If there’s one thing I realized on this familiarization tour is the resiliency of the Filipinos especially the Boholanos. That in spite and despite of what had happened a year ago, they are counting their blessings rather than lingering the pain of the tragedy. So really, what’s up Bohol?
My travel blogger friends and I were invited to the What’s Up Bohol? event of the Philippine Tour Operators’ Association (PHILTOA). Together with tour operators and media personalities, we were all in for a great 3-day destination update on tourism offering of Bohol.
|Well, hello again!|
The monsoon started to dominate Metro Manila weather so I wasn’t expecting the perfect weather in Bohol. But the sun glowed and the heat caressed my skin as we reached the shores of Astoria Bohol (check rates) in the town of Baclayon.
Breakfast was served and we all enjoyed the local favorites. Daing na Bangus, Tocino, Longganisa, Scrambled eggs and Arroz caldo were available at the buffet spread. Fresh hot chocolate was also served. The group savoured this yummy offering overlooking the beach.
We also get to check one of the 8 rooms in the resort. Astoria Bohol significantly incorporated local touch to the room and the woven chair was my favorite, it reminded me of my old folks’ siesta time in our hometown.
The group then proceeded to the town of Albuquerque and visited the Albur parish.
The strong posts made of huge timbers made it withstand the earthquake that hit the northern part of Bohol last year. The paintings on the ceiling are also notable, reminiscent to the Sistine Chapel in Vatican.
You should never skip the Albuquerque church when you visit Bohol.
Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary
The Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary was the group’s next stop. Efforts to preserve the smallest primate in the world have been successful and all other “tarsier centers” catering to tourists were closed to properly manage all of the tarsiers.
|Hide and seek with the tarsiers|
The sanctuary is the closest thing to their natural habitat. Tarsiers are nocturnal creatures so we’re lucky when we get to see one who’s all wide awake to greet us. We were hushing each other as they’re quite susceptible to stress. Also, suicide incidents are quite high when they’re confined in tight spaces; kudos to all the volunteers and researchers for all their efforts in preserving the tarsiers.
|Oh, there you are!|
Loboc River Resort
After our close encounter with the tarsiers, we get to check Loboc River Resort (check rates) for another room inspection. I’ve been to the Loboc River years back for the cruise (with lunch) but never get the chance to just chill alongside the river.
The reception area is quite inviting. Comfy chairs are positioned near the wooden planks that serve as the docking area for the boats and kayaks. I could stay there all day and chill or probably get that perfect tan I really wanted.
The rooms are on stilts (due to river surge) and you could definitely get that tropical feel you’re looking for inside it. A balcony with a huge rocking chair facing the river is the perfect place to relax. But I think the highlight of the room is the bedroom. You could see the lush vegetation from the huge glass wall behind the draperies. It feels like you’re one with nature.
|Huge glass wall|
Chocolate Hills Adventure Park
The Chocolate Hills Adventure Park was my favorite for that day. Imagine yourselves zipbiking from one Chocolate Hill to another, the first of its kind in the country. There is an entrance fee (60 pesos) when entering the adventure park’s premises. This allows you to go around the park, the hanging bridge and the 248-step stone stairway to the Chocolate Hills viewing deck. There’s a different tariff though for the Tree Top Rope Challenge, Zip Bike and other attractions in the park.
We were first treated to a nice buffet lunch at the adventure park. Shrimps, crabs, some fish, squids and pork barbecue were some of the choices on the spread. We feasted on the local desserts as well; boiled taro, sweet potatoes, sticky rice and some fresh fruits were my favorites.
After lunch, we headed straight to the adventure park’s briefing area for a quick refresher on the do’s and don’ts around the park. Blood pressures were checked and stuff were stowed inside the lockers. Waivers were signed and last minute security reminders were given. Excitement overflowed as everyone set off.
|90 over 60, as usual...|
Shrieks and giggles dominated the hanging bridge when we’re crossing it to check out the Tree Top Rope Challenge. I’ve experienced the Aerial Walk of SandBox Alviera and told myself that I’m done with it for this year (quota na) so I moved on and ditched the Tree Top Rope Challenge.
|Quota na 'ko sa aerial walk this year|
I quickly went up to the viewing deck where the Zip Bike is waiting for me. It seemed like nobody wanted to dare and bike from one hill to another. I have the highest tolerance to height so Zip Bike was nothing (oh well). Safety harness and helmet were strapped on me and the great view of the Chocolate Hills embraced me as I climbed up the steps.
|Dare to zipbike|
I didn’t waste time and asked the guides to give me my bike right away. I wasn’t worried because I have faith on the park's security measures. I counted 1 to 3 and started to pedal my way to the other hill. It was as simple as biking on a stationary bike.
I started to feel the strong winds that made me panic for four seconds and then went on again. Whew!
The view was great up there. I stopped in the middle of the zip and absorbed everything that’s happening at that time. It’s that feeling being up there and experiencing it; that thrill and excitement of conquering a new challenge. For me, this is definitely the best way to view the Chocolate Hills.
|Kuya, pwedeng isang ride pa?!|
Overall, I enjoyed the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park. It’s the most refreshing way experience the Chocolate Hills. I’m gonna come back here for the Tree Top Rope Challenge!
Bohol Beach Club
After the adventure-packed day, we checked in at Bohol Beach Club (check out my resort review on Bohol Beach Club). We freshen up a bit and prepared for the dinner in the nearby resort.
South Palms Beach Resort
After checking in at Bohol Beach Club, we walked our way to the South Palms Beach Resort (check rates) for another resort inspection. My favorite is the beachfront rooms that provide you an easy access to the beach. Nice!
Dinner was served at the Oceanica Seafood Restaurant. The buffet spread included some shrimps (which I totally love!), squids, some fish and other seafood favorites. Other dishes were also served but we were so captivated by the fresh seafood and almost forgot about everything on the spread.
The best part is that we get to watch a live performance from Sir Joey Ayala himself. Apparently, he was a guest performer of some important personalities from the South East Asia Region. I asked for a photo to be taken with him and he obliged. Beers (still from the buffet) overflowed and we couldn’t ask for more (the beach, nice dinner, Joey Ayala, beer).
|I'll get in touch with you...|
Joey to Carla (ahem)
The first day of the What’s Up Bohol? Familiarization Trip was so fun. Yes, some parts of Bohol were greatly affected of the earthquake but I guess the resiliency of the people made the whole province stronger than ever. Boholanos didn’t sulk and grumble on the tragedy that struck them but rather accepted it slowly and moved on eventually. Let’s go, Bohol!
Astoria Bohol (book online)
Contact Numbers: (+63) 38.540.9880 | (+63) 2.335.1111
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary
Loboc River Resort (book online)
Camayaan Road, Loboc,
Contact Number: (+63) 38.510.4565
Email Address: email@example.com
Chocolate Hills Adventure Park
Buenos Aires, Carmen,
Contact Number: (+63) 932.667.7098
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
South Palms Resort (book online)
Brgy.Bolod, Panglao Island,
Contact Numbers: (+63) 38.502.8288 | (+63) 917.716.7609
Email Address: email@example.com