Celebrating the Boholano Heritage: Culture + History + Environment

August 10, 2016 Travel

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.

Fascinating Culture

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.

Props to the organizers for pushing for a more authentic experience for tourists, instead of giving travelers another Sinulog, Dinagyang or Ati-Atihan! 

And, I must stay, the melody of the song sticks.  Weeks later, it still partly plays over and over in my head.  Well, I don’t understand the lyrics, but I comprehend enough to know how much it appreciates the richness of Boholanos’ heritage. Thanks to the zestful dancers, who gave delightful performances, both on the streets and on the main stage.

Interesting History

It is not just in the street dancing that the Boholanos have shown appreciation of its roots.  On our arrival in Bohol, the first thing we did was a Heritage Walk of Tagbilaran City. 

Nanet Bolo, the general manager of Dagohoy World, got the inspiration from a similar tour of Berlin.  She joined us in the Rocha-Lumayag house, where we also met her Lola Nena.  “She couldn’t remember me, but she remembers her music.”  She told us of the 93-year-old family matriarch, who then graciously played the piano for us.

The tour also included a visit and lighting of candles at the Tagbilaran Cathedral; a tour of the house of former Philippine President Carlos P. Garcia turned heritage museum; and a walk along the streets of the trading hub of Spanish and Filipino elite in Sitio Ubus

Of course, part of any place’s heritage is its food.  In the middle of the long walk, we stopped by Jojie’s Painitang Bol-anon for a taste of Bohol’s kakanins or rice cakes.

The two-hour tour costs P 800.00, for a group of 10 people. 

Beloved Environment

We also did the Legacy Experience Tour, a tree-planting activity.  This tour lets everyone pitch in with the efforts of restoring another Bohol heritage – its forests. 

We went to the Bohol Biodiversity Complex for this, and along the way, we passed by some of Bohol’s majestic churches; caught a glimpse of the Loboc River; and saw an example of how reforestation should not be done, at the Loboc Manmade Forest.

The activity started with a briefing that emphasizes the importance of planting endemic species, followed by a brief tour of the facility, then the tree planting. I chose to plant a Banaba tree both because of its medicinal properties and beautiful flowers. 

And, more

On our way back to Tagbilaran City, we passed by the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier Foundation. 

But, these were not all of what we did during our three-day Bohol trip.  We also watched the Sandugo Song Festival briefly, attended the Bohol Day celebration, visited the Sandugo product showcase, and had dinner at the International Fusion Nights. 

We also partied with the young Boholanos at the AirAsia Red Hot Party.  Exhausting, right?

Glad we were accommodated at the Be Grand Hotel, because Be Grand, one of the Panglao Island’s newest resorts, was beyond relaxing, beyond idyll, really beyond the expected.  

We couldn't stop oohing and aahing during our entire stay.  We actually had difficulty pulling ourselves out of our favorite spots in the resort to go to the Sandugo Festival activities. 

AirAsia, the World’s Best Low-Cost Carrier for seven consecutive years, offers three daily flights from Manila (NAIA Terminal 4) to Tagbilaran Bohol. Keep updated with AirAsia’s latest promotion and activities via twitter (@AirAsiaPH), Philippines AirAsia Facebook Page, Instagram (@AirAsiaPh), and on Viber public chat (@AirAsiaPh).

Other Good Travels