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Bohol, a province in the Philippines, is known for its stunning natural landscapes and vibrant culture. From the iconic Chocolate Hills to the breathtaking beaches and waterfalls, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this paradise destination. One of the lesser-known gems of Bohol is the Bilar Man-Made Forest, a magnificent stretch of trees that has become a popular tourist attraction in recent years. In this article, we'll take a closer look at what makes the Bilar Man-Made Forest so special and provide a comprehensive guide to help you make the most of your visit.
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The Bilar Man-Made Forest is a 2-kilometer stretch of densely planted mahogany trees located along the highway between Loboc and Bilar towns in Bohol. This lush green forest is a stunning example of man's ability to restore and preserve the natural environment. The trees were planted in the late 20th century as part of a reforestation project by the local government to counteract deforestation in the area. Today, the Bilar Man-Made Forest serves as a popular destination for tourists who want to witness the beauty of nature in all its splendor.
The terrain from both side of the road goes up; to I don’t know how high. What you see are only the Mahogany trees that look like thousands of sentinels guarding the road, standing erect. No other vegetation is growing among the Mahogany trees. One only sees the brown trunks stretching forth from the earth and the green canopy above. And that’s what makes them look so attractive!
The roots of the trees are beautiful to look at as they protrude from the ground and crawl over boulders and contour of the land, even reaching the sides of the road. Looking at them gives you the creeps. Like tentacles of a giant octopus, the roots seem to reach out and grasp the unwary passersby, as what happened in the “Lord of the Rings” movie.
When you enter the forest, one will feel the abrupt change in temperature, especially during summer or hot season. It is hot outside the forested area, but once under the overhanging trees, one is refreshed by the cool breeze. This mountain area seldom sees the sun shine and most often than not, it rains here. Local folks attribute these to the presence of the dense forest.
The Loboc-Bilar man-made forest plays host to many visitors, locals and foreigners alike who take time to view it from the road and take pictures. The Metro Manila filmmakers often use the forest as a backdrop for some of their action films. Other groups go hiking thru the woods and up the mountain. Mountain bikers often use the wide asphalt road that traverse the forest aside from the day-to-day buses and public transport that ply between the towns.
How to Get There
The Bilar Man-Made Forest is located in the central part of Bohol, approximately 20 kilometers away from Tagbilaran City, the provincial capital. If you're coming from Tagbilaran, you can take a bus or van to Bilar town, which will take around an hour. You can also rent a motorcycle or car and drive to the forest yourself. Once you arrive in Bilar, look for the sign pointing towards the forest and turn left. The entrance to the forest is free of charge, and there is ample parking available for visitors.
This rainforest is about 20 kilometers from Tagbilaran City. Plying the interior road from the capital, one passes the town of Loboc and what the Boholanos call the “tina-i sa manok” (chicken’s intestines) which refers to the winding road up the mountain of Loboc going towards Bilar.
Leaving the populated barrios behind, the road up the mountain is steep and on one side, a deep ravine which are all densely forested. The steep and winding road plus the ravine does not hinder the local drivers. They maneuver the road with the agility and speed of experts; a feat acquired thru constant practice.
After the forest, one passes two towns, the town of Bilar and Batuan, and arrives at Carmen town where the famous chocolate hills are sighted. Carmen is where you find hundreds of chocolate hills which are uniform in shape and size. A complex has been put up by the local government on top of the two highest hills in the area.
The chocolate hills are the main Bohol tourist attraction. But before you get there, one passes the famous Baclayon church (the oldest church of Bohol), the Loboc church (the 2nd oldest church), the Loboc river, and then the man-made rainforest. One cannot help but be awed by such grandeurs!
What to Expect
As you make your way through the Bilar Man-Made Forest, you'll be greeted by towering mahogany trees that form a canopy overhead, filtering the sunlight and creating a peaceful, shaded environment. The trees are so tall that they almost touch each other, forming a natural tunnel that stretches on for kilometers. The lush foliage and the fresh air provide a respite from the heat and the noise of the city, making it an ideal spot for a relaxing stroll or a picnic with friends and family.
Things to Do
There are several activities that you can do at the Bilar Man-Made Forest, depending on your interests. If you're a nature lover, you can take a guided tour to learn more about the different species of plants and animals that inhabit the forest. The forest is home to a variety of bird species, including the endemic Philippine hanging parrot, so make sure to keep an eye out for them. You can also take a hike along the forest trail and explore the different areas, or go for a bike ride if you prefer a faster pace.
If you're into photography, the Bilar Man-Made Forest offers plenty of opportunities to capture stunning shots. The interplay of light and shadow, the natural patterns formed by the trees, and the lush greenery all make for a perfect backdrop for your photos. Make sure to bring your camera or phone and snap away!
Tips for Visitors
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your visit to the Bilar Man-Made Forest:
The Bilar Man-Made Forest is a testament to the power of reforestation and the beauty of nature. Its lush greenery, towering trees, and peaceful atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Bohol. Whether you're a nature lover, a photographer, or simply someone looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, the Bilar Man-Made Forest is sure to captivate and enchant you. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab your camera, and head on over to Bohol's very own enchanted forest!