From Bohol

BOHOL: Budget Travel Guide

Whenever a foreigner asks me for recommendations, Bohol is always in my top three. The reason is simple: a wide array of extraordinary attractions.

Sure, other islands in the Philippines are worth recommending, too, but most boast one or two of the following — white beaches, incredible sites, diverse wildlife, interesting history. Bohol has them all. From wild encounters with dolphins to the incomparable views of the Chocolate Hills, Bohol is a province that is easy to promote. It doesn’t need much sales talk. And given that I’ve only explored the southern edge of the province and a few of its islands, I wonder just how much harder I would love Bohol when I point my compass northward.

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Bohol Bee Farm: A Bee-autiful Dining Experience in Panglao Island

We weren’t there for the bees. We were there for the food.

When we stopped at Bohol Bee Farm on the way to the resort, we knew that given our very hectic itinerary, we only had enough time for lunch. At the back of our minds, however, we still hoped that we could join a bee tour while waiting for our orders to be served. Unfortunately, the latest tour had already started and the next one won’t start until a couple of hours later. We agreed to just drop the idea and enjoy the rest of what the place has to offer.

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Pandanon Island: A Piece of Bohol, A Trip from Cebu

The white columns, ruins of probably a perfectly functional structure, were the first to grab my attention. Actually, the second. The first was the big house that stood by the beach like a cold, pale giant that was very imposing and very out-of-place. The house and the ruins stuck out and stood out in a sea of blues as we approached the island. Moving closer, the long white strip of sand was revealed slowly, pulling us out of our Mediterranean dream to tropical reality.

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St. Monica Church in Alburquerque, Bohol

The municipality of Alburquerque, more commonly referred to as Albur, is known for two things: Prony, the largest python in captivity, and Sta. Monica Church, the town’s center of Catholic faith. Albur Church is an imposing structure that is hard to miss if you’re not sleeping on the way to Loboc from Baclayon. It was not part of our itinerary but when I spotted it, I asked our driver to stop for a minute because I just totally fell in love with its facade. (Love at first sight, yes?)

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Bohol Before 2013 Earthquake: Baclayon, Dauis, and Loboc Churches

Legend has it that some time during the Spanish era, pirates invaded the coastal town of Dauis, Bohol. The townsfolk locked themselves up in the church but it wasn’t long until they ran out of food and water. To their surprise, a well miraculously appeared near the altar of the church, which supplied them with water. The church was just yards from the shore but the water from the well was fresh, something the people could not explain. To this day, the well can be seen inside the church and still provides water, which many believe to have healing properties.

Stories of miracles like this make old churches in the Philippines more curious, more interesting, more charming. And it doesn’t even matter whether you believe them or not. Many locals believe them to be true and these “truths” add character and another dimension to the already fascinating history of these religious sites, which most often were the center of the town during the Spanish period.

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Virgin Island, Bohol: Sand-Bending, No Trespassing

The warm water had completely swallowed the entire sandbar of Pungtud Island when our boat docked. My niece and nephew could not believe their eyes. For the first time ever, they saw a sandbar, a lengthy, white sandbar that extended to the shallow sea from a small island. Immediately, the kids hopped out of the boat, ran to along the sandy runway, and made little splashes along the way.

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Balicasag Island, Bohol: Turning the Tides

It’s been two years since I last stepped on the island of Balicasag in Bohol, and things had changed tremendously. It was one thing that became obvious to me during my last visit. Yes, the dolphins were still there. The tourism was still booming. The beaches remained gorgeous. What actually changed? I put on my snorkeling mask, dipped my face in the water, and found exactly what it was.

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A Weekend in Bohol: Sample Itinerary and Budget

Bohol is one of the best places I have visited. The province has so much, soooo much to offer. We stayed there for 4 days and there were still so many places we missed. Our energy level isn’t really proportional to the beauty of this island province. Touring Bohol is really exhausting but every calorie we burned and second spent was worth it.

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5 Stunning Beaches in Panglao Island, Bohol

What happens when you put eight overworked corporate slaves together on one beach? Riot, maybe. But not when you’re us. In that case, well, nothing much. Just a quiet time lazing on the sand and feeling all emo while watching the waves.

Two days of touring left us totally drained out of energy. For our third day, our original plan was to go to Danao Adventure Park, the newest adventure destination in Bohol, for some ziplining, kayaking and trekking. But our first two days in Bohol proved to be extremely exhausting so we decided to just stay and spend the day relaxing at the beach.

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Baclayon Church, Bohol: Before the Quake

“What are you looking at?” A friend of mine tapped my shoulder as I raised my camera to capture in the frame one of the buttresses. While everyone else went straight to the nave of the church to see its interiors, I stayed outside and stood before its walls.

“The face,” I replied while pointing at the pillar.

“What face?” he said, confused.

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