Few beach destinations in the country offer more than the crystal-clear water and the sand. There is only one island perhaps than can transport one from the tropical paradise of the beach and into a time-warp right into the heart of Spanish Catholic Philippines. That island is Bantayan.
Bantayan got its name ater its role in during the Spanish time, a guard post for marauding Moros attacking Christian towns in the Visayas. Aging watchtowers can still be seen especially in some parts of the island.
Now sitting peacefully surrounded by progress and modernity, Bantayan continues to lay back to its old Philippine charm and the embrace of the warm people of the island, while welcoming the throng of tourists out to experience the unique offering of its one-of-a-kind island.
These days, perhaps Bantayan is known for its “fiesta” during Good Friday – a traditional solemn day for pious and mourning for Christians. It is not actually a celebration. Not in this solidly Catholic island. Pope Leo XII gave a special exemption for the people of Bantayan so they can eat pork on Good Friday at the end of the traditional religious procession. As fishermen refuse to go out to sea for religious considerations, there is no fish and therefore nothing else to eat but pork. Known for his conservatism, Pope Leo XII did this one thing right. In fact, a copy of the order can still be seen inside the museum in the Peter and Paul Church in the heart of Bantayan town.
The procession on Good Friday is an event on itself. Old families from the island own one carriage depicting a point in the life of Jesus Christ and on Good Friday, this old neighborhood rivalry comes out into the open (in a good way, of course) as families try to outdo each other for the brightest, most colorful (and most followed by the crowd) carriage. Children are also dressed by their parents into the traditional garb of saints, to ask the saint to watch over the child. This is a sight to see indeed. The feast follows after the procession.
Economically, Bantayan is known as the egg basket of Cebu with its huge poultry farms. The famous danggit (dried fish) of Cebu is also produced en masse in the island.
For many travelers and beach lovers, Bantayan is a special island where relaxation, culture and history are rolled into one.
One of the most popular destinations in the Philippines is the island of Bohol. For year 2009, Bohol had a 13.08 percent growth rate with 238,745 tourist arrivals, making it as one of the most visited places in Central Visayas Region of the Philippines. The accessibility of Bohol from Cebu (Philippines’ major point of destination after Manila) through hourly trips of various sea vessels make Bohol as a major side trip of travelling visitors in Central Visayas. Also, the existence of an airport in its capital, Tagbilaran City, makes Bohol as easy access for vacation trips from travelers across the globe.
Bohol is located at the center of the Philippines as one of the provinces of the Central Visayas Region (the tourist capital of the country). Aside from Bohol, the provinces of Cebu, Negros Oriental and Siquijor complete the entire Central Visayas Region. Its land area of 4117.3 square kilometers makes this island province as the tenth largest island of the Philippines. Tagbilaran City is the capital of Bohol where almost all commercial establishments and business centers are found in this city.
Meanwhile, Bohol takes pride of its abundant natural resources, rich culture and history, and warmth of its people, the Boholanos. With this, it is no wonder that Bohol is now one of Philippines’ major tourist destinations.
Places to Visit in Bohol
Chocolate Hills. Considered as one of the natural wonders of the world, Chocolate Hills is an spot in Carmen, Bohol characterized by dome-land formations (hills) which turn color brown during summer season. On rainy season, the hills are covered with green color as vegetation replaces the dry land of summer. The view of more than a thousand chocolate hills, which look like chocolate kisses, in one setting is considered by many tourists and even locals as simply breathtaking. It takes an hour drive from Tagbilaran City to reach Chocolate Hills through vans-for-hire.
Loboc River Cruise. Another popular tourist destination in Bohol is its Loboc River Cruise where floating restaurants offer buffet lunch and dinner with musical entertainment during the 45-minute trip. Motor bancas, with a capacity of 100 persons, are used in the river cruise. In this trip, people can experience the tranquil and clean Loboc River with its rich vegetations around it. During the trip, the cruise makes some stopovers in river banks where awaiting group of children sing and dance to entertain the guests. During night time cruise, the ambience is romantic where subdued lights in the surroundings give a reflection of the river.
Tarsier Watching. Another highlight during a Bohol tour is a visit to Bohol’s tarsiers. These endangered small creatures can be seen live as tourists can also take pictures of it. As most of the sayings in Bohol go – a trip to Bohol will not be completed without an encounter with the tarsiers.
Island and Balicasag Adventure. The white sand beaches in Panglao speak of Bohol’s rich marine resources and water adventures. Tourists always frequent the various beach resorts in Panglao because of the “uncorrupted” natural resources and waters in the area. Also, whale watching in nearby Balicasag Island is another famous tourist spot in Bohol where people can enjoy not just the sparkling Bohol bluewaters but also the site of whales frolicking in the ocean. Whale watching is made possible through motorized boats for hire.
Danao Adventure Park. Located 72-km away from Tagbilaran City, the Danao Adventure Park is the newest tourism spot in Bohol. The place takes pride on the various eco-adventures that do not only showcase the rich forests of Danao, but also the world-class equipment and skills of the adventure park that can compete internationally when it comes to extreme sports. The Danao Adventure Park includes zip line adventure (the tallest and longest in the Philippines), cliff plunge, river trekking, sky riding, kayaking, and many more.
Going To Bohol
Bohol can be reached through a two-hour fast craft ride from Cebu City. Roll-on and Roll-off boats are also available for those who prefer the slow trip in waters. Local flights are also available from Manila to Tagbilaran City.
The abovementioned tourist destinations are just few of the many spots in Bohol where people can appreciate the natural wonders of Mother Earth. The Chocolate Hills is enough proof how blessed this province when it comes to natural wonders. Meanwhile, what truly make Bohol now as one of Philippines’ tourist havens is the Boholanos themselves whose cooperation with their local government unit is exemplary. The involvement of its people in making their province a world-class destination is very evident. Also, as a former insurgency stricken province, Bohol now is an insurgency free province which further makes it as a preferred tourist destination. With its peaceful environment as well as its “uncorrupted” natural resources and a touch of rural rawness in its urban centers, Bohol is indeed worth travelling.
Sinulog Festival Location:
Cebu City Philippines
Sinulog Festival Schedule:
Every third Sunday of January
About Sinulog Festival:
Sinulog Festival is a festival in Cebu Philippines that pays tribute to the patron of Cebu City, Santo Niño or Holy Child. In veneration to the patron, people in cebu or cebuanos present dance rituals and have some competitions with their performance. Dancers came from different places and wear their colorful costumes and combine them with their artistic props and lively music which includes rhythm of native gongs, drums and trumpets. Traditionally, the Sinulog celebration lasts for 9 days wherein during the last day would be the Sinulog grand parade. During the dawn before the final day of the sinulog celebration, a fluvial procession is being held with their santo niño with flowers and candles on a pump boat. The procession usually ends at Basilica where a re-enactment of Christianizing Cebu is being performed. There would then be a formal procession that would take place on the streets which would last for hours because of the crowd participating the Sinulog festival.
Background of the Sinulog Dance
Sinulog came from the Cebuano adverb sulog that means like water current movement (forward backward movement during the Sinulog dance together with the sound of the drums. Candle vendors also perform this dance step most especially when people buy a candle from them.
Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan arrived on April 7, 1521 and placed the cross on the shores of Cebu wherein he claimed the territory in the name of the King of Spain. He offered the image of the child Jesus, the Santo Niño, as baptismal gift to Hara Amihan, wife of Rajah Humabon. Hara Amihan was later named, Queen Juana in honor of Juana, mother of Carlos I. Some 800 natives were also baptized to the Christian faith along with the rulers of the island. At the moment of receiving the image, it was said that Queen Juana danced with joy holding the image of the child Jesus. With the other natives following her example, this moment was considered as the first Sinulog.
This event is commonly used as basis for most Sinulog dances, which perform the coming of the Spaniards and the presentation of the Santo Niño to the Queen. A popular theme among Sinulog dances is Queen Juana holding the Santo Niño in her arms and using it to bless her people who are often troubled by sickness caused by demons and other evil spirits.