I’ve been asked several times if it is safe to travel to Bohol after the October 15 earthquake that fucked our heritage churches. Some bishops may find that analogy titillating but tectonic plate’s bushwhacking don’t usually happen on this part of the country.
The whole archipelago mourned when the crown jewels of the island of Bohol were shattered to rubbles. But as resilient Filipinos, who survived world wars, calamities, politicians and Charice Pempengco’s transformation, life will go on and so as tourism.
Upon stepping out of Tagbilaran Airport, I was ambushed by aggressive tour hawkers offering packages–Island hopping, Ecotrail, river cruise, Chocolate hills, happy endings name it–Bohol tour guides will never run out of things to offer. That kind of pathological aggressiveness that in other circumstances would require injections of Valium in syringes the size of bicycle pumps. These people kept the tourism business going and will eventually help Bohol emerge from the ruins and wreckage of the recent calamity.
So while the the province is busy rebuilding the churches and the corrupt officials seize the opportunity, here are the things you can do in Bohol other than doing selfies in front of the old churches:
The island of Panglao got some beaches that are seriously dope. Bankeros (Boatmen) offer packages where you can customize your activities from Dolphin watching, diving, beach lounging and pretty much any activities that involve sun, sand and sea. Usually the same van driver you hired to guide you run around the island is the same boatman waking you up at 4AM to see the dolphins off shore and possibly the same guy doing your Swedish massage in a local spa. They are that versatile. (Day trips cost between US$100-US$250 per boat depending on the number of passengers)
I know tripadvisor ranked Pizzahut at #1 which by the way is just plain hilarious. Sprouting like shrooms, traditional Filipino/Boholano restaurants are easy to spot. Just look for well lit establishments with happy singing and sounds of guitars and tambourines emanating amidst the sleeping city at 10PM. Perhaps you’ll see inside the driver/boatman/masseur singing the “Welcome to Bohol” anthem.
My favorite restaurant however is 70km away from the city. The Bee Farm is not related to the national food of the country (Jollibee) and my favorite in the menu are the organic salad with flower petals all over it and the ice cream made of malunggay. If that does not give you the hippie vibe, nothing will.
Trekking across the Chocolate hills
Trekking options are available from different starting points. The view of the mounds sculpted by the last ice age is surely a trekking you will experience nowhere else in the world. You may also be lucky to spot the smallest primates in the world… Yoda.
Captivate you, it will.
Community musical immersion
Boholanos are known for their musical talents. Their biggest export are musicians and singers who conquered hotel lounges across the globe and cruise ships throughout the seven seas. We were told that Boholanos first learn music before they can even start
walking offering tours. If you are not convinced with Luke Mijares, Cesar Montano and Yoyoy Villame, perhaps the world renowned Loboc Children’s Choir will.
Homestays are becoming more and more popular in the province as the best way to experience the charm of the people. And by that you will realize that even after a calamity, the hills are still alive with the sound of Boholano music and not even a 7.9 intensity earthquake will be able to shatter their spirits.
What’s your favorite spot in Bohol?