It was an apt beginning of that year. A Bohol travel to start 2020. After doing minor features for an inflight magazine, I was given this major story to shoot: Bohol through the eyes of a local. So, together with him and the writer from Manila, we went around Tagbilaran and nearby municipalities with Carmen the farthest we visited.
2020 Bohol travel
Although I’ve been visiting Bohol every year either for leisure or business, the 2020 January trip was my last. We all know what happened starting March and from that month to the present, I’ve been back in Cebu. Thanx to the pandemic, I can only look back at my past travels, a palliative to the ennui of staying at home.
Bohol heritage sites
I was so happy to see some of the restored heritage sites of Bohol that were badly damaged by the October 2013 earthquake. These were repaired and restored by the National Museum with the old Provincial Capitol back in tip top shape and is its provincial branch’s new home. The churches of Baclayon and Dauis as well as the 18th century watchtower of Punta Cruz in Maribojoc looked better than before. For the first time, I was able to visit the Pamilacan triangular fort that I have been wanting to see for the past decade. This was also restored.
Bohol street art
I have been documenting street art in the Philippines and abroad in my Langyaw Street Instagram account. Although there are only a few ones that I have seen in Tagbilaran, I was not disappointed. The Save the Sharks mural by Anina Rubio is beautiful. There were also fantastic works of local son, Geovanni Abing whose photo collages I’ve been following. I’ve seen his works in the streets of Makati, Cebu and Bacolod.
In the true spirit of street art and graffiti, there’s JJAWZIP and international street artists Striko and Kostya August. I first saw the latter’s familiar leaf art at a nondescript wall in Bangkok while the former has several works in Cebu and other provinces.
Dolphins, Chocolate Hills and baskets
We went dolphin watching in Pamilacan Island. It’s a thrilling experience especially when you see a pod swimming near you or a few cruising beside the bangka. Although we weren’t able to swim, the white sand beach of the island was just so captivating!
Of course, a Bohol travel feature is not complete without these two: Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary and the Chocolate Hills. The former has enthusiastic guides and better facilities now since the last time I visited. The latter was just stunning with the beautiful afternoon light . We also went to the Antiquera Sunday market to see the products there. The town is known for their high quality craftsmanship and they cater not only to the local but also to the domestic and international markets.
It was also my first time to visit Habitat Bohol’s butterfly garden. I’m quite familiar with the butterflies of the province including the rare ones as I have collected near this area more than ten years ago. What I saw were just common ones as it wasn’t just the right time for these insects when we were there. I am interested with their night wildlife safari and staying for a night or two though. The place looks very interesting.
And of course, FOOD!!!
Bohol travel is not complete if you don’t eat local. Tagbilaran and surrounding towns have lots of food choices, from restaurants to cafes to local delicacy diners and carinderias.
Local snacks and a carinderia
Never miss Jojie’s Painitang Bol-anon. For someone who loves local delicacies, I’ve been eating here for majority of my visits. They’ve got delicious and different types of rice cakes like budbud (suman), biko, and puto. The sikwate (hot chocolate) is a must too. During afternoons, you might even need to wait for an available table! I also like their other cafe, Estrella Bakery and have eaten at there two branches several times. In Cebu I’ve been patronizing their other sister food stall, Jojie’s Painitan Central which, like Painitang Bol-anon, is all about local delicacies. Painitan by the way is Cebuano for a snack house. I frequented their stalls in SM City Cebu or Robinsons Cybergate before the pandemic and have ordered their bilao when they offered it online.
Susan’s Kilawin is highly recommended. It’s a carinderia, a no fuss, open air local eatery known for old fashioned home cooked Filipino food. You should have the balbacua, kinilaw and pochero. It has no signage when we visited but is located at the corner, leftside, before you enter the old airport.
I’m familiar with Bohol Bee Farm and have eaten at two branches in Tagbilaran, both in the city proper and at the Island City Mall. But it was my first time to visit the main branch in Panglao Island. It has a very wide area with the main restaurants having beautiful views of the sea. The servings are huge, lots of choices and delicious too.
Gerarda’s Place is another recommended restaurant serving home cooked Filipino food. It has an elegant setting at an old house at a side street. I love the spare ribs as well as the kare-kare and chop suey.
10:31 by Chef M is located in nearby Baclayon. It’s a family run restaurant that offers pastries, bread and meals good for sharing. I especially like the seafood chowder. Because we were already so full, we requested to pack the leftovers and I had these for dinner in my hotel room.
Tamper Coffee and Brunch is gorgeous with its modern interior. The tocilog is really good! Although we were there for a short while enough to do a photoshoot (and eat this tocino dish), our guide said that he usually comes here for breakfast and work. Coffee is good, he avers.
And lastly, to wrap up this Bohol travel post, you just have to try Mosia Cafe. It’s owned by a Russian expat couple and popular with the expat community that afternoons and evenings can be full especially that its small. They do have a few outside tables. They have cupcakes, cakes (and I love these!) and artisanal ice cream. After the initial visit, trying their banoffee pie and coffee, I came back the next day to shoot, and have another slice of a different cake. The cakes they offer are varied and often changes daily.
I’ve written other posts on Bohol. You can check it in this link.