Bohol : beyond Tagbilaran and Panglao

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Bohol is the 10th largest island in the Philippines. To regular visitors staying for 3 days,  seeing the tarsier, the Chocolate Hills, lunching on a raft in Loboc, and having a dip in the white sand beaches of Panglao complete the Bohol experience. Very few venture beyond Tagbilaran and Loboc.

I did, and I traveled to all coastal towns, effectively covering the circumference of Bohol Island. The trip made me want to go back to Bohol and travel to a few of the  73 other islands within the province, maybe staying at least 2 weeks to accomplish this mission. After the typhoon season.

a tour around the entire island of Bohol, not just Tagbilaran and Panglao on the bottom left

From Tagbilaran and Loboc, the next town via the Carlos P Garcia Circumferential Road is Alburquerque (and no, I did not misspell it). Locals just call the place Albur. I took a snapshot of the church which I thought had a more impressive facade than the older and much more popular Baclayon Church. Albur is also where the “balisong” makers are.

the church in Albur

a panday in Albur making balisong

Loay is a town that competes with Loboc in the “lunch on a river cruise” business. They also hold firefly tours at night. Loay is the major fishport of Bohol, and where fresh catch from Cebu or Mindanao find their way into the markets of Tagbilaran.

a Loay attraction

Loay competes with Loboc on the river cruies lunch business

Lila is a progressive town, but does not seem to offer visitors any ‘tourist attraction”.The town was originally part of Dimiao, and then at one point was annexed to still another town, the neighboring Loay.

Lila Public Library

Lila church

Dimiao is known for Kayla beach resort, the only spot in the town that draws visitors. Kayla is in Bgy. Balbalan and has a white sand beach, with a swimming pool, restaurant, and accommodations. The San Nicolas Church in Dimiao is also a must-see, made with cut stone in a neo Baroque architecture.

on the way to beautiful Dimiao

San Nicolas Tolentino church

the fenced-in Kayla beach

Valencia is an interesting town. I stopped at Badiang Spring Resort where the swimming pool is fed by fresh spring water. The owners of the resort are currently building a hotel to accommodate out of town guests.

a beautiful old house in Valencia

Badiang Spring Resort, with accommodations soon . . .

Garcia Hernandez is host to a the Philippine Mining Service Company, and it is the only town with a huge conveyor above the highway, to service the mines on the mountain and the offices on the other side of the road, by the ocean.

welcome to Garcia Hernandez

Garcia Hernandez town, still gaily decorated 2 days after the fiesta

the only Bohol town with an overhead conveyor on the main road

Jagna is a big town and is the gateway to Camiguin from Bohol. I actually came to Bohol from Camiguin, disembarking from my boat at the port in Jagna. The town naturally has pensions and inns for travelers who miss their boats or who would want to rest before moving to Tagbilaran.

the pier in Jagna, for boats from Camiguin

Jagna is the home of the Bohol “calamay”. I bought a piece and requested the owners to see how the calamay is made. It is made of sticky rice that with sweeteners and other “secret” ingredients are cooked over fire in a huge caldera, continuously being tossed by workers to make them even stickier.

I had coffee at Garden Cafe which is operated by the I.D.E.A., an organization helping the deaf. The adjoining pension house offers spartan accommodations. Rates start at P450 for dormitory-type rooms with fans, to P850 for a room for 2 with aircon and hot&cold shower. Call them to book at phone (038) 5310030, or (038) 2382398.

to Garden Cafe, behind the church in Jagna

use sign language to communicate with the Garden Cafe and I.D.E.A. pension house staff

best room at I.D.E.A. for P850

run by the International Deaf Education Association (I.D.E.A.)

I checked out another hotel in Jagna. It is called Domene Kaw, and has rooms that open to the sea. Rooms start at P1,000 and an ocean view suite goes for P2,000. Phone (038) 238 2127

Domene Kaw Hotel in Jagna, by the sea

Next town is Duero. It is another beautiful coastal town.

Guindulman is host to St Mary Academy and has a thriving trade going in its commercial center.

Candijay is a sleepy town that leads to Mabini, a town that is the jump off point to several islands like Calamangan, Tabangdiao, Cantil  and Lumislis.

a sleepy town, but

gateway to Mabini town and more islands ! ! !

From Candijay, we passed by the town of Alicia to get to the town of Ubay.

Ubay is a major Bohol town. It is also the farthest town from Tagbilaran, the provincial capital. It is a port town that is host to several businesses like restaurants, hotels, banks, and shopping centers. Crossing the Cunigao channel from Ubay will bring visitors to Lapinig Island where the town of Carlos P Garcia is located.

lunch stop at Chicken Ati-atihan in Ubay, the farthest town from Tagbilaran City on Bohol island

Ubay is famous in Bohol for dairy products

this town is a major trade center

In Trinidad town, I saw a rather unique sight: coffins being loaded onto a tricycle. I just hope they do not do the same thing during burials.

not a burial – – they were delivering to another funeral parlor on a “Ligaya” tricycle

Next town is Talibon, another port town. Talibon is the jump off point to the islands of Tambo, Banbanoan, Mahanay, and Jau.

watchtower at Talibon pier

pension houses and inns in Talibon, good for visitors hopping to the nearby islands

Getafe is still another port town In other literature, the place is also called Jetafe. This town is a sister city of a Spanish town called Getafe where a street is called Isla de Bohol. From Getafe, visitors can go to Jandayan and Banacon islands.

beautiful road to Getafe, a sister city of the Spanish city of Getafe

Buenavista is a town that is host to the oyster farm along a beautiful river. I checked out the industry, riding on a banca (P100) to get to the bamboo beds that serve as breeding places for oysters.

market by the river

oysters cultured in rafts on the river

From Buenavista, the next town is Inabanga, and then Clarin, until we reached Tubigon.

We got to Tubigon, another port town.Tubigon is closest to Cebu and is serviced 2x a day by roll-on-roll-of transport from Cebu.

Passed by  Calape. before reaching Loon. Loon is an old town where boats from Cebu bring visitors to Bohol. I actually saw the pier in San Jose town where passengers are brought to Loon, Bohol.

Antequera is famous for its Mag-aso Falls. I just had to make this detour from my coastal road drive to see the falls. Why? In the WOW Magic sing video od places in the country, the Mag-aso Falls was then the only remaining sight I have never been to. “Aso” means smoke or fog, and this is the effect of the cascading waters of the falls.

Back to the coastal towns, and we are in Maribojoc. This town is famous for the Sta Cruz watchtower.

The last town before hitting Tagbilaran City is Cortez. This town is being developed as another tourism destination, with the launching of the project done only a few days before my visit. Unfortunately, the center was closed when I dropped by. I was told visitors are taken to a boat that is configured to have seats like those in a bus, and the boat takes visitors to the 5 towns for a taste of local culture. Like riding a carabao. Snacks and lunch are part of the package. Check this out when you visit.

the bus-type ferry to 5 towns

The coastal road trip around the whole island of Bohol ends with a return to Tagbilaran City. I figure that visitors can do this trip on public transportation in 2-3 days. Or you can opt to tour the whole island for one day a rented car for P4,500. I guess the car rental was well worth it.

Forest Camp, Valencia, Negros Oriental

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The road in Valencia, just past Talay in Dumaguete is lined with tall eucalyptus trees with violet, orange, and white bougainvillas clinging to the trees.  I can’t help but notice beautiful homes on the road. Middle-class ones, and several really big and beautiful homes with gardens.

This mountain resort is about 20 minutes by motorbike from Dumaguete. Immediately outside the resort are two huge swimming pools with spring water, each with nearly a thousand bathers, at P10 entrance per person. After all, it was a Sunday in summer.

Upon entering Forest Camp, visitors are charged P80 per pax. An admonition to keep the place clean, the trekkers’ code, is prominent at the gate.

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints . . .

Forest Camp is a popular picnic destination. Most of the daytime guests are families who go straight to rented tables and picnic huts, big picnic baskets and drinks in tow.  And then everyone takes to the series of small swimming pools and to the stream.

spring water pool

I have never ever seen a resort with notices all over saying “Drinking Alcoholic Beverages Strictly Prohibited”. What a pleasant surprise. Indeed, a place for wholesome family picnics. I had to ask the resort staff if they prohibit smoking, too. No, they don’t. In fact, they said  some visitors discreetly bring in alcoholic drinks, and the staff  just look the other way. But because of the official prohibition, guests who bring in drinks surreptitiously have to drink in moderation and, as a result, the place is generally free from trouble caused by drunkards.  Or maybe the drunk aren’t able to negotiate the camp’s hanging bridge.

Visitors who don’t bring picnic baskets can buy food and drinks in the restaurant. I loved their “buco halo”, halo halo on buco at only P60.

halo halo on buco

You can also fish for your lunch in the tilapia pond near the restaurant, pay for your catch and have the pla pla steamed or grilled by the staff.

Accommodations are also available, sans airconditioning. The forest keeps the rooms naturally cool. The Rambutan and Durian cottages are rented out at P1,000 per day , with P200 additional charges for each person in excess of two occupants. The Bahay Kubo, the Champaca, and the Narra go for P2,500 per day, accommodating as many as 10 persons in the cottage.

Rambutan cottage :P1,000 per day for 2 pax

Picnic huts like Tree House, Kamalig Lanzones, and Kamalig Mangosteen are rented out for P300 per day. Campers can also sleep in tents, at P200 per head, with tents, beddings, and mats provided by the camp.

Guided treks to the Casaroro Falls and to Lake Nailig are available, at P800 per guide, with 1 guide for a maximum of 5 guests.

Forest Camp facilities can be booked via phone (035)4234017 or mobile 09172711806