Panglao Tour

The nice thing about Bohol is that it’s so big and so diverse that there’s always something new waiting for you. I always think of it as the perfect summer getaway – it has the beach requirement down pat, dive sites and fish sanctuaries, adventure trails, natural wonders, old architecture, and museums.
So this being my third time in Bohol and hubby’s second, we decided to skip the usual countryside tour and island hopping (I would have gone on the 2nd but hubby wasn’t too interested), and booked us for the not so common Panglao Tour. I mean, it’s still touristy but this particular tour takes a backseat to the ones I mentioned earlier – no chocolate hills, no river cruise, tarsier, etc.
Our day started early at 8am and our first stop was Dauis Church. I’ve been wanting to visit this church even before my first trip since it’s the 3rd oldest church in Bohol (Baclayon is first and Loboc is second; why skip the third when it’s practically a few minutes away?).

The present church was built in 1863 by the Augustinian Recollects after the Jesuits (the original missionaries) were expelled from the country in the 18th century. It is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve seen in the country. The frescoes are still very vivid despite, according to the guide at the church, not having been retouched at all and the black and white tiles used on the floor is similar to the those of San Agustin (and most old churches in the country for that matter).

A unique draw of this church is the well in front of the altar – said to have healing waters, the church was actually built around this well and a small wooden perimeter marks the well’s location. The guide said this well is opened only once a day, to draw water which is then put into plastic bottles and given out for free. Yes, free. But of course, donations are most welcome.  

The backyard, almost as big as the church and surrounded by trees, offers a nearly unobstructed view of the sea across from it. Indeed, if not for the small houses/structures dotting the shoreline, the view would have been perfect. 

Oh, and I found this sign outside which is just too funny! I mean, I agree with what it says but no one would ever have dared put this up in Manila, where people are just too caught up with everything cosmopolitan that they forget their manners. See, that’s one thing I like about Bohol – they keep the traditions intact. Oh, and you can’t get away with sleeveless tops and short bottoms inside any church here. They have tops and skirts prepared for you to borrow should you dare (as I have learned all three times I’ve been to this province).

Our second stop was Hinagdanan Cave just a few minutes away. We were lucky we had the entire cave to ourselves and took as many pictures as we could. Or rather, Manong Razzi (as in paparazzi, he said) did as he seemed more knowledgeable about my camera’s manual settings than me (okay – insert sheepish grin right about here. I really should learn how to use that darn camera).

The cave is gorgeous. It has stalactites and stalagmites almost meeting halfway, and a wide greenish lagoon in the middle of the cavern. The water is said to be ten-feet deep and some tourists would swim there but it’s actually not advisable as the water is polluted. Besides, I don’t know about you but I have a fear of some loch-ness monster hiding out in the deep, waiting to pull me underwater.

We didn’t have to go down very far – just ten feet or so to see this beauty. Steps have been built into the cave opening and while these can be slippery, metal rails stand on both sides to help you.

Manong was also very good at pointing out the various rock formations – on one side is a look-alike of the Virgin Mary praying, with an angel kneeling to her side. Opposite it, across the lagoon is a set of Buddha-like stones. 

The original entrance to this cave, according to Manong Razzi, are two holes which have since been covered with metal screens. The owner of the land accidentally discovered the cave as he was removing overgrown plants and came across the hold. The cave got its name from the local word for ladder, “Hagdan”, since the owner used a ladder to get into the cave.

Cave drawings by local artists. I actually think they’re vandals since I don’t really see anything artistic with covering a beautiful cave with hideous drawings of a snake and what looked like Medusa, but to each his own.
Wearing my lucky yellow dress.

Next on our itinerary was the Nova Shell Museum, a place I’ve never even heard of, but is definitely worth the visit, especially for the nerds out there like me and hubby. It has an extensive display of molluscs, including the very small Rotauvula Hirohitoi, named after the Japanese emperor. So small you have to use a magnifying glass to see it.

There were too many shells so I just picked some of my favourites:

Look at the color, so vibrant!
One thing I learned from this particular visit? Cone-shaped shells are poisonous, like the ones above. Bet you didn’t know that, did you?
The shell museum also has a souvenir shop, with jewelry and other knick knacks. I seriously wanted to get the capiz lanterns but maybe some other time.

After that, we went for a short stroll along Alona beach. It’s not as wide as Dumaluan beach, which is ideal for those wanting a quiet vacation near the water and my personal preference, but this is where the parties are at night and a lot of canteens and shops line the shore.
 Our Panglao tour was only for five hours but three and a half hours into it and we were famished so our driver took us to the Bohol Bee Farm, where we had a very yummy lunch overlooking the sea.

The place reminded me of Sonya’s Garden, with its own green house and stuff, and all organic menu. It’s not as fragrant though but I think the sea more than makes up for it. I think I’m gonna want to stay at this place the next time I’m here.
The pool inside the Bohol Bee Farm (yes, they have rooms for you to stay in, even hexagon ones like beehives!).

This is the life!
 Our lunch was so good I don’t even know which of the dishes I liked the most. The salad was divine – all fresh leaves and very good dressing. It is definitely right up there with Sonya’s Garden’s salad. Too bad that Bohol is not exactly an hour-drive away from home. 
I have to say though that the chicken dumpling soup was a surprise hit. I mean, it tasted like tinola – it had ginger, chicken, and chilli, but it also had veggies, and coconut milk added for good measure and it was just perfect. I didn’t even mind that it was piping hot and we were seated outside with the sun shining down us. It was that good.

And they made ingenious use of lemongrass. I ordered lemongrass juice and I was quite amazed that the straw itself was a piece of grass. If you drink the juice straight from the glass, it doesn’t taste quite so sweet but if you sip using the “straw”, the juice tastes perfectly sweet.
Organic salad, dried cassava and bread with pesto and cheese pimiento spread, chicken dumpling soup, lemongrass juice, and seafood pasta.
Yes, they have a store! We didn’t buy much though, just a pack of lemongrass tea.
Hmm, it’s been ages since my last OOTD post: my lucky dress from Miss Selfridge (I swear, every time I wear this, I get approached/complimented by someone that it’s a very nice dress, or something really good happens. I even wore this in the States and got asked randomly at the mall and won cash vouchers and shirts from The Voice. Lucky, right?), necklace from Anthropology, bangle from Ever New, sunglasses from Michael Kors, bag from Prada.

Our tour was arranged by our hotel but prices should be the same as those offered by travel agents. Set us back around Php 2,000, exclusive of lunch.

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