Captured Life

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Celebrating Cebu and Bohol

We left for Cebu at 7:30am and arrived exactly 30 minutes after. It was my second time, my mom and I; first time for my sister and Dad to visit Cebu. We arrived at Mactan Airport and we were welcomed by a guy from Tambuli Resort. We rode on a Nissan Sentra 2005 (I think) and I was surprised to see it's actually wide inside.

Well, naturally we were excited. Tambuli Resort is in Mactan Island so we didn't went to Metro Cebu immediately. We settled ourselves at Tambuli East and I scanned the place while my family took some shut eye. The place is heavenly. I'm not quite sure but I could see another island away from where I stand. The sand is not as fine as Bora but still the water is clear and quite calm. I walked around to see some speed boats parked along the shore and some of the Cebuanos were inviting me, asking me if I would want a ride, and that of course, comes with a fee. I limit myself from spending too much from my vacation knowing that days from now, I'll be needing enough money. Well anyway, back to our vacation.

We spent only one day and one night in Cebu by the way. By 10am, we asked for a van to bring us to Sto Nino Cathedral. A lot of foreigners are visiting the holy place. Before then only local tourists would visit the site, now it's really a tourist spot for everyone. By lunchtime we took a cab going to Ayala Center Cebu. Back when I was in my sophomore year in high school, I thought Ayala Cebu was larger than Glorietta. Some would say yes but for a mallrat like me, it's like Market!Market! And quite complicated like Galleria. But just the same, we enjoyed it. We stayed there until 6pm till the van arrived and brought us back to Tambuli.

I enjoyed staying in Cebu except for the traffic. I enjoyed seeing how organized things were and then I thought, that's just the beauty of being a stranger in a place like this. You get to appreciate what the locals would not.

We took our breakfast by 10am and left Cebu by 3pm riding on a Weesam Ferry going to Tagbilaran City, Bohol. I made a dumb mistake by the way of leaving the digicam in the van when we got off by the port. And yes, it really pays off that you're not around town, everyone is so friendly. Fortunately, I contacted the resort and got hold of our driver. Imagine, it was only 2 hours before our call time. 30 minutes before 3, our driver (I forgot his name but he's heaven sent!) brought the digicam. He even called back before when I miss called him. Really Cebuanos are friendly and courteous!

And so came the ferryboat of Weesam. We left Cebu by 3:12pm and took a two hour and a half trip to Tagbilaran. We had our trip in first class. I slept in the course of the trip but most of it I admired the vastness of the ocean as the sun set. There was one instance where the water is so calm that you'd think the water is just an inch deep as the clouds were set in a beautiful display as the rays of the setting sun completes the masterpiece. And then I whispered and thank God for giving me this life.

When finally our boat docked the port of Tagbilaran, I was thankful that the trip was safe and we got in the place just in time. It was 5:15pm and this time to our surprise, there was no welcome from the people of Bohol Divers Resort. By the way, the resort is located at Alona Beach, Bohol. We stayed for 20minutes resting until the van came. Eni was our driver and he apologized because the van that would actually be on time got a flat tire and he wasn't contacted immediately until Mom called.

And so we had our trip and we immediatelly noticed how the place is so clean and quite untouched. The houses were a mixture of the Spanish era and some of them were already built in the modern age.
After 30 minutes, we arrived at the resort and immediately we fell in love with the place: from the people to the place, to the house we stayed in.
Bohol Divers Resort started 5 years ago but the place where we stayed operated a year ago only. The resort is currently growing, they are actually making a building for large function rooms set for business trips, meetings and conferences. The resort is owned by a French guy and just like most of the resort owners, they fell in love with the place, settled here and found their wives as well.
The house is built for families or barkada outings. The house consists of two bedrooms, one in a separate room while the other is in the main part of the house. There's a bar and a kitchen where you could actually cook and store some goods at the fridge. The bathroom is huge with a shower and a jacuzzi that's currently not operating but what the heck, there's a pool just in front of the house where you could swim anytime you want to and just 5 minutes away from the place is the beach itself!
Although, unlike Cebu and Bora, when we came there were no seaweeds or plants lying near the shore. But unlike Bora, Cebu and Bohol doesn't boast for a beach of endless swimming but endless sea diving and enjoy life beneath the waters! And unlike Bora, if you need privacy, Bohol is just the place! Bora is for party and night life. Bohol is just to stop and enjoy life by the beach at its finest!

We spent our first day in Bohol inside the house and swam by the night. We slept soundly until we prepared for a whole day trip around Bohol the next day!
We left the place at 9am and started at Blood Compact site. Our tour guide Alex told us that currently the locals are contesting that there's another site where the real blood compact was made. Locals would say that they unearthed ceramics and jars that dated back when Spaniards came to the country. Anyway, we took a shot there and I notice the place wasn't too big for a tourist spot. It was just a place where some locals made a business out of the place.
Next was the famous Chocolate Hills! Before going there we have already driven along Baclayon Church and the man-made forest consist of Mahogany trees but we went there first since it was the farthest. Chocolate Hills is located at the town of Carmen and a lot of tourists, both local and foreign visited the place. Going on top of the place where you could see a wide view of the hills, you have to take 214steps. I didn't count to prove it. Anyway, after 3 stopovers, (fortunately, there really is a resting place to take some breather) we got on top with a wishing well and a bell where you could, of course, make a wish. The place was developed by former President Estrada. It was heavenly! The hills were green and usually only cogon grows and small grass because the hills are composed mainly of limestone.

After that, we went to the Floating Restaurant and had lunch there. The food is a feast with my favorite bangus dipped in soy sauce, fried chicken and the seaweed achara. The river is not clear but you get to enjoy the bounty of greenery around you.

When we got back, we stopped over to feast our eyes literally with the Tarsier! The smallest primate, the tarsiers are protected by DENR. They are cultivated by the locals. Mom said the tarsiers emit some pungent smell, they actually don't. They are so small and so cute and their fur are like of a teddy bear with their eyes so big for their small bodies with a tail just like a rat. The owner asked us not to touch them and take shots with flash.

And then we went to visit Baclayon Church. The church is one of the oldest in the country and the walls are made of crushed corals, egg white and as our tour guide Alex would say, the blood of hundreds of Filipinos forced to work to build the church.

Then we took a stop over at Island Tour to buy some local goods, pasalubongs and shirts. And we even visited the Island City Mall and bought some groceries for our dinner and merienda.

And lastly, we went to Hinagdanan Cave. A dead cave where the place got its name when the first owner of the place dropped a coin to hear how deep the hole was until he heard a splash. He dug deep and placed a ladder, 'nilagyan ng hagdanan', thus the name. According to Alex, it wasn't included in the itinerary given the fact that indeed the cave is dead and doesn't favor as a tourist spot.

And we went back home and took our rest. At night, we swam again.

The next day is another worth the travel! We set out to sea at 5:30am. We are to go for dolphin and whale watching! It was heaven when I get to appreciate as the sun starts to shine and as the rays touch our faces, it was a spectacle. Not long after 30 minutes of travel, we suddenly slowed down and soon there was a huge school of dolphin swimming around us and among the boats that followed. Just wows, awes, and claps you could hear among us. I took a video and got dizzy after awhile trying to chase them around! Such friendly creatures! Although, we weren't able to catch the whale. And sorry I wasn't able to get a great shot of them jumping and swimming just below us! It really is a great display!

When we left the dolphins, we headed to Balicasag Island and had our breakfast. This time, unlike the shores of Alona Beach in Panglao and Bora where the sand is so fine and is ideal for building sand castles, the shores of Balicasag Island is mostly shells, shells and lots of shells! But we really enjoyed swimming there, we spent hours there swimming and even near the shore there were fishes and starfishes!

After that, we went snorkeling and wow! I wish my digicam is waterproof (or is it?) because we were at the edge of the shoreline and if you've watched Finding Nemo, you better believe that there's more to it. Although my huge leap was scary to see that we were at the edge, I was so scared expecting there are sharks nearby. But after convincing myself that there a lot of boat with people swimming around I slowly swam near our boat until I'm a foot away from our boat. The sea was an enchanting world! There are blue fishes, blue starfishes, black sea cucumbers, a parrot fish, a number of pairs of angel fishes that are bigger than I have imagined, blue marlins (I think), pink corals and a school of sardines. Luckily for us our boatmen, Jerico and his cousin were good divers. They know the water is safe.

Going back by 1pm, I enjoyed and drenched myself in the sun while we travelled. I had a slight tan in my face, shoulders and legs and I really was thankful I'm successful this time.

It was quite sad that our days in Bohol are already coming to an end. By night time, I spent myself swimming in the pool and trying to take in what remains of the day for the next day we'll be leaving.

By 9am we left Bohol and arrived in Manila by 11am.

It was a great experience, and indeed something to keep. That's why I enjoyed travelling, because I get to spend my time celebrating life and even afford to stop and just experience it in the raw. Thank God for such places as Bohol and Cebu. I wish next year it'll be Davao, Cagayan de Oro or even Palawan! Or if we could afford to go to Thailand, then why not? And hopefully, if I get to have a Holy Week break, we'd return to Cagayan and visit Callao Caves again!
I will miss Cebu for the getaway and un-Manila feeling. I will miss Bohol for the place, for the people, for the fishes, for the islands, for the buko juice and for the food! I will miss Cebu and Bohol for the life celebrated there!


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