September 26: The day started with the unmistakeable conclusion that we were unlucky. Chemae, my girlfriend, and I woke up at 6:30 in the morning, still groggy from drinks we had the night before with friends. An airplane headed for the beautiful province of Bohol was waiting for us at the airport, ready to fly at 8:30 AM. We had reserved that plane five months in advance. We thought we’d never make it, but we did. It turns out we were lucky after all.
Outside, the typhoon that would unload the heaviest rainfall on Metro Manila in four decades, and that would take away hundreds of lives away through raging floods, was approaching…
Bohol: Awe at Every Turn
The plane kept shaking because the weather was bad but we still made it to Tagbilaran Airport after about an hour and 20 minutes of flying. I was still dizzy when Val, our tour guide, fetched us at the airport and drove us through the capital. Val’s service included a complete tour of all the tourist spots in Bohol for just Php 2,000.
First, we went to Baclayon Church , the oldest Catholic church in the country built in the 15th century. Chemae and I went inside the old museum next to it and looked at some intricate antique pieces of church items, such as Bibles, idols, and candle holders. Then, we went to see the longest living python in captivity in the country located at Albuquerque . It was mind-blowing to see more than 23 feet of snake muscle twirled inside a cage.
When lunch time came, we headed to the floating restaurants along Loboc River . The menu aboard the ferry included some seafood consisting of tuna, shellfish and seaweed, pork barbecue, fried chicken, and local delicacies. The seafoody flavor of the food tickled our tongues as the ferry gently cut across the peaceful waters of Loboc River . Musicians aboard beautifully sang local and foreign tunes, making the trip more relaxing.
When we arrived at Chocolate Hills, Bohol ’s main attraction, it was a steep climb to the top of the highest hill. Chemae and I were screaming and shaking as we held on to the steel bars along the stairs at the hill’s side. The scene at the top blew us away. I remembered reading about the world-famous hills in elementary and being fascinated by the idea that brown mounds of earth could resemble Hershey’s Kisses so much. They didn’t disappoint one bit. The hills make you realize how creative, artistic, and marvelous nature is.
Heading toward the resort, strong winds continued to bend coconut trees. Chemae received a text message that Metro Manila was already submerged in flood.
Beaches in Bohol, Floods in Manila
We stayed in Alona Land Resort in Panglao island. We were surprised to know that we were the only people who were to stay in the resort for the next three days. Alona Land is beautifully arranged, nipa huts and a shaded swimming pool where people can swim anytime of the day. Our room, worth Php 1,700 a night, had cable TV, a mini refrigerator, bed, airconditioning, bathroom, even a terrace. Indeed, everything was perfect – except for the fact that when we turned on the TV, we were horrified at the look of Metro Manila. My family sent a text message that they were all right but many neighborhoods were already deep under muddy floodwaters.
We were still thinking of the submerged homes in Manila as the free shuttle ride took us to Bohol Beach Club the next day where we planned to enjoy the beach. We paid Php 350 each for the consumable ticket, which we used to buy the amazing food at the resort. For Php 600, we were served a tasty lunch of grilled squid with chayote and carrots on the side, and some exquisitely fried crispy pata and rice. Friends had already told us before that meals in Bohol Beach Club were good, but we didn’t expect that they were fantastic. Since grilled squid is one of my most favourite dishes, I’ve eaten lots of it from different places. However, I can say for sure that the Beach Club’s version is the best I’ve ever had. They also served us two glasses of mango juice which really overwhelmed our senses.
While I was still sad about the typhoon in Manila , I couldn’t help but forget everything once Bohol ‘s beach came into view behind the tall coconut trees that lined the wide shore.
It was my first time to behold a truly white beach. And, my god, the sand was as white as milk. As my feet walked on the pristine sand, I imagined eating the creamy thing which looked good enough to eat. Chemae and I wasted no time bathing in the salty water which was colder than normal because of the weather. The beach was very safe because the soft shore extended gently a long way into the sea before becoming deep. As the salty water splashed onto my face, I realized Bohol was a blessed place. We were really fortunate to have arrived there as planned, even though so many things could have gone wrong.
Chemae and I will remember our trip to Bohol forever. Perhaps, we were just two lucky lovers whom destiny allowed to have tons of fun that day. Still, we kept thinking of our friends in Manila who were being challenged by nature – the same nature which gave birth to the pleasant wonders of Bohol . As soon as we returned home, we participated in the nationwide effort to restore lives and homes.
Today, I still look at our experience as one of appreciating the two faces of nature: the good and the merciless. As people who are here on this planet only to witness nature’s wonders and innocent cruelties, we should learn to respect its power and take care of it the best way we can.