Bohol Countryside Tour with PHILTOA

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After our short adventure stop at the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, we had some group photos outside the tarsier sanctuary together with Media participants, travel agents and PHILTOA officers. Our second day in Bohol is probably the busiest day for the entire 6 days of our Central Visayas Familiarization Tour.

Bilar Manmade Forest
Bilar Manmade Forest

Along the way to the famous Chocolate Hills, we had a short stop at the Man-made forest located in the town of Bilar. Popularly known as Bilar Man-made forest, this rows of tall red mahogany trees that provide a tunnel-like shade to motorists instantly became one of Bohol’s tourist attraction.

Chocolate Hills Complex in Carmen
Chocolate Hills Complex in Carmen

After having our group shot, we headed to the famous Chocolate Hills in Carmen Bohol. The Chocolate Hills are one of a kind geological wonders that is composed of 60-70% ancient coral limestone. During the dry season which is between the months of March and May, the green grass turns into burnt or dark brown just like the color of chocolate.

Bohol Chocolate Hills
Bohol Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills composes of 1,776 cone-shaped mounds, spread over an area of 50 square kilometers and is best viewed in Chocolate Hills Complex located in Barangay Buenos Aires, only a few minutes drive from downtown Carmen. Each hill size varies from 30 meters and can go as high as 120 meters.

Bohol River Cruise
Bohol River Cruise

Ive been in the same view deck couple of times already that’s why I just stayed in the shaded part right next to the restaurant. If you prefer not to take the short hike which is 214 steps leading to the observation or view deck, you can also take photos near the restaurant where you can also buy some local refreshments and souvenir items.

Loboc River Cruise
Loboc River Cruise

After visiting the famous Chocolate Hills, we headed to Loboc to experience cruising Loboc River while on board a floating restaurant. Our Premium river cruise was sponsored by the Village floating Resto and Cruises. Unlike the regular river cruises, we had the boat of our own enjoying the delicious food options that are not normally served in normal river cruise packages.

Spicy Sisig
Spicy Sisig

One of their oozing appetizers includes seaweed salad and my favorite uber spicy Sisig. I also love their Pork Humba, Grilled Lapu-Lapu and my ever favorite Pancit. They also served several types of desserts like their unique take on Turon, instead of saging na saba, they put bukayo fillings in the lumpia wrapper.

Village floating Resto and Cruises
Premium Meals by Village floating Resto and Cruises

Aside from the wide array of delicious dishes, spacious dining area and exclusive tables, we were also entertained by home grown talents by singing and dancing while everyone enjoys the beautiful scenery. Towards the end of our cruise, the boat was turned into a party place where the staffs on-board also served as group dance instructors while everyone follows the not-so-hard dance steps. Amazing experience indeed!

Loboc Cultural Dancers
Loboc Cultural Dancers

Its been almost ten years since the last time I had my first Loboc River Cruise and I just have to say that Ive seen so many improvements in the area. The boat terminal was now concrete, the river banks now has lamp posts for night cruises, the restrooms are clean and equipped with WIFI and the the local government in now constructing a new building which will house the souvenir shops and offices in the near future.

busay falls
Busay Falls along Loboc River

The local government of Loboc just proves that tourism should be sustainable, empowering locals by producing jobs with the mindset of preserving the river since its is also the source of their income.

Boat turned into a Dance Floor
Boat turned into a Dance Floor

I was able to buy a local version of Salakot in one of the souvenir shops in Loboc but unfortunately, I left it in our tourist bus in Siquijor:( Its almost 2pm when we left Loboc en route to Loay to visit the Clarin Ancestral House. Without any sign at the main door, we were disappointed when we found out that the old house / museum was closed to visitors that day.

Loboc Boat Terminal
Loboc Boat Terminal

We took photos of the facade of the Clarin Ancestral House then we headed to the famous Baclayon Church. The Baclayon Church is the second oldest stone church in the Philippines with San Agustin Church, in Real Street, Intramuros, Manila being the oldest.

Clarin Ancestral House
Clarin Ancestral House

Constructed by the Jesuit priests in 1595, the church is still intact and houses important religious relics and images reminiscent of the historic Roman Catholic religion in the country.

Baclayon Church in Bohol
Baclayon Church in Bohol

Next to the church is the old convent that is constructed using hardwood and coral stones, which also houses a small museum with centuries-old religious relics, artifacts and other antiquities, dating back to the 16th century. Inside the museum you can also find the cuadro paintings made by the Filipino painter Liberato Gatchalian in 1859.

Religious Relics inside the Museum
Religious Relics inside the Museum

From Osang’s we went to the UBE House where some of us bought Ube Kinampay and Ube candies. Ube used to be a staple food in Bohol which explains why an Ubi Festival is celebrated every January in Bohol. Bohol is recognized as the source of the rare “kinampay” variety, an aromatic and velvet-colored variety of purple yam, scientifically named Dioscorea alata Linn.

Antique Wooden door made from Iron Wood
Antique Wooden door made from Iron Wood

Their Ube rocks and we litterally had an Ube Jam inside the store since we were given free taste test of their famous product. After the “Jam” we went back to Panglao Island for a resort inspection.

Baclayon Church Altar
Baclayon Church Altar

One thing I love about our visit to Panglao Bluewater Beach Resort is their welcome drink and “Cold Towel” – its truly refreshing after a humid afternoon visiting different tourist spots in the island. I will not talk about our resort inspection in this post since I will be creating a separate review of Panglao Bluewater Beach Resort later (watch out).

Osangs Broas
Osangs Broas

Our dinner was hosted by Amorita Resort – definitely my favorite resort in Bohol. It was my second time visiting the resort and and you can read my review here -> Amorita Resort Review. Upon arrival, we had a short ocular inspection of the property and while touring around the resort, I met familiar faces including Chef Paeng – the man responsible for the rediscovery of the famous Authentic Boholano Cuisine – a set of locally inspired dishes that is only available in their in-house restaurant called Saffron Restaurant and Bar. For our dinner Chef Paeng prepared some of my favorites like the Boholano’s version of Balbacua, Fish Sinanglay and their signature dessert called Turon de Bohol.

Deluxe Room with Veranda
Deluxe Room with Veranda at Panglao Bluewater Beach Resort

As much as we love to spend more time in Amorita Resort, we had to leave for our last activity for the day which is firefly watching in Abatan River. Upon arrival in the Abatan River put-in area, we boarded a boat and started sailing in total darkness. My eyes are tired and seeing total darkness keeps on suggesting me to close my and rest trough the entire cruise but few minutes after, we saw thousands of fireflies glowing and surrounding the entire tree.

Firefly watching was a dreamlike experience, It reminded me of my childhood when we all believe that cartoon characters are for real. Instead of falling asleep, I was even energized after our encounter with thousands of winged beetles or what we commonly called Fireflies. After our night river cruise, we returned to Bohol Beach Club to take rest and prepare for our 3rd Day of Central Visayas Familiarization Tour.

Our Central Visayas Media Familiarization Tour was an event hosted by PHILTOA – the travel organization composed of travel and tour operators, hotels, resorts, inns, handicraft shops, restaurants, night clubs, tourists transport companies, airline companies, shipping companies, convention and exhibit organizers, tour guide associations, and other related entities.

PHILTOA is now currently preparing for the 23rd edition of the Philippine Travel Mart 2012 which will be on August 10-12, 2012 at the SMX Convention Center in Mall of Asia Complex.

Up Next : Loboc River Cruise in Bohol

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