Bohol, Philippines

Other-wordly Philippines

chocolate hills
Bohol's famous chocolate mountains, at this height verdant with plentiful rain.
Keeping an eye on everything
A specimen of Tarsius, a tiny, eccentric and endangered primate that survives on Bohol.
blessed driving
Driver in your jeepney, the Philippine transport vehicle, created from jeeps left behind by the Americans in World War II.
Boholina beach
The tropical peninsula that houses Libaong Beach, one of the most photogenic in Bohol.
Inheritance in Bad Condition
Ruined corner of a traditional Bohol house lost in a banana forest
by candlelight
An old Bohol homeowner watches island visitors examining the weathered exterior of her home.
Faith in the Penumbra
Catholic altar in one of Bohol's many stilt houses, homes that caught the attention of a group of influential island characters.
Old Fashioned
Old glasses in a traditional Bohol house.
Commercial Legacy
Old billboard of an old shop in Bohol once belonged to two sisters with a very familiar name.
"May Peace Prevail"
Couple photographed with the Chocolate Hills in the background.
Faced with the wind
Passengers ride in the cabin of an airy jeepney on their way to the town of Loboc.
historic glass
Set of bottles of products once on sale at Hermanas Rocha store, residents and businesswomen of Bohol
Blood Compact
The Blood Compact monument, which celebrates the first peace between Spanish settlers and the Indians.
A Kind of Underworld
A visitor to an old Bohol house ventures to a lower floor.
Enlightened Investigation
A woman examines the corner of one of the traditional Boholine houses abandoned by former owners.
Three ride
Bathers walk along the white sand of Libaong beach, on the extension of the coast where Casa Amarela is located.
A Dismal Conviviality
Friends chat in the dreary interior of an old house in Bohol.
Historic house
Bohol's secular colonial house, object of concern to a group of Bohol conservationists.
jeepney caravan
Lush jeepney on a Bohol country road.
The Philippine archipelago spans 300.000 km² of the Pacific Ocean. Part of the Visayas sub-archipelago, Bohol is home to small alien-looking primates and the extraterrestrial hills of the Chocolate Hills.

The probability of visiting the Philippines without realizing Bohol is almost nil. This was done by the national tourism authority.

Upon arrival at Manila airport, the country's promotional brochures feature a bug-eyed animal clinging to a tree, on a background made up of hills too round and verdant to look real.

Although Bohol has impressive old Hispanic churches, built largely from coral, they were the government's chosen trump cards to attract visitors.

signboard, old store, bohol, philippines, out of this world

Old billboard of an old shop in Bohol once belonged to two sisters with a very familiar name.

And also by countless companies and brands that associate their products and services with them and exhibit them on TV and in the press.

This strange combination aroused our curiosity. To the point of choosing the island as one of our stops in the archipelago.

The flight from Manila only takes two hours but we've been traveling since Vigan (in the far north of the country) and the night before. We landed in Tagbilaran at 7:30 am exhausted, with no idea where we were going to stay.

We wait for the local Tourism desk to open and we pick up a tricycle folkloric. Fifteen minutes later, we are talking to Mrs. Onôncia D. Balco, a short-sighted director in her fifties who takes care of the matter in three stages: “I know perfectly well who will love to welcome you. It's just a minute and I'll deal with it."

The phone you use is still a disk. We wait half a minute for dialing the number to complete. Much more towards the end of the conversation, which oscillates between Tagalog and English, as is customary among Filipinos with education and possessions.

O Salvador welcome by Lucas Nunag at Casa Amarela

Putting down the receiver, the lady gives us the news: “Everything is arranged. We'll take you to Amarela, then the owner will take care of you.” We assume this is a hotel. In any case, by that time, we were more concerned with getting back to sleep than with enlightenment.

jeepney, passengers, bohol, philippines, out of this world

Passengers ride in the cabin of an airy jeepney on their way to the town of Loboc.

The jeep arrives at Libaong Beach. Park at the entrance to a large villa. Given its color, it could only be the final destination.

A man with the look and posture of Clark Gable Visayas come to meet us. He introduces himself, says goodbye to the driver and immediately puts us at ease with a refreshing and fun breakfast.

Then he directs us to a room and politely frees us for a long sleep. We woke up in the middle of the afternoon. We stroll along the coast, with refreshing dips every 100 meters.

libaong beach, bohol, philippines, out of this world

The tropical peninsula that houses Libaong Beach, one of the most photogenic in Bohol.

Libaong's Tropical Coastline and the Unexpected Origin of Yellow Baptism

We moved a few kilometers away from the starting point and ended up in a bar where we devoured halo-halos, divine Filipino desserts of fruit, sweet potatoes, beans, condensed milk and more.

When we got back, the sun had gone down long ago. Only a tiny lantern saves us from more tripping over the countless fallen coconut leaves.

The owner dines with friends. Towards the end of the night, we rejoined. We exchange stories, adventures and preferences. Lucas explains to us that the South Koreans are his most undisciplined guests.

He confesses his passion for Porto and Mateus Rosé. In return, we tell him about the bad reputation of Israeli backpackers and confirm that Portuguese wine is much more than those unavoidable examples.

Lucas Nunag has been a lawyer in the offices of multinationals based in Manila most of his life. At 55, he got tired of life in the capital and retired.

He had accumulated savings and decided to build a seaside resort on his beloved home island. He found himself in trouble to choose the name for the new business. Until the daughter remembered the visit they had made to Lisbon, in 2004, and an especially sexy Portuguese word: yellow.

They decided to recover the past. And they baptized and painted the hotel according to that inspiration.

Around Bohol's History

The next morning wakes up gray. The panorama changes little as the hours go by.

We don't have big plans. Lucas seems to lack company. The host makes a point of showing us the island. We accept without resistance.

blood compact, monument, bohol, philippines, out of this world

The Blood Compact monument, which celebrates the first peace between Spanish settlers and the Indians.

In Dauis, he introduces us to his brother, a priest who speaks Spanish and Portuguese and shows us the ceiling of the Baclayan church, all painted with scenes of local life and the historic monument “Blood Compact".

"Blood Compact" celebrates the first friendship treaty between Filipinos and Spaniards, a few miles from the place where Chief Lapu Lapu's men pierced Fernão Magalhães of death with bamboo spears, in what is now called the Battle of Mactan.

visitor, old house, bohol, philippines, out of this world

A visitor to an old Bohol house ventures to a lower floor.

Still in Dauis, we found out that Lucas was part of a nucleus for the protection of the local culture. In the afternoon we join a group tour led by a Mr. Gardini who disagrees with our presence.

He fears that, as reporters, we would draw too much attention to a wooden mansion they were planning to acquire.

fe, illuminated, traditional house, bohol, philippines, out of this world

A woman examines the corner of one of the traditional Boholine houses abandoned by former owners.

Lucas settles the matter with his usual courtesy. We spent a full day admiring Boholian buildingss secular, with emphasis on the Castilian colonial stilts with thick and long plank floors: “The older the richer were their lords” the former lawyer tells us.

We also enter ghostly wooden villas with shell windows lost in time.

historic house, bohol, philippines, out of this world

Bohol's secular colonial house, object of concern to a group of Bohol conservationists.

And in unlikely tropical settings that, according to another indigenous member of the delegation, the nucleus manages to get their hands on for 30 pesos (500 euros). In this way, they prevent the conflicting heirs from destroying them just to share the materials.

Discovering the Eccentric Side of Bohol

At the end of the afternoon, we return to Amarela.

We arrived on Saturday. Lucas has to fly to Manila. We took the ride to the Tagbilaran bus terminal. There, we caught a jeepney eccentric and overcrowded. It was time to look for the famous Tarsians and the Chocolate Hills.

jeepney, lush, bohol, philippines, out of this world

Lush jeepney on a Bohol country road.

We come face to face with the first specimens of the primate in Loboc, in a garden by the river of the same name and on the way to the hills. The meeting is marked by admiration and indifference.

We were surprised by its diminutive size, not at all befitting the fearsome monster that filled so many posters. The specimens, in turn, confront us with an apparent pride.

The eyes of tarsiers are around 16 mm in diameter and may be larger than their brain. Well, those tarsiers just blinked at them, in slow motion, as if sleepy by our banal presence.

tarsio, primate, bohol, philippines, out of this world

A specimen of Tarsius, a tiny, eccentric and endangered primate that survives on Bohol.

At times spread over a vast area of ​​the world, the Tarsians subsist only on a few islands in Southeast Asia.

Despite the stuffed look of key chains, they are the only primate on Earth that is exclusively carnivorous. They jump from tree to tree, attacking insects and small vertebrates: snakes, lizards, bats and birds that they catch in mid-flight. It has nocturnal habits and the morphological combination between its thalamus and eyes is unique among primates. It has led some neuroscientists to suggest that the species comes from a distinct and older line of evolution.

We leave the tarsians in their lethargy. We proceed to the interior of the island and the Rajah Sikatuna National Park.

The Strange Hovered View of the Chocolate Hills

The bus ends its journey at the top of a long ramp. There, a well-placed viewpoint reveals the bizarre backdrop of the Chocolate Hills. Thousands of small conical hills covered with vegetation, with shades of green and yellow, repeat themselves until they are out of sight.

chocolate hills, bohol, philippines, out of this world

Bohol's famous chocolate mountains, at this height verdant with plentiful rain.

They extend over 50 km² and are between 35 and 120 meters high. They are made of limestone and are named after the appearance they gain when the grass that covers them turns brown during the dry season, when it makes them similar to Hershey's chocolate kisses (Kisses).

The Legendary Explanations of the Chocolate Hills

As might be expected, several legends explain the geological formation with a clear inclination towards greatness.

There is the romantic that speaks of Arogo, an immortal and powerful giant who fell in love with Aloya, a simple mortal who, when she died, left her suitor in pain and disgust. According to this version, the hills would have arisen when their endless tears dried up.

It is also said that two local giants got into a dispute for territory and threw rocks and sand at each other. The confrontation lasted several days. It so tired them that they forgot what had happened and became friends. The Chocolate Hills would be the damage they caused to the ground and never remembered to fix it.

chocolate hills, couple, bohol, philippines, out of this world

Couple photographed with the Chocolate Hills in the background.

And the Scientific Theories

Even if less fanciful, the scientific community is far from reaching an agreement. The most consensual theory of scientists is that the limestone of the hills contains abundant fossils of marine life.

It has suffered a long and intense erosion generated by rain, water flows and tectonic activity. Other theories add the hypothesis of the lifting of huge coral deposits.

Still others attribute its existence to strong underwater volcanic activity or massive water movements caused by extreme tides, somewhere in the early days of the Planet.

Our story in Bohol, this one, was drawing to a close.

libaong beach, coastline, sunbathers, bohol, philippines, out of this world

Bathers walk along the white sand of Libaong beach, on the extension of the coast where Casa Amarela is located.

We return to Libaong Beach and the Yellow House. We remake the backpacks. The next morning Lucas Nunag was back and driving us to the airport. We say goodbye to the kind host in gratitude. We got on a Cebu Airlines plane.

We head to the island of Panay and its Boracay for 3 or 4 days of bathing expiation on the grand dame of the Philippine beaches.

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A Festival to Laugh at Tragedy

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An Island of Fire Surrended to Water

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Monument to a Luso-Philippine Love

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The Philippine Beach of All Dreams

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Country Style Philippines

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The Philippine Road Lords

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Vigan: the Most Hispanic of Asias

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When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

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Lion, Elephants, PN Hwange, Zimbabwe
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The Legacy of the Late Cecil Lion

On July 1, 2015, Walter Palmer, a dentist and trophy hunter from Minnesota killed Cecil, Zimbabwe's most famous lion. The slaughter generated a viral wave of outrage. As we saw in PN Hwange, nearly two years later, Cecil's descendants thrive.
Thorong La, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, photo for posterity
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At the height of the Annapurnas Circuit

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Engravings, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
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From Luxor to Thebes: Journey to Ancient Egypt

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Era Susi towed by dog, Oulanka, Finland
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One of the tallest buildings in Valletta, Malta
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An ex-Humble Amazing Capital

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Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
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The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

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Christmas scene, Shillong, Meghalaya, India
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Table Mountain view from Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa.
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At the Adamastor Monster Table

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Fluvial coming and going
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The Small Tropical Japanese Amazon of Iriomote

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Correspondence verification
Winter White
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shadow vs light
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

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Barrancas del Cobre, Chihuahua, Rarámuri woman
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The Deep Mexico of the Barrancas del Cobre

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Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
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A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Maui, Hawaii, Polynesia,
Natural Parks
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China's occupation of Tibet, Roof of the World, The occupying forces
UNESCO World Heritage
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The Sino-Demolition of the Roof of the World

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Heroes Acre Monument, Zimbabwe
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view mount Teurafaatiu, Maupiti, Society Islands, French Polynesia
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A Society on the Margin

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Rostov Veliky Kremlin, Russia
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Under the Domes of the Russian Soul

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Flam Railway composition below a waterfall, Norway.
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Flam Railway: Sublime Norway from the First to the Last Station

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Pachinko Salon, Video Addiction, Japan
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Pachinko: The Video Addiction That Depresses Japan

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Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

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Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Australia

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Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
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napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

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