I was curious if I will still be able to see with my own eyes the yummy Chocolate Hills I remember only seeing in tattered post cards way back in my elementary years. This natural wonder is sometimes perceived as man-made by foreign tourists. Well, we can not blame them as I am wondering too how exactly did Mother Nature shape them into curvaceous, chocolatey hills?
|Twin hills up close|
According to research, this phenomenon is an unusual geological formation. The hills are actually formed due to limestone uprising. The whole of Bohol Island is rich in this mineral. The plaque in Carmen, Bohol states: The unique land form known as the Chocolate Hills of Bohol was formed ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion.
|Chocolate Hills National Park, Carmen, Bohol
It has been said that the hills number up to 1268. Which, if closely observed, are either dome-shaped or cone-shaped hills. The Chocolate Hills Complex is located in the town of Carmen. However, another area where one can view the hills is in the town of Sagbayan, becoming popularly known as Sagbayan Peak. From the viewing deck, one could see the island of Cebu, separated from Bohol by Cebu Strait.
After failing to count the actual number of hills, I gave up and proceeded then to the Man-Made Forest in Bilar, Bohol. As our vehicle winded down the zig-zagging route, I was amazed at how tall the trees have grown from both sides of the road! The trees are actually Mahogany, which bear bitter fruit. According to our tour guide, ate Jojo, this is the reason why no native animals are seen in this part of the forest. The animals are unable to eat its fruit because of its bitter taste.
|The Man-Made Forest is located in the town of Bilar, Bohol|
This area made me feel I am in northern Canada where tall Pine trees are abound. It also reminded me of the movie Twilight, of Bella’s enchanted-forest themed-wedding. I think it is a very secluded and romantic place. Even though it was high noon, the thick high canopies almost prevented sunlight from reaching us below. It gave off a serene soulful ambience. At lunch time we found ourselves cruising the calm Loboc River which snakes through the town of Loboc, home of the Loboc Church and the Loboc Children’s Choir. This is not the usual cruise since tourists are welcomed with a sumptuous on-board buffet meal and serenaded by local artists. This was my most anticipated part of the trip since I wanted to be embraced by the towering trees from both sides of the river and to feel exactly how its placid, green waters gently carry our vessel. In the middle of the river cruise, our boat stopped in front of a make-shift stage right on the river where these locals warmly welcomed us with their feet-stomping native dance moves and sang to us with their sweet voices. Local children is also said to partake in this activity but since it was a school day, the students have to go to class first. At the end of the Loboc River, one will catch a glimpse of the Busay Falls before the boat turns around and heads back home.
|A sumptuous buffet meal awaits tourists on board|
|Busay Falls awaits at the end of the Loboc River|
Going to Bohol is not complete without visiting the endangered Philippine Tarsier. The Philippine Tarsier is one of the smallest primates in the world. It can be found in Bohol and also in other provinces of Visayas and in the island of Mindanao. She or he may appear awake, but they are actually nocturnal animals, active during night time. It’s main diet are insects and are highly shy animals. I have read before that touching this gentle animal was allowed but is now prohibited since Tarsiers are quickly stressed by unfamiliar touches, by camera flashes and have a tendency to commit suicide. In visiting the Tarsier Conservatory in Loboc, you will find that each of them have their own human guard. The trees where they live are fenced, preventing tourists from going near the animal.
|Philippine Tarsier. Unknown to many, our very own Tarsier is not the smallest of its kind.
The smallest species is found in neighboring Indonesia
Before the end of our day-tour, we did not fail to visit the Blood Compact Shrine. The ritual was made between Datu Sikatuna and the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in the early years of Phil-Spanish history. The Blood Compact, more popularly known in the Philippines as Sandugo, means one blood. This act was performed to seal the friendship between the Spaniards and the early Filipinos.
|Blood Compact Shrine|
In between these historical and natural wonders, I have also visited several Bohol churches worthy of a separate post. I have enjoyed Bohol as much as visiting other provinces in our country. But I am surely seeing myself going back here sometime in the future to uncover more of its other wonders.