Bohol: Hanging Out from the City of Friendship

I consider myself lucky that my college peers were my high school classmates, and that some of these high school classmates were my primary school buddies, too. Others might not agree, but our friendship has been developing for more or less a decade now.

After college, we barely had time to hang out together because of our varied working schedules and the distance between and among our workplaces. Thankfully, one friend of mine invited us to book for a trip to Bohol when a promo fare was available. All in all, 11 of us booked for this trip, but only 8 of us were able to push through. It was nice to think that we were spending time together at Tagbilaran City, the Philippines’ City of Friendship.

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Located at the central part of Visayas lies the historically significant province of Bohol. This province is the 10th largest island in the Philippines and held the peace treaty between Datu Sikatuna, a native chieftain of the 1560s, and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, an “explorer” representing Spain*. However, Bohol’s beautiful landscape – beaches, islands, cave pools, hills, etc. – is not much known to many. Bohol is represented by the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsiers, but the province is filled with majestic views [1].

The early June rains made me worry that our trip might be spoiled by the unfriendly weather (unfriendly in terms of taking trips), but we were lucky that by mid-June, the skies were as blue as summer skies — perfect for summer trips.

We arrived at Tagbilaran Airport in Bohol one Wednesday afternoon, and much like Manila, the sun was blazing up above!

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We readily went to the hotel where we made reservations, Constrell Pension House, which was only a few minutes away from the airport. According to Kuya Reven, the tricycle driver we befriended on our trip, Constrell provides the cheapest accommodation within the city. We were able to book a room that could fit two people for 700-800php per day. This rate includes the basics — an air-conditioned room with a small shower room within, and Wi-Fi connection as well. However, my friends and I observed that despite paying similar amounts per room, the size and the amenities of the rooms differ — from cabinets to shower rooms to television sets.

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Marielle and Laura in their room, the most spacious among the four rooms we occupied. Photo from Jason Mercene.

We took a quick lunch and prepared for our afternoon trip to the famous beaches in Bohol’s twin island, Panglao.

 

Day 01: Panglao Island Tour

I was asking the hotel’s security guard about where we could ride a public utility jeepney to Panglao, but he referred us to the tricycle driver, Kuya Reven, outside the hotel. Kuya Reven offered to take us to Hinagdanan Cave in Dauis for 200php one way. Upon negotiation, we decided to tour around Panglao for 1000php back and forth. Four of us arrived one day earlier than the other four but one of us needed to work on some office project, so the three of us taking the Panglao Island Tour shared the 1000php fare expenses. You may contact Kuya Reven at 09270150734.

 

Hinagdanan Cave, Dauis

After about 30 minutes, we arrived at Hinagdanan Cave and paid the 50php entrance fee. This cave pool is located in Dauis, a municipality south of Tagbilaran City.  For those who are traveling solo, one could opt to ride a jeepney to Dauis, then ride a tricycle or a habal-habal to the place itself.

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Photo from Kaisy May Bual

Hinagdanan Cave is a cavern filled with stalactites and stalagmites. What makes it more interesting compared to other caves is that within the cave, a lagoon of turquoise waters fill the place. Sunlight comes through a hole and makes the cave even more enchanting.

For me, the cave pool is absolutely stunning. The natural light emphasizes the beauty of the place while the blue shades of the water are undeniably inviting.

Notes:
1. There is a parking fee of 5php for tricycles and habal-habals. It would be best to ask the driver to wait for you and bring you to your next destination.
2. Buying souvenirs here is recommended for the items are sold at relatively cheap prices.
3. Travelers may swim within the cave’s pool after paying 75php. It is quite humid inside the cave, and the cave pool is definitely inviting.

 

Alona Beach, Panglao

Alona Beach is the most popular beach in Bohol. It is located in Panglao, Bohol’s twin island, which is the home of a great number of white sand beaches.

This beach, being the most popular, can become very crowded especially during summer. Luckily, during our visit, there were only a few tourists walking upon the white sand shores.

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Alona Beach

 

We almost skipped this place because many posts recommended skipping Alona, but by our Kuya Reven’s insistence, we dropped by this beach and actually enjoyed the beautiful view of white-washed boats upon the clear blue waters.

 

Dumaluan Beach, Panglao

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Playing Ultimate at the sandbar of Dumaluan Beach

We arrived at Dumaluan Beach about 5:30 in the afternoon. The waters have crept away from the shore, revealing the white floor of the sea. A sandbar was visible at a distance, and the sun painted streaks of red orange upon the sea.

The trip to Dumaluan Beach was very calming. The setting sun added to the joy in this short but satisfying trip.

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Sunset at Dumaluan Beach

Notes:
1. Dumaluan is just a 20-minute habal-habal ride away from Alona Beach
2. Visitors must pay 25php entrance fee to Dumaluan Beach
3. There is a parking fee of 25php for tricycles and habal-habals

 

Since the evening skies were taking over, we decided to head back to our hotel. After washing away the white sand from the beaches, we had our dinner at Chicken Ati-Atihan, a native restaurant that offers “the finest grilled chicken in Bohol” [2].

 

Panglao Island Day Tour Itinerary:

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You may also view the itinerary here.

 

Day 02: Candijay and Anda Nature Trip

My friend and I came across a post showing Can-Umantad Falls and Cadapdapan Rice Terraces in Candijay, then Anda de Boracay in Anda. Being nature lovers, we wanted to visit these places. However, while I was working on our itinerary, I found out other natural destinations in Candijay and Anda.

We left the hotel a little after 5 in the morning, bought breakfast, then headed to Dao Integrated Bus Terminal where buses and vans wait for travelers heading up north. We decided to go to Candijay first and paid 130php for the public van fare. When the van was almost full, we took a two-hour long trip northeast of Tagbilaran.

We asked the van driver to drop us off somewhere we could hail a ride to Canawa Cold Springs, and he offered to contact a few of his habal-habal friends who could take us to our destination. The habal-habal driver quoted 100php for one way trip to Canawa Cold Springs, and an additional 200php to take us to Can-Umantad Falls.

 

Canawa Cold Springs, Candijay

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The enchanting Canawa Cold Springs

The turquoise blue waters of the cold springs was eerily enchanting. We were the first ones to arrive at the place after taking the unpaved roads eight kilometers from the highway and paying 20php environmental fee. The ride was long and bumpy. The roads were barely developed, but the view — mountains and farms — was refreshing.

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Canawa Cold Springs’ man-made pool

From the name itself, the waters of this spring are definitely cold. The turquoise waters tend to be very deep, but the caretakers of the place put up two ropes to serve as a precautionary measure — a reminder the the cauldron-shaped spring would get deeper as you go further.

Beside the spring, there is a man-made pool that might’ve been built to contain the waters in the spring and diminish the possibility that the spring’s water level would go low (my friend’s theory).

After about an hour, we decided to head back to the highway to find a ride to Anda. The habal-habal drivers offered to take us to Guindulman terminal instead, but made us pay 200php (Quite overpriced so make sure to negotiate with the drivers prior to taking the trips).

 

Batong Galain, Guindulman

From the terminal, we took a tricycle trip for 300php Guidulman-Anda-Guindulman. The driver, Kuya Severoy, kindly offered to tour us around Anda instead. He first took us to Batong Galain, one of the million-peso priced unspoiled beaches in Guindulman. Since he is a Guindulman native, he led us to a path where we wouldn’t have to pay the expensive entrance fees.

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This place is best known to shelter the diving spots in Bohol. Instead of sand, the flooring in this beach is highly composed of pebbles. The seawater was clear, and no other travelers were there that afternoon.

 

Cabagnow Cave Pool, Anda

After having much fun in Batong Galain, we continued our trip to Anda. Our first stop, the enchanting Cabagnow Cave Pool.

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Cabagnow Cave Pool

There are a great number of cave pools in Bohol, most of which are in Anda. An entrance fee of 50php is required for those who visit this cave pool. There is a small hole that connects the seawater to this cave, leaving Cabagnow with a tinge of saltiness.

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Photo from Kaisy May Bual

The waters within the cave looks so magical with various shades of blue. The best way to get into the cave is by cliff jumping, but for those who aren’t brave enough like me, they’ve set up a metal ladder whose primary purpose should’ve been to take the visitors out of the cave. However, the ladder might still make you feel a bit afraid because it is barely angled and the distance between the steps are a bit too long for my short legs.

Since the cave waters are about 25ft deep, the guides would provide lifebuoys, but if you aren’t afraid to swim, rid yourself of the lifebuoys and float upon the cold blue waters!

We didn’t want to leave the place, but Anda promises more beautiful destinations, so we made our way to Anda de Boracay.

 

Anda de Boracay, Anda

Named after the famous white sand island, Boracay, this beach in Anda is a stretch of fine white sand and clear blue waters.

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However, when we visited mid-June, seaweeds have flocked by the shoreline, making the place look a bit dirty. Still, both a friend of mine and I agreed that the sand in Anda de Boracay is a bit whiter and finer compared to that of Boracay.

Before continuing to our next destination, we ate some snacks near Anda de Boracay, then we proceeded to the eerie Combento Cave (as eerie as the name itself).

 

Combento Cave, Anda

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We almost had the whole place to ourselves, and as the name of this place suggests, this cave pool is too serene but borderline eerie that it took too long for us to test the waters.

Compared to Cabagnow’s deep blue color, Combento Cave can boast its crystal clear waters making it difficult to calculate how deep this natural pool is.

 

Bitoon White Beach, Anda

Before heading back to the city, we took one final dip at another white sand beach in Anda. Kuya Severoy took us to Bitoon White Beach.

The place is already developed with concrete huts a few meters away from the sea. However, there is no entrance fee to this place.

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Bitoon White Beach

More people were swimming in this beach compared to Anda de Boracay, but the waves here are a bit stronger compared to that of Anda de Boracay.

Still, the saltwater was a shady turquoise green with boulders of rock by the far end. Meanwhile, dead corals have flocked upon the short stretch of the white sand.

 

Kuya Severoy’s Farm, Guindulman

As a final detour, Kuya Severoy showed us his farm about 5-10 minutes up the mountain in Basdeo, Guindulman. The quick trek was worth it because the view of the sea was refreshing. He even gave us papayas fresh from his farm.

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Photo from Kaisy May Bual

We then headed back to the highway where buses and vans pass by. But before departing to the city, we were overwhelmed by Kuya Severoy’s kindness.

My friends and I insisted to add a few more hundreds to our payment for Kuya Severoy’s touring services. He almost did not accept our offer, insisting that we should stick with how much we negotiated. When he did accept our payment, he bought merienda for us.

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Photo from Kaisy May Bual

We even had a funny yet heart-warming experience on our way home. Before taking our merienda, the conductor of the bus going back to Tagbilaran already talked to us to take the bus instead of the van. Since the bus was non-airconditioned and we weren’t dry enough after the cave pools and beaches, we agreed to take the bus instead of the van.

However, while having our merienda, the bus suddenly left. Kuya Severoy almost took off to call the bus back, but we said we’d wait for the next one instead. But after a few minutes, the bus, although almost full of travelers, came back to fetch us. Faith in humanity extended!

 

Bohol Bee Farm, Panglao

It was a two hour ride to Tagbilaran, and our other friends who arrived earlier that afternoon were already waiting for us at Bohol Bee Farm. We quickly washed up and headed back to Panglao to have our dinner and meet our friends.

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We are finally complete! Photo from Kaisy May Bual

Food prices range from 200-400 per serving, good for 2 to 3 people. Bohol Bee Farm also sell varied souvenir items and food at relatively cheap prices.

 

Candijay-Anda Nature Trip Itinerary:

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You may also view the itinerary here.

 

Day 03: Countryside Tour

Since there were eight of us on this trip to Bohol, we decided to book a tour where we’d be able to visit the famous places of this beautiful province. Through our online searches, my friend and I came across Bohol Rent a Car, a company that offers various tours within Bohol, including the Panglao Island Tour and the Bohol Countryside Tour.

The Panglao Island Tour can be easily done DIY-style, but availing a tour package for the Countryside Tour is recommended. I’ve tried searching for how the Countryside tour can be done in a DIY style, but the expenses between the DIY and the package does not significantly differ. Moreover, commuting from place to place and paying for entrance fees might be a waste of time, especially if you’re running out of time (like two of our friends whose flight back to Manila was around 3 in the afternoon).

For 933php per person for a group of 8, we roamed across 6 municipalities of Bohol. The fee is inclusive of entrance fees, gas, driver’s fee, and the buffet lunch at Loboc Floating Restaurant.

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Photo source: http://boholrentacar.com/services/bohol-countryside-tour/

 

Blood Compact Shrine, Tagbilaran City

Located in Tagbilaran City, this site was built to honor the historical event where Raja Sikatuna made a treaty of friendship with Miguel Lopez de Legazpi from Spain [3]. This event is known to be the “Sandugo” after the two made a blood compact. This might also be the reason why Tagbilaran is known to be the “City of Friendship”.

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Baclayon Church, Baclayon

The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, more known as Baclayon Church [4] due to its location, is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.

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This place is currently under renovation after the effects of a recent earthquake affected a number of places in Bohol including this age-old church that was constructed from coral stones taken from the Bohol seas.

Entrance Fee: 25php

 

Butterfly Garden, Bilar

We dropped by the Butterfly Garden in Bilar where butterflies and moths are bred and taken care of. The place is filled with flowers and various kinds of butterflies. There are also glass shelves where caterpillars and cocoons are kept.

For a 45php entrance fee, a tour guide will discuss the life cycle of a butterfly before taking the visitors to the Butterfly Garden itself.

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Just beside the Butterfly Garden, the Python Sanctuary keeps many big snakes and pythons. Entrance fee to this place is also 45php.

Entrance Fee: 45php

 

Man-Made Forest, Bilar

At the border of Bilar and Loboc is a 2-kilometer stretch of mahogany trees lining up along the highway [5]. The playfully lighted road is highly attractive to anyone passing by. No wonder a lot of people enjoy this gift of nature.

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According to our tour guide, boy scouts and girl scouts planted these trees as a project many decades ago.

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Photo from Kaisy May Bual

My friends and I enjoyed the thrill of running to and from the center of the highway whenever vehicles passed by.

 

Bohol Tarsier Philippines, Loboc

The world’s smallest primate, the tarsiers, can be found in a few sanctuaries in Bohol. Kuya Jojo described the tarsiers to be 6-in-1 for having different characteristics from different animals. This includes their wide eyes similar to that of the owls, and their long tails that looks like the tails of rats. They also have similarities to the monkeys and bats; the two other animals mentioned, I forgot.

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Tarsiers are nocturnal beings — sleeping during the daytime and active at night. When we arrived, most of the 12 tarsiers in the sanctuary were sleeping, some were on the verge of falling asleep.

According to one of the guides in the sanctuary, the tarsiers are highly territorial, meaning they stay at just one tree throughout their lifetime, even though they jump from tree to tree at night.

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Photo from: http://www.bohol-philippines.com/tarsiers.html

These primates are quite a bit sensitive to noise and light, so it would be best to maintain silence as much as you can. They are known to end their lives when stressed — usually due to unbearable noises.

Entrance Fee: 50php

 

Loboc Eco Adventure Park, Loboc

We dropped by the Eco-Adventure Park in Bohol because my friends wanted to ride the zipline, They were able to get a good deal for 400php — zipline to the other line then cable car back to where we were waiting.

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Photo from Marielle Cabuling

Since I’m barely the adventurous type of traveler and I was utterly exhausted for waking up early in the morning for four days already, I decided to stay and wait for them instead, with two other friends who stayed with me for similar reasons.

My friends enjoyed the view of lush green mountains under the bright blue skies, while above the Loboc River.

Zipline-Cable Car Ride: 400php

 

Chocolate Hills, Carmen

Bohol is famous for the unique mounds of chocolate-colored lands that turn green when summer has passed and the rains have come to shower the earth.

As per estimation, 1,776 hills lie within the middle of the island of Bohol. From Manila to Tagbilaran, my friends and I were able to catch the sight of these hills.

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Matcha season

There are a few myths about how the Chocolate Hills came to be, but geologists theorize that these hills are weathered formations of a marine limestone that lies above an impenetrable clay base [6].

To catch the best view of these chocolate — then matcha — hills, visitors must take more than 200 steps up the concrete stairs to the viewing deck. The sun’s heat might be a bit of a problem, but the postcard perfect scenery is the best way to complete your Bohol experience.

Entrance Fee: 50php

 

Twin Hanging Bridge, Sevilla

We were almost nearing the end of our trip and we dropped by Sevilla’s Twin Hanging Bridge. These bridges are made of bamboo and hang about 20ft above the Loboc River.

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The bridge was able to hold our group of eight plus a few others. Moreover, a couple of my friends bravely ran from one end of the bridge to the other, thus, we were sure that these twin bridges are absolutely sturdy. Also, pasalubongs, such as shirts and key chains, are sold at cheap prices in this place.

Entrance Fee: 10php

 

Loboc River Cruise and Floating Restaurant, Loboc

To cap off our Countryside Tour and to fill our hungry stomachs, we went to the Loboc Floating Restaurant that serves buffet food while on a river cruise. DIY travelers had to wait in line to be able to have their lunch, but lucky were we that our arranged tour made it possible for us to be easily led to a table. We quickly filled up our plates and then our stomachs.

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There were live performances on the boat and along the river during the hour-long cruise. The food was okay, but the scenery was undoubtedly calming.

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Buffet Lunch: 450php

To anyone who’s interested to take any Bohol tour, you may visit http://boholrentacar.com/. Alternately, you may contact our guide, Kuya Jojo, who was our trivia master and photographer throughout our trip. You may reach him via: 09199911612.

 

Countryside Tour Itinerary

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You may also view the itinerary here.

 

Exhausted from our trips, the six of us went back to the hotel while two of our friends took their flight back to Manila. We only met again for dinner at Gerarda’s which was recommended by Kuya Jojo.

The following day, the six of us flew back to Manila, although our schedules were hours apart.

 

Sources:

[1] http://bohol.gov.ph/history-of-bohol/

[2] http://www.boholtourismph.com/chicken-ati-atihan/

[3] http://www.bohol-philippines.com/blood-compact-site.html

[4] https://www.bohol.ph/article8.html

[5] http://www.phtourguide.com/bohol-man-made-forest/

[6] http://www.chocolatehills.net/

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