Bohol: What of Beauty, Exotic and Fantasy?
When I’d thought about Bohol, the words beauty, exotic and fantasy would instantly come into my mind. I did not have any justifications behind these descriptions. I only knew that I was destined to discover it soon.
That ‘soon’ moment manifested in an invitation by a dear friend of mine who was going to be married in this Central Visayas island on a pre-summer’s day.
Thus with my daughter in tow, we went to the airport to catch our impending flight to Tagbilaran, the main gateway to Bohol.
As we soared above the islands, I sat mesmerized looking at the patches of islands below. “This is my country.” I proudly thought to myself. “Some of the Philippines 7507 islands are right below me and I am about to land on one of its prized islands.”
The sight of islets and coral reefs reflecting on the water surface below showed me that we were flying above the archipelagic province of Cebu.
A big island then loomed. From my recognition of the country map, I knew that we were arriving at the main island of Bohol. I watched out intently for the burgeoning terrain of Chocolate Hills. The image of Chocolate Kisses popped up one after the next excited me. Yes! Those were the Chocolate Hills!
In retrospect, I thought of a lesson I learned in Grade School about the Seven Natural Wonders of the Philippines – Tubbataha Reef in Palawan, the Hundred Islands in Pangasinan, Banaue Rice Terraces in Banaue, Mayon Volcano in Bicol, Taal Volcano in Taal, Mount Makiling in Laguna, and the Chocolate Hills, which I was going to see very soon.
I felt my young daughter stirring from her nap on my lap at the sound of the pilot’s voice booming through the speaker. He was announcing our impending landing on Tagbilaran Airport.
A few minutes later, the plane safely touched down on Tagbilaran and we were walking down the stairs of the plane, embracing the wonders that were waiting for us.
A Welcoming Retreat to the Sunrise House
Outside of the airport, there was my name written on a placard that was carried by a long-haired, smiling guy. It turns out that the guy was Rico, a staff of SUP (Stand-Up Paddle) Tours Philippines, our host in Bohol.
For almost an hour, we journeyed from bustling to sleepy towns, from verdant to the aquatic scenery of Loboc City where we caught the sun setting on the horizon, and from narrow rough roads to a forest leading up to a hill.
Perched on top of that hill is Balay Silangan, a holiday house overlooking virgin forests, the long Loboc River, the Strait of Cebu and the stunning views of both sunrise and sunset.
Welcoming us in this sunrise house were my friends, Joan and Frederic, who were gathered around the swimming pool with close family and friends. It was a pre-nuptial celebration to their much-awaited event, wherein my daughter was going to be one of the flower girls
At supper, all of us were invited to converge at the property’s dining hall. It was situated at the end of the vast property, past a sloping garden and a basketball court; in it was a buffet of sumptuous Filipino dishes, all prepared by the talented cooks of Balay Silangan.
Afterward, some of the guests retreated to their quarters in the dorm rooms above the dining hall, while some, including us, went back to settle in the main house.
I stayed with the bride at the house’s lavish living room where the star-studded sky was seeping through glass walls, while my daughter, stayed with my friend’s relatives at the adjacent multi-media room.
There were refreshments prepared at the fully-equipped kitchen, and were consumed by the guests at the round dining room, which also showed a nice view of the surrounding gardens through glass walls.
Others retired in the guest’s bedroom next to a bathroom, some chilled out at the indoor lounge to appreciate the spectacular view, while the master’s bedroom was left sacred for the bride and groom.
As for the broad landscape outside, a romantic setting was being eyed for a sunset reception that was to take place the day after.
A fantasy wedding deep in the woods, to be continued…