The resort alone isn't the only thing we came here for. Today, we're about to see what makes Bohol so famous, so leaving the shoreline for a few hours, we boarded a tour van that took us to the Countryside. Amorita is actually in Panglao Island, an island that's also part of Bohol and connected to the city proper by two bridges, so yes, our journey from Tagbilaran airport to the hotel was done is just one ride.
Anyhow, we were introduced to our tour guide Cathy, who didn't make the tour just an injection of facts and 411's, she did it as if she's telling a story, which I think is far more effective because it makes the tour more interesting. If you drive by the streets, Bohol preserved much of old architecture, featuring houses and buildings made out of limestones and hand-cut coral stones binded with some stuff with egg white. I see also a lot of authentic nipa huts or bahay kubos dotting the streets and countryside.
Not only did they preserve their architecture, even the conservative Filipino values are preserved. Bohol has no nightlife, for one thing. To them, night is for resting (also an optimal time for the nocturnal tarsiers to go about their ways), just like nature intended. Until age of 18, the children and teenagers have curfews until 10 pm and the latest curfew for everyone else is 1 am. There are hardly any bars or clubs around. Would you believe at this day and age, the practice of harana, or serenading a girl by the window of her house is still being practiced here? Of course, ballads are now more modern as compared to the ballads of before.
Our first stop was the Tarsier Sanctuary where we got a glimpse of a real tarsier.
Tarsiers aren't monkeys actually. For one thing, their tails hang just straight down and the tail is only used for balance when tarsiers jump from one place or another. Monkeys usually curl their tails. As monkeys feast more on fruits, the tarsier's diet is usually lesser invertebrates and tadpoles. It's actually difficult to place what exactly a tarsier is, since it looks like a monkey, marsupial, rodent, or even an owl. A fun fact though is that tarsiers have actually been inspirations of our Hollywood mascots like the ewoks, gremlins (the cute variety, like Gizmo of course and not the scary freaky ones), and Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Taking pictures of and with the tarsier had to be careful because one, we shouldn't have flash photography and also we were not allowed to pet, touch, or toy with the tarsiers.
awww hello! This little one's a shy one
Yet this little one stared at me head on.
Tarsiers are very small animals, and the actual size of these are just the size of the fist, with the infants only being an inch small. It is said that the mother tarsier and the baby tarsier both live far from the daddy tarsier because sometimes the baby tarsier gets mistaken to be a prey.
The next stop was the wonder of the world that made Bohol famous... the chocolate hills, so named because from afar, they look like lumps of chocolate candy. The brown color is actually leaves that were burned and dried to encourage soil or leaves that turn brown due to time. The leaves this season are green now though, but still, these were wonderful just the same. Two of these hills were developed to tourist spots known as Twin Hills, home to Chocolate Hills Hotel and Restaurant.
There's also a view deck where you could climb various stations to take pictures of the hills over at Twin Hills.
The manmade rainforest was next, on our way down from Chocolate Hills, which was actually a reforested area where mahogany trees were planted. Why mahogany? Because mahogany could stand drought longer than most plants. The manmade forest is also home to some of the largest millipedes I have ever seen.
Since we climbed up and down a hill, we all were hungry. With so much sites to see with empty stomachs, our tour decided to hit two birds in one stone...er... ride. In the form of a floating restaurant/modified motorized boat that traversed along the Loboc River.
Food served in the floating restaurant were mostly Filipino food, so it was time for those craving for authentic and home-cooked Filipino food to dig in.
The Loboc River cruise is actually an hour's journey, with a few stops along the way, including a group of people who performed dance nubers.
We even spotted mini waterfalls!
Singing and dancing is much prominent in Loboc as Bohol's music capital, home to the Loboc Boys Choir, which won a lot of awards abroad. Should we see someone from Loboc in the next reality singing tv show? Why not!
During the cruise, we spotted a humongous building preserving the architecture centuries ago. Turns out it was the Baclayon Church, the oldest stone Catholic Church in the Philippines. Before going here, we were warned that Bohol is again a very conservative place, substituting risque pictures stuck in tricycles for biblical or inspirational passages and encouraging the youth towards the religious path. As you step inside the church, you have to follow a strict dress code, and they have shawls and wraps provided should you come in tourist attire. Not our fault entirely, that's just the way it is here. There are just rules to be followed, and they are very strict with proper church attire.
Not only did Baclayon Church preserve its church, but they also preserved some artifacts, which are displayed in the museum. Unfortunately, documentation via pictures or video is strictly prohibited in the museum so we couldn't produce photos. There were artifacts displayed such as old musical instruments, music sheets made with cowhide bound with carabao skin, intricately embroidered robes worn by priests during mass, and Church paraphernalia which could put the local store which supplies religious items to shame with their details.
The last stop before we headed home was the Blood Compact Monument, which everyone was free to take pictures with. It's got a fabulous view of Panglao Island as well, so either with the monument or by the view deck, it sure is a fantastic picture place. Tip: It's best to go here on the way home, around 4:00 p.m. when the sun's not too scorching and the metal has cooled.
The trip back home was smooth, and we arrived just in time for the sun to still be up for a quick dip in the ocean.
The day was ended with an hour of Swedish massage brought right to our suite to knead all the kinks away from the walking.
The staff of Amorita personally went to our suite and prepared the beds for us. At the same time, it was turn down time so our room was scented with citronella oil and we had our complimentary cookies and pastries. The oil used was mineral oil with no scent, staying on the safe side, especially for those who are sensitive to scents. After the massage, the oil was towelled off so we proceded with dinner.