I was just in Bohol a couple of months ago with my family and thought that I had seen it all and had checked off all the sites and attractions. Bohol was that perfect beach getaway for my family—wholesome, fun, activity-filled and at night, just as it was in the day, quiet and tranquil. This time, I went with my two girl friends and best writing partners, Nikka Sarthou and Nina Terol-Zialcita. Though we’re colleagues, we sometimes don’t see each other regularly and have to conduct much of our business on-line. I was so looking forward to girl bonding.
The Writer’s Block Philippines girls in Bohol.
Just as my first visit, Bohol did not disappoint. I re-discovered old places, learned new things and just couldn’t stop eating!
Here are my top five things to see, learn (yes, learn!) and taste in Bohol.
1. Must-see: Tarsiers
No one can say they’ve visited Bohol without seeing the tarsiers. Even second-timers like me need to pay homage to the most popular tourist ambassador of Bohol.
We were happy to see that the tarsiers now have their own sanctuary. This sprawling complex gives the tarsiers more freedom to swing from trees and climb up the branches to a higher place if it wants a breather from the many tourists and fans.
Our visit coincided with mating season so there were a number of tarsiers that were, ahem, indisposed. (Did that mean they got a room?). Between the male and female, it is the female who is more aggressive; she draws attention to herself by making noises to attract the male.
Tarsiers mate once a year and when a female gives birth, the baby only as big as a thumb.
I was particularly happy that our tour guide was very knowledgeable about tarsiers; he could answer any question we threw at him. Like when he told us that the tarsier diet consisted mostly of cultured worms, I jokingly asked him if cultured worms were the ones who listened to Mozart. : )
In answer to my questions, he gave quite a lengthy reply about the difference between cultured worms and the garden-variety type.
2. Must learn from the Churches and monasteries
Sure, like most other parts of the country, Bohol has its share of Churches, bell towers and monasteries. Our favorite was Cafe Lawis inside the Dauis Pilgrim Heritage Center beside the Señora de la Asunción Shrine.
The town of Dauis, which is on the edge of Panglao island is said to be the first stop for visitors coming in from the Bohol mainland.
There is a museum and a quaint café that serves soufflé cake which comes in Tsokolate Eh, Kinampay (purple yam or ube) and Ginger flavors. It is eaten by breaking the cake at its center and pouring in the Tsokolate Eh.
But my surprise discovery was how history is etched in the walls and windows of these religious buildings. And quite simply, how beautiful they are. I have always looked inside the churches I visit but sometimes fail to notice how the outside is equally interesting, if not more so. Just check out the picture of Nikka and Nina outside the Baclayon Church.
Their contemporary and, might I add fashionable outfits, are an interesting complement and contrast to the pre-colonial structures and outlines of the church.
3. Must shop at Aproniana Souvenir Shop
And of course, no trip–girl bonding or not–is complete without shopping. We stopped at Aproniana Souvenir Shop, a one-stop shop complex with just about every thing that Bohol has to offer: delicacies, souvenir t-shirts, bags, mugs, shawls.
The best thing was that there were no crowds, the whole complex was air-conditioned, and the merchandise, reasonably priced.
It was also very orderly. Once you’ve rounded up all your shopping, you can take it to the counter where are virtually no lines (at least on that day). And just in case it’s one of those days when there is a queue, chairs are set up in the area which also doubles as a waiting lounge.
4. Must chill at Panglao Bluewater Beach Resort
Traveling with the girls means looking for places to have nice pictures taken. In our case, we wanted to play around with our hats and our resort wear.
Actually, our outfits were upstaged by Panglao Bluewater Resort.
If this picture elicited a WOW from you, imagine how we all reacted when we got down from the van and were greeted by the sun beckoning at us from the poolside.
Our room was just as fantastic…
….as was the tub
For those who don’t have time to stay for a few days, Panglao Bluewater also offers specially priced day sessions.
5. Must taste (everything) at The Bee Farm
A most memorable dinner was in what may be described as the land of bees and honey. The Bee Farm is a place I instantly fell in love with.
I had heard people rave about the malunggay and spicy ginger ice cream, which is available exclusively at The Bee Farm, so my taste buds were in suspended anticipation.
I didn’t know The Bee Farm would be a feast for the eyes as well as my palate.
A trip to the Bee Farm is a complete gastronomical experience; starting from the souvenir | food shop where find you an array of spreads like pesto malunggay, mango (my personal favorite) and chocolate (made from tablea) to be slathered on squash bread.
We were full before we made it to dinner, but even that didn’t stop us from feasting at the actual buffet table.
- Paper thin fried Cab-Cab with green tomato salsa found only at The Bee Farm.
- The fresh salad that was almost too pretty to eat….almost.
The Bee Farm is just the place where you can while away an entire evening and not so much as see it pass by. We were regretful about leaving.
On the way out, I saw that The Bee Farm also has a bed and breakfast for those who also won’t be able to tear themselves away. We didn’t have time to check out the B&B, but I found myself adding another reason to go back to Bohol to my checklist.
6. Way to fly: PAL Mabuhay Miles
I know I only mentioned five things, but it wouldn’t be fair to tease you with all the things to discover in Bohol without telling you how to get there.
You can fly to Bohol or within the Philippines FREE by accumulating miles. Take it from this points junkie who religiously tracks her miles and is always on the look out for mileage promos (like double your miles).
I found any even faster way to accumulate miles was by using a credit card that will earn me miles for everyday purchases like the Mabuhay MasterCard, which earns 1 mile for every P33 charged to the credit card.
Just so you know how great that is, I was able to redeem NINE (yes, 9!) tickets to Bohol last year through PAL’s 70th anniversary promo. That’s why I got my whole family, along with our beloved Yaya Remz, to fly with us.
So, When in Manila, take a side strip and swing by Bohol where there is much to see, learn and taste.
Primates, History, Honey: Things to see, learn and taste in Bohol