CAPITAL: Tagbilaran City
LAND AREA: 4,117 sq km
TEL. AREA CODE: 38
NO. OF TOWNS: 47
ZIP CODE: 6300
Scenic Bohol casts an enigmatic charm drawn from the many archaic
mementos spread throughout the oval-shaped island - from unique
rock formations to a 45-million-year-old mammal species, from massive
stone watchtowers built by the Spaniards in the 18th century. Surrounding
the mainland are 73 other smaller offshore islands and islets whose
palm-fringed coastlines are rimmed by white sand and sheltering
coves. Serpentine coastal highways wind along unsullied beaches
and rustic rivers where the tourist can stop at any point and jump
in for a dip.
Bohol is the perfect arena for scuba diving, kayaking, trekking
and cave exploration. For the less adventurous, it offers leisurely
pursuits like cruising, swimming, snorkeling or, simply, collecting
seashells by the seashore.
Town visits promise exciting cultural treats that include scheduled
performances by the Teatro Bolanon, Dimiao Rondalla, Diwanag Dance
Theater and the award-winning Loboc Children's Choir.
Bohol is an anchor tourist destination and one of the 7,000 times
more islands that make up the Philippine archipelago.
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GEMS OF AN ISLAND
Bohol is like a jade brooch set on a velvet-blue sea. Its fertile
land has hills that roll gently around lush forests and grassy meadows.
Marine life - from schools of tiny reef fish to bigger pods of dolphins
and whales - teem in the surrounding waters.
Located east of Cebu and southwest of Leyte in the Philippines'
Central Visayas region, Bohol is bounded on the north by the Camotes
Sea, on the west by the Cebu Strait, and on the South by the Bohol
Covering an area of 4,117 square kilometers, it is essentially
an agricultural province, with rice, coconut and corn as main produce.
Fishing is a major industry.
Bohol's handicrafts are famous throughout the country. These include
mats and baskets, raffia woven cloth, fashion accessories, woodcraft,
processed food, and ceramics.
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Chocolate Hills is a series of 1,268 perfectly symmetrical, haycock-shaped
hills that rise some 30 meters above the ground. A National Geologic
Monument, these unique, rock formations were cast after million
years of evolution.
Spread out in the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan, the hills
are so-called because they resemble chocolate bonbons when their
grass cover turns to brown at the onset of summer. Two of the hills
have been developed and provided with facilities, including a viewdeck,
a youth hostel and a restaurant.
Other hills with a commanding view of the surrounding islands include
Banat-I and Elly in the capital city of Tagbilaran, Himontagon in
the town of Loay, Sampoangan in Calape and Ilihan in Jagna.
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With its limestone foundation, the province of Bohol is also known
as "Cave Country." An average of 30 caves are found in
each ofits 47 towns, many of them still unexplored. It is said that
Bohol got its name from the word boho, meaning "hole."
[ the term boho really means hole from which spring water usually
gush forth, common in many coastal areas of this island].
The Francisco Dagohoy Cave in the town of Danao is especially noted
for its historical role. It was once the headquarters of the Boholano
patriot Dagohoy who led an extended rebellion against Spain starting
in the first half of the 1700's. One of the many crystal-studded
passages within the cave's maze has an underwater route leading
to dry land. Local lore has it that every time Spaniards would enter
the cave, Dagohoy would dive under and hide in the breathing space.
The largest cave, however, is Sudlon. Nestled in a lovely mountain
environment, it hosts a huge population of bats which emerge like
vast stormy clouds at dusk.
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DIVE INTO DEEP
One of Asia's finest diving destinations, Bohol boasts of an undersea
panorama filled with impressive coral gardens teeming with colorful
The dive sites of Bohol are noted for their deep, steep walls -
the creation of continental shifts during prehistoric times.
Just over the causeway from Tagbilaran is Panglao Island with its
The crab-shaped Balicasag Island has long established itself as
a dive resort. From here, island-hopping and whale-watching expeditions
can be organized.
Pamilacan Island is yet another popular diving destination. Pamilacan,
which means "resting place of the mantas," is also noted
for its big whales called "balilan" and the highly prized
rare seashell Gloria Maris.
Pantudlan in Cabilao Island is frequented by many foreign diving
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TREK THROUGH WILD COUNTRY
The Tarsier Trail is a pathway from where one may become acquainted
with a wide variety of local flora and fauna, including the tiniest
primate on Earth.
Covering a distance of roughly 15 kilometers, the trail meanders
through the gently rolling terrain of the interior towns of Corella,
Sikatuna and Loboc. It traverses the natural habitat of the Philippine
tarsier, one of Earth's oldest mammal inhabitants. A 45-million-year
old prosimian species, it is popularly known as "the world's
Going deeper into the trail, one gets the chance to see some endemic
birds like the serpent eagle, brahmini kite, woodpecker, rocky-tailed
blue-headed parrot, grass owl, bubock pigeon and water cock. There
are jungle animals like the monkey, python, cobra, macock and palm
civet cat. It also teems with insects, the staple diet of the tarsier.
From the forest, the trail crosses over into Loboc River. Here,
bamboo rafts are for rent, from where one may glide down the placid,
green river to the seaport of Loay. One can also partake of a native
seafood buffet or a hearty snack in any of the floating restaurants
that cruise on the river.
Trained volunteer guides, mostly college students from Tagbilaran,
bring trekkers through the 134-hectare forested area that has been
set aside as the Tarsier Sanctuary.
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A WHIFF OF HISTORY
During the 16th century, a "Treaty of Friendship" was
forged between the brown and white races, sealed by the blood compact
of the Boholano chieftain Datu Sikatuna and the Spanish Captain
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.
Some 302 years of Spanish rule followed after the treaty. It was
a rule bathed with sweat and tears, as native sons plodded in hard
labor building massive fortresses and grand colonial churches. More
blood was also shed in the many attempts to free the motherland
from the shackles of Spanish domination. To this day, there still
stands in Bohol many structures that serve as mute testimonials
to its rich historic past.
Baclayon Church, is the best preserved Jesuit-built church in the
region, although its facade and most of the stone structures surrounding
it were built by the Augustininan Recollects in the late 19th century.
The Christian community organized by the Jesuits on November 17,
1596 and thereafter a visita was erected on the site. Baclayon was
canonically raised to the status of a parish only in 1717, the present
stone church was completed in 1727. The Casa parroquial was built
by the Augustinian recollects in 1872. An ecclesiastical museum
was established in 1969/70. Its narthex has the cuadro paintings
of the historically acllaimed Filipino painter Liberato Gatchalian.
Paintings were executed in 1859. Declared a national historical
landmark in 1995 by the National Historical Institute. Its convent
has been transformed into a museum and houses priceless religious
Other mission churches of architectural distinction include Dauis
Church with its beautiful frescoes, Loboc Church with its three-story
convent, Panglao Church with its ornate antiquities and ceiling
murals, Loon Church, the most stunning church built by the Recollect
Friars, and the 19th century Maribojoc Church.
Also found in the town of Maribojoc is the ancient Punta Cruz watchtower
which used to serve as a look-out for marauding pirates. It now
serves as a view deck and offers a picturesque vista of the Mindanao
Sea and the provinces of Cebu and Siquijor.
Other watchtowers of note can be found in the towns of Loay, Balilihan
and Pamilacan Island.
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At the market, one can have a pick of the day's fresh sea catch
and have them cooked homestyle at any of the food stalls.
There are also fishermen whose bancas coast along the resort row,
selling Neptune's bounty for instant grills. A river cruise through
pastoral Cambuhat River in Buenavista leads one to the oyster farms
from where one can indulge in real fresh "slipper oysters."
The hotels and resorts have their own dining outlets which can
also prepare picnic baskets upon request.
Filipinos do not simply provide the guest with a place to rest
or park their luggage, they also share the best of what they have.
This warm, effusive brand of hospitality is what distinguishes Philippine
hotels from the others.
In Bohol, the traveler has a pick of accommodations to choose from,
depending on one's budget and needs. There are accommodations ranging
from plush hotels to cozy pensions, from luxurious resorts to the
more tailored "SIR" (special interest resorts), which
cater to specific sporting needs.
source: Department of Tourism
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