Wednesday, 6 February 2013

My Childhood Playground, Bohol!

Bohol, my Mom's hometown. I have been coming to this beautiful island ever since I was a little girl. Childhood summers with my siblings and cousins were spent on the beach until we were all toasty brown, days running around the corn and kinampay fields, digging up those fragrant purple yams. Or, just simply lazing around in my Mom's ancestral home.  

If you're wondering where Bohol is, it is one of the 7,000+ islands in the Philippines located in the middle part of the archipelago. More famously known as the home of the Chocolate Hills (a group of limestone hills that turn brown during the summer months) and the smallest primate with the biggest eyes this side of paradise, the Tarsier. Oh, and of course there are the white sand beaches scattered all over the islands. The once sleepy province of Bohol is fast becoming a popular tourist destination.

The province of Bohol actually consists of 70+ islands and islets (depending on the tide). The main island, Bohol, is where Tagbilaran (capital city), Chocolate Hills and the airport are located. While the second largest island, Panglao, is where the famous white sand beaches can be found. Panglao is connected to the mainland by two causeways, one as seen above (squint a little and you'll see it or better yet come closer to the screen).
  
Recently I went back to visit my folks who have retired on this peaceful and beautiful island. On this trip, I get to visit my favorite church, do a day tour of a new beach resort, eat at my favorite cafe and sleep in a tree house! 

Dauis Church and Cafe Lawis

Dauis church, formally known as the Church of Our Lady of Assumption is located in the town of Dauis in Panglao. The original church was built in the 1600s and was made from light materials that got destroyed or burned down through the years. The present church is the 5th one to be constructed, built in the 1800s it is made from coral stone. I think they finally got the message. 
**Edited: The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol last October 15, 2013 destroyed some of Bohol's oldest churches and severely damaged many others. The facade and bell tower of the Dauis church collapsed.    
Lovely paintings on the ceiling! At the church's altar one can find the miraculous well of Mama Mary. Story goes, well that is according to my Mom, when the town of Dauis was suffering from the drought many, many moons ago the church's devotees prayed to the Virgin Mary for intercession. And, voila! A well appeared at the foot of the altar.  
Here's a close up view of Mama Mary's well. It is believed to be miraculous. Surprisingly, the well never ran dry even when all the other wells in town did. What's more amazing is the water in the well is fresh despite the church being very near the sea shore.
The old watch tower of Dauis church.
Interesting sign at the back of the church. Must be a very popular meeting point.
The church's Cafe Lawis serves locally inspired menus. You have a choice of either dining inside the cafe or outside under this hundred year old acacia tree.  
**Edited: Because of the damage to the church this is where masses are now held. 
Very pretty set-up at night.
The Pork Humba in ube-flavored panini of Cafe Lawis is very tasty and filling. Pork Humba is the Visayan version of the Pork Adobo. While the ube kinampay-flavored panini is a nice twist to what would have otherwise been a plain and boring bread.
Their grilled chicken in mixed greens and fruits with honey yoghurt dressing was likewise good.
What I loved very much is their refreshing and not too sweet "tangad" drink. "Tanglad" in Tagalog otherwise known as Lemongrass is an aromatic herb with health and medicinal qualities.

The Bellevue Resort in Bohol

The latest addition to the growing beach resorts in Bohol is the 3.5 hectare five-star Bellevue Resort. The 159 guestroom resort is located in the baranggay of Doljo in the northwest tip of Panglao, a 35 to 40 minute drive from Tagbilaran city.  
Opened in 2012, it has a gorgeous infinity pool with dive pool and a 250 meter white sand beach.
Day tour rates are PHP500 (USD12) per person which is consumable at any of the resort's bar and restaurants.
Their rooms are impeccably furnished, beds comfy and the bathrooms huge! The resort is a "perfect getaway" if you are looking for some peace and quiet since it is the only resort (as of now) within the immediate vicinity.

The Buzz Cafe (Bohol Bee Farm's city outlet)

One of the things I always look forward to every time I visit Bohol is the chance to eat at the Bohol Bee Farm Resort and Restaurant or at their city outlet, The Buzz Cafe, at the Island City Mall in Tagbilaran. Bohol Bee Farm specializes in serving organic and honey-based menus.   
I always order their organic garden salad with honey mustard dressing. And yes, the flowers can be eaten. Their camote or sweet potato bread is perfectly partnered with BBF's popular pesto and honey spreads. I was so excited with their buffet menu that I completely forgot to take pictures of the rest of the food. Oh well, there's always a next time!      

The Tree House at Maya Hills Garden B&B

Ever wondered how it is like to sleep in a tree house? Come and check out the Maya Hills Garden B&B's Tree House. The tree house is a 3-storey structure set in a lush garden in baranggay Mayacabac in the town of Dauis. It is a 10 minute drive from Tagbilaran and a 20 to 30 minute drive to the white sand beaches of Panglao.
My bed on the third floor of the tree house. And that's a real live tree growing in the middle of the room.
What started out as a backyard project grew into a cozy and habitable tree house. It even has indoor plumbing in all three floors!

It was another enjoyable visit with the folks, as always. But have you ever wondered why I have not mentioned the big K until now? Well, he could not make the trip this time but he made sure he was going to pick me up.

Speaking of the big K. Here he comes!
Cebu Pacific Air flies daily to Tagbilaran. It only takes an hour and 10 minutes flying time from Manila.