Birthday Trip: Roaming Around Bohol

This is a long-overdue post. The draft of this article screamed for attention as it was just sitting on my files for seven months along with other unfinished write-ups. So do we already have an answer to the question “Who puts the ‘pro’ in ‘procrastination?” Maybe later, LOL.

Bohol is just a strait apart from Cebu and finally, after 22 years (lol), I was able to step on the land of Bohol for the first time.

When we say ‘Bohol’, we think of mainstream tourist attractions such as Chocolate Hills, Sagbayan Peak, Tarsier Sanctuary, Panglao Beach, Beaches in Anda, Loboc Adventure Park and all other spots that most package tours or group tours would take you. But Bohol has a lot to offer. It is home to several overlooked cascading waterfalls and natural springs as well.

Days before my birthday (March 27), I was thinking of a trip to Bohol. Then, I invited my partner to come with me but due to schedule differences he couldn’t make a promise. I was about to cancel my plans but then I met my friend, Angelica, on the afternoon of 26th. I shared my plans with her and she was so in the game that she agreed to go with me. She contacted her college friend who’s a Boholano by blood and surprisingly her friend, Neil, offered to help us.

12 A.M. of March 27, my partner surprised me with a humble celebration along with his brother and our housemate. As usual, an egg was cracked and the celebrant became an instant joke. We had light booze ‘til around 3 am and I was starting to worry because of the fact that we needed to catch the first sail to Bohol at 5:45 am. Cutting it short, I was just on time for the first trip but unfortunately Angelica came late so we have to catch the next trip at 7:30 am.

My original plan was just to climb Binabaje Hills in Alicia, Bohol. The place is often referred to as the Alicia Panoramic Park. Due to not-so-fortunate turn of events, the supposedly day hike turned to an overnight camp on the hills. By far, this has been the most spontaneous trip – no itinerary followed, no definite budget approximation, just us being random.

 

Alicia Panoramic Park / Binabaje Hills

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This is the main reason why I wanted to go to Bohol on my birthday. It is one of my goals this 2018 – have my birthday climb on Binabaje Hills and truly I fulfilled my promise. Supposedly we’re set for a dayhike but due to uncontrolled circumstance we reached the town of Alicia around three in the afternoon then we just decided to spend the night on the hills. Bringing nothing for camping, we only bought food and stuff in the nearby public market while Neil went home to get his camping tent and sleeping essentials.

We registered in Alicia Municipal Hall before climbing. The staffs from the municipal hall were the one to contact our guide as well as the riders that took us to the jump off point. On our end, we have Neil’s motorcycle with us, thinking maybe we could spare some transportation fee going to jump off point. But the staff advised that it is better if we avail the riders’ services since they will be using a different hype of motorcycle and Neil’s motorcycle and skills may not survive the path. There was an incident in the past week where climbers brought their own motorcycle and ended up in a minor accident. To be safe and to help the locals as well, we agreed with the advice.

The ride from municipal hall to the jump off point was around ten minutes, allowing one passenger per motorcycle. Truly, the path is really not that easy to take and it takes an expert of the place to maneuver well.  According to Christopher, the path gets really slippery during rainy days. Christopher, by the way is our trail guide and my driver. He even mentioned that he leaves Bohol from time to time just to join competitions for motocross.

Binabaje’s trail reminded me of Mt. Lanaya’s assaults. I advise that you should check the weather first before climbing because a chance of slipping though the steep trail is really high. One should be very careful. According to Christopher, there were other trails going to the camping area. One trail requires a 6-hour trek while our ascent trail required only one to two hours of hiking. We reached the camping site just around six in the evening and before that, for so long, I have witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets in my life – facing the horizon with just you, the mountains, the orange sun and a few company.

 

Here are some of our side trips and quick stop-overs:

 

Canawa Cold Spring

Canawa cold spring is located in the town of Candijay, Bohol. The spring features a basin with turquoise clear water and the water flows to a man-modified pool. Entrance fee for adults is ₱20.00 while fee for children, 12 years old and below, is ₱10.00. During our visit, the water was a bit cloudy, but still green, because of rainy days prior to our trip. According to Neil, the water gets clear again usually after four days of good weather. From the highway, you’ll have to take a 10- to 15-minute ride along the barangay road. There were sections of the road that were concreted and there were some parts topped with loose rocks. We almost stumbled but thanks to Neil’s driving skills.

 

Rice Terraces

One of Bohol’s livelihoods is farming and the town of Candijay is a proof. Rice paddies are evident in huge areas along the national road. Since Bohol is also known for its hilly lands, the locals utilize these hills and modified it to terraces for a more effective farming method. These serve not just as a means for the locals but also an attraction for both local and foreign tourists. It’s not everyday that we get to pass by a national road with rice terraces and wide rice paddies on both sides, correct?

I’ll just have to emphasize the importance of land privacy. These lands are of private property and not meant for tourists to have their photo-ops. Activities as such may ruin the golden crops and the topography that was crafted by Boholanos’ hands. Make sure to ask permission from the owners if you have plans of stopping by and have your photo sesh.

 

 

Man-made Forest

This is one of the known spots in Bohol. I convinced myself that as much as possible I’d try to visit the not-so-known spots in Bohol but upon passing through Bilar, we couldn’t help but stop, take snaps, and breathe under the natural tunnel of towering greens.

 

 Kapayas Dam

 

Kapayas Dam is in the town of Ubay, Bohol. This, I think, was the last stop we had before heading to Neil’s humble abode. This dam was seen when we were on top of Binabaje Hills. Neil shared stories of unfortunate incidents happened in the dam. Well, the serenity of the place was so relaxing plus the view of Alicia Panoramic Park on the other end of the dam. We just stayed there for photo opportunities and relaxed our butts off from long motorcycle ride.

There are other spots and activities in Bohol I am still looking forward to. Extreme activities in Danao Adventure Park, sea of clouds in Danao, chasing waterfalls, Cabognaw  cave and many others. Truly, spontaneity makes the trip more adventurous. Nothing is really expected and we just have to go with the flow. I need more of this next time!

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