Jill and I had a long day of traveling from Coron. A flight to Manila, a flight from Manila to Cebu; taxi ride to the port; and finally a 2.5 hour ferry ride from Cebu to Bohol. After we got settled in at the South Palms Resort in Bohol, we got a knock at the door and Jill got another birthday surprise: More singing and another birthday cheesecake! #birthdayround2 Sadly, once we got to the cake after ordering dinner, ants had descended upon it.... #moreprotein?? We got in a few ant free bites but had to leave the rest of it outside and get the ants to follow it.
Our first full day in Bohol, we arranged a tour with the hotel to see the highlights around the island. We learned that the island Panglao (where we were staying, and connected to Bohol island by bridge) comes from the word pangow which means bamboo fish trap. The island took on this meaning when people would ask the local fisherman what they had in their hand - hence the name of the island, now Panglao. There are 47 local dialects in the Philippines, and Panglao island has 2 of them.
Out of the 7,107 islands (during low tide) of the Philippines, Bohol is the 10th largest. The Loboc River, the 4th largest river out of the 11 major ones in the country, runs through Bohol.
We also learned about the flag of the Philippines. The 8 rays from the sun represent 8 heros of the island, and the 3 stars represent the 3 main regions. The red stripe represents war, it is currently on the bottom of the flag, but the flag can be flipped over in times of war. #interesting #flagfacts
The Philippines main industries are agriculture (rice, corn, coffee, and coconut), and fishing, followed by tourism. Some of the main sports around the area are basketball and volleyball due to the fact that the courts take up much smaller space than a soccer field. And we also saw signs around the island for cock fights and our tour guide said that was a popular thing to do around here still #roosters #whoknew
The first stop on our tour was one on both Jill and my bucket list for our trip: the Chocolate Hills. The Chocolate hills are karst hills formed by the uplift of coral deposits and rain water and erosion; there are at least 1,260 hills but could be as many as 1,776 hills spread over an area of over 50 sq km (20 sq mi). They are covered in green grass but the grass turns brown, like chocolate, during the dry season (around December - May).
The view of these lived up to my expectations and were exactly like the pictures I had googled before we went. It was a beautiful sight and crazy to see these green little hills as far as the eye could see.
Our second stop was at the Butterfly Conservation Center where we learned all about butterflies and moths. Their goal is to raise the butterfly population in Bohol and educate people about the butterflies. We were told all types of interesting facts like it takes eggs 3-5 days to turn into a caterpillar. From there, they spend around 14 days as a caterpillar, 16 days in the cocoon, and around 21 days as a butterfly. They get to have sex/mate for a whole day! #damn (but only that one time) One of the butterfly species is extra lazy and doesn't fly much, so they can live up to 3 months.
After walking around and checking out all the beautiful butterflies, and huge moths, we got to stage pictures turning us into butterflies :)
The next stop was much anticipated as well - here we got to see the adorable little tarsier monkeys. They are one of the smallest primates in the world - ranging from 3.35 - 6.3 inches in height, and weigh around 2.8-5.6 oz; with the average size about the size of a human fist. They live an average 20-25 years. They only mate once a year for around 2-3 seconds, but then the males go away because they eat the babies. Females carry their babies for 6 months and then breastfeed for another 6 months.
Right now there are only around 1,000 tarsiers left in the area due to their shrinking habitat, predators, and these little guys committing suicide :( The Tarsier's eyes are fixed in its skull so they can't turn in their sockets; to help adapt, their head can turn 180 degrees. Their eyes are also disproportionately large, giving them the largest eye-to-body size ratio of all mammals. People have tried to keep these cute little animals as pets but the tarsiers would commit suicide by banging their head after only 5 days :(
We got to walk around the area and see about 10 of these little guys hanging out. They were so small and cute! I wish I could have one as a pet but I don't think Ricky Bobby would approve and I'd want them to live longer than 5 days with me..... bummer - but at least we got a few pics to remember how cute they were!
After seeing the cutest little primates, we drove through the man-made forest where people planted mahogany trees after there was a timber shortage in 1950. Mahogany trees were the best trees to plant since they absorb water well and are good during droughts. Now there are over 9,000 hectares (a hectare is equal to 10,000 sq meters). Driving through this area reminded Jill and I of Northern California, and areas where we would go camping :) #misscali
We then got to go on a lunch cruise down the Loboc River, the 4th largest in the Philippines.
Along the way we got to listen to a local band/choir and watch them do tinikling. Tinikling is a traditional Philippine folk dance that originated during the Spanish colonial era. It involves two people beatin, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination, with one or more dancers stepping and hopping in between the poles to a dance. I got to try this out and it is harder than it looks to keep it going! (see video below on the right)
And I got to join in the singing and attempt to play some guitar. I think I blended in right? ;) #blondestickingout #oneisnotliketheother
We also got to visit the Baclayon Church, which was founded by the Jesuit priest Juan de Torres and Gabriel Sánchez in 1596, and became the oldest Christian settlement in Bohol; now one of the oldest churches in Asia. Unfortunately, a 7.2 earthquake lasting 33 seconds in 2013 damaged a large part of the church due to its weak foundation made up of limestone powder and coral. They are still renovating and fixing some of the damage, but overall the church was still beautiful.
We got to check out the 'friendship monument' representing the Sandugo, a blood compact performed between the Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Lagazpi and Datu Sikatuna, the cheiftain of Bohol, on March 16, 1565, to seal their friendship as part of the tribal tradition. This was considered the first treaty of friendship between the Spaniards and the Filipinos, with the Visayan word, "sandugo" meaning "one blood".
After a long day exploring the wonderful island of Bohol, we relaxed on the beach at our resort in Panglao and got to witness one of the gorgeous Philippine sunsets I had heard so much about. The sky was both orange, pink, purple, and blue. Pictures don't do it justice but it was peaceful and relaxing to watch from our comfy hammocks.
Jill was nice enough on her 29th birthday, to let me get in a few more dives while she relaxed on the beach at our resort and enjoyed a nice beachside massage.
I got picked up by Alona Divers, where we headed over to Balicasag Island. On the boat, I met some Japanese people from Okinawa! #smallworld Our first dive was at Black Forest. They said we would probably see some turtles and holy shit we did! A lot of them! The most I've ever see on a dive, around 15-20 turtles. As soon as you would finish watching one, you'd see another 1-3 pop up in another spot as soon as you turned around. Or you'd spot one and start swimming towards it, and realize you were swimming over a turtle lying in the coral beneath you. It was amazing and awesome. I love turtles, and to see so many of them and up close..... :) #content
So many turtles! See 3 videos below :)
We headed over to our 2nd dive site on the other side of the island, Rico's Wall. Here we got to dive along the coral wall and got to see a white frog fish! And we saw a school of jack fish and big mouth mackerel about 80 ft down away from the wall. Pretty awesome to see but hard to beat all the beautiful turtles we saw on the first dive!
After my dives, I headed back to the South Palms Resort to make sure Jill had a great rest of her birthday. While ordering us some drinks and pizza at the bar, I struck up a conversation with a couple who ended up living in San Francisco. The girl had a brother who went to Berkeley and she went to Chico. #smallworld! Jill and I spent the rest of the afternoon having drinks with them, while Jill and her swapped Chico stories :) We also had some dinner with them and got to watch a fire show on the beach (that I hired specifically for Jill's birthday right? ;) #onlycuziloveher)
Fire show on the beach I had them do for Jill's birthday :) #jk
On our last day in the Philippines, we spent the day relaxing at the hotel before we had to take the last ferry over to Cebu, and wait at the airport for our flights out at 2am #ughearlyflights!
I used the free bikes at the hotel to bike around the beautiful grounds, and went paddle boarding for a while in the ocean. I then had a nice relaxing massage in the afternoon before we had to check out.
Overall, Jill and I had a fantastic trip to the Philippines. I wish we could have done a little more in Cebu and the terrorist warning didn't come out right before we went over, but shit happens, and hey another excuse to go visit right??
The Philippines is absolutely stunning. There is so much to see, so many great spots to go diving, and the people are super nice (and most speak English! Making it easy to get around). Thank you Philippines, for a wonderful vacation with my sis :)
Check out my friend's (Chris and Carly) awesome video below about their trip around the Philippines - showing even more what a beautiful country it is
Follow in our Footsteps:
South Palms Resort (beautiful resort - definitely recommend!)
Barangay Bolod Panglao, 6340 Bohol, Philippines
+63 38 502 8288
+63 916 639 6347
Fee: 50 pesos
Habitat Butterflies Conservation Center
Poblacion, Bilar Bohol, Philippines, Philippines
+63 38 535 9400
Hours: 8am - 4:30pm
Fee: 30 pesos
Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary
Tarsier Sunctuary Rd, Corella, Bohol, Philippines
+63 908 937 8094
Hours: 9am - 4pm
Fee: 50 pesos
Loay Interior Road, Loboc, Bohol, Philippines
Loboc River Cruise (many companies offer this)
Alona Divers (Joey takes great pictures!)
Alona Beach, Island,, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines
+63 921 571 0717
Hours: 8am - 8pm
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!