by Robert S. Gardner
Sometimes the best experiences in traveling are the unexpected finds. And so it is with Bohol, that island province that is nestled in the heart of Central Visayas and is aptly called "God's Little Paradise" by those who are caught off-guard by its mystery and charm.
Located southeast of Cebu and southwest of Leyte, Bohol is comprised of 47 towns and its capital, Tagbilaran City. Oval in shape like the proverbial ubing kinampay or purple yam, its total land area is 411,726 hectares including 73 other islands and islets.
Upon hearing about Bohol, most people would surmise it to be a typical uncolorful province with only the world-famous Chocolate Hills as its attraction. But the marvelous 1,001 nature-perfected conic hills aren't all there is. Blessed with Mother Nature's bounty, Bohol has numerous natural attractions that will captivate a person, hold him in breathless admiration and beckon him to keep coming back for more.
Bohol's beauty lies in its unpolluted waters and shorelines of white sand beaches. Lovers of scuba diving can explore the depths of Bohol's waters which are rated among the best diving havens in the world and famous not only for its richness in marine life and corals but also for its being the home of the world's rarest shells such as the Gloria Maris and the Golden Cowry.
Bohol is also the home of the tarsier, the big-eyed insect insect-eating primate whose size is smaller than one's fist. Scientists regard the tarsier as the oldest mammal now inhabiting the earth.
Other added attractions are waterfalls amidst verdant forests, caves with stalagmites and stalactites, natural parks, exotic wildlife, centuries old churches, and many historical landmarks. Delicacies too, which are truly Boholano like the sticky concoction in a coconut shell called calamay, mouth-watering peanut kisses, hojaldres, kinatloan and many more.
Bohol has a rich historical and cultural heritage. History tells us that the first international peace treaty, otherwise known as the "Blood Compact" between Sikatuna and Legazpi, was made on the island.
Boholanos are said to be valiant in character as accounted for by the Tamblot and Dagohoy rebellions. At the same time they are peaceful, self-reliant and deeply religious. But the peace-loving Boholanos are not docile, weak or submissive people when their rights are trampled or provoked.
Determined to go with the national trend towards progress, the province has now joined the bandwagon of urban and countryside development. Industries have sprouted along continuous improvement of infrastructure and other physical resources. Like her booming neighbor Cebu, Tagbilaran is already fast becoming highly commercialized with increased trading activities. And with the recent declaration of Panglao Island as the first tourism estate in the country, investors keep pouring in.
It's only a matter of time, given the necessary impetus for economic development, that progress for Bohol will finally be achieved. And this dream is not far behind considering the resiliency and industry of the Boholano people.
Come to Bohol and taste a different kind of experience as its surprises unfold to pleasure and thrill.