Posted by: hoz49 | March 1, 2008

Chocolate Hills Tour

We caught the “Ocean Jet” ferry to Bohol at 6:00am. These travel several time a day back and forth and are supposed to take only an hour and a half between islands. Ours had engine trouble and finished the trip on one engine. It took us a bit longer to make Bohol.
After arriving in Tagbilaran at 10:30 am we hooked up with a tour driver for our Chocolate Hills Extravaganza. Fe and Lisa intended to stay only one day in Bohol so we asked our driver to “hit the highlights” and have them back at the Pier early enough to catch the 5:30 pm ferry back to Cebu.

Ego shot Tagbilaran Pier

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We drove first to the “Blood Compact Site”. Here in March of 1565 the Spanish Explorer Lesgaspi made treaty with local Datu Sikatuna to “insure friendly relations”. By local custom each drew blood from their arms, mixed it in a cup and drank. It is thought this “Blood Compact” was the very first treaty between white Europeans and Native People.

Spain went on to conquer the Philippines and most of the known world at that time. They ruled the Philippine Islands with an iron fist for 300 years, extracting wealth and recourses from the Orient. Manila became a major shipping port in the Galleon trade. Spain enforced their catholic faith on the natives and Filipino life was altered forever. So much for “friendly relations”.

Next we stopped at Baclayton Church. Built with native labor by the Jesuits in 1727 it is one of the oldest coral stone churches in the Orient and one of the best preserved in the Philippines.

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On our way to the Chocolate Hills we passed through a small corner of the Man made Forest. Almost 900 hectares have been planted in mahogany trees. Corrupt practices and greed have left much of the Philippines denuded of it’s natural forest. Here in Bohol they are attempting to restore the countryside by planting new trees, restoring native habitat and promoting an ecologically sound environment.

The road leads on and on

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The ride continues through an idyllic Philippine countryside, passing small barangays and villages with rice fields and people drying their panay or newly harvested rice on the roadsides.

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We came across this scarecrow of a man having a drink.

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Tuba? Or Tanduay?

The road climbs, switchbacking through dense forest to the Chocolate Hills complex where you are greeted with 214 stairs to the top viewing platform. The stairway is broken up with several resting benches so the climb isn’t too strenuous. Once at the top the view of over 1200 hills stretching out into the distance is truly an amazing sight. The area has been declared a Philippine National Geological Monument and is proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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Fe ready to Fly

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Current theory states the hills were laid down by wave action on a shallow coral sea bed. Elevation of the bed and subsequent surface erosion created the conical hills we see today. In summer with dry conditions, they turn brown, looking somewhat like Hershey’s kisses, hence the name Chocolate Hills.

to be continued…

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