Bohol–it’s still God’s handiwork | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

On a recent media tour of Bohol, a naughty media person asked the tour guide: “How do the Boholanos feel now about ‘Imperial Cebu?’”

“Well, honestly,” the tour guide, Cecile V. Remolador, intoned, “some Boholanos were uncomfortable with Cebuanos… but as for me, I’m happy that Cebu is helping the growth of tourism in Bohol.”

After many years, it was time to rediscover the wonders of Bohol.

The media caper was arranged by Stratos Public Relations, Inc. ( via ZestAir, and the first stop was the high-end Henann Resort in fabled Panglao Island (adjacent to the capital city of Tagbilaran), with its beach resorts, white sand, clean waters and (pun not intended) watering holes.

The resort ( has, among other features, 12 luxury villas which live up to their name, and cuisine apparently aimed at voracious eaters. After one’s fill of the soup, salad and the main entries (like tiger prawns and fillet of lapu-lapu), there was no more room in one’s stomach for the sugar-laden desserts (unless it was fruit salad).

Obligatory stops for any tour of Bohol include the Blood Compact monument by the sea, executed by National Artist Napoleon V. Abueva (who is from Bohol); and the tarsier habitat in Corella, where you can trek through the forest and take shots of the world’s smallest primates (don’t call them monkeys).

But don’t disturb them, because they are sensitive, if not suicidal.

Another treat is the cruise cum buffet lunch and live music down fascinating Loboc River, like something from a Joseph Conrad novel, the river valley rich with vegetation, and ending at the low-lying Busay Falls. High above you is the zip-line, and at times you can see the riders gliding through.

Rated by the scholars Pedro Galende, OSA, and Rene Javellana, SJ, one of the great churches in the Philippines (along with the churches of Loboc and Loon) is the Immaculate Conception of Mary parish in Baclayón, made of coral stones and completed in 1717 under the aegis of the Jesuits.

The main retablo (altar backdrop) is beautiful when lighted. It is a pantheon of saints capped by the Blessed Mother, and flanked by two retablos of almost equal scale. On the left side of the altar, sunlight streams in through the stained glass windows.

A divine surprise awaits you outside, on the lateral buttresses of the church. If you look closely (from a distance, that is), you will see the startling images of San Padre Pio and the Madonna and Child.

The church’s Museo displays an impressive collection of priceless antiques and religious objects such as crucifixes, altars, altar chairs, sacred images and containers, early 19th-century choir albums, books, a red organ and baptismal and marriage records in the florid penmanship of the Spanish priests, to mention only a few treasures.

Picture-taking is not allowed, because thefts have occurred. Also, the flash of the cameras might damage the works.

And what’s a tour of Bohol without the Chocolate Hills, and never mind if this is the third time? You ascend 214 steps, with convenient stops along the way, under the watchful eyes of the Grotto. There is also a lateral ramp, if you prefer this option.

At the summit, cottages and cars moving along the highway appear like tiny objects. Confronted by 1,260 hills, mounds as well as pyramids, which have been here for millions of years, you feel in the presence of God’s handiwork.

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