Bared... 15 Unsung places of Bohol

Tagbilaran, Wednesday, 2 May 2012 05:08:19


Scene: It's the merry month of May! The feast of Saint Joseph, patron saint of Tagbilaran City, on May 1 starts the month-long fiestas in Bohol. Everyday is fiesta and visitors and strangers can "eat the house." Plenty of inasal, humba, hamunada, tuba, desserts, etc…Everybody is welcome, no invitations required!

Scene: From Atty. Greg Delgado: The Lungsuranon Performances Arts Ensemble (LUPAE) of Tubigon failed to place in Folk Dance National Competition sponsored by NCCA at MOA but the paisanos learned a lot competing against Vigan, Palawan, Phil. Normal University, etc. Calling NCCA insiders like Gardy Labad to invest into these kids which defeated best dance schools in Cebu recently earning them an invite to this prestigious dance contest.

Scene: The body of the Boholano seaman who died during an Iranian Navy operation for the rescue of the crew of a hijacked ship off the southwestern coast of India last month finally arrived home last Thursday. Stephen Barbarona, 33, of Antequera town, suffocated in heavy smoke in the vessel's burning engine room, where he hid during the gun battle. (Prof. Reinerio Augusto Real, who represented Gov. Edgar Chatto, was at the airport to meet the bereaved family. Thanks a bunch to SPO1 Melinda Mendez Basalo, PO2 Reymar Catubigan, Marcelo Orioque and Reniel Mendez for facilitating my request.)

Scene: Island City Mall was taking part in the celebration of Earth Day's 42nd anniversary staging the Miss Teen Earth 2012. The nine candidates took part in a tree planting activity of the Alturas Group of Companies in Brgy. San Pascual, Ubay supervised by DENR. Karen Morfreux of Anda was crowned Miss Teen Earth 2012. Miss ICM Teen Air was Irish Cleanuar, Erica Jane Mejos was crowned Miss Teen ICM Water and Frances Marie Montejo was declared Miss ICM Teen Fire.

Scene: The University of Bohol/Rafael Palma College grand alumni homecoming is on May 15 at the University of Bohol. The event coincides with the Tigum Bol-anon sa Tibuok Kalibutan (TBTK) gathering slated on May 8-9. A registration fee of Php 200 is required for the dinner-fellowship. Contact Renee Marjorie Plazos (0900-528-6198), Atty. Greg Austral (0920-903-7894) and Reinerio Augusto Real (0916-457-6504).

Inspired by Lonely Planet's unsung places of the world, Bared came out of some destinations, no matter how beautiful and stunning, drop off the tourist radar.

It's not easy to put together 15 unsung and unfairly underrated places because Bohol is known for its terrific scenery, history and culture. It has great towns, countryside and a coastline.

I remind you, this is completely subjective. You may have your own favorite unsung places. Here's a sampling of places to spark your interest, away from the usual tourist spots, mostly overlooked because of chance, geography and the presence of more glamorous and well-promoted neighbors.

1. Anda

This anomalous town is top of a must-visit list. Anda feels like a hidden oasis where people can enjoy and relax in its white sandy beaches and bright turquoise sea. The shoreline remains largely untouched by buildings and infrastructures, and a coral reef that keeps the waters calm also makes for an ideal snorkeling and swimming spot. In fact, Anda has yet to be completely invaded by tourism and is, therefore, still rather secluded and peaceful. Locals recommend that you take a trip to the less-travelled ‘other' side of Lamanok Point, a place to see hematite rock painting and ancient burial caves. Ask the guide about the love story of Iska and Mugan.

Half a mile of sparkling sand, palm trees swaying over a white beach, lush tropical plants, and endless sunshine make Anda one of Bohol's most scenic beaches.

2. Pandanon Island and Banacon Island, Getafe

Pandanon Island has gradually gained popularity because of its natural white sand that extends into the sea and the church which stands in the middle of the island. The neighboring Banacon Island is the home of the largest mangrove plantation in Asia.

One of many islands in Getafe town, Pandanon Island stands out with its blend of chic and island relaxation.

3. Bien Unido

Perhaps it's the lure of Ubay that leads people to forget Bien Unido. Whatever the reason, this graceful town is bizarrely under-visited. Those who make it out here will discover the underwater grottos. The wilderness beach on Jao Island has some of the most pristine sand to be found. For locals, Bien Unido is the best place to catch some waves and have some fun in the sun in the northern Corregidor of Bohol.

4. Mahaba Island, Talibon

Mahaba Island's popularity is on the rise, and for good reason. This small island in Talibon is a hot spot for beach-goers, and locals suggest Jayvee Beach Resort as the place to soak up the sun and swim in the sea.

5. Loon

This town prides itself of having one of the most beautiful dive sites in the Philippines. Local sightseers enjoy the crystal-clear water of Piong Falls located between Nagtuang and Canmaag.  In some upland barangays, water flows from springs that have encouraged the local folks to develop their own bathing and washing areas.   

6. Candijay

Candijay's Canawa Spring is not on most travelers' itineraries, but if you have time it rewards exploration. The water is crystal blue from January to May. Locals would tell you that someone measured the depth of the water but the instrument did not touch the bottom after 50 fathoms. The Can-umantad Falls is a must. There are some great rice terraces in Candijay near the village of Cadapdapan.

7. Jagna

The town of Jagna shimmers with beaches made up of smooth white pebbles or smooth slate. But they are all washed by waters that are crystal blue—the most unforgettable color in the town. It's chilly and balmy in the off-the-track Mayana, which is famous for its flowers. The waterfalls of Kinahugan and Boctol are a must-see. Malbog Hill provides a panoramic view of the wonderful works of God's hands. Everyone knows calamay, but who takes the time to stop off at Ching's?

8. Logarita Spring, Bilar

Often bypassed in favor of neighboring Carmen, Bilar is worthy of more attention, with its cold Logarita Spring. Logarita is extensively covered by a beautiful mahogany forest which is also home to some flora and fauna. The Simply Butterflies Conservation Center is the first butterfly livelihood breeding and conservation program in Bohol with a butterfly garden full of flowering plants and a nature trail. Poblacion sells flavored pintos and alupe produced fresh on the premises each day.

9. Himuntagon Hills, Loay

Barangay Botoc Occidental is an astonishing surprise in an oft-forgotten corner of Loay. It's worth planning to spend the day here, so you can admire the scenic place of Himuntagon Hills overlooking the Mindanao Sea.  The hills bring to the traveler a feeling of serenity and tranquility and provide fascinating scenes during sunrise and sunset.

10. Guindulman

One of the hip spots for the air-kissing, well-heeled set, Guindulman boasts some of the prettiest rocky and unspoiled shoreline. The Bunhayag Hills overlooks Anda and Guindulman and is an oasis of relaxation and romance. If you have an interest in archeology, ancient civilizations or just love exploring, then barangay Basdio is the perfect combination of sun and adventure.

11. Antequera

This unassuming yet charismatic town retains its glorious native handicrafts. It also comes alive when you visit Mag-asao Falls. All summer long, the sound of the waterfall is music to the ears. When it comes to the overall waterfalling experience, Mag-aso Falls is hard to beat.

12. Tubigon

This town, which is blessed with white beaches and sandbars, hills and mountain ridges for trekking, retains an enticing, elegiac sense of the past. Another heritage of Tubigon is manifested in its handicrafts such as the loom weaving in Pinayagan Norte and Sur, Panaytayon, and Ilijan Norte and Ilijan Sur. Climb Mt. Ilijan for flora and fauna.

13. Garcia-Hernandez

The rocky coastline has a number of smaller beaches. The coastline is partly protected with coconut trees that provide a pleasant shade. The Roxas Park is perfect for summer getaway. The water is beautifully clean and clear and the area is beautiful. The park is also ideal for outdoor activities.

14. Sierra-Bullones

Visitors can't forget the magnificent rural panorama and variety of color, a profusion of greenery and flowers. While most tourists come to Sierra-Bullones for their hidden springs especially Bohol Paradise Hills Resort, the hilly middle of this town offers some of the country's best rice terrace travel. Walking amongst the rice terraces of Sierra-Bullones is a feast for the senses.

The rice terraces of Sierra-Bullones stand firmly with all its beauty and charm but due to its remoteness it has been overlooked.

15. San Isidro

Besides a friendly welcome, you'll experience an off-beat allure in this town. Hiking in the nearby Candungaw Peak in Barangay Candungao is a great San Isidro outdoors adventure. The view from atop this peak is breathtaking in a number of ways. Try to visit Cantijong Cave in Cansague Sur and Kilab-kilab Falls in Baunos.

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Leo P. Udtohan