Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Usual Bohol Land Tour

Meeting my officemate's father on the same day that I was to drive off in their car was kind of embarrassing. I expected her father to put me through a driving test before releasing me and their car to the roads of Bohol. But he didn't, and I drove off slowly until I was out of his field of vision. Once out of sight, I floored it. Just kidding. I was a careful driver on unfamiliar territory and we cruised along Bohol's concrete roads at a leisurely speed. From Carmen to Tagbilaran, we made stops at the usual Bohol tourist spots.

Chocolate Hills Complex
Entrance Fee Php 50

There are three viewing decks for Chocolate Hills that I know of: Sagbayan Peak in Sagbayan, Chocolate Hills Adventure Park (CHAP) in Carmen, and Chocolate Hills Complex, which is also in Carmen. Since Sagbayan town was out of the way, we went to Chocolate Hills Complex, the classic viewing area.

214 steps up the slope of one chocolate hill offered a view of the thousands of hills...had the viewdeck not been destroyed by the 2013 earthquake. Two years and five months after the quake, the viewdeck was still not fully repaired. The ongoing repair cut our sweeping 360-degree view to maybe 225 degrees. Nonetheless, the hills that dot the landscape as far as the eye could see was still a wonder to behold.

This is the best view I could get at the viewdeck

The view from the parking area

Man-made Forest

I have been along this route three times before and every time we drove through this area, it gave me a feeling of peace. But we never stopped to smell the mahogany trees. This time, being the driver, I drove slowly along the 2-kilometer winding road and, spotting a clearing, stepped on the brakes and had everyone spill out of the car for deep breaths and a few snaps.

Tarsier Conservation Area
Entrance Fee Php 60

Next up was to say hello to the tiny primates residing in the Tarsier Conservation Area in Loboc. (I wanted to visit The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as Tarsier Research and Development Center, in the town of Corella, but my officemate suggested we go to the Tarsier Conservation Area in Loboc as the latter was on the way.)

From the entrance of the Tarsier Conservation Area, we quietly followed the concrete path and steps while opening our eyes as wide as a tarsier's in order to spot these tiny creatures. I opened my eyes as wide as I could, but I still found it difficult to spot these little balls of fur. I just went where there were three or four people gazing at the same point up a tree. As we stared at the tarsier, it stared back at us with its big round eyes.

The tarsier, as small as they are, are not to be underestimated:
  • Tarsiers require a lot of space. By a lot, I mean one hectare per tarsier.
  • The tarsier can leap a distance of up to 5 meters.
  • The tarsier can rotate its head almost 360 degrees.
There are three things to remember when visiting these tiny primates:
  • Tarsiers hate noise so shut your trap.
  • Tarsiers don't like being touched so keep your hands to yourself.
  • Tarsiers hate paparazzi so no flash photography.
All these give them stress and they don't take stress easily. When they can't take it anymore, they will commit suicide.

Hanging Bridge
Entrance Fee Php 20

From Loboc we drove along the highway and made a right to find the hanging bridge in the town of Sevilla. We slowly and bouncily walked across the bridge and, on the other side of the river, found fresh buko peeled by the Buko King himself (peeled with his teeth!), cabcab (cassava crackers, Php 25 per pack), bananacue, and souvenirs being sold.

Baclayon Church and Museum
Museum Entrance Fee Php 60

Before reaching Tagbilaran City, we made a stop at the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, also known as Baclayon Church. Made up of coral stones "glued" together with egg whites, the church was completed in 1727. This centuries-old church, unfortunately, crumbled during the 2013 earthquake. During our visit (February 2016), the church was still undergoing repairs. We didn't go in the museum, but was told it houses religious items.

Blood Compact Site

The Sandugo or Blood Compact Site is just along the highway but I missed this spot and had to drive back a hundred or so meters. The Sandugo commemorates the blood compact (a custom at that time to draw a few drops of blood from each party and mix it with wine, and each would drink from the cup) performed by the Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi and the chieftain of Bohol Rajah Sikatuna to seal their friendship. The sculpture depicting this March 16, 1565 event is by the Boholano Napoleon Abueva, a Philippine National Artist.

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