By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
This midweek, a year ago, the province of Bohol was hit by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that devastated a few of its centuries-old churches. Super-typhoon Haiyan’s wrath that brought Tacloban to the ground also affected Bohol because their power source came from Leyte’s capital city. With help from both public and private sectors, and the Boholanos themselves, rehabilitation efforts progressed rather swiftly.
“We want to communicate the message to our potential market, to tour operators, and the industry in general that Bohol remains a good destination as before. We want to overcome the perception that Bohol is a disaster area. The province is currently undergoing a total re-branding and repackaging;
“The PhiVolcs has conducted sessions with the locals on awareness and on correcting the wrong impressions through misinformation. The tourism infrastructure is intact except for few bridges and new routes have been made. The rebound was fast. Roads to the countryside tours were not damaged at all.
“Typhoon Yolanda had a more serious impact on our tourism wheel as the power grid source supplying the entire province is from Leyte. So the entire island of Bohol had no power for 20 days. Thus, November 2013 was our worst month because it was a peak month. Pumps needed electricity to extract water, so water was scare for three weeks. There was a 50 per cent drop on arrivals. Luckily, the influx started to pick up when December came. Our product development programs are helped by international entities like the USAID-Compete and the World Trade Organization,“ revealed Atty. Doy Nunag, president of Bohol’s Provincial Tourism Council (PTC) and proprietor of the highly-acclaimed Amarela Resort.
Surrounded by 73 islets, the province’s 47 towns and lone city comprise a total land area of 4,117 sq. km. and traversed through a 265-km circumferential road.
With a gentle rising topography and a coastline of 261 kilometers, Bohol is the tenth largest island of the Philippines. The island’s many caves and limestone hills are home to some rare and endangered flora and fauna, chief of which is the enduring tarsier, making the province a premier ecotourism destination.
The tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) is one of the smallest primates in the world. Most active at night, their diet consists of insects. The cuddly animal (though not to be stroked or touched) is no larger than a grown man’s hand.
Vista and verdure
Situated in the most scenic of sites, at the heart of Bohol’s unique geological wonder, the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park (CHAP) offers a refreshing panorama, a taste of local culture, delectable delicacies, and fun-filled adventure.
Re-discover the hidden beauty of the cone-shaped wonders as you trek through a delightful trail past a myriad local flora and fauna towards the view deck that affords an arresting vista of the hills, rising from rice paddies and lush vegetation. Appreciate wild life, migratory and endemic birds, as well as the blooms all around as a nearby brook murmurs softly.
Along the way, a serpentarium house with various species of reptiles and mammals affords an interaction area for young learners and guests alike. For thrill seekers, marvel at the sight of the hills spread as far as the eyes can see from a different angle; up above a zip line. Challenge yourself with the Burma rope, canopy walk, hiking trail treks, camp site games, bike rides, and more adrenaline-pumping activities inside the park set over century-old molave and mahogany trees.
“Our heritage sites need the help of NCCA and the National Historical Commission as well as the embassies and other related foundations. To date, the PTC is still open to suggestions on how to improve tourist arrivals; like inviting members of the photography clubs and giving them local accommodation facilities and special stay rates,” continued Atty. Nunag.
Opened in 2011, Bluewater Panglao is a blueprint for the future of luxury in Bohol, creating an escape that honors Dagohoy country’s natural beauty. Nestled in an island with white sand beaches, pristine waters and marine sanctuaries, the resort’s Filipino architecture and design complement the island’s culture, inherent warm hospitality and eco-focused initiatives.
The challenge was to introduce a unique design concept that will go well with the environment. What the resort came up with is organic, yet elegant, innovative and functional. According to designer Benji Reyes, “There is a feel of luxurious sophistication that is not stuffy. The atmosphere is kept friendly, comfortable and warm.”
Bohol is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the Philippines. The many activities and places to visit are enough to make visitors see the island as a haven of nature’s beauty. Embrace the charm of island living in picturesque Bohol at Bluewater Panglao.
For more information, simply log-on to the company web site, www.bluewater.com.ph. As to updates on what’s happening in and around Dagohoy country, simply browse their Instagram page #visitbohol2014.