Panglao Bluewater Resort
Merging cultural traditions with creative innovations
Text & photos by Earl D.C. Bracamonte
Bohol province in the Central Visayas is gearing toward a renaissance. It aims to bring the province forward unto a new golden age. Industry sectors are pooling resources together to meet this single vision.
“Our thrust is to expand and open new attractions all over the province so as to spread the benefits all throughout Bohol. Tourists should explore the coastal areas in the Andap peninsula. We have a double barrier reef that could prove to be a very good dive site aside from the ones that we already have like Balicasag Island. Besides, most of the island-hopping activities of Cebu are done around Bohol. The major attractions are now in the Danao Nature Park,” apprized its amiable governor, Atty. Edgar Chatto, during an intimate media huddle.
“Bohol won’t run out of new sites. We don’t have to put all the dishes out on the table all at the same site. We feature them one by one to give them the proper exposure. As part of our eco-cultural tourism thrust, we thought of exploring the agro-industrial sector; these are the non-polluting industries with strong environmental directives. These could be farmlands made as attractions to tourist who may want to experience how it is to do farming.
“Then there’s the ICT Summit that’s drumbeating the economic-driven BPOs as they support and absorb idle labor to generate revenue. The province, too, would ultimately become the hub of quality education. We are also modernizing health care this year as our investment towards an updated social services program.
“Our airport renovation plans started 20 years ago in the term of Pres. Cory Aquino. We hope it sees fruition in Pres. Noy’s time. The JAICA report of October last year supports Panglao Island as the best location of the new international airport,” added Atty. Chatto.
For a bit of trivia, the province’s name could come from either “Boho” or ‘holes’ that referred to the many caverns dotting the island; or “Bo-ol,” the specie of trees growing profusely on sandy patches during the Spanish regime.
Panglao Bluewater is a blueprint for the future, creating a luxurious escape that honors Bohol’s natural beauty. Nestled in Panglao Island with its white-sand beaches, pristine waters and marine sanctuaries, the resort’s Filipino architecture and design complement Bohol’s culture, inherent warm hospitality and eco-focused initiatives.
The challenge was to introduce a unique design concept that would match well with the environment. What the resort came up with is an enclave that’s organic yet elegant, innovative and functional. “There is a feel of luxurious sophistication that isn’t stuffy. The atmosphere is kept friendly, comfortable and warm. This is Phase 1 of a sprawling 6-hectare development project,” enthused designer Benji Reyes.
If you are visiting for a day, or longer, Panglao Bluewater is the place to be closest to Nature; a chance to calm down and let go of worries. A variety of options can make one’s quick trip a relaxing and remarkable experience. One can indulge in water sports before winding up at the sunset cruise, discover the amazing scuba diving pleasures in nearby Balicasag Island, drop by for blissful spa treatments at the thatched-roof Baruga huts, or simply laze by the beach. Most of all, bask in the sumptuous gastronomic fare of its F & B outlets.
Couples on a honeymoon, or those looking to spend memorable time with each other, will find the pool villas the perfect romantic hideaway with its private pools and floating beds. The daily sunset cruise along Alona Beach affords guests with the best panoramic views of the island while sipping cocktails to the beat of reggae music. In the horizon, the Isle of Siquijor is beautifully silhouetted against the setting sun.
We were informed the cruise is used occasionally for very intimate wedding receptions. There are buoys marking the marine life sanctuary in the area. Motorized vehicles are prohibited and only those kayaking and snorkeling are allowed access.
“The resort has 54 rooms: 40 are premiere, six are deluxe singles, four family lofts, one family villa and three honeymoon villas. The second phase, which will be completed by 2014, will have 80 more rooms plus a convention center that will house the Front Office as well as twelve new villas. Phase 1 is spread out through half the property. There’s the Aplaya, the main restaurant, which features the best of Filipino cuisine and fresh catch of the day. We also have a drink bar by the poolside and when Phase 2 opens, a Mediterranean-themed resto will widen our dining options,” shared GM Marty Jastillana after a tour around the resort.
After boarding the traditional bandong (motorized banca) at the Abatan River Visitor Center, tourists simply settle back to enjoy the wonders of night-life along the riverbanks. This hour-long tour takes you gently up the beautiful tributary through its meandering streams whilst revealing an amazing light show from millions of dancing fireflies. You’ll be transfixed!
As the main tributary of the Abatan watershed, the third largest in the province, the Abatan River Life Tour (ARLT) navigates in a 13.5-kilometer distance that stretches from Brgy. Salvador in Cortes town to Kawasan Falls in Balilihan. According to a local historian, when one takes a cruise along the Abatan River, travelers will be retracing the path traversed by the ancestors of the Boholanos. Before the coming of the Spaniards, large native ships already plied the waterways. The said ships have reached Borneo, Thailand and Patan in Eastern India, as related by tales spread by oral tradition.
The story of Abatan is as interesting as its sceneries. It is a story filled with names, places and events that one can relate with its topography even to this day.
The ARLT initiative was embarked in complementation with the provincial government’s vision of making Bohol province a prime eco-cultural tourism destination. This will eventually open a huge opportunity in developing eco-tourism facilities and services that would help meet the province’s demand due to annual tourism influx.
The results will be translated into augmenting income for the local government communities as well as sustaining local revenue generation of concerned LGUs. Most importantly, it would veer every visiting tourist’s interest to experiencing eco-cultural tourism in the not-often-seen northern part of Bohol.
The Loboc LGU leads in finding innovative ways of making tourism work for its people. At least four enterprising private boat operators handle the Loboc River Cruise. A large number of local musicians render their talents while hundreds of the residents are employed by the LGU for tourism-related jobs. There are a thousand and one ways to an unforgettable Loboc River experience. Exciting by day or night, the cruise moves gently along palm-fringed banks and towering green forest foliage before winding up at the beautiful cascades of the Busay waterfalls.
If you’ve ever heard of the Loboc Children’s Choir, you’d know that music is a way of life in Loboc. From the moment you step into the port until disembarking, music is provided by local musicians. A stop-over in a balsa (raft), halfway on the cruise, invites guests to a taste of indigenous dancing and entertainment. For our Asian neighbors, this part of the trip is the most fun.
For the pious and devotees, nothing beats the sight of the Parish Church of San Pedro slowly unfolding before one’s eyes as the boat passes by its charming 18th-century stone structure and belfry. The Loboc Tourism Office and waiting lounge is everything a tourist could desire for – comfortable seats, standby medic, free charging terminals and a free Wi-Fi zone. Within the complex are clean and air-conditioned restrooms, restaurants, an array of souvenirs shops and an organized parking area with ample space. For those coming in via water, the municipality ensures orderly and safe passage with its modern port.
“For Panglao Island, lots of properties have already been acquired and purchased for development. All the economic indicators point to moving in that direction. Concrete roads are already in place. We’ll also build a causeway that’s inspired from my travels to Panama. All we need to do now is sustain our promotions campaign. It’s a joint effort between the government and private sector,” declared Gov. Chatto. As former congressman, the governor once sat as Chairman on the House Committee on Tourism and concurrently as Vice-Chairman on the House Committees on Education and Agriculture. “Bohol will blaze new trails in education, tourism and agriculture!”
For more than two decades, Bluewater Resorts made a reputation for creating a unique collection of resort properties that are professionally-run with world-class amenities that is distinctly Filipino. “The final phase in our Panglao resort will open twelve villas surrounded by lagoons while a spa building will open in Phase 2. For now, the Amuma Spa can be availed through our two Baruga huts and in-room service. Koreans, Europeans and Metro Manila city dwellers are our frequent guests. Our brand is synonymous with the Filipino lifestyle experience that’s creative, warm, friendly, attentive, caring and relaxing,” enthussed GM Jastillana.
Bohol is truly one breathtaking experience not to be missed. For more information, simply log-on to the resort’s Web site, www.bluewaterpanglao.com.ph.