It’s interesting and nostalgic whenever I’d re-catch a glimpse of Bohol while channel surfing. As I watch features about the tourist destinations in the Philippines, there’s always a sense of pride and joyful reminiscing especially when it came to the part that they did a countryside tour. In a way, that made me feel like our December family trip to Bohol just happened yesterday.
Etymology. I nicknamed the countryside tour as the whirlwind tour. It’s amazing how in more or less eight hours trip within the comfort of a van, you’ll get to know more about the colorful and rich history of Bohol and the way of life of the Boholanos. The word Bohol is believed to have come from the word ”bool” which refers to the place where the treaty of friendship occurred in 1565. But I find the other story more appealing as it tells us that it was derived from the word “buho” (or hole) referring to the plenty of caves in this province. I didn’t know that there are at least 1,400 caves there. That’s like running after the 1,776 chocolate hills! On a more serious note, the caves must have served as hideouts during the time of war or rebellion. In one of the towns in Laguna, the underground cemetery served this purpose.
We managed to drop by in Hinagdanan Cave which is near to Dauis. There were few groups swimming in the pond at the time of our visit. We were more interested in the stalactites hanging there and artwork on the walls.
Nature. After experiencing the minty chocolate hills, we stopped by the manmade forest. The mahogany trees were planted by the girl and boy scouts of the Philippines in 1950s. According to our guide, the tree planting was done to prevent the landslide in this area. The uniform height and voluminous roots of the trees are a beautiful sight. It’s not surprising that it is one of the favorite pre-nuptial location shoots in Bohol, aside from the nearby hanging bridge.
Spell yummy. One of the highlights of each tour, in my opinion, is the pigging out. While the meal didn’t beat the quality of food in Bohol Bee Farm, dining in one of the floating restaurants while being serenaded by a local guitarist and by Lobor river choir is another experience to cherish.
The boat-resto made a stop over somewhere by the lushes and we saw the sort of set-up of tribal community. While this amiable man who blows fire every now and then was entertaining, it was also heartbreaking when you get to think of the complexity of this routine. Don’t forget the donation/tip box over there.
(As we were returning to the van, I noticed this material. I didn’t know that firefly watching is possible in Bohol. This reminded me of our enigmatic firefly encounter in Kuala Selangor, Malaysia.)
More interesting creatures. Aside from meeting the freaky cute tarsiers, we also dropped by in two mini-zoos cum gardens and saw different animals. We were piqued most by Prony who is a trained phyton in Albuquerque. We went in the cage and touched him. We can not imagine being that close to Samantha, the other (unfriendly) phyton in Exotik Restaurant near my hometown. The “lady” in red is Marimar. She was about to finish her song number (she belts like Regine Velasquez) when we came. What makes her unique is that she swirls herself to the post like a snake while singing.
I need to say that the countryside tour is a must when you visit Bohol. A friendly reminder though to agree your itinerary with your guide ahead of time. If he doesn’t volunteer some places wherein you can drop by and are incidentally on the way (like we did for the Hinagdanan cave), try injecting it to your schedule. You may also want to skip or replace the less attractive destinations (at your preference). And of course, a visit to the pasalubong centers is given. The key is proper coordination.