Wake Up, Philippines!

Tour of Bohol

Posted in Tourism, Travel by Erineus on April 16, 2009
The journey of a thousand smiles
By JOSEPH BENEDICTO R. GONZALES
March 21, 2009, 2:04pm
Dauis Church is considered as one of the most beautiful churches in Bohol.
Dauis Church is considered as one of the most beautiful churches in Bohol.

There is more to Bohol than the Chocolate Hills, tarsier, and peanut kisses. This I learned first-hand during a recent trip, when I toured Bohol with a smile.

Armed with a camera phone – the Sony Ericsson C510, I took a series of snapshots of  picturesque tourist attractions. The camera phone clicked away, non-stop, happily absorbing the amazing vista.

It first clicked its shutters and captured the Baclayon Church in one of the oldest towns of Bohol, considered as one of the oldest stone churches in the country. With its centuries-old edifice and a museum which houses various old relics, it makes for a really good picture. Here, one can find choir books made of cowhide, church music written on sheepskin, including old marriage records written in Spanish.

Alas, there were no cameras during that time, otherwise, the countless smiles on the faces of those who have visited the church and experienced its resplendent beauty would have been captured in all its sunshine glory.

Betty-Ayaay, Baclayon Parish Secretary said visitors flock to the church every year because of its beautiful architectural designs and its historical essence.  In fact, there are quite a number of couples who get married in the church each year, or an estimated average of less than a hundred marriages recorded in 2007 and the number increases every year.

The Dauis Church is another historical wonder with its Romanesque and Byzantine designs.  According to legend, the place was invaded by pirates and town folks locked themselves inside the church till they ran out of water and other provisions.  According to our tour guide Roel, a well appeared at the foot of the altar and people started drawing water from it. Today, fresh water still springs from the well where locals and tourists alike who flock to the church partake of the water believed to have healing powers.

Dauis Church also caters to tourists, especially couples who want to get married.  Father Val Pinlac of Dauis Parish noted that 80 percent of those who get married in Dauis Church are non-Boholanos. “It must be the spiritual magnet that the church provides them with that until today, many tourists visit the place,” the priest said.

Have you ever wondered how priests and nuns eat their meals in their cloisters? We got to have a feel of how it was like to have a “holy meal” when Father Val offered the Immaculate Convent as a place for us to dine. So, in the middle of this sacred place, was the abundance of “sinful” offerings like lechon kawali, and chicken adobo mixed with steamed brown rice.

Boholanos are known for their religiosity and simplicity. Other than the grandiose and festive celebrations they embrace during fiestas, Boholanos rarely get a ‘night-life’ – since bars and other night hang-outs are banned especially in Tagbilaran City.  A stark reminder of this are the ‘bible texts’ and other religious inscriptions on tricycles.

According to Roel, the tricycle drivers are required to put Biblical inscriptions on their public transports before they can renew their licenses, including their business permits.  This is part and parcel of the efforts of the local government of Bohol and the Catholic Women’s League to strengthen their campaign in inculcating moral values among Boholanos.

One shouldn’t miss the Loboc river cruise, a 45-minute boat ride, complete with a sumptuous lunch; the Bee Farm and butterfly visit; the exotic wildlife experience; the Panglao beach dive, or even the ‘tarsier’ viewing spree which many consider as a distinct Bohol identity.

But more than enjoying Bohol’s lush greenery, pristine beach shores, rich cultural heritage, amazing natural wonders, and friendly people, arises the opportunity of understanding the present status of the Philippine tarsiers.

Carlito Pizzarras, field supervisor of the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella town, said that tarsiers have become endangered because they have been used for commercial purposes, thus, bringing down to 100 or less its population. The Tarsier Sanctuary is helping to keep the tarsiers away from their exploiters. Now, there is a 50 percent survival rate among these unique creatures.  And with the passage of a resolution prohibiting the possession and display of these nocturnal mammals for commercial purposes, no doubt, concerns about the mishandling of tarsiers will be addressed.

A glimpse of Bohol culture and lifestyle, as portrayed in this experience, is indeed a feast for the senses – even bringing us every reason to smile amidst the hassles of harried life.  “We are here to spread the smile, especially these times of economic crises,” said Patrick Larraga, Sony Ericsson Marketing Manager. “We try to inject in people an ‘upbeat mindset’ to always face challenges with a positive outlook and to embrace the essence of fun.”

Truly, the tour was a picture perfect ‘catch’ of stories worth-documenting.  It was a showcase of Boholano hospitality at its finest; a fun weekend of food and leisure; a cherished moment of sharing smiles as big as the Chocolate Hills and as wide as the tarsiers’ eyes.

http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/199759/tour-bohol

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