Of all the towns of Bohol, in the Philippine Archipelago, the municipality of Carmen is the most known and visited. With the internet, its fame for sure reached all the corners of the earth. Why? Because it is home to the world-famous Chocolate Hills!
The town is small, quite rural, yet all sorts of people visit it every day since the Chocolate Hills are hailed as one of the Wonders of the World! Looking at the map, it is situated smack at the middle of Bohol approximately 58.8 kilometers from Tagbilaran City, Bohol’s capital. It is strategically located in that two national roads that stretch from coast to coast intersect at Carmen.
Considered at 3rd class municipality, Carmen covers 29,804 hectares of land and is home to 43,153 people according to the 2007 census. Everywhere you will see rice fields, coconut and banana groves and other tropical plants aside from the towering chocolate hills.
The whole area is politically subdivided into 29 barangays, to wit: Alegria, Bicao, Buenavista, Buenos Aires, Calatrava, El Progreso, El Salvador, Guadalupe, Katipunan, La Libertad, La Paz, La Salvacion, La Victoria, Matin-ao, Montehermoso, Montesuerte, Montesunting, Montevideo, Nueva Fuerza, Nueva Vida Este, Nueva Vida Sur, Nueva Vida Norte Poblacion Norte, Poblacion Sur, Tambo-an, Vallehermoso, Villaflor, Villafuerte and Villarcayo.
Carmen is an important source of cassava, coconut, rice, banana, pineapples, and other vegetables. These major agricultural crops always find their way to other towns’ markets especially on “Tabo” or market days; the schedule of which differ in every town.
The Carmenanons, as they are called, has farming as their main livelihood yet others are engaged in trading and other businesses especially those located near the Poblacion. Others are employed in government institutions such as in the municipal offices, health centers, hospital and in the various businesses in the area.
Carmen is home to a vocational college, the Central Visayas State College of Agriculture, Forestry and Technology, whose main campus is situated in Bilar. It also has a private school, the St. Anthony’s Academy, offering a complete secondary course. There are day care centers offering nursery and kindergarten, elementary and high schools spread throughout the barangays of the town.
The local spoken language is Visayan or the Cebuano dialect although most Carmenanons speak English. English is a universal language and the people have been taught to read, speak and write in English since they were small. Most often than not and even to this day, fines are collected from those who fail to speak English in school. That’s how strictly this foreign language is instilled in each Boholano.
The Carmenanons are definitely very religious people who are mostly Roman Catholics. Religious activities revolve around the barangay chapels yet major religious activities are centered in the Carmen Parish Church. The Parish Church is advocated to San Antonio Abad whose feast day falls on January 17. With the people’s great love for their patron saint, his feast day is often celebrated with much fanfare other than those of a religious nature.