Bohol is the largest island in Philipines and is located in Central Visayas region. It is indeed a beautiful Island everything from white sandy beaches to amazing scenery. As we were about to land, my window allowed me to be enticed by the aerial view of Bohol-indeed it would be a great visit.
The residents mainly speak English and Bisaya and the first time I heard about it was when I read about the Taser. I had mixed feelings as I visited the region as it had just been hit by a major earthquake yet I still wanted to explore it. I wanted to see for myself the effects of an earthquake( a first for me),as well as assist in any way possible. Though the devastating effects of the earthquake were visible all over, I was impressed by the resilience and positive attitude of the people. I didn’t have the opportunity to venture out much and thus a return trip is required.
Aftermath of Earthquake
I have seen earthquakes on tv, I have read about earthquakes, I have heard about earthquakes but nothing prepares you for the actual effects of an earthquake. I first heard about the earthquake as I planned my visit in Kenya yet it did not make me keep away, I arrived about a month later.
On October 15th 2013, Bohol was struck by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. The aftermath is heartbreaking-lost lives, destroyed homes, destroyed infrastructure and livelihoods also lost. I saw ancient buildings brought down to their foundation, vehicles only a collection of metal and roads split in the middle.
I was however impressed by the resilience of the people, the positive outlook of the people and the will to move on. I thus decided to be like the people, to assist where I could and not wallow. This this allowed me to there after venture out and enjoy the trip.
Top tips for Bohol
1)Visit Tarsier Conservation
Imagine looking at an animal that sort of looks like a large rat but is actually a primate-the smallest primate in the world. Imagine an animal so terrified of enclosures (claustrophobic), that it would rather commit suicide by banging its head than stay in a cage.
Imagine an animal that can rotate its head 180 degrees -strange ha!. That means you could be looking at its beady eyes and seconds later at the back of its head without it moving its body. Well, Imagine no more-meet the reclusive Tarsier .
The conservancy offers protection to these animals and thus has a forest dedicated to them. They like hiding in the trees so you will have to keep a sharp eye out of you are to see them.They do not like stress, getting shocked or anxiety which could lead them to suicide thus keep your volume low or be completely silent as you walk though the conservancy.
2) Explore the beaches
I explored Alona Beach and it was a sight to behold- white sandy beaches, clear skies, not crowded and full of activities. You can go whale watching early in the morning an activity I was unable to partake as I was stripped for time-one and a half days in Bohol.
The Alona Beach remains alive even at night as the restaurants set their layout at the beach, there is entertainment, the food options are diverse and there are various people selling souvenirs at the beach.
If that isn’t enough to entice you, masseuses offer massages at the beach ,you can get temporary tattoos(henna)and its great watching the fishermen fishing at that hour.
4) Visit Chocolate City
Ladies, before you break a leg running to see and devour chocolate city-Stop. Unlike what I wished it was, it turned out to be hills named thus because during the dry season, they dry up and look like mountains of brown chocolate.
5)Learn the Language:
When as a foreigner you great people in their local language, it automatically makes the people smile. Maybe its the pronunciation, maybe its the accent or maybe you just said it wrong-they will appreciate the effort. I thus learnt and used the following phrases
Good Morning in Bisaya – Maayong buntag .
Response to good morning- Maayong buntag pun
Thank you very much- Salamat Kaayo.
6) Hire a motorbike
I do not know how to ride a motorbike so I hired a guy who does. Kindly note, I am afraid of motorbikes but sometimes a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do. I was short of time and wanted to visit several areas in the shortest time so fear had to take a back seat.. Many are the time I was scared during the ride-the roads are winding, we were on major highways but soon I was having the time of my life.
The road from Panglao Island and specifically Alona area is great and the scenery great This guy deserves an award. He was patient with me as I was awed by everything, he became my photographer, my tour guide and my friend.Never once did he complain when I overstayed at some locations which led to us arriving back under the guise of darkness.
Other transport options are available from cars to the famous jeepney. This view however shocked me-are those girls atop a moving vehicle, are those people hanging on the door?
7) Make Friends:
Always make friends on the road. Yes, it isn’t easy at all but well worth it-just smile at the stranger-you will be surprised how many conversations it begins. These people taught me the language, they taught me about the fish from the sea and they shared their life stories with me.
I stayed in Panglao Island, Bohol Province which is about one hour from the Tagbilaran Airport. Its location is ideal as it is near the beach and it was easy to navigate to my places of interest. There are accommodation options for all prices.It is about one hour from Tagbilaran Airport. This area is mainly beach and I stayed at the Alona Beach area. Its location is ideal as you are at the beach- main reason why Philippines is famous. The beach has white sand, the waters are clear and there are various pocket friendly accommodation.