the image along the river.

SidlaKasilak (August 30 – September 8)

In English, it is the Festival of Lights. This event is held yearly to coincide with the fiesta celebration of Loon which is Sept. 8 in honor of the Patroness, Our Lady of Light. The organizers came up with this idea of using illuminated lanterns to depict glittering lights thus the name “SidlaKasilak” in this street dancing competition. Appropriately with this kind of prop, it is performed at night.

Sinugboan Festival (May 27)

Sinugboan Festival is celebrated every 27th day of May in the Municipality of Garcia Hernandez. “Sinugboan” is a term closely related to the Cebuano word ‘sugbo’ meaning to wallow. The use of the vernacular past tense “sinugbo” denotes an event of historical import. The festival highlights the town’s annual commemoration of her foundation day. Activities include agro-industrial fair, recognition program for achievers, various games and street dancing competition where the storyline focuses on the creation and establishment of Garcia-Hernandez.

Sinu-og Estokada Festival (September 21)

The Sinu-og Estokada Festival is celebrated at the town of Jagna in honor of their patron saint, Saint Michael the Archangel where two groups, one coming from barangay Mayana and the other from Cabungaan, perform a native war dance during the vesper procession and also during the morning fluvial procession on the feast day itself which falls on September 29. This distinct cultural tradition has been observed for more than a century and shows the rich cultural heritage of the town. The native war dance is performed with the accompaniment of a drum depicting the battle between the early Jagnaanon Christians and the invading Muslims from Mindanao. The male dancers representing the Jagnaanons recite verses while mimicking the fight with bolos during the dance.

The Sinu-og Estokada is a modification of the above sinu-og celebration. Here, the native war dance is portrayed as a fight between good and evil where the basic sequence of movements are modified conforming to a rhythm in marching and regular procedure. This festival is joined by the young adolescents of the town.

It is believed that Saint Michael the Archangel rescued the people from the hands of the invaders at that time and this belief has been handed down to the present generation of Jagnaanons. Thus, Saint Michael the Archangel is much loved and revered by all Jagnaanons and the feast day is celebrated with much fanfare.

Suroy sa Musikero (December 25 – February 2)

This is when the town musicians of Loboc cover daily the assigned areas to partake of the food served by the host and to play music to the tune of Kuradang, Dalaga sa Baybayon, and others. This is also the period when carolers render Christmas songs to the families of the host area.

Bohol Fiestas (month of May)

A hallmark of Bohol, this is when a fiesta is celebrated by a town or a barrio each day for the whole month of May in honor of its patron saint. Fiestas are characterized by plenty of food and merriment. This is also the time for family reunions when family members from places far and near gather to keep in touch with loved ones.

Traditionally, a novena is made each day for 9 days before the fiesta, and nightly activities or presentations are usually done. During the vesperas or vesper day, the day before the fiesta, a procession is made. A misa pontifica or pontifical mass is done at church during the day itself, followed by sumptous meals at each home.

Ubi Festival (January)

For almost half a millennium, the ubi tuber has been venerated by the Boholanos. To this day, the respect for the plant is still stronger than ever. The festival institutionalizes the ubi crop as the agro-historical geographical-religious symbol of Bohol, giving the ubi the recognition it rightfully deserves in the market. The festival features an exhibit, ubi contest, an agri-business investment opportunities seminar, and a cultural show.

Tigum Bol-anon Tibuok Kalibutan or TBTK

This summons all Boholanos from all over the world to gather and the name for such a grand event. This gathering of Boholanos from all over the world coincides with the Sandugo Celebration in July.

Accommodations

Here is the list of accommodations around Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
Gie Gardens Hotel – 18 M.H. Del Pilar St., Cor. C.P.Garcia Ave, Tagbilaran City
Darunday Manor   – 22 J. A. Clarin Street, Tagbilaran City
Metrocentre Hotel – C.P.G. Avenue, Tagbilaran City
Vest Pension House  – Tamblot Extension, Cogon District, Tagbilaran City
The Meredian Hotel –  4-S Matig-a St., tagbilaran City
Hotel La Roca  – Graham Avenue, Tagbilaran City
Matig-a Seaside Pensione Bohol – 26 V.P. Inting Street
Via Bohol Tourist Inn – Graham Ave., Tagbilaran City
Villa Alzhun Tourist Inn and Restaurant  – 162 V.P Inting Street, Mansasa, Tagbilaran City
Vest Pension House – Tamblot Extension, Tagbilaran City
Taver’s Pension House – Taver’s building, Remolador St., Tagbilaran City
Sky High Lodge – CPG Ave., Tagbilaran City
Shores Apartelle – Mansasa District, Tagbilaran City
Wregent Plaza Hotel – CPG Ave., Tagbilaran City
Share House Bohol  – Sacred Heart Village, Tagbilaran City
Esta Villa Residencia  – Mansasa Seaside, Tagbilaran City
Soledad Suites  – J. C. Borja Street cor. M. Parras Street, Tagbilaran City
Accessibility

By Air

The main entry point to Bohol is Tagbilaran City (Tagbilaran City Airport) which is only a one hour-and-15 minute flight from Manila and 20 minutes from Cebu.

By Sea

The most convenient way to get to Bohol from the neighboring islands is by fast ferry. Fast ferries offer a high speed passenger service. These have a cruising speed of about 50 kilometers per hour.

Getting Around in Bohol

Once you arrive on Bohol, there are various ways to get around the island. You can find plenty of tricycles and some taxi waiting to bring you to most locations within Tagbilaran and neighboring towns. If you need to go to one of the other towns on the island, you have a choice of jeepneys, busses, V-hires, or even habal-habal.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohol

http://www.visitmyphilippines.com/index.php?title=ProvinceofBohol&func=all&pid=7379&tbl=0

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bohol_Festivals

http://www.garciahernandez.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=122&Itemid=58

http://bohol.gov.ph/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate_Hills

http://tourism.bohol.gov.ph/category/travel-information/

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