Tuesday, June 02, 2009


A Batangueño family is like panucha, sweet with a lot of nuts!

Together with only 14 members of my maternal family, the missus and I went on a three-day tour of Bohol. It was a trip that was planned for months and one that I was particularly excited about. You see, I was really bummed out that I couldn't join my parents and siblings on their trip last February, so I was mighty glad we were able to travel with them this time.

We had a wonderful time. For not only I enjoyed the scenery but I savoured my company. Douglas Coupland wrote a book entitled All Families are Psychotic and he could've been writing about us. We are insane! Funny insane. And I love them. Didn't they say insanity is hereditary and that people get it from their kids? Ha!

Anyway, we haven't even left Manila when chaos ensued. We travelled in two groups to the airport, the bagets and the forgets. But for some reason, Ketty and I found ourselves with the latter. We were in my parents' vehicle being driven by the driver to the wrong terminal! That got the other group worried. They were ahead of us and was already waiting at the the brand spanking new NAIA III. After a few minutes, we arrived at the terminal and went in immediately to check in.

At the counters, some of us had an issue with excess baggage. One of them was my Ninang who packed a blanket in her luggage! No wonder she was overweight (pun not intended). It elicited laughters from all of us.

Our plane to Tagbilaran was due to depart at 0825 but we didn't leave until an hour later because GMA was also scheduled to travel that morning. Talk about major nuisance.

After a flight of more than an hour, we arrived at the City of Friendship. We were welcomed by leis and were immediately ushered into a coaster. It was only when I heard a woman introduce herself as the tour guide did I realise that the tour was on its way. She went on to tell us facts about the province and the city which she deliverd proudly. Our first stop was the site of the blood compact between Sikatuna and Legazpi. It was a quick stop which only enabled us to take a few pictures.

We then travelled to the small town of Baclayon to visit its church. The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the oldest in the province and one of the best preserved in the country. It has a museum which showcases centuries-old religious relics, artifacts and other antiquities. A 15 year-old lad who very much sounded like a 40 year old spinster showed us around. My cousin Rain gives an uncanny impression of him which amused my Ninang Emma no end.

We were informed by our guide that Boholanos are very religious and extremely conservative. Worldly matters and vices do not escape the vigilant eyes of the church and the clergy. There was even a strict dress code being implemented at the church.

Time flies when you're having fun and before we knew it, it was almost noon. Lunch, however, was an entirely different experience. We were treated to sumptous meal aboard a floating restaurant as we cruised the picturesque Loboc river. I've already told you how we eat, so it really shouldn't surprise you how the 16 of us killed the buffet table. There were at least a dozen dishes but the Adobong Kangkong, Fried Chicken, Pork Barbecue and Pancit Guisado, to me were the stand outs.

Because we took the boat from Loay, we travelled upstream. The whole trip lasted about an hour but none of us mind because we enjoyed the lush green landscape. Thousands of trees lined up the banks which covered any sign of civilisation. It was really an amazing way to commune with nature. Tip: Take the cruise from Loay town as the views are more scenic. And you will never see anything except,trees and more trees. Boats from Loboc, we were told, will pass by houses and establishments thus spoiling the view.

Somewhere along the river was a stop over where a group of Ati tribesmen entertained the tourists. These tribesmen has become a some sort of tourist attraction themselves as they perfomed, danced and posed for pictures. My Nanay must've been confused by the goings on around her when she thought they were a group of Indians. We were probably there for half an hour and it was time to go back.

A skip and a hop from the jetty was The Clarin Ancestral House. The 167 year old house is now a museum housing family collections that date back to the American period. I'm hugely fascinated by the bahay na bato and find the old Filipino heritage houses romantic. Ketty likes them too and we plan to build our own bahay na bato one day.

A visit to Bohol wouldn't be complete without the sighting of the cute tarsier. Although, we only saw a few, the big eyed little creature mesmerised us all. Ketty captured it in mid-wink.

It was then time to head to the world famous Chocolate Hills but not after we drove through the man made forest and brief visit to the butterfly sanctuary in Bilar town. My younger cousins, being teenaged girls couldn't contain their excitement when we entered the butterfly pavillion. I cannot, for the life of me, understand the allure of these insects to young girls.

As our coaster drove past stunning scenes of the Bohol countryside, we noticed dark clouds in the sky. The guide said this summer brought rains in Bohol particularly in the afternoon thus making the Chocolate Hills look not chocolate anymore. Minty-colored, one of us observed. When we arrived in Carmen, it began drizzling. For some reason, all of us still climbed the 250 and so steps to the viewing deck hoping that by the time we reach the top, the rain would've stopped. Was I wrong? For it poured really hard. Drenched, we all left disappointed. 10 minutes after we left, the skies cleared and the rain stopped. Instead of going back we decided to return in the morning of our last day.

Our drive to the resort in Panglao Island was long and it was already dark when we arrived. We were billeted at the Alonaland Resort. Here for two nights was our home away from home.

To be continued.....


Sidney said...

I love Bohol! It is a wonderful island.

Wow...14 relatives... that is a big group!

kikomeister said...

that's not even half of them. hehehe.