My images of Bohol are that of its white sands, cerulean seas, and verdant hills.
I remember its magnificent churches, which were badly damaged by an earthquake in 2013. Beside one of these churches, at the astonishing Dauis Church convent, I had one of the most exquisite dining experiences. I also have fond memories of the Bee Farm, which at that time satisfied all my vegetarian cravings. I also recall how cute the tarsiers, one of the world’s smallest primates, were.
Ever since my first Bohol visit years ago, I longed to return and see more of this province. Like many other tourists, I also wanted my selfie taken with the world famous Chocolate Hills as a backdrop. Experiencing dining on one of Loboc River’s floating restaurants and spending a day relaxing at Anda Beach were also on my wish list.
So, when I got an email from Philippines AirAsia about the coverage of the Sandugo Festival, I was elated. I volunteered to accompany select members of the media on that weekend trip, co-organized by the Bohol Tourism Office.
Our itinerary centered on the commemoration of the Sandugo event, which is probably Bohol’s greatest gift to the world. This historic blood compact, which happened in 1565 between Spanish Explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, chieftain of Bohol, is said to be the first international treaty and have planted the seeds for the United Nations.
Our tour guide, Doris Obena, proudly announced that this year’s festival highlight, the “Bangga sa Kuradang” street dancing, is more faithful to Bohol’s rich heritage and culture with the adoption of the Kuradang as the inspiration. Kuradang is a native Visayan dance widely practiced in Bohol. It has become part of celebrations and is also a feature in the Loboc River cruise.