My family of Tarsier Monkeys can be found on the beautiful island of Bohol in the Philippines.
The islands of the Philippines are over 7000 in number. They are a tourists idyllic wonderland with the countries all year round warm climate, comparatively low prices, breath taking natural and often unspoilt scenery, its peoples warm and friendly hospitality, white tropical palm edged beaches, clear blue warm waters, exotic fruits & vegetation and beautiful lakes and rivers.
One island that epitomises this is Bohol which is still gracefully metamorphosing into a tropical tourist destination. Let's have a look at some of the attractions:
These 1,200 hills change colour from green to a dark brown, chocolaty colour during the summer at sunset. A visiting American General called them the Chocolate Hills and the name stuck. My friend John says they are as good as any wonder on the world!
You can see the hills from a viewing platform at the top of one of the tallest hills and there is also a visitor centre near the top.
Chocolate Hill legends
1. Two giants had a fight and threw sand and stones at each other for days until they were both exhausted. They made friends and left the area. They never did tidy the battlefield and thus the Chocolate Hills.
2. Arogo, a young and extremely strong giant fell in love with an ordinary mortal Aloya. When Aloya died, Arogo cried and cried and his grief dried his tears into the Chocolate Hills.
John prefers Arogo!
Actually the hills are formed of shells and broken coral which indicates that this area was once under water to the top of the hills and probably during a shifting of the earths tectonic plates, the land in Bohol was thrown upwards to form the island. The hills were formed by the rolling motion of the sea over the submerged land.
In the municipalities of Anda, Loboc and Corella in Bohol are, what are believed to be the only man made rain forests of the world. Bohol was once covered in forests but these had been torn down for building and to make the land more appropriate for growing bananas, coconuts and other plants. However this was stopped in these three areas and trees planted in a sustainable man made forest. The trees are mahogany and balsa mainly but there are also some banyan trees that are favoured by the Tarsier. You can drive through the forest. Stop and take a picture of the cathedral of tall trees along the roads.
At present we do not advertise commercial establishments so the pictures we show here are commonly available on the web and are not attributed to any resorts.
Bohol is renown for its white sandy beaches. The island has a number of 'beach resorts' which are usually beach fronted hotels often with cottage style accommodation. The beaches in the Philippines are recognised as some of the best in the world and Bohol is no exception to that. Here are some pictures:
The Spanish adventurer and discoverer Ferdinand Megellan came to the Philippine Islands in 1521. He was met with hostility and killed on the island of Mactan. The Spanish sent ships again to try to colonise the Philippines in 1525 but this fleet sailed into a hurricane in 1526 and was split up. One ship landed on North Mindanao and a sailor from this ship, Sebastian de Puerto is known to have arrived in Bohol sometime after.
A number of other expeditions failed to establish colonies in the Philippines until in 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi sailed from Mexico with four ships and nearly 400 men. Although his initial landing at Cebu was thwarted he later landed at Bohol and again was first met by hostile natives. However a pilot that he had with him was able to explain to the two chief's of Bohol that they had come in peace and so the hostilities ended.
Although the actual date and the actual location of the Blood Compact that was made between the two chief's and Legazpi, is uncertain it is thought that the date of the Compact between Legazpi and Sikatuna (one of the Chiefs) was made on 16 March 1565. There is some thought that this could actually be 25 March depending on what calendar they were using at the time. The location is uncertain with some people thinking this was done on board their Spanish ship while others believing it was not far from the modern town of Loay. A second Compact was made a few days later with the other Chief, Sigala.
The Blood Compact memorial is to be found on the coast highway at Barangay Bool, a short ride from the city of Tagbilaran
The Loboc River is one of the rivers running through Bohol. This river has a number of Restaurant Boats on it that for a small fee, you can go on a cruise that takes about two hours having lunch on your way to Busay Falls. They do evening cruises as well. The boat is normally well stocked with food (all in the price with one drink) and often has a guitarist or singer on board to serenade you on your way. There is also normally a stop at one of the villages on the way where groups of ladies and girls will sing and dance for your entertainment.
The Terminal for the river cruises has a terminal fee and then the various boats have their own booking booths. Often your driver will help you choose the best boat to go with.
The Punta Cruz Watch-Tower was built in 1796 and was designed to help watch for pirates and other marauders. Bohol used to rely on such towers and small forts for its defence against the many pirates and freebooters that roamed the seas at that time. It is said to have been built on the site that the first missionaries landed in Bohol and there is now a cross by the Tower to celebrate that occurrence. The Tower is dedicated to Saint Vincent Ferrer.
Not too far from the Tower is Santa Cruz Church, Maribojobc. This is one of the old Spanish Churches that Bohol and the Philippines are famous for. The church has a pipe organ that is over 100 years old. There are some painted carvings in the church as well.
The Church of Our Lady of Light is the biggest Roman Catholic Church on the Island of Bohol. The church was built by Domingo Escondrillas on a triple naive design and it is made from coral cut and fashioned locally. The pillars either side of the central naive are made from this coral.
In the ceiling of the church can be seen frescoes and in the loft a pipe organ.
The market at Antequera is open every Sunday morning between 7am and noon. Many local people come there to sell there wares and the main one of these in this area is Baskets. If you are looking for a nice basket to carry you shopping or your take away from Jolly Bee then you cannot do worse than come to the market here.
Baskets come in all shapes and sizes from small shopping ones to large plant pots. The basket weavers have also extended their range to include hats and other items. They are made from whatever is available at the time, rattan, vines, wicker etc. They are also household goods for sale at the market and lets not forget the ever present food stalls.
Baclayon is the oldest towns in Bohol. It is only 7 kilometres distance from the capital Tagbilaran. The main feature of the town is the Church and convent that now forms a museum. The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception has been undergoing some refurbishment but is a place well worth visiting.
There is some debate about the dating of this place of worship as there was a bamboo mission erected on this spot in 1595 by Jesuit priests. However fear of pirates forced them to move inland to Loboc and the current church was not started until 1717 when the town became a parish. The church has the date 1595 chiselled into the facade but this is thought to have been added at a later date to commemorate the Jesuits coming to Bohol.
Forced labourers were used to construct the church from coral stone and underneath the church is a dungeon where wayward Catholics would be imprisoned for their wrongs. The church has two fronts, one inside the other and it is thought that the outer one was added during the 19th Century when this type of structure was added to a number of Spanish churches in the Bohol and Cebu areas.
The stone tower was added in 1777 and is very much a feature of churches on the coast of Bohol where it was necessary to ensure early warning of any approaching pirates. The whole complex was fortified with walls around the site. Behind the church are the remains of a fort.
Next to the Church is a convent that is now a museum containing many of the church artefacts and relics some dating back to the 16th century. These include gold trimmed robes and statutes of Christ and Mary.
Inside the church are green gilded alters in the baroque style which are the main focal points of the interior. There are also paintings and carvings within the church nave - look for the benches. There is also a pipe organ in the church but this is now in disrepair.
The museum is open during the daytime.
More can be read about the City by going to their website at:
The city has an out of town mall newly constructed in the late 2000 decade.
Another popular tourist spot in the province of Bohol, Hinagdanan Cave is an excellent place for sightseeing situated at Barangay Bingag at the wonderful municipality of Dauis. The place features a beautiful collection of limestone structures, which comprise major parts of the cave. Inside, people can find a nice pond with the waters described as relatively fresh, cold, and deep. At the same time, people can also find here some very fascinating formations of stalagmites from the bottom and stalactites from the upper parts of the cave. Furthermore, they can also find bats all over the place, which definitely add to the beauty, attractiveness, and charm of this wonderful place.
Located at the municipality of Loay, Clarin Ancestral House is a very old place dating back to the 1840s. It is a very convenient place to visit because it is just 18 kilometres away from the Tagbilaran City. Through the years, this tourist spot continuously offers a perfect glimpse of the rich history, tradition, and culture of the area. The house reflects an original Filipino-Spanish architectural design that was predominant in the past. Inside this place, people can find old-fashioned kneelers, rocking chairs, and dressers. Present at the site are numerous antique furniture as well as other interesting materials including kitchenware, lamps, and jars. For hungry tourists, guests, and visitors, Clarin Ancestral House features a little dining facility called Café Olegario, which features special Boholano dishes like putomaya, hot chocolate, and torta Loayan.
There are a number of places on the island from which to view the surrounding countryside and neighbouring Islands.
Banat-I-Hill is situated just outside the Capital, Tagbilaran and is one of two hills overlooking the town. From the hill top you have a view over the town and out to see providing a very relaxing and interesting view.
Himontagon Hill overlooks the Minandao Sea. It is beautiful place to watch the sunset from. After sunset you will see a city of lights come on out to sea as local fishermen prepare for a nights work. During clear weather in the daytime you can see Mount Hibok-hibok on the neighbouring island of Camiguin, which is the nearest active volcano to Bohol.
Other hills include Elly Hill on the other side of Tagbilaran and Sampoangon Hill which is covered in red earth.
There are a number of other churches around Bohol that can also be visited. A quick guide to these follows:
The Church of San Pedro in Loboc dates back to 1638 following a fire in the original church. The building is the second largest on Bohol and has painted ceilings. The convent next to the church also houses a museum of artefacts.
The Church of Our Lady of Light in Loon is the biggest church in Bohol. This was built in the early 1800's and again replaced an earlier church. The church has two octagonal bell towers either side of the facade. From the church is a 174 step staircase to the town of Loon.
Another beautiful church in Bohol is the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Dauis. Inside the church are some frescoes painted in 1916. The church is constructed in a collection of styles from Byzantine to Romanesque. There is a well near the altar of the church that was said to appear miraculously when the local inhabitants of the town were besieged in the church by pirates and they had run out of water and provisions. The well is only a few meters from the sea and below sea level yet the water is totally fresh. The water is said to have healing powers.
The sea around the island of Bohol is a wonderland for divers and those who like their sea pursuits. From the Beach Resorts trips and hire of equipment is organised for those that want to Jet Ski, boarding of all types, whale and dolphin watching (in session for the whales) and of course diving.
There are two main dive areas for Bohol with plenty of sites to visit. Panglao Island has a number of places where dive instructors and boats depart as does Cabilao Island. Site's with names live Hammerhead Point and Ruby's Rock are inviting first class dive locations. The sea abounds with hundreds of species some only found in the Philippines. Coral formations and clear blue sea add to the excitement of a dive off Bohol. There even some wrecks within reach of Bohol.
There are a number of dive schools in the area and plenty of information about these and the dive sites on the internet.
The Philippines as a whole is getting a reputation of being the Madagascar of the Pacific. Every year more and more previously unknown species are being discovered and classified. The Philippines has many unique species and plants.
While these might not be present on Bohol air and sea travel is relatively cheap in the Philippines for many foreigners and travel to see these species is available from the port or airport in Tagbilaran. Some of the species that can be found are such as:
The Philippine Eagle (Davao)
Flesh eating plants
Corals and Barnacles
The Philippine Sea Turtle
These are just a few of the incredible species you can find in the Philippines
Tagbilaran City is the municipal centre and capital of Bohol. The population in 2012 is expected to be in the region of 120,000 persons. The city is guarded by two high land forms on the north and south—the Elly Hill and Banat-I-Hill, respectively.
Tagbilaran, literally “Hide from the Villains” (“villains” being the marauding Moros) all started in the 15th century as a native settlement religiously known for its worship of their Anito. Most zealous of the worshippers were people from an area called “Bool,” probably a derivative from the Middle Eastern god “Baal,” and which later became known as “Bool Kingdom.” It became the name of the town.
According to bones and artefacts dug from the archaeological sites, early settlers, called “Mansaas,” were tall and brawny and bartered with Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian traders. Much later, Tagbilaran became a stronghold of Spanish Catholicism. Amidst all these activities for centuries Banat-I-Hill stood as a mute witness to all that developed.