Some six kilometres to the southwest of Duljo Point, Panglao, lies Balicasag Island. With its area of about 25 hectares, you canwalk all the way around it in about 45 minutes. The island itself is pretty much as you would imagine a deserted tropical island: a flat, circular island covered with palm trees and flowering bouganvillea, and surrounded by a white beach, however, you can get there by banca in about 45 minutes from Panglao. It isn’t deserted also.
The local community consists of about 100 families. Most are fishermen, but many nowadays also earn a living by collecting shells to sell to tourists. On the middle of the island, you’ll find a small lighthouse tower.
There is a single resort on the island, aptly named Balicasag Island Dive Resort. It covers about 1.5 hectares on the south side and has 20 traditional-style bungalows lining the beach.
Around Balicasag Island, you’ll find some of the best diving locations in the Philippines. Just in front of the resort, on the south side of the island is also some 400 meters of successfully protected marine sanctuary.
The Chocolate Hills are probably Bohol’s most famous tourist attraction. They look like giant mole hills, or as some say, women’s breasts, and remind us of the hills in a small child’s drawing.
Most people who first see pictures of this landscape can hardly believe that these hills are not a man-made artifact. However, this idea is quickly abandoned, as the effort would surely surpass the construction of the pyramids in Egypt.
The chocolate hills consist of are no less than 1268 hills (some claim this to be the exact number). They are very uniform in shape and mostly between 30 and 50 meters high. They are covered with grass, which, at the end of the dry season, turns chocolate brown.
From this color, the hills derive their name. At other times, the hills are green, and the association may be a bit difficult to make.
Tarsius syrichta is very peculiar small animal. In fact it is one of the smallest known primates, no larger than a adult men’s hand. Mostly active at night, it lives on a diet of insects.
Folk traditions sometimes has it that tarsiers eat charcoal, but actually they retrieve the insects from (sometimes burned) wood. It can be found in the islands of Samar, Leyte, Bohol, and Mindanao in the Philippines.
The Man-made Forest of Bilar
is a man-made mahogany forest stretching in a two-kilometer stretch of densely planted Mahogany trees located in the border of Loboc and Bilar towns. Before and after this man-made forest are the naturally grown forests of Loboc and Bilar which are thick with a kaleidoscope of green foliage, different species of trees and giant ferns lining the road.
The man-made forest stands out because of the uniformity in height of the big trees, the spread of its branches, thickness and design of leaves. Seedlings abound around the older trees. Trunks, some thick and others just a few months old, grow resplendently straight up towards the sky which is obscured by the branches and the thick leaves.
The terrain from both side of the road goes up; to I don’t know how high. What you see are only the Mahogany trees that look like thousands of sentinels guarding the road, standing erect. No other vegetation is growing among the Mahogany trees. One only sees the brown trunks stretching forth from the earth and the green canopy above. And that’s what makes them look so attractive!
Blood Compact Marker
The Sandugo or Blood Compact Shrine monument found in Bo-ol district of Tagbilaran City is a landmark at the site of the first international treaty of friendship between Spaniards and Filipinos. Behind the monument is a magnificent view of Bohol Sea.
The Sandugo was a blood compact, performed in Bohol between the Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, the chieftain of Bohol, on March 16, 1565, to seal their friendship as part of the tribal tradition. This is considered as the first treaty of friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos. “Sandugo” is a Visayan word which means “one blood”
The monument, with the bronze statues of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, Rajah Sikatuna and several other witnesses, was a masterpiece of the Boholano sculptor and National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva.
Baclayon Old Church
The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It is one of the best preserved Jesuit build churches in the region, although in the 19th century, the Augustinian Recollects added a modern facade and a number of stone buildings that now surround the church.
The first Spanish missionaries or doctrineros in the region, Fr. Juan de Torres and Fr. Gabriel Sanchez, first settled in Baclayon in 1595. Shortly after their arrival, a visita was erected on the spot.
Although Baclayon was the first seat of the Spanish Jesuit missionaries, fear of Moro marauders soon forced them to move their headquarters more inland, to Loboc. Only in 1717, Baclayon became a parish, and construction of a new church commenced. Some 200 native forced laborers constructed the church from coral stones, which they took from the sea, cut into square blocks, and piled on to each other. They used bamboo to move and lift the stones in position, and used the white of a million eggs as to cement them together. The current building was completed in 1727. The church obtained a large bell in 1835. In the Baclayon church is a dungeon, which was used to punish natives who violated the rules of the Roman Catholic church.