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Tuesday, March 29, 2011



After my long road trip to Cagayan and other parts of Mindanao, I went straight to BOHOL. After 24 hours on seas, at 6:00 am I finally reached the ports of Bohol. It was surprising to see the little native Boholanos as they welcome our ferry… Bohol style. They were floating at the sides of the ferry – literally swimming side by side the ferry. They are asking the tourists to throw out some coins and they would dive wherever the coin falls regardless how deep it would reach. And yes, they can get it they were like fishes waiting for bread. Surprising, but a bit disturbing.

As we reach the port, we met our tour guide. There he was with a companion, waiting plus the white van (again) that we will be using in the whole of our trip. He brought us straight to Panglao Island. It was a one hour drive from Tagbilaran City. When we reached the Bohol Dive Club Resort, we got to our cottage and WOW!!! It was like a whole Nipa hut house. And another WOW!!! for the very beautiful beach!!!. Before we really “inspected” the whole cottage, I can’t help myself but really jump and roll and play with the VERY soft, white and powdery sands of PANGLAO BEACH. I must say, going to Boracay first and then Panglao? It was a good comparison, but I’m loving Panglao more. The sands are better in all aspects. The whole place is  not as commercialized or even as developed, but that is where the true beauty is. The simplicity of the whole place is what that really compliments the swimming pool like, crystal clear water. It literally glitters as the sun’s rays kiss the bluish-greenish water.

Well, we rested for a while and hit the beach right away. Our tour guide offered a dolphin watching tour for the next day. We took it, paid 5,000 for a boat ride for like 2 hours, float around, - dolphin – no show!!! Sad!!! We were told that we are already almost near Cebu, a boat ride for another 1 ½ hour, we will be in Cebu. Had I known right away, I would have packed some things other than my shorts and snorkeling attire so I can walk around Cebu!!!
Starting the day with the no show dolphins won’t make me so disappointed. The long day has just began!

Next stop is the Blood compact shrine. As usual, it was all statues of the historical figures.

Then we went to Baclayon and Loboc Church. And that took my breath away. The antique altars, floorings, the whole architecture – wow!! A must see!
i love these pics...
Baclayon church:

Loboc churches:

We visited the HINAGDANAN CAVE, literally, cave with stairs in its natural rock formation. what is special about this, is the Hot spring inside the cave. Nice cave. but we did not bother swimming in the hot spring because it was soo full of people!!! hehehe.

After that we went straight to the very famous CHOCOLATE HILLS. But on our way there, we stopped for a while to their famous MAN MADE FOREST. It was quite a long stretch of trees, mahogany, narra, etc. that lined the road. They told us that it was a protected area, literally a forest. Created by the Bohol provincial gov’t as part of their eco-tourism. It was very beautiful.

Now here we are at the Chocolate Hills. It took me almost a 100 steps or more… before reaching the top. The view deck was like the Mines View Park of Baguio, only a little bigger. From here, you can a 360 degrees view of the whole CHOCOLATE HILLS area. Breathtaking view. They were really like giant Kisses chocolates. Going down was a long stretch of ramp for people in wheel chairs. I think that was thoughtful and very considerate. I used that. It’s easier to just glide going down. At the park, I saw some ATVs. I inquired for what is that for. Where would you use an ATV in the Hills?? And the manong said: Yes mam, si Aga Muhlach nag ATV dyan sa baba ng mga chocolate. And I smiled – big smile, yep, really big smile and wide eyes – “talaga po? Magkano? And he said, 2,000 mam, isang oras. At first I was like, WTF!!! But then, I thought, I’m in Bohol, I’m at the foot of my CHOCOLATE HILLS from the books. So go!!!! Go!!!! Go!!!

The experience was really unforgettable!! It was so great. It was like a movie scene! I wish Aga was there! Hehehe.
After the hills, on our way back, we then decided to take now the LOBOC boat ride. We did not take the floating restaurant. We were told by an insider (Boholano) that it is better to take the boats only because it could reach farther places than in the floating restaurant. Of course I met there the famous TARSIER!!! He looks so fragile, tiny, and cute. He seems sweet, because he would just sit still in your hand. No signs of temper in him.

While in the boat ride, we reached the falls, the long stretch of the already green river. They said it is about 10 bamboos deep. We reached the part where the fireflies would show up by 6pm. So we waited a little. It was scary to be floating in that deep river, thickly covered with trees and shrubs. But upon seeing the fireflies… another WOW!!! I must be dreaming. It must be another movie scene. Sadly I was with some old peeps and not with my love team at that time. Lol!!!

And when we were on the stop to go down from the boat, I fell in the river.. all were screaming and the tour guides literally jumped on me, grabbed my hand, and it was only my arms that are on the steps, to keep me from sinking. I don’t even know how to swim!!! Oh good Lord!!! What a way to not make me forget Loboc River.

The whole Bohol trip is unforgettable. I will definitely come back. It may not look like the Caribbean or the beaches of Hawaii, but the exotic beauty is what is really captivating. It is so beautiful, makes you feel proud to be a tourist, much more, that we own it. That is one beautiful tourist place that is “Proudly Pinoy”. 


(Cagayan De Oro, Bukidnon,  Iligan City, 

Lanao del Norte – Lanao del Sur)

     CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – said to be the City of Golden Friendships because of its gold deposits and the friendliness of their people… It is also that it is the Gateway to Northern Mindanao – I think this one I have to say yes without a blink basing from my experience when I was there.
I think it was like some 2 – 3 years ago that we went to CdeO, I was with the family of my Tito Johnny Wong, my dad’s Fil – Chi bestfriend. He owns a big piggery farm and a convention was held there. He brought me and my mom with them.
    As usual, plane rides, hotels, transportations were good. We probably got lucky to get  a good travelling agent that booked us in the best accommodations. Plus, the convention itself was held in the nicest places in CdeO. So, having said that, and after signing in to the convention proper, and getting our buffet stubs (which was Chinese foods by the way) for the last dinner ball of the convention… let the picture taking begin and the “pasyalan” rolling. J
     We were able to hire one van, ( I think this is common there) and the driver and his companion serves as the tour guides already.
In the city proper, we only went to the Limketkai Center, the convention center, and the mall that never fails me “wherever” – SM City CdeO.  
     So the tour guide offered now their  tour packages..
     First and last stop here in CdeO, was the gardens of Malasag… it was one hell of trekking a hill. Gardens all over, tribal houses, and native women weaving, a hanging bridge which I did not cross… it was all in all – tiring, cold, and literally breathtaking!! But kidding aside, when we reached the top part.. “the almost” 360 degrees view of the city was right in front of me… and it took me a while to go down again... 
     A must try also while in Cagayan is the NIGHT STREET FOOD STRIP!!! As in, ihaw-ihaw in the street – whole plaza with tables. Lots of choices, happy people, party mode for everyone. I think a lot of tourists really go there.
     Next day, we had a long drive.. long means almost 6 hours, in the van. I was told that we will be going to some nice tourist spots… But I did not know that we will be touring almost  5 provinces of Mindanao.

BUKIDNON – oh how sweet it is to drive by at your long, dusty, pineapple-filled wide roads!!!!!!
Now from what I remember, our First stop was BUKIDNON – the Del Monte province!!! Sadly, we did not make the supposed tour at the plantation due to lack of coordination. (that is just one sad part of it). Unfortunately, We did not get to taste the sumptuous pineapple marinated steak of Bukidnon ala Del Monte style!!! 

We also visited this Monastery of the Transfiguration. very quiet, peaceful and makes you feel so closer with God.

ILIGAN CITY – falls, falls, falls and Gloria’s old house!!!
It was after about 2 hours when we reached ILIGAN CITY. Here, we ate at the restaurant  - ihaw –ihaw – lechon manok – strips in front of the Tinago Falls which, If I remember it right was in front of the ANCESTRAL House of GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO.  And again, after eating, a little rest, we were back in the van of Manong tour guide!!!

Oh MARIA CRISTINA – Look at you!!!
It was probably after another hour when we finally reached these high gated long roads with wild sounds of rumbling water… I was excited… like a kid, my head is turning from left to right, back and front – and again… where is the falls??? WHERE COULD THIS LADY CRISTINA BE?? You see, my excitement has been dying to come out of my system maybe since I was in Grade 5 or 6 maybe… My PAPA (grandfather on my mother’s side – SEGUNDINO LIBRADA DIAZ, ) has been telling me stories about the tallest falls in the world- Angel falls, and here in the country is Maria Cristina. It was just in my Sibika books, it was only discussed by elementary teachers – not ever imagined that I will be here… it is to my surprised that there was a lot of, oh no, a bus load full of tourists!!! From all nations, from different Phil. Provinces. We were first toured around the hydrogen plant – the falls supplies electricity to almost the whole of the Lanao province.           After that was picture taking galore – and of course – the falls as the main backdrop!!! And then we were asked if we would like to visit the dam and the 5 floors high – tunnel down the earth!!! – After hearing that... all said – “YEAH!!!!!”… So there we go, and we asked, what do we see under??? Funny that we asked this like maybe after reaching the second floor deep length of the tunnel!! And they just said actually nothing – but machines, and caves, and an altar at bottom end of the tunnel… ok. That ends all the questions. It was compensation enough that if we all die reaching that very deep tunnel… we have God at the end. But we were surprised to see the different rock formation we saw… several stalagmites and stalactites served as wall decors throughout the tunnel. Then after the long wait, we reached a simple rock altar with the image of maybe around 3ft of the Sacred heart of Jesus. Then we got out – alive of course… and one more surprise... we were on top of the dam!!! Whoa!! We all asked, how did that happen??? Actually I forgot the explanation, but the tour guide explained it well with logic!!! I just forgot. =).

Well… travelling Mindanao is really an experience. No matter how different the languages may be… still, one characteristic of Filipinos really shines – At SM they truly got it all for you. Lol!! But seriously, the Filipino hospitality is a treasure and the foremost tourist attraction that only US can offer all over the world. Not only that we shoudn’t be a tourist in our own country – I think we should also be the number one promoter and patrons of our own beauty!!!!

Ok, see you around. I still have some packing to do before my next stop…. I WENT TO BOHOL STRAIGHT FROM CAGAYAN DE ORO VIA A “FERRY” THAT WILL DEFINITELY NOT SLEEP – it will be my first time to ride this small ship!!! It will be an overnight voyage on the Mindanao-Visayan seas!!!

 Holy crap… heaven help me!!!
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