Sunday, September 18, 2011

your guide to Bohol countryside (tour balik sa Bohol, balik)

The day ahead is going to be long! Fret not, I tell everyone, because the day also holds pleasant surprises and amazing encounters. Their faces glow with anticipation. At the back of the bus though, I think I see eyes rolling with the thought bubble saying yeah, right! hahaha

While we are at it, here's the lowdown on the places we will visit:

  • Tarsier Sanctuary, Corella 
  • Chocolate Hills, Carmen 
  • Butterfly Garden, Bilar 
  • Bamboo Bridge with Buko (coconut) King, Sevilla 
  • Floating restaurant for lunch, Loboc 
  • Sandugo Marker, Loay (
  • Philippine Python, Alburquerque
  • Baclayon Church and Museum, Baclayon 
  • and then Prawn Farm for dinner, Island City Mall in Tagbilaran 

Unlike in the past when we missed the floating restaurant schedule and had to wait for one slow, torturing hour, today the tour starts at 8 in the morning so there will be enough window time to wriggle around.

It's a pleasant surprise to see a videoke machine (free-of-charge) in the bus! What a wicked way to kill  the one hour and a half travel time to Chocolate Hills (Php50.00/pax).

In no time, the hills begin to appear as the bus rolls into the Chocolate Hills complex! Huge mounds of Hershey's chocolate kisses that seemed to be dropped from the vanilla sky! Because I told everyone I will give a prize to those who can give me the exact number of hills in the complex, a number of kids start to count the hills one by one. Sweet.

As the bus comes to a full stop, everyone is reminded about the 20-minute rule to take-in the scenery or explore the area. Controlled time. Always the downside of going in a tour group.

The hills are actually spread throughout five or six towns but the best place to see them is at the Carmen viewing deck.The other viewing deck, a bit off-the-beaten with a hideous design replete with dinosaur statue and what-not is in Sagbayan town. 

Did you see the photo that hog the front page of the Sunday issue of Philippine Daily Inquirer a few years ago? The photo below did not make it! hahaha. Just inspired by that classic jump shot that became viral. Here, taken two years ago:

The ugly fence! Whoever designed this must be stoned or barb wired to death! Good thing the management tear down some parts already. You should have seen how, a year before, jump shots were done with the hills eternally frozen in time on tarpaulin!! wtf! I'm glad mine had the real hills as backdrop!

It's a long climb to the viewing deck. Catch your breath as you go up two hundred fourteen steps all the way! But of course, you will be rewarded with a commanding view. Going down, yes, its another 214 steps. 

While waiting for your ride, refresh. Go, get some chocolate flavored fresh cow's milk (Php40.00/bottle) at the hawker stall nearby.

or perhaps, a massage by the blind masseur trained by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Rates: 15 minutes Php50.00/30 minutes Php100.00/1 hour Php200.00

Next stop: Butterfly Garden! (Php30.00/pax)

Where they sell butterfly ice cream! I mean, fruit ice cream (and i hate to disappoint you, there's no butterfly in the ingredients!) 

After the guided tour and a bit of lecture, it's time to hit the road again, stop by the man-made forest, cross a bamboo bridge (Php10.00/pax)...

... and meet Buko King (donation of Php100.00 if you want him to perform). He was featured in many TV shows here and abroad. His special skills? Skinning the coconut in ten seconds or even less. Not only that, he uses his teeth! It won't come as a surprise if Happee, Colgate, Close-up or Sensodyne toothpastes will get the guy as endorser. After all, he's got one strong set of pearly whites! I'm not sure if that's the image those brands want to project though. hahaha

It's almost lunch time, so we rush to Loboc River where our floating restaurant is waiting. 

While eating buffet-style (php400.00/pax plus Php50.00 terminal fee and municipal tax), we also get to see the falls and some cultural performances along the way like this one performed on a raft. The kids are delighted to see tinikling. They simply connect since days prior to the trip, they performed the dance themselves as part of their Philippine Culture class. Cute.

The food is rather uninspired, the choices very limited. Next time, I plan to book with this new artsy raft called Busay Monark. Looks new and the ambience is welcoming. 

The kids are easy to please, so overall, everyone had their fill! It's now time to stop-by the "real site" of Sandugo (known as the first treaty of friendship) Marker in Loay. A few years ago, experts from the National Historical Commission contested the site of Sandugo in Bool, Tagbilaran. After all, evidences led to one site in Loay town. By the way, the one in Bool is where the bronze sculpture of Sandugo by national artist Napolean Abueva is mounted: 

I know I am a work of art but I am not a part of the sculpture! HAHA

Since it's so hot this afternoon, everyone prefers to stay on his/her seats and simply peers through the window while I explain the relevance of this 444 year-old historical event. 

Another stop is the cage of one big, huge, obese (hahaha) Philippine Python (Php10.00/pax), then off we go to Baclayon Church and Museum (Php50.00/pax).

It's 3:00 in the afternoon. For everyone, it means mall time before the sumptuous meal of pan-fried prawns at Bohol Prawn Farm at around 6pm! Executive meal with soup, main course and dessert ranges from Php250.00-300.00/pax.

TRAVEL TIP: Get your pasalubong at a really reasonable retail price, get them at the Island City Mall Department Store pasalubong area. Peanut kisses delicacy of Tagbilaran, world-class rafia handbags and wallets from Inabanga, accessories by Gift's Fashion and many more. It's nice to shop without the pressure of sales clerk following and harassing you around.

As of this writing, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has already banned the capture and caging of tarsier. The best place to see them is, of course, in their natural habitat, away from noise and definitely away from being petted by some uneducated tourists. See them at the Tarsier Conservation Center (Php40.00/pax) in Corella town. If you are coming from Panglao or Tagbilaran City, the most feasible schedule is to visit the Tarsier Sanctuary first, then proceed to Chocolate Hills via Loboc. 

Here, I'm sharing some important contact persons and numbers, just in case you need to coordinate with them:
  • TOUR BUS: Gerry Digamon (proprietor)   0917.721.2584 and (038) 501.9791
  • TARSIER CONSERVATION CENTER: Joanna Marie Cabillo (program manager)   0927.541.2290
  • DAO DIAMOND BED & BREAKFAST: 0917.306.2946 (038) 411-5568
  • BUTTERFLY SANCTUARY: 0928.549.9744 (038) 535.9400 
  • CAR RENTAL: Cori Arao-arao (proprietor) 0906.877.0707
  • BOHOL PRAWN FARM 0917.304.2891 and 0917.304.3879  


  1. Glad to know that DENR has done something to protect the cute tarsiers. I was there in April and I still saw caged ones being tortured with flash photography. :(

  2. yeah AJ. after a long battle that took half a decade! finally, the will power! :D

  3. Ang kulit nung buko king. in fairnez pwede nga siya sa toothpaste commercial. lol! Amaze na amaze ang kids. Parang wala pa siya when I was there few months ago..

    Balik sa Bohol Balik is a song right? Naalala ko pa yan. hahah! Kinakanta sa loboc River. Nakaka-LSS sobra.

    Have you seen Father's Pio image on the pillars of Baclayon?

  4. 3-4 years na atang nagbubunot ng niyog ang tao na yan, baka nung nandun ka ay nag guesting guesting muna siya sa isang tv show sa holland lang naman! hahaha

    never heard of the fr. pio image yet. sige next time, will ask around.

  5. sabi ko na nga ba. hindi mo lang sa napansin. You actually captured it. hihihi! Look at your pic carefully. Nandun siya. Promise


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