Hudyaka sa Panglao

Go Dancing Each Day The Panglao Way/p>

SITTING at the foot of Bohol just a short sea-trip from Cebu, Panglao Island has already proved itself to be the new playground of the Philippines...and thousands (if not millions) of dollars of investment money is being poured in to develop the island.

Already it has twice helped Bohol to win the Tourist Destination of the Year contest in the Philippines and hopes to help a third time at the Manila trade exhibition this September when it showcases the beauty of its beaches.

There are even plans approved by President Gloria Arroyo to develop a domestic airport on the island to take over from Tagbilaran Airport, with the intention to upgrade it to international status at some time in the future, to make it easier for the island’s thousands of visitors to reach the coral-white sandy shores which surround it on all sides.

There are resorts dotted all around the sandy shores of the island, which connects to mainland Bohol at Tagbilaran and Bool via two road bridges, and each resort is situated in its own grounds on the edge of a sapphire sea.

Already well-known by scuba divers for the diversity of its fish life in the off-islands of Pamilacan, Balicasag and Pungtod, which are easily reached from the main resort area of Alona Beach, the rest of the island is also developing with top-class resorts: Land has already been put aside for a new Tourism Estate.

The off-islands sport hammerhead sharks, some rays, massive schools of jackfish and barracudas, and there are resident dolphins playing just off the beaches, plus (in the right season) whale-sharks. It is also well-known for the inordinate number of nudibranch and pygmy fish (including seahorses) which inhabit the coral reefs on its southern side.

Bohol itself takes pride in Panglao Island, although sometimes other towns in the area become a little jealous – especially since Panglao town itself has won the prestigious street dancing competition in Tagbilaran’s Sandugo four times in a row, the only two in the history of Bohol to do so. Now the island town has been asked to ‘take a rest’ for a while by the Sandugo Foundation to give another town on Bohol a chance to win!

The ‘dance capital’ of Panglao is not too worried: the Sandugo street festival in July is only the live rehearsal for its’ own major event – the Hudyaka sa Panglao which takes place on August 28th every year in the grounds of its parish church. Then the ten barangays of the municipality compete fiercely with each other to see which is the best of the best.

Its’ own dance festival brings back ex-Panglao residents from all over the world, and instead of making a day of it, the music and dance lovers of Panglao try and make a whole week of it…and more. Actually, they take nine days and the whole town has a festive atmosphere with parties all over the place.

The big party starts off in earnest at 2pm every August 28th when several hundred dancers and their accompanying bands with their distinctive beat queue up outside the Municipal Hall to dance and parade their way to the grounds of San Agustin Church, where the ‘real’ party is held on the green. Now the people of Bohol can really see what they have missed out on by telling them to ‘take a breather!’

A funfair atmosphere is already in motion – and has been for days! – and the dancers entertain until well past sunset to compete for the ‘best of the best’ prize.

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