Home / The Bohol and Panglao islands, Visayas .
The Bohol and Panglao islands, Visayas .

The Bohol and Panglao islands, Visayas .

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The island of Bohol, off Cebu, is one of the largest island for tourists, in the Philippines. To get there from Siquijor, only 2 trips per day at rather extreme hours : 6 in the morning from Siquijor town, or 7 in the evening from Larena, with the Ocean Jet Company, nothing else in the day time. It takes about 4 hours from Siquijor town ‘s harbor and Tagbilaran city, the capital of Bohol. From Cebu, it’s much easier, the choice is vast between shipping and airlines companies.

The curse of Siquijor is still active on the day of my departure …. Of course, i can’t get a ticket on the same day ! Going back and forth between Siquijor town and Larena, i am exhausted, i decide to take a room in Siquijor town and to leave next day at 6 in the morning. There in the harbor, i meet Stéphanie, she calls me from her small business and offers me some dinner : a fish head and some rice ….. 10 minutes later i ate some diced pork fat with rice … in the restaurant, next door !! I gave up on the idea of eating something decent, i just had to buy 2 or 3 very dried biscuits and some unripe bananas.

Uncredible luck, the next day, the ferry is there ! Four hours later, i landed in Tagbilaran and i asked a tricycle driver to drop me off in a small guesthouse on the island of Panglao, which is infested with tourists due to a beach called Alona beach … BUT, it does not mean “alone”…. I did not deliberately set foot in this place, i wisely waited until the evening, for the arrival of Rowena (please read Moalboal) in this guesthouse (away from the crowd) called “Hope homes” ….

Let’s get serious : off Panglao, one can observe dolphins and go to a small island called Balicasag, home to a marine sanctuary. With a friendly New-Zealander and his Philippine wife ,with big fake breast, but also funny, we organize a boat trip, “the captain” is not very alert, but after one hour of discussion, it’s okay. Now we must find something to eat for breakfast. It does take half an hour to the guesthouse’s staff to offer a greasy sandwich made of a fried egg between sliced white bread : stodgy !!! Can’t find any banana, but the grocery, round the corner, sells biscuits, that will do us good after the greasy sandwich.

5 in the morning, we leave, the Philippines sky is faithful to it’s delicate beauty, which has really filled me with wonder throughout this trip in the archipelago of smile. The Bangka is ready.

At sea, between the coast and our destination, dozens of Bangkas strive to pursue groups of happy dolphins, as soon as the silhouette of the animal appears, boats swoop on it, like magnets, towards it. I never thought i would attend such a pathetic show, so early in the morning.
Not so stupid, the beasts, they disappear quickly, so the observation time is ridiculous. We can now see Balicasag, and we dock.

It’s time to swim, and with a simple mask, snorkel and flippers, we can see beautiful tourist’s ass under water, big bellies, but also a lot of fish and coral, much is devastated by unscrupulous feet, not very concerned with the fragility of marine life and of course, one has to pay 200 pesos in taxes for the protection of the environment upon arrival !

The boat then takes the direction of “Virgin Island”, which it is not any more … On the horizon we see a row of isolated mangroves on a sandbank, the island is home for the statue of a bishop, with which Rowena wants to make a photo, men will not see it on the photo.

Under the sand, shallow, an invertebrate emits a purplish liquid, recalling the Aplysia, common sea snail in Europe, i did not identify the bug and i had no intention, whatsoever to dig in the sand, one never knows !!!

This evening we go towards Loboc, a village near the river of the same name. Here the earthquake of 15 October 2013 has left catastrophic traces, especially on the oldest religious buildings, half destroyed, and some others in danger of collapsing.

In the morning, Rowena goes back to Moalboal, i decide to leave the island too, but i really want to watch the “Tarsier” before my departure for Camiguin Island. The road to the animal sanctuary is cut, since the earthquake, the tuk-tuk goes round the river, on gravels roads, the journey is long !But here i am.

The Tarsier is a primate, the smallest currently living on our planet, it is obviously endangered and reproduces slowly, it is also solitary and territorial which does not help the case, given the little forest left on the island. Fortunately, it appreciates the small trees that allow it to grip more easily. The center has animal births, here the main predator is the common cat, that eats it like a mouse, who is to blame ?
The Tarsier has the ability to turn it’s head 360°, but its pupils are fixed. What a funny animal, certainly a very old invention.

I leave Bohol after this amazing vision, i will not go to the famous “chocolate hills”, also damaged by the earthquake. The forest is in a bad state, as in Siquijor, coconut, premium on endemic species, native biological richness has been reduced, 100 earthquakes are nothing beside it. Green rice fields, along the road around Loboc dotted with … coconut. After seeing Banaue and Batad, do not bother to linger here.

Now, let’s go to Camiguin Island ….

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The Bohol and Panglao islands, Visayas .

par Stéphane Bidouze time to read: 6 min