BOHOL TOUR: Loboc Man-made Forest and Chocolate Hills

In my previous blog post, I shared about the start of our day tour in Bohol where we visited the Bohol Bee Farm and the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary.

Here, I’ll be sharing about the second half of our trip. :)

 

MAN-MADE FOREST 

Before going to the chocolate hills, we passed by a zigzag road covered with beautiful, towering Mahogany trees. According to our driver, these trees were planted many years ago for the purpose of rebuilding forests in the land. They needed to do so because the people of Bohol used to clear lands before by slashing and burning trees.

Now, the trees have grown tall and have occupied a stretch of two kilometers. There are no parking areas nearby, so if you’re bringing your car or a motorbike and you want to have your pictures taken in the middle of the road (which is commonly done by most tourists), then be sure to quickly park at the side of the road and carefully document the experience. It was fun and thrilling to alternately stand in the middle of the road and sprint a second after the picture is taken. Haha!

 

CHOCOLATE HILLS

Finally, our last stop for the day: one of the places that I’ve read about in our history books back in gradeschool. The lovely chocolate hills! Okay, so they weren’t brown when we visited because of the recent rainy weather. But, it was still an amazing moment to finally see them with my own eyes. It reminded me of God’s greatness! Only He can create such beautiful sceneries.

In order for us to have a nice view of the hills, we needed to pay an entrance fee of Php 50 and climb 214 steps on a steep stairway. We weren’t prepared for that, but we just laughed along the way, as we did our best to catch our breath and reach the top. Unfortunately, because we needed to catch our ferry ride at 6 pm, we weren’t able to ride the ATVs near the chocolate hills anymore. If I can still squeeze this in our itinerary next time, I would love to ride one!

 

 

So, there you have it! The Bohol Bee Farm, the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, Man-made Forest in Loboc, and the Chocolate Hills. Four stops in seven hours! Not bad, I guess. Haha. If you’re planning to do a daytrip in Bohol, I would strongly suggest that you join a group tour or rent your own car/driver. Most of the tourist spots can’t be accessed by public transportation. Also, taking uber or taxi rides will be very difficult too since one destination is far from another, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

On our way back to the port at Tagbilaran, we thanked our driver for his assistance and we took time to rest before our 2-hour ferry ride to Cebu. I highly recommend our driver, kuya Joseph. If you want to hire him for your tour in Bohol, let me know so I can give his contact number to you.

It was a tiring trip because we didn’t have much sleep the night before. But, being able to tour around Bohol was such a refreshing treat for my friend and I. I can’t wait to go back and experiences the beaches next time!

Daghang salamat, Bohol! (Thank you very much, Bohol!)

*Go Pro photos c/o Zee*

BOHOL TOUR: Bee Farm and Tarsier Sanctuary

“I’m glad we went to Bohol.” This was what Zee and I told each other when we were on our way back to Cebu. By God’s grace, He protected us from harm and He provided what we needed during our day trip in the beautiful province of Bohol. Whew!

We stayed in Cebu last weekend, but since Bohol was just a 2-hour ferry ride away, we decided to drop by for a day. We were only able to visit the tourist spots in the countryside. Next time, we’ll be back for the beaches!

Our total cost per person for a day trip in Bohol’s countryside is Php 2,960. (Of course, this cost will go down if you’ll be traveling in bigger groups.)

BREAKDOWN IN PESO:

1,125 – Rental fee for a car and driver (personalized tour)
900 – Roundtrip for a ferry ride (1 non-airconditioned and 1 airconditioned)
45 – Terminal fees for the port (roundtrip)
60- Fee for the 30-minute tour at the Bee Farm
450- Lunch with shake or dessert at the Bohol Bee Farm’s restaurant
60 – Entrance Fee for the tour at the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary
50 – Entrance Fee for the Chocolate Hills

Our driver for the trip, kuya Joseph, was awesome! He prepare a printed sign for us and he welcomed us at the port. He also made us feel relaxed and comfortable during the whole trip. Moreover, he exerted effort in taking our pictures and even stopping the car every now and then so we could take photos of the signs and sceneries. He also did his best to carefully drive fast, so we could squeeze in as much activities as possible.

Next time, we’ll try to book an earlier flight so we can make it to the first ferry trip (6 am) to Bohol. Or, we could just fly straight to Bohol! Haha!

Nonetheless, we enjoyed our day tour in Bohol!

Here are some of the sights that we visited:

BOHOL BEE FARM

One word to describe my experience at Bohol’s Bee Farm? SURREAL. After our ferry ride from Cebu port to Tagbilaran port (Bohol), it was refreshing to stop over at the Bee Farm and Restaurant first. We got there at around 12 noon, just in time for lunch. The 30-minute tour around the farm was scheduled at 1 pm, so Zee and I decided to walk around, take photos, rest, and eat lunch at their restaurant while waiting.

I felt very much at home because of the environment! There was an area where organic plants were being grown and the place had a calm atmosphere. You could only hear the silent conversations, soft summer music, hustling of leaves, and the sound of the waves softly splashing on the shore. The dining area of the restaurant had the perfect view of the beach. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to see the beach on our trip to Bohol because I knew that we only had time for the countryside tourist spots. So, seeing the lovely view of the clear blue sky and sea really made my heart melt.

For lunch, Zee ordered spareribs while I ordered honey roasted chicken. Both dishes came with red rice and organic garden salad. We also had mango-based fruit shakes.

After our delicious lunch, we went back to the lobby to meet our tour guide. Our 30-minute tour started at the garden patch where our guide explained the different herbs and edible plants they were growing. We then proceeded to walk around the production areas for some of their palm tree products, homemade ice cream (with honey as its only sweetener), green tea made from Ashitaba leaves, cabcab honey chips, and cassava ice cream cones.

The last stop of our tour was the home of the bees. Our tour guide gave some facts about bees and casually joked about how he wanted us (his participants) to also get stung by a bee. I guess he was trying to make the experience fun and light? But, to our surprise, it did happen! I got stung by a bee!! That moment was definitely the highlight of my surreal experience in the farm.

 

Before leaving the place, Zee and I tried their homemade creamy avocado ice cream on their homemade cone. It certainly helped me calm down a bit after the incident. Haha!

Overall, the experience was great! I would love to try more dishes at their restaurant and more ice cream flavors next time.

PHILIPPINE TARSIER SANCTUARY

Our next stop was at the official sanctuary of tarsiers in Bohol. We met the “Tarsier Man” of Bohol, Carlito Pizarras. He was very instrumental in developing a conservation program for the tarsiers. Throughout the tour, we learned that the female tarsiers only produce one offspring every six months. Unfortunately, not all of those offsprings reach their maturity or survive. This is why the sanctuary helps create awareness about the dwindling number of tarsiers in the country.

We saw seven tarsiers clinging on to different trees and branches as we walked along the trails inside the sanctuary. Their curved bodies were only 4-5 inches long. One of the instructions that they gave us before the tour was to avoid making loud noises, touching the tarsiers, moving the branches, or taking photos using flashes.

Since tarsiers are noctural animals, they don’t want to be disturbed during day time. The tour guide even explained that when the tarsiers become stressed, they eventually commit suicide by not eating for days or jumping off of a tree. It is a sad reality. So, we did our best not to make them feel stressed while we were there.

They look so adorable! I hope they can still produce more offsprings!

This ends the first part of our day trip in Bohol. In my next blog post, I’ll be sharing about a childhood dream fulfilled! After decades of knowing about it, I finally saw one of the famous landmarks in our country!

Sunsets in Iba, Zambales

“Sunset addict”. This was the term that my colleagues used to describe me while I was sharing about my recent trip to Zambales. Oh, yes! Sunsets do have a special place in my heart. In fact, one of the major reasons why I wanted to go to the beach last weekend was because of the sunset view. For a change, I hoped to watch the sky’s color change without any silhouettes of buildings. Thankfully, I did have the privilege of watching the sunsets two nights in a row while I was walking around barefoot on fine sand. Oh how I wish I could do it again this week.

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GLOOMY SUNSETS ARE BEAUTIFUL AFTER ALL

At around 5 in the afternoon, we were welcomed by rainshowers when we arrived in Zambales. The idea of capturing photographs of a lovely sunset seemed impossible at that time. The sky was white and gray, the rain kept on falling, and the strong winds continued to linger in the area. However, despite the gloomy situation, I still saw a hint of orange in the sky and that gave me hope. Haha. So, I positioned my phone on top of a ledge so I could document a time-lapse of the sunset.  Eventually, after 15-20 minutes, the rain stopped. Without any hesitation, I headed towards the beach and waited for the sun to set.

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What happened in the next hour was just bliss. Because of the gloomy weather, the sunset that afternoon had cool tones. It played with cool shades of blue and pink. While the sun was setting, I made the most out of my stay at the beach by taking as much photographs as I can. What made the experience more interesting was that a random dog who was strolling around the beach decided to hangout near me. It was the perfect subject for the photographs I took! Also, there were some locals and a boat a few meters away from me which became awesome silhouettes in the photos.

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Aaaaahhh!! Everything about that night at the beach was just lovely. When it was already dark, I went back to the resort and stopped the time-lapse that I was recording. It was my first time to record a time-lapse of a sunset and I was very much pleased with the outcome. Although it only had two main colors (blue and pink), I loved how the video showed the movement of clouds through time. You can watch it here:

 

After watching the sunset on our first evening at the beach, you could just imagine how excited I was to have another photoshoot the next day!

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THE MULTI-COLORED SUNSET

On the second day of our Zambales trip, I knew that I had to prepare well for my sunset photoshoot because we were only staying in Zambales for three days and two nights. As the hours passed by, I noticed how perfect the weather was! Not even a hint of rain was seen or felt. It was just splendid. However, when it was around 3 in the afternoon, our parents and their friends spontaneously decided to visit a zoo in Zambales.

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Although I liked the idea of going to the zoo, I was a bit hesitant because we might not make it back in time for the sunset. I was starting to worry about it when I was reminded of the sunset experience that I had the night before. Somehow, God encouraged my heart to be grateful for the first sunset instead and to enjoy our time with my family and friends at the zoo, whether or not we make it back in time.

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So, I told God that it would be okay with me even if He doesn’t allow me to see and capture the sunset that afternoon. By God’s grace, I enjoyed our trip to the zoo and was able to take photographs of unique and funny animals as well. It was also in the zoo where I saw cotton trees and cotton pods for the very first time. So amazing! After hours of going around the zoo, we headed back to the resort and arrived at around 5:30 pm. Can you believe it? Just in time for the sunset at 6:30 pm! Woohoo! What a bonus!

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I had a good feeling about the sunset that night because there still wasn’t any hint of rain. So, again, I positioned my phone on a ledge to document the sunset and then, I headed towards the beach to watch and take photos of the sunset.

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I stayed at the beach from 6 pm to 7:15 pm and I will never forget what happened during that time. For one and a half hours, I think I saw 10 kinds of “filters” in the sky. The sunset that evening was CRAZY! The sky displayed numerous hues and colors that played around white, gray, yellow, orange, pink, red, blue, and purple. I remember saying “Oh, man!” and “Wow!” after almost every shot that I took. I was only expecting the usual orange sunset, but God exceeded my expectations and even my imagination! I didn’t mind walking alone on the beach with my camera. It was just a special moment for me. It also reminded me of Ephesians 3:20.

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MORE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE

While I was standing on the sand and marveling at the beauty of God’s masterpiece, I remembered what happened earlier that day. What if I made such a big fuss about going to the zoo and possibly missing the sunset? Then, I wouldn’t have been able to sincerely enjoy looking at the animals and bonding with my family and our friends. I guess, in a way, God used the multi-colored sunset that evening to wake me up and remind me that He is BIGGER than any concern, issue, doubt, or fear that I have in life. I didn’t even imagine seeing more than 2 colors in the sunset that night, but God went all out and gave me the privilege of documenting a time-lapse of one of the most beautiful sunset experiences I’ve had in my life.

 

A flurry of questions entered my mind as I walked back to the resort. I felt God ask me the ff.: “Nicole, do you still believe in the worries, lies, and doubts in your mind? Don’t you know that I AM WHO I AM? That I am able? That I make things new? That the skies obey Me when I tell them to change colors? That I am more than able to provide for your needs? That I know the deepest and hidden desires of your heart? That I made you and have a special purpose for you? That I love you more… more than you can ever imagine?”

And just like that, my heart melted again. How can I not get addicted to sunsets when they constantly remind me of God’s greatness, goodness, and grace? Ahh yes, here’s to a million more sunsets with You, Lord.

Oh, and by the way… The minute I got back to the resort, it started to drizzle. :)

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Sunflowers and Rain Showers at UP Diliman

“You should get some sun, Nicole.” This was the advice given to me by one of my colleagues after I told her that I still had colds. It’s been three days already and although I think I am getting better, my voice still sounds funny and I still need to bring a lot of tissue wherever I go. While I was scrolling through my news feed yesterday, I saw a photo of one of our family friends which caught my attention. He took a selfie in front of sunflowers! Immediately, I knew that he was inside U.P. Diliman because they do have thousands of sunflowers near the oblation statue. It didn’t take long before I had the idea to visit the place too. Surprisingly, when I asked my older brother if he could go with me today, he agreed!

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I rarely visit Quezon city because it’s not near our home. So, I wanted to drive going to the University of the Philippines. It wasn’t as difficult as I expected. By God’s grace, we arrived before 3 pm and parked a few blocks from where the sunflowers were planted. On our way to the parking lot, I said “Wow” a couple of times as I quickly gazed on the rows of sunflowers. They looked tall, healthy, and beautiful. It was such a lovely sight! As soon as we parked, I grabbed my camera and brought a small bag with me and we walked more than a hundred meters towards the sunflowers.

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I really enjoyed my quick date with my older brother. While we were walking, I took photos of random things on the street and happily shouted “Yay! Kuya, we are spending Independence Day inside the University of the Philippines. I love it!” After maybe 5-8 minutes of walking, we finally saw the sunflowers up close. I could still remember how my eyes beamed with delight as I stared at the sunflowers one by one. Bees were everywhere! They transferred from one sunflower to another, but it didn’t scare us at all. We were just amazed by how the sunflowers grew beautifully. (Side note: We bought Sunflower plants from Tagaytay months before and they didn’t survive at home. Hahaha! So, looking at thousands of sunflowers really made us stand in awe.)

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I took my time taking photos of the flowers, bees, and my brother. And he also took a lot of photos of me. Haha! It was such a fun and spontaneous activity! I think we stayed for 15-20 minutes in the area. After we took a couple of selfies with the Sunflowers behind us, we started to feel a soft drizzle of rain. We looked up and saw a dark cloud over us but we didn’t think it would rain that hard. Haha. Unfortunately, it did. For the next five minutes, we ran like crazy and stayed under a huge tree with branches sticking out. We just laughed at the random and heavy pour of rain, but we were very grateful too because we had the privilege of quickly touring the place and taking photos while the sun was still out.

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I kept laughing and telling my brother how cool the experience was and how amazing and gracious God was! I remembered my prayer on our way to U.P. Diliman and I asked God to protect us and allow us to see and enjoy the Sunflowers. It was a simple prayer from my heart and by God’s grace, He answered it. It was a humbling moment for me because we planned to go to the place by 12 noon. But, because I was late, we left at around 2 pm already. Despite this, He still gave us enough time to have fun and take photos inside U.P. before we got drenched in the rain.

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God really is amazing. To be honest, I would have enjoyed walking, running, and dancing in the rain. But, I had a camera with me, so for obvious reasons, I couldn’t. Haha. Nonetheless, it was a very memorable experience for me and my brother. We eventually took a taxi to the parking lot and we went home safely.

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I sincerely believe that God knows what is best for us no matter what situation we are in. For me, although I think it might not help my colds, the rain at the end of our activity was a bonus because I love rain! He not only allowed me to enjoy the sun and sunflowers this afternoon. But, He literally refreshed us with rain! What a way to celebrate Independence Day! Thank You, Lord.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

[Psalm 23:1-3]

I’m not sure how long the Sunflowers will be there at U.P. But, if you can, I’d encourage you to drop by and enjoy the view.

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