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.

Bacolod, Philippines

A Festival to Laugh at Tragedy

Around 1980, the value of sugar, an important source of wealth on the Philippine island of Negros, plummeted and the ferry “Don Juan” that served it sank and took the lives of more than 176 passengers, most of them from Negrès. The local community decided to react to the depression generated by these dramas. That's how MassKara arose, a party committed to recovering the smiles of the population.
Camiguin, Philippines

An Island of Fire Surrended to Water

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Talisay City, Philippines

Monument to a Luso-Philippine Love

At the end of the 11th century, Mariano Lacson, a Filipino farmer, and Maria Braga, a Portuguese woman from Macau, fell in love and got married. During the pregnancy of what would be her 2th child, Maria succumbed to a fall. Destroyed, Mariano built a mansion in his honor. In the midst of World War II, the mansion was set on fire, but the elegant ruins that endured perpetuate their tragic relationship.
Boracay, Philippines

The Philippine Beach of All Dreams

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El Nido, Philippines

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Hungduan, Philippines

Country Style Philippines

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The Philippine Road Lords

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Vigan, Philippines

Vigan: the Most Hispanic of Asias

The Spanish settlers left but their mansions are intact and the Kalesas circulate. When Oliver Stone was looking for Mexican sets for "Born on the 4th of July" he found them in this ciudad fernandina

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

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Mactan, Cebu, Philippines

Magellan's Quagmire

Almost 19 months of pioneering and troubled navigation around the world had elapsed when the Portuguese explorer made the mistake of his life. In the Philippines, the executioner Datu Lapu Lapu preserves the honors of a hero. In Mactan, his tanned statue with a tribal superhero look overlaps the mangrove swamp of tragedy.
Marinduque, Philippines

When the Romans Invade the Philippines

Even the Eastern Empire didn't get that far. In Holy Week, thousands of centurions seize Marinduque. There, the last days of Longinus, a legionary converted to Christianity, are re-enacted.
Marinduque, Philippines

The Philippine Passion of Christ

No nation around is Catholic but many Filipinos are not intimidated. In Holy Week, they surrender to the belief inherited from the Spanish colonists. Self-flagellation becomes a bloody test of faith
Coron, Busuanga, Philippines

The Secret but Sunken Japanese Armada

In World War II, a Japanese fleet failed to hide off Busuanga and was sunk by US planes. Today, its underwater wreckage attract thousands of divers.
Batad, Philippines

The Terraces that Sustain the Philippines

Over 2000 years ago, inspired by their rice god, the Ifugao people tore apart the slopes of Luzon. The cereal that the indigenous people grow there still nourishes a significant part of the country.
Bacolod, Philippines

Sweet Philippines

Bacolod is the capital of Negros, the island at the center of Philippine sugar cane production. Traveling through the Far East and between history and contemporaneity, we savor the fascinating heart of the most Latin of Asia.
Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

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Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

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Sheets of Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil
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Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

Lençóis da Bahia: not Even Diamonds Are Forever

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Mountains of Fire

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Balinese Hinduism, Lombok, Indonesia, Batu Bolong temple, Agung volcano in background
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Lombok: Balinese Hinduism on an Island of Islam

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Registration Square, Silk Road, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
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A Monumental Legacy of the Silk Road

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Cocoa, Chocolate, Sao Tome Principe, Agua Izé farm
São Tomé and Principe

Cocoa Roças, Corallo and the Chocolate Factory

At the beginning of the century. In the XNUMXth century, São Tomé and Príncipe generated more cocoa than any other territory. Thanks to the dedication of some entrepreneurs, production survives and the two islands taste like the best chocolate.
khinalik, Azerbaijan Caucasus village, Khinalig
Chinalig, Azerbaijan

The Village at the Top of Azerbaijan

Set in the rugged, icy 2300 meters of the Great Caucasus, the Khinalig people are just one of several minorities in the region. It has remained isolated for millennia. Until, in 2006, a road made it accessible to the old Soviet Ladas.

Man: an Ever Tested Species

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jet lag avoid flight, jetlag, turbulence
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Avoid Post-Flight Turbulence

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Male Maldives

The Maldives For Real

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sunlight photography, sun, lights
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One Sun, So Many Lights

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Boat on the Yellow River, Gansu, China
Bingling Yes, China

The Canyon of a Thousand Buddhas

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Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, Turtle

Aruba: The Island in the Right Place

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ala juumajarvi lake, oulanka national park, finland
Winter White
Kuusamo ao PN Oulanka, Finland

Under the Arctic's Icy Spell

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silhouette and poem, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil
Goiás Velho, Brazil

The Life and Work of a Marginal Writer

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Guadalupe, French Antilles

Guadeloupe: a Delicious Caribbean, in a Counter Butterfly-Effect

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Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

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.
View from John Ford Point, Monument Valley, Nacao Navajo, United States
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Monument Valley, USA

Indians or Cowboys?

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Moai, Rano Raraku, Easter Island, Rapa Nui, Chile
UNESCO World Heritage
Rapa Nui - Easter Island, Chile

Under the Moais Watchful Eye

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In elevator kimono, Osaka, Japan
Osaka, Japan

In the Company of Mayu

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Montezuma and Malpais, Costa Rica's best beaches, Catarata
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Back to the Tropical Arms of Montezuma

It's been 18 years since we were dazzled by this one of Costa Rica's blessed coastlines. Just two months ago, we found him again. As cozy as we had known it.
Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem, Christian churches, priest with insensate
Holy Sepulcher Basilica, Jerusalem, Israel

The Supreme Temple of the Old Christian Churches

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Serra do Mar train, Paraná, airy view
On Rails
Curitiba a Morretes, Paraná, Brazil

Down Paraná, on Board the Train Serra do Mar

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Walter Peak, Queenstown, New Zealand
New Zealand  

When Counting Sheep causes Sleep Loss

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Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

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Jeep crosses Damaraland, Namibia
Damaraland, Namíbia

Namibia On the Rocks

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Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.