Among the things I am truly grateful I got to do a few years ago was finally make the trip to Bohol, an island in Central Philippines. To the uninformed, Bohol is home to one of the Philippines’ greatest geological monuments—the famed Chocolate Hills, which are (you guessed it) made of the world’s richest chocolates.
They’re actually made of limestone—all 1,200 to 1,700 of them. These dome-shaped hills are covered in grass, which turn brown during the summer, transforming the entire area into a seemingly endless row of chocolate kisses. Hence, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol :D
Anyway, apart from the non-chocolatey Chocolate Hills, there’s plenty to see in this laidback island province in the Visayas.
One can take a cruise along the jade-green waters of the Loboc River…
Spend a day in one of the many luxurious resorts in the island…
Check out the huge mangroves and sandy beaches of Panglao…
Try these local ice cream flavors at the Bohol Bee Farm (a must! a must!)…
Or even hang out with adorable (yet apparently suicidal) creatures called Tarsiers:
These nocturnal creatures have a heightened sense of hearing, so when you visit the park, keep the talking to a minimum—you don’t want to be responsible for a mass suicide.
My lame attempt at humor aside, one reason why I’m really, really grateful I made the trip in 2012 is because a good deal of Bohol’s tourism attractions—its centuries-old historical Churches, in particular—were significantly damaged when the great quake occurred in the latter part of 2013. Now I’m not the most religious person in the world, but seeing these magnificent places of worship—some of them reduced to a pile of bricks—be a shadow of what they once were…it just tugs at the heart.
I’ve been meaning to write/rewrite this entry for the longest time, even before the quake, but then the quake happened, and then Haiyan/Yolanda happened, and my original plan of just rehashing my old Bohol entry wouldn’t cut it. Looking at the photos, remembering the really good experiences I had during my brief stay there, hanging out with the Boholanos and knowing that tourism was their main source of livelihood and income…I guess I felt Bohol deserved better than a rehash.
What I’m really trying to get at here is this simple message of gratitude: Thank you, Bohol, for the warm welcome, for the trip that was the perfect illustration of serendipity, for letting me see some of your historic churches, for the hospitality of your people, for that one incredibly blessed weekend, and for making me believe that magic still exists.
I am forever changed and grateful. <3