Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Day 2 - Bohol Country Side Tour (September 25)
8:30 am - we were off with our bubbly guide, Cathy and Mang Rudy our driver for our Bohol tour. First stop was the famous Chocolate Hills. These limestone hills now number roughly 1,700 and are scattered through 3 municipalities. The zigzag road leading to the viewing deck of the hills located in Carmen winded through towns with picturesque scenery. We also passed through a stretch of rain forest peppered with very tall mahogany trees. It was an enchanting sight!

My sister (who incidentally celebrates her birthday today, the 2nd of October) needed to write an article about an ecotourism destination so we proceeded to Simply Butterflies. It is described as Bohol's first butterfly conservation garden and educational center. A sanctuary where they breed and study the different species of butterflies in Bohol as well as in the Philippines.

It was very serene and I felt like we were intruding because our guide, Alan told us it was mating season for the butterflies so everywhere we looked we saw pairs fluttering about.

We had lunch aboard the floating restaurant on the Loboc River Cruise. The cruise lasts an hour passing by the scenic towns of Loay and Loboc while being serenaded by a guitar strumming singer.

A short drive from the Loboc River Cruise is the most anticipated part of one's trip to Bohol - the Tarsier in captivity locale. These furry tiny nocturnal animals can rotate their heads 180 degrees and grow up to only 6 inches. They have really big eyes, long tails and special elongated tarsal bones which form their ankles. These help them leap distances of 10 feet high from tree to tree.

They are also very territorial and the loner types. Cathy told us some tarsiers commit suicide especially when they are held captive by drowning themselves or banging their heads against their cages. They are prone to depression and usually are stressed from the attention of gawking tourists as well as the flashing of the camera bulbs. We were instructed NOT to touch them and merely admire them from afar. But there were some Japanese tourists who stubbornly kept pinching them. Ugh!

I was so giddy with excitement upon seeing them for real. They were so tiny and oh so very cute!!! I kept texting D about how cute they were even though I knew he couldn't reply back because he was at work.

The next stop in our tour was the Baclayon Church. The Church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is one of the oldest stone churches in the Philippines. It was built from coral stones so the interior walls have this greenish hue from the algae formation (in Tagalog, "lumot"). The main altar is adorned with statues and relics dating back to the 16th century.

We then headed to the Blood Compact Commemorative Shrine in Barangay Bool. This marker identifies the spot where Datu Sikatuna, a native chieftain forged a blood compact with Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi the representative of the King of Spain. The sculpture was made by National Artist Napoleon Abueva, a Boholano.

But did you know that the original blood compact occurred on a Spanish galleon ship somewhere in the middle of the ocean near Bohol? Yes that's right. The National Historical Institute is in the process of rectifying this fact and there are plans to put up a marker in the real spot. I know this trivia courtesy of D who is my source of historical tidbits. I guess dating a historian does have its advantages! =)

Our last stop was the Bohol Bee Farm located in Panglao Island. A sanctuary where they grow organic vegetables as well as harvest honey from the numerous bee hives. After a tour of the different organic plants in their greenhouse, we were treated to a gastronomic delight. It consisted of an organic garden salad, kamote herbed bread, squash cupcakes, dips (pesto, honey and cheese) and lemongrass ice tea. Their homegrown mustard honey was perfect as salad dressing.

Yes those are flowers, the gumamela and ternate sunflower to be exact which served as garnish for the garden salad. So I can truly say I ate flowers in Bohol. It was a nice way to cap the long day after enjoying the sights and sounds of Bohol - by eating healthy organic food in a serenely luscious enclave in Panglao island as we watched the sun set over the ocean. Pure bliss!

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