Monday, March 8, 2010


IF BOHOL WERE a stone's throw away, I sure would have loved going and staying there for keeps. I have been there many times when I was a tot in the company of my grandparents and I was their favorite. I remembered hearing during their conversations of the names of places where we visited like Tagbilaran, Tubigon, Clarin, Sagbayan, the Chocolate Hills, etc.
Back then, in my own little world, I have never seen a wide country with so many trees and plants and insects as I have discovered in Bohol. For me, Bohol was the jungle of my imagination and totally different from my bald Cebu. Waking up on early mornings there would find me hunting for fighting spiders or, during early evenings, catching fireflies and keeping them inside a glass jar.

In the countrysides, I find myself amazed by the sight of an endless army of brown hills and marveled at the flight of a pair of giant fruit bats gliding past me. Bohol fed my deep and bottomless childhood curiosity and great sense of adventure. That was a long time ago but the scant memories still linger.

I went to Tubigon though for a few times in early 1986 when I was a crew of a ferry boat but my freedom were just confined to playing basketball games in the town square or fishing along in its kilometer-long pier. The boundless mangroves is a marvelous sight when approaching Tubigon from the sea and the topography seemed to be flat when viewed near.

My grandmother fed me stories of how she and grandpa, Gervasio Lavilles, hid in the interior part of Bohol during the Japanese occupation and how they were able to evade the Japanese patrols sent on a mission to locate him. Grandma would also recall how she gave birth to my mother in Sagbayan in 1943 while on the run as grandpa, time and again, outfoxed several enemy patrols who will pass by just a few feet without noticing them.

She says the Chocolate Hills in Sagbayan and in Carmen was where their hideout was located and during the barren episode of their existence their dog, Dinky, would source and hunt food for them which kept them alive. Later, after the war, they bought a parcel of land in Sagbayan. The property in Sagbayan contained a cave, a subterranean river and a lake.
I'm sure there are many tales that I would love to write about my grandpa but it would be in another article. Not just yet. Right now, I am in the middle of the Bohol Strait on board a fastcraft in the early morning of October 28, 2009 and looking forward to my first real (and mainly conscious trip) to Bohol. The craft slowed down as it approached the port of Tagbilaran and I am amazed at the still clear water in her waterfront.

A passing shadow of a sea hawk greeted me as I stepped on the pavement and her presence reminded me that Bohol is still ecologically healthy. Finally, I have gone beyond the wharf of Tagbilaran City and walked outside to smell the familiar odor distinctly her own. I hailed a tricycle and I am glad that this unique transportation system doesn't have a fixed route and follow the principles of a taxicab in ferrying passengers. With this state, I am quite sure I will never get lost and I don't have to worry about the ticking meter.


The opportunity of coming to Tagbilaran had been anchored on an errand by my employer to send packages to the PhilHealth offices in Mansasa and to faraway Talibon in the north. As the tricycle took me on a tour, I keep noticing that the streets of Tagbilaran were quite clean and swept of unwanted wastes and, from across a narrow strait of water, I saw Panglao Island so famous for its white beaches and cavern pool.

After my purpose in Mansasa had been done, I raced to the Dau bus terminal to hie a vehicle-for-hire for Talibon. The terminal's design included a rainfall catch basin in its center and this was planted with mahogany trees. Sadly, the purpose of the catchment area was defeated due to poor maintenance as a lot of these disposable plastic bottles and drinking cups were thrown there. The “hole” became a possible breeding ground for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Leaving a quick snack, I climbed inside a rickety passenger van and squeezed my six-foot frame in between seats that refused to fold through a door handle that barely work. I hardly breathed as I shared my row with three other people and we were packed like the insides of a sardine can and it was so hot as the ancient airconditioning system failed to cool the interior. Good thing the side glass window nearest me still worked catching wind and ventilated the insides as it cruised the highway.
Despite that difficulty, the wonderful sights along the national road won me over. The wide rivers of Cortes and Inabanga are still very clean and hectares of mangrove forests and swamp palms remain untouched as it blended well with development along the sea coast. I passed by Tubigon again and it has changed a bit although it still retained a laid-back atmosphere.

Then I arrived at the port town of Talibon at 1:15 PM and it is my first time there. I delivered the package and talked with the branch manager for a half hour. I went outside and I took pictures of the town hall and the Nombre de Santissima Parish for souvenir. Omitting lunch, I raced back for Tagbilaran passing over the same beautiful highway. This time, I am on board a newer vehicle-for-hire and seated on the front seat.

I arrived at the Dau terminal at 5:00 PM, I hopped on a motorcycle-for-hire back to Mansasa. From there, I took a “taxicle” bound for the Agora district and took a well-deserved meal. Actually it is my breakfast, lunch and dinner for the day eaten in one setting. How's that for traveling with set deadlines? True to that query, I missed my return trip to Cebu, but I'm not worried, I possessed an open ticket.

That night, I make use of Plan B and spend my night at RDAK office in Carlos P. Garcia Avenue thru the courtesy of Wilbert Pepito – Regan King's top honcho in Bohol. I would have loved to stay late and wake up early and take a morning stroll but my shoes gave up today. So I slept early instead and gave my tired body a much-needed break.
In the morning, after a humble breakfast with Wilbert and his staff, I left my temporary billeting place and make for the wharf. I left Tagbilaran at nine and arrived two hours later in Cebu's Pier 1 in time for a great lunch at my home. My ever-loving wife prepared a steaming stew of shrimps with horse radish. Hmmm...yummy!

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer.


Ppip said...

Glad that you like my hometown.

PinoyApache said...

I really do. Will plan a vacation soon with my wife and kids.