Best Tourist Attractions In The Philippines (Part 1)
This is my response and contribution to Mark's Travel and Tourism Challenge on Wikinut, this article being confined to my experiences and the sights I saw first-hand when I traveled to Bohol province of the Philippines. Part 2 will follow
- Welcome To Bohol Province!
- Chocolate Hills
- Blocking The View Of Chocolate Hills..LOL
- Panglao Island - Dare Go Nude On The Alona Beach!
- A Sample Of Alona Beach
- Meet The Tarsiers
- Souvenir Of Mr. Yoda Nevertheless
- The Loboc River
- There We Were On The Spot.
Welcome To Bohol Province!
From Manila, we got a chance to visit Bohol during a series of 5 days of seminar on official business, once our plane landed in Tagbilaran City airport, its capital. No fanfare, but the sights that would later greet us were enough to make our stay there worth remembering.
Chocolate Hills. The Tarsier. The Panglao Island. The Loboc-Bilar man-made forest. Among others.... read on as memories come back to me...
You just have to think of all these places mentioned and immediately the connection is made to one of the Philippines' top eco-cultural destinations - Bohol.
The tenth largest island in the Philippines, Bohol is a tropical paradise, but with a temperate climate, nestled in the heart of the Visayas region, abounding in natural wonders and breathtaking vistas.
Let's get down to the nitty gritty.
In between our seminars, a cab was always on call and awaited us when we got bored with lectures and presentations and we sneaked out of the seminar hall of the Bohol Plaza Hotel, with the same driver himself acting as tourist guide to show us around. Sight-seeing was a treasured memory, and I remembered Sinclair Lewis' story I had read years before that "Travel is Broadening."
And so it was, as far as I can remember, while we, my 3 other co-workers, cruised along, or around this beautiful province of my country, we were at once, before we knew it, seeing face to face the ladder frame work up the view-deck about 210 feet (64 m) above the ground to behold the panoramic view of the Chocolate Hills. Awesome!
Bits of information: The origin for the conical karst of the Chocolate Hills is described in popular terms on the bronze plaque at the viewing deck in Carmen, Bohol. This plaque states that they are eroded formations of a type of marine limestone that sits on top of hardened clay. The plaque reads:
The unique land form known as the Chocolate Hills of Bohol was formed ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion...
During the dry season, the grass-covered hills dry up and turn chocolate brown. This transforms the area into seemingly endless rows of "chocolate kisses". The branded confection is the inspiration behind the name, Chocolate Hills.
But you ain't seen nothing yet.:)
Blocking The View Of Chocolate Hills..LOL
Very little did we know about our way around this paradise, as we got into the heart of it, and we were especially grateful to the Boholanos who were all smiles pointing to other scenic spots they had known about this place since their childhood, in what they would always call their home.
On with the safari...
Panglao Island - Dare Go Nude On The Alona Beach!
The best Bohol attractions for most visitors are the pristine white sand beaches. The most famous is Alona Beach, an 800 meter stretch of white powdery sand, is located in the south of Panglao Island. Many full-service beach and dive resorts reside there. Dive tours to Balicasag and Pamilacan Islands, famous dive spots, can be arranged.
The pristine Alona Beach at the Panglao Island that we were taken to was overwhelmingly a must-see again if there would ever be a chance to go back and visit, unless projects in the name of development, as the plague would invariable visit paradise, would mar the natural landscapes that are better left as they are, don't you agree?
(Coincidentally, as I write this, there's a Sunday Philippine Starweek magazine supplement of the Philippine Star, a local newspaper, in which an article is written by Edu Jarque on "A New Light Of Luxury In Bohol" which features the new Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort which caters to tourists, foreign and domestic alike. Further information for those planning to visit Bohol may please inquire with contact Margie Munsayac at the sales and marketing office (032) 492-0100.)
A Sample Of Alona Beach
Brrrrr...the waters were soooooooooo cold when we took a dip at Alona Beach. Not a soul around did we spot, I mean, no foreign tourists had yet known this beach, so much so it would have been alright had we all gone nude. But I wouldn't dare, you hear...lol
Okay, there you go.
Hey, there's this animal unique to Bohol: The Tarsiers.
Meet The Tarsiers
The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta or Carlito syrichta), known locally as the Kupal in Cebuano/Visayan and Mamag in Luzon, is an endangered species of tarsier endemic to the Philippines. It is found in the southeastern part of the archipelago, particularly in the islands of Bohol, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. It is a member of the approximately 45 million year old family Tarsiidae, whose name is derived from its elongated "tarsus" or ankle bone.
Its geographic range also includes Maripipi Island, Siargao Island, Basilan Island and Dinagat Island. Tarsiers have also been reported in Sarangani, although they may be different subspecies.
It was only introduced to Western biologists in the 18th century.
Bohol Tarsiers (Tarsius Syrichta) measures 4 to 5 inches and is considered as the world’s smallest primate. Its size is no longer than an adult man’s hand and weigh only about 113 to 142 grams or four to five ounces. The primate belongs to the more primitive sub-order Prosimii or prosimian that dates back 45 million years.
Yes, we also got a chance to see this cute animals at the Tarsier Sanctuary, approximately 134-hectare land set aside as a protected area for the Philippine Tarsier. Tarsiers are small and only weigh about 113 to 142 grams. They have big eyes and can rotate their heads to almost 180 degrees.
And please, don't mistake one for Yoda of Star Wars.
Souvenir Of Mr. Yoda Nevertheless
My friends and I had the rare privilege of gently handling these small, cute Tarsiers at their sanctuary then. Later, these days, the same is said to have been prohibited, including taking of pictures as the human touch and the flash bulbs could adversely affect them physiologically. So no more touching and snap shots while they're looking at the cameras!
As a side note, during the royal visit of Prince Charles some years before to the Philippines, he is said to have been gifted with a Tarsier by the government. (I would not worry because Europeans are ever so gentle with animals, thank you.)
The Loboc River
Loboc River is just 21 km from Tagbilaran City - enjoy a ride on board boat restaurants. The trip starts at the Loay Bridge and ends near the Busay Falls, a bathing spot.
Oh, a scenic tourism attraction at its best. And there are no crocodiles there, I assure you. None, after I extracted that guaranty from the owners there under oath!
There We Were On The Spot.
For lack of time, this was all we could stretch our sightseeing tours squeezed between the official time our company had sent us here for. And I must admit we cheated...lol
Business and pleasure, that's what it was. There will be Part 2, however.
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