Tag Archives: Bohol

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science nurtures nature in UBAY

When I was young, breakfast during summer vacation at my mother’s side of the family in Nueva Ecija would not be complete without gatas ng kalabaw (fresh carabao’s milk). First heated on a stove, we would have it poured over a bowl of warm rice and eaten with a dash of salt.

I only got to see the entire process of milking a carabao quite recently.

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The Philippine Carabao Center – Ubay Stock Farm (PCC-USF) located at Lomangog, Ubay, Bohol breeds carabaos (water buffaloes), not primarily for meat consumption but for milk production. They advocate a shift in the common perspective. Instead of breeding for the slaughterhouse, they expound that carabaos are more valuable alive in the farms as work companions and as a source of milk. This is a considerable feat as a majority of Visayans are not milk drinkers.

According to Dr. Gundolino Bajenting, a veterinarian who has worked with PCC-USF for a number of years now as Supervising Agriculturist, the Department of Agriculture chose Ubay as a location for PCC-USF because it had 4,500 hectares (11,120 acres) of land there, the largest and oldest government livestock facility in the Philippines established in 1921. It is also one of the accredited livestock technology training facilities for Visayas and Mindanao.

34 At the facility, carabaos are artificially inseminated as it takes quite some time if they wait for the livestock to mate. Artificial Insemination (AI) allows the agency to cross-breed in order to produce the best stock that would give high-yield and high quality milk.

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Young calves are weaned from breast feeding to drinking milk on their own a couple of weeks after birth. The calves are fed milk by hand. The fingers are used to simulate the teats as the calves suck milk from pails and buckets. In a few days, they are able to feed on their own. This is quite safe as only the lower jaw of carabaos have teeth. The sucking of the finger produces a ticklish sensation at most.

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This allows the milk to be harvested manually or by a machine. Average yield per carabao is 4.5 liters of milk per day. This can meet household requirements and also provide extra volume for sale in dairy enterprises. A carabao’s pregnancy is usually 9 months long. During the first 7 months, with proper nutrition and monitoring, carabaos may already be milked. In the last 2 months of their pregnancy, they are not milked in preparation for birthing. A native carabao may then be milked daily for 240 days after giving birth.

8 Information Officer Leinefe B. Libres of the PCC – USF says that at the Bohol Dairy Outlet Store

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(https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009385008574), carabao’s milk may be bought raw, pasteurized, or in flavored varieties of chocolate, mango or ube. It is  made into milk pastillas, yoghurt, ice cream, and other delectable pastries and breads.

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Carabao’s milk is curdled to make white cheese (kesong puti).

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Meet CB (Cross Breed), official mascot of Bohol Dairy.

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In preparation for a bid to become known as the Science City of Bohol, Ubay has lined up other viable projects and government agencies to showcase the best of its municipality. These include

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photo credit: Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap

  • Ubay Green Park and Techno Center. Formerly an open dumpsite, it was converted into an ecological facility that promotes recycling, organic gardening and beautification. The park was launched in 2013 and managed by Riche Cutamora Ibale, Eco Solid Waste Management (ESWM) manager.
  • Bohol Experimental Station. The Integrated Agricultural Research Center of the Department of Agriculture in Central Visayas, it is the national lead agency for the planning, coordination, implementation, and monitoring of all rice research and development activities in the Philippines.
  • Capayas/Kapayas or Banana Dam. One of the largest dams in the province and located alongside the main Ubay-Alicia-Guindulman Highway. Completed in December 1991, it irrigates 750 hectares (1,900 acres) and serves 688 farm households. In 2011, the Department of Agriculture seeded the dam with 30,000 Tilapia fingerlings as part of their sustainable food security program.
  • Sinandigan Multi-Species Hatchery. A fishery infrastructure and mariculture park established to enable the fish farmers to become totally independent from wild stocks and to promote a more stable food security for the province. The facility is producing fingerlings of various fisheries products such as, but not limited to, milkfish (bangus), groupers (lapu-lapu), and siganids (kitong, danggit). It also houses a seaweed tissue culture laboratory which aims to rehabilitate quality seagrass planting materials using tissue branch culture, spore shredding and callus cell culture. It is supervised by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and inaugurated in April 2011.

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  • Cambugsay Healing Hills. Located in Brgy. San Pascaul, you come into a large body of water which forms the Malingin Dam. The place is an open invitation to paddling (bugsay) and kayaking. The surrounding hills have a calming effect on the senses. There is a coffee plantation in the vicinity that produces “robusta” beans.

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On most evenings, the downtown parking area is converted into an al fresco barbecue food park called Sky’s the Limit complete with acoustic performances by some of the town’s local musicians.

In olden times, the term ‘ubay-ubay’ or ‘alongside’ became the byword of inhabitants and traders who used to travel along the shorelines of Ubay to avoid the strong current of the famous Cunigao Channel.

In the hinterlands, native folks followed a single trail to the town center to trade. This trail was located alongside (ubay) the sandy beach. The term ubay became the name of the municipality.

19 Sincere gratitude to the Bohol Tourism Office, Ubay Municipal Mayor Constantino Reyes, Municipal Tourism Officer Ma. Antonietta Acedo, Municipal Information Officer Larry Evangelista, and the accommodating staff of the Philippine Carabao Center – Ubay Stock Farm who facilitated our media coverage of Ubay.

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DANAO, playground of Olympians

banner photo credit: Reil Cenabre

You savor the cool soft breeze slowly caressing your cheek. The world is still dark and everyone is fast asleep. Your mind ticks off the million and one things you need to do but you swiftly brush them aside as you silently wait for the light on the horizon.

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Breaking dawn. Below you a sea of clouds over hills and abodes, slowly dissipating as the warm rays of the rising sun shines through.

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This must be how the gods of Olympus watched the sun god Apollo race across the horizon to herald the dawn of each new day. And so it goes most mornings in the Municipality of Danao, Bohol.

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Located 72 kms. northeast of Tagbilaran City, the town which used to be a barangay of Talibon was inaugurated on July 9, 1961 as a separate municipality.

The Diccionario Español-Bisaya (1866) defines danao as freshet, large reservoir, arable land, and field. A freshet is either a sudden rise or overflow of a stream or river, or freshwater stream emptying into the sea. In reality, the Isumod River flowing near the town center of Danao may suddenly overflow and inundate a large portion of the town. The river joins the Wahig River and empties into the sea. This could be one scientific explanation for the phenomenon of the sea of clouds. Contrary to the normal occurrence of a sea of clouds needing high altitudes such as that of Mt. Pulag in Luzon, Danao’s sea of clouds may be viewed from a viewing deck on top of Laguna Hill in Barangay Concepcion, just approximately 20 minutes away from the town center.

Danao has the Danao Adventure Park (DAP), an ecotourism concept that is LGU initiated and now run with the support and for the benefit of several People’s Organizations. First opened to the public sometime in 2006, it abides by the acronym E.A.T. – Eco-cultural, Educational, Extreme Adventure Tour.

8 The town’s Municipal Mayor Natividad Gonzaga was on hand to join the media group of bloggers for breakfast right after we enjoyed watching Danao’s sea of clouds.

She recalled that it was her son Luis Thomas Gonzaga who pushed for the creation of DAP. As an extreme sports enthusiast, he had a vision of turning Danao’s hills, caves, rivers and mountains into a theme park. Armed with the desire to make tourism a viable livelihood for the people of Danao, he applied for a loan from a bank to raise the needed capital to build the facilities. He was able to realize his dream because he was the municipal mayor for three terms.

So as not to abandon ongoing programs which were already bearing good results for Danao’s tourism sector, Mrs. Gonzaga, his mother agreed to run for mayor to replace Luis and she won. She made organic farming and raising native chickens one of her priority programs during her term. DAP served organically grown vegetables and native chicken in their menu.

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photo credit: Marco Sumargo of @whatsupmarky

She was all set to step down and hand back the mayoralty to her son in 2016 when fate intervened. Luis died a few days before election and only a person with the same family name could take his place according to COMELEC ruling.

To honor her son, Mrs. Gonzaga again ran for mayor and won. This then is her family’s legacy to the people of Danao.

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photo credit: Reil Cenabre/EAT Danao Tourism

Sky ride (cable car). The “safest” among the high altitude activities, it takes 10 to 15 minutes for the cable car to cross the gorge and back.

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photo credit: Reil Cenabre/EAT Danao Tourism

Sui-slide (zipline). The Philippines’ longest and tallest zip line, it traverses around half a kilometer from one mountain to another, taking you to a one-minute exhilirating ride. Sui-slide because it is the closest you can get to a suicide experience.

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photo credit: Reil Cenabre/EAT Danao Tourism

Plunge. Get ready to be suspended by the waist from 200 meters above the canyon floor for a free-for-all swing like Spiderman. If you survive this, you can pretty much go through the other challenges.

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15photo credit: Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap

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Balijo Cave. Highly recommended for the physically fit who have no fear of enclosed spaces, get ready to climb, crawl and rappel your way through mud, guano (bat poop) and water for approximately four hours. Only for medium and small body types as some of the wormholes you have to crawl through are challenging.

17c181921 Root Climb with 15 meter rappel. Be Jack-and-the-beanstalk and climb up the side of a huge boulder using intertwining roots of a Balete Tree as footholds to hoist yourself up. Once you reach the top, rappel down the other side to get back to the trail.

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photo credit: EAT Danao Tourism

River Kayaking. Located upstream from the Root Climb site, get ready for a leisurely cruise down the river and then back up again to the starting point. Current is placid.

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As the Municipality of Danao celebrates its Foundation Day on July 9, it honors Francisco Dagohoy who staged the longest revolution against the Spaniards lasting 85 years, with Brgy. Magtangtang, the site of the DAP as his revolutionary headquarters. He started the revolt at the age of 20 and was believed to have died in 1800 when he was 76 years old.

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Little is known of Francisco Dagohoy’s lifestyle before the rebellion, or even his early life. The only information known is that his real name was Francisco Sendrijas and he was born in 1724, and that he was a native of Brgy. Cambitoon, Inabanga, Bohol. He was also cabeza de barangay, or one of the barangay captains of the town.

His name derives from an amulet (“dagon” in Cebuano) he wore, which people believed gave him the charm of a gentle wind or “hoyohoy” (or huyuhoy) and the power to jump from hill to hill or across rivers. He was believed to have clear vision inside dark caves and be invisible whenever and wherever he wanted. The name Dagohoy is a concatenation of the Visayan phrase dagon sa huyuhoy or “talisman of the breeze” in English.

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The Dagohoy Marker located in Barangay Magtangtang was installed by the Philippine Historical Commission to honor the heroic deeds of Dagohoy. Hundreds of Dagohoy’s followers preferred death inside the cave rather than surrender to the Spaniards. Their skeletons still remain onsite.

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Sincere gratitude to the Bohol Tourism Office, Danao Municipal Mayor Natividad Gonzaga, Municipal Tourism Officer Mitzi Pena Galvez , Mrs. Hermosila Logrono and the accommodating staff of Danao Adventure Park who facilitated our media coverage of Danao.

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ALICIA unfolds highland adventure

Unless one is health conscious, the best form of exercise an urbanite gets is when he goes walking in malls or rides up and down the escalators and elevators in offices and buildings in the metropolis. Two to four hours sitting in rush hour traffic along EDSA every day does not help anyone’s health either.

It is therefore not a surprise that the average urbanite’s counterpart who lives in the province and is used to walking and hiking rugged terrains far outlives him by a number of years.

The Municipality of Alicia in Bohol is described as an interior town whose topography is mostly elevated. Located 103 kilometers from the capital of Tagbilaran City, it has an abundance of rolling hills and mountains.

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The Alicia Panoramic Park, better known as Binabaje Hills among the locals, located in Brgy. Cambaol recently hosted the 2nd Mountain Bike Fest in February 11-12, 2017.

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According to Ms. Godelia Lumugdang, Alicia’s Municipal Tourism and Information Officer, the uphill and downhill trails of Binabaje Hills in Alicia pose a rather masculine test of fire for the mountain bikers such that they (organizers) have put up a liability waiver and race agreement that indicate the participants’ full understanding that the race is hazardous and that being physically and mentally fit as well as being adequately trained are required before a registrant can join the race.

The mountain bike race had several categories: beginners, open, elite category and for age group 45 and above.

After going through the challenging trails, successful bikers were able to enjoy the panoramic hilltop view of Alicia and the surrounding towns.

Mahayag Hill, an undeveloped eco-tourism site in Alicia, has the potential for outdoor adventure activities.

4 From the barangay hall, you can hike up a rugged mountain trail for an hour until you reach the threshold of Batong Puti Cliff which offers a view of the 150-foot sheer drop. Rock climbing on the cliff wall is still being explored as tests have yet to be conducted if the wall is sturdy enough to hold the weight of rock climbers.

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An area on the hilltop has been designated for camping. There are plans to purchase several All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) as there is an access road from the town center to the campsite.

7aBoho or Inahagan Cave & Spring in Brgy. La Hacienda, 15 minutes away from the town center, is already a popular destination for locals especially during the hot summer months. Inahagan Cave is a wet cave and the source of the spring that flows into the pool.

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According to Ms. Lumugdang, a team of four that included a cave expert and herself had once tried to go into the cave to trace the source of the spring. They donned wet suits as some of the inner chambers were partially submerged and spent a couple of hours inside until they reached a dead end where you have to fully submerge in the water to look for an opening. As they were not equipped for that, they came back out.

9e10 Climbing up the slopes to the right of Inahagan Cave around 10 minutes away is a large dry cave chamber. It is home to a number of bats.

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As the entry point requires a bit of hiking where you have to pass through vegetation and foliage, the cave is relatively unspoiled and in pristine condition.

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To the left of Inahagan Cave after a shorter amount of hiking is the Twin Window Cave. You have to do a bit of wall climbing though as the cave entrance is on the wall of a hillside. Huge roots of a tree serve as footholds. Once inside the cave, the chambers become smaller as you crawl your way towards another opening that shows a view of the vegetation below.

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Sincere gratitude to the Bohol Tourism Office, Alicia Municipal Mayor Marnilou S. Ayuban, Municipal Tourism Officer Godelia Lumugdang, and the barangay captains who facilitated our media coverage of Alicia.

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1Cadapdapan rice terraces Candijay

discover CANDIJAY, from ridges to reef

Before he was mayor of the municipality of Candijay in Bohol, Christopher B. Tutor was first an engineer and a family man who dreamt of building his own beach resort. That dream came to fruition in January 2012 when East Coast White Sand Resort (www.eastcoastwhitesand.com) opened its doors to the public in Anda, an adjacent town which is about 30 minutes away from Candijay.

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The resort has modern family cottages, a restaurant, three swimming pools, a freshwater cave pool, and its own private beach that boasts of pristine white sand. For a minimum of 25 guests, it is also possible to book the entire resort for your private function.

Now that he is a municipal mayor on his second term, Mayor Tutor has made an arrangement with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Anda to promote Anda’s accommodation establishments in Candijay. In exchange, the LGU of Anda has agreed to promote Candijay’s day tour packages in Anda, an arrangement that benefits the tourism sector of both municipalities.

For tourists and guests who prefer to spend the night in Candijay, they can check in at BISU (Bohol Island State University) Hometel, Cogtong, Candijay, Tel. No. 526-0118 (http://www.bisu.edu.ph/bisu-telephone-directory/), a campus-based accommodation where tourism or HRM  students earn their training hours on the job.

The Municipality of Candijay is approximately 2 hours away from Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol. It boasts of sustainable agriculture and prime eco-cultural tourism destinations as sources of livelihood for the local community.

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Luzon holds no monopoly on rice terraces. Start your tour at the Cadapdapan Rice Terraces located in the uplands approximately 30 minutes away from the poblacion or town center. Cadapdapan has several farm owners who have converted the mountainsides and hillsides into rice farms, bursting with verdant green color during planting season and turning into gold every fourth month or so during the harvest season.

One of the most photographed locations is the farm belonging to the Eleuterios who registered their property as Eleuterio’s Can-umantad Falls & Rice Terraces Resort Inc. in 2015. For a minimal entrance fee, you get to saunter around the fields for some souvenir shots.

According to the owner, they are able to harvest an average of 300 sacks of rice every cycle. It is common to see locals hard at work during harvest.

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Since no modern farm machinery can plow the sloping terrain, it is also common to see farm animals such as carabaos (water buffaloes) wallowing in the mud after a hard day’s work, with a few endemic birds as audience.

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Can-umantad Falls is the highest waterfalls in Bohol at 60 feet (hence its name can-uman or 60). If you are up to hiking, you can follow a trail from the rice terraces down to the falls, or you may opt to ride a car or motorcycle through an access road down to the site.

The clean, cool waters are ideal for bathing during the hot summer months. You can go directly to where the water falls and let the pressure of the water cascading down massage your back.

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Do not miss the Canawa Cold Spring which is also 30 minutes away from the town center. The spring got its name from the shape of its core (cawa or vat-shaped), and no one has ever fathomed its depths. During summer months, it is a clear blue-green color which turns muddy brown during the rainy season because of siltation. Ropes have been strung across the spring to enable non-swimmers to enjoy bathing in it. Run-offs from the spring are channeled into a pool which is also used to irrigate the farms downhill.

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photo credit: mustachioventures.blogspot.com

From the mountains, you can go to the coastal barangays for some fresh seafood.

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The Municipal Tourism Port in Pangpang Panas, Candijay can take orders in advance so that the seafood is ready when guests arrive. Take your pick from the fresh catch of the day, from fish to shrimps, crabs or clams and shells.

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At the Cogtong Bay, you will be able to see some fish pens (mostly milk fish or bangus) and seaweed farms which are part of the community’s livelihood.

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Marine seaweeds are a good source of colloidal materials which are used as gelling agents, emulsifiers, and stabilizers in pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food products.

7Seaweed Farm Candijay

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The seaweeds are dark in color when freshly harvested and turn to light brown when sun-dried. They have buyers from Cebu who buy in batches.

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Further out in Cogtong Bay is the Kawasihan Sandbar which is surrounded by a marine reserve on its fringes. Snorkeling is highly recommended to enjoy the underwater view. Boats may be rented from the fishermen for a 15-minute ride to the site.

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Several cottages are currently being constructed onsite for the ease and convenience of picnickers. Sunset at the bay is a sight to behold.

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Cap off your day with dinner at the Candijay del Rio Floating Restaurant (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Candijay-Del-Rio-Floating-Restaurant/306207569730120) in Lungsodaan, Candijay. The ambiance is built around organic lightweight materials. They serve an assortment of grilled food, sizzlers, and a la carte entrees in their menu, as well as group meals.

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The location of the floating restaurant is also the jump-off point for Candijay’s Firefly Watching tour which is the latest addition to their tour packages. First organized in August 2016, the tour traverses the nooks and crannies of the Lungsodaan River for about an hour for a spectacular view of fireflies lighting up various trees along the waterway.  The river is part of the Carood Watershed. It is where waters from the basin of six municipalities congregate to finally exit at the Cogtong Bay where a mangrove forest protects the coast.

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photo credit: Marco Sumargo of @whatsupmarky

Do not wonder if you happen to pass by the newly built Candijay public market at dusk. They have a huge LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen which takes the place of billboards for important community announcements and tourism promotional videos highlighting Candijay’s tourism assets.

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Sincere gratitude to the Bohol Tourism Office, Candijay Municipal Mayor Christopher Tutor, Municipal Tourism Officer TJ Tutor Janiola, the barangay captains and Bantay Dagat staff who facilitated our media coverage of Candijay.

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Jagna’s delicious calamay levels up

For the past two years during the month of April, residents of Jagna take time off from their daily routine to pay homage to the calamaderas who have, since the mid-1800s, been making the famous delicacy calamay from glutinous rice, finely ground and mixed with coconut milk and brown sugar.

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The sticky dessert is a labor of love stirred by hand using large wooden spoons in giant woks over a low fire for about three to four hours until the mixture becomes sticky in consistency. It is then placed inside coconut shells, cooled off and sealed with a red ribbon in honor of Rev. Fr. Mariano Gutierrez de los Dolores, Parish priest of Jagna from 1825 until his death in 1855, who gifted the Jagnaanons with this cottage industry.

67 Although several families have been credited with continuing the legacy of making calamay in Jagna, Ching’s Calamay located in Can-upao is currently at the forefront of producing calamay the traditional way: by hand. Ching’s Calamay has so far created a new variant. Ube flavored and mixed with peanuts, it is distinguished by the purple ribbon around the coconut shell casing instead of the red.

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Under the progressive leadership of the incumbent Municipal Mayor Atty. Fortunato “Bic-bic” R. Abrenilla who is now on his last term, the Jagna Calamay Producers Cooperative, also located in Can-upao, was established with the support of several government agencies to upgrade calamay production in Jagna. Their facility makes use of mechanical mixers cutting production time in half, producing an even consistency in the flavor of calamay.

4Gian Carl Jubela

photo credit: Gian Carlo Jubela

For the 3rd Calamay Festival, the Festival Committee set up an area in the festival grounds where traditional Calamay production may be observed by tourists and visitors.

9 Booths showcasing Jagna’s other home-based food processing ventures include golden cookies, tableja from cacao, ubi powder, ginger  tea, corn coffee, banana chips, noodles, peanut-based delicacies, nata de coco and virgin coconut oil.

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On April 28, a motorcade of motorelas (autorickshaws) and three floats were held simultaneous with the food fair at the town plaza culminating in the awarding of prizes for best eco-friendly design.

10a A beauty pageant on the night of April 29 facilitated by Hon. Maricris V. Jamora, Vice Chairperson of the Jagna Municipal Tourism Development Council, yielded this year’s Miss Jagna Festival, Reyna Jane Amparado. She will represent Jagna in this year’s Miss Bohol pageant.

11 During a tete-a-tete with Mayor Abrenilla at the Municipal Hall during the festival, he disclosed that although Jagna’s major livelihood comes from agriculture, fishing, commerce and trade, he was pushing for tourism to take a larger segment of the market. He is proud that Jagna has ten unspoiled dive sites which could be an alternative to those found in Panglao.

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Drift Divers (https://www.facebook.com/DriftDivers/),  the only dive shop in town located at Paseo del Mar Resort (www.paseodelmarbohol.com), has been offering dive tours and dive lessons to tourists and divers in Jagna these past three years.

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photo credit: Marco Sumargo @whatsupmarky 

15Edgar Allan Zeta Yap

photo credit: Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap

One of Jagna’s dive sites, the Cantagay Fish Sanctuary, has rare black corals at 30 meters (100 feet) deep. Poached as semi-precious gems, black corals are endangered tree-like corals with dark skeletons that thrive in deep waters.

16aA pioneer resort in Jagna, Delailah Rock Resort was renamed Jagna Rock Resort (https://www.facebook.com/Jagna-Rock-Resort-306216906405007/) by its new owners, Marjun & Melanie Precones. Marjun, a native of Jagna, is related to the original owner of the resort who sold it to relocate to the town proper for convenience. Melanie, who is German on her father’s side, met Marjun in one of her college classes in Tagbilaran City. They are recently married and are expecting their first baby.

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The resort is located on a promontory along the national highway and has a native-themed restaurant and some cottages for picknickers. A couple of rooms in the main house are made available to backpackers and divers.

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Instead of a beachfront, the bottom of the hill bordering the resort property has huge rocks and boulders which are naturally landscaped. Stone steps lead right into the sea which is six feet at its shallowest entry point. A small infinity pool around one corner is filled with saltwater during high tide.

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photo credit: Jagna Rock Resort

The resort has a couple of kayaks and plans are underway to offer dive tours and dive lessons in cooperation with Drift Divers.

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Jagna also has some important Heritage Houses such as the Villacastin Ancestral House. Villacastin was a former mayor of the municipality in 1968, then again in 1981 and 1988.

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St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church, one of the oldest churches in Bohol, was built in 1800 until 1821 by Rev. Fr. Blas Munos de la Merced, a pious Augustinian recollect missionary. It remains the center of all religious activities in Jagna until the present.

Food establishments in Jagna which accommodated the media guests during the 3rd Calamay Festival include:

11230655_1737611763132870_6675157845103555381_n El Mar Bar and Restaurant (https://www.facebook.com/El-Mar-Bar-and-Restaurant-1624205607806820/),

12088331_1105758232768504_8598013969709357213_n Green Hut (https://www.facebook.com/greenhutpensionandrestobar/), and

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Alejawan Grill ‘n Chill (https://www.facebook.com/Alejawan-Grill-n-Chill-1284409098319030/).

22 Sincere gratitude to the Bohol Tourism Office, Jagna Municipal Mayor Atty. Fortunato Abrenilla, Kag. Maricris Jamora, Dean Onesimo Oclarit and staff who facilitated the media coverage of the 3rd Jagna Calamay Festival, the calamaderas and the Jagnaanons for sharing their legacy. Jagna calamay kalami!

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The allure of Alona Beach

It was originally called Tawala Seaside because it was located in Barangay Tawala. Then in the early 1980’s a Filipino actress named Alona Allegre, the younger sister of actor Philip Salvador, shot a movie on the beach in which she starred as a mermaid who falls in love with a mortal. During the filming, local guys would flock to the beach to ogle the scantily-clad beauty.

“Let’s go and see Alona!” was the cry around Tawala, and the name stuck.

Alona Beach is a beautiful 1.5 kilometer stretch of white sand bordered on both ends by limestone rock walls. A leisurely 20-30 minute walk from end to end will bring you across several resorts, dining establishments, souvenir shops and hawkers offering henna tattoos and massages on the beach. When the sun sets, some of these establishments offer acoustic music from local bands, and fire dancing on special occasions.

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Back in the 80s, a prominent landmark on Alona Beach’s north-eastern end was the thatched nipa roof of Alona Tropical Beach Resort’s Baybayon Restaurant. Tourists would hang out here for a sampling of Bohol cuisine and Filipino food.

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Established in 1988 by Mr. & Mrs. Montero, the thatched roof and native cottages have been given a facelift. Native inspired accommodations in a tropical setting, plus a free form swimming pool and a two-storey unit which serves as a showcase for some of Bohol’s antique collectibles give a bit of island history. Mrs. Leonila Montero is the incumbent Mayor of Panglao.

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Alona Beach belongs to one of two municipalities that share the island of Panglao in Bohol.

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Panglao was known to traders from China and other Asian countries even way before the Spaniards set foot on its shores. Archaeological sites have yielded Tang, Sung and Ming dynasty porcelain and trade ware. It is recorded in the history of the island that the Spaniards came to Panglao in search of fresh water in the year 1803. The Spaniards showed signs of friendship so they were welcomed by the natives. Few natives making their fishing device called “panggaw” were at the shore. A Spaniard pointing down asked what the name of the place was. The natives, who believed that the visitor was asking what they were making, answered “Panggaw.” Through the years, the name evolved from “panggaw” to Panglaw and finally to Panglao.

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For a bit of Bohol’s history and a taste of the finest white sand in the area, book at Alona Tropical Beach Resort. You just might get the chance to personally meet the town’s mayor for a guided tour of the beloved estate she calls home.

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For more information, please check out

http://www.alonatropicalbeachresort.com

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A River Runs Through It

Sometimes the most scenic route isn’t always by land. Sometimes it takes a river cruise to appreciate the nuances of life.

If you have been to Bohol’s most famous landmarks (Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Sanctuary, Loboc River Cruise, Baclayon Church and the famous beaches of Panglao), and was wondering if you have seen it all, then it’s time for you to hop on a boat and take a leisurely trip on the Abatan River which connects several municipalities of Bohol for that eco-cultural tour that may be just what you need to open your eyes to endless possibilities.

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First stop should be the town of Antequera, known as the capital of Bohol’s basket industry.

A family in Brgy. Bicahan started making bukag, the forerunner of today’s market baskets made from bamboo and rattan, which were primarily used by farmers to transport rice seedlings from the seedbeds to the rice paddies in 1911.

Fast forward to the 60s when basket weaving had become a full-blown cottage industry, and almost all barangays would showcase their wares during Sunday market. Excepting a few who lived on agriculture, most families were able to send their children to college through earnings gleaned from the sale of baskets.

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Today, the town of Antequera takes pride in being the major supplier of hand woven products to most of the major resorts and souvenir shops in Panglao and the rest of the province. The demand for these are such that the town’s Municipal Tourism Information Center assists in the marketing by putting up a Display Center where orders based on samples of all woven products may be fielded out to the weavers and delivery arranged inconspicuously.

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Aside from baskets, Antequera churns out bracelets and necklaces, food containers, mats, bags, accessories and other woven products approximating 500 designs. If it’s made by hand using organic materials, the basket weavers of Antequera can do it. No design is too eccentric.

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According to Mayor Jose Mario Pahang, they celebrate the livelihood that the basket industry has given to their townsfolk through the Basket Festival. Now on it’s third year and celebrated every second week of March, street dancing and rituals incorporating their town’s signature moves, as well as a showcase of all woven and agri-products may be enjoyed by visitors.

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The Hon. Mayor is proud to say that Antequera participates in trade fairs organized by the Department of Trade and Industry in Metro Manila to help push their town’s products to the export market. They already have existing accounts from foreign buyers who pass through the Mactan International Airport in Cebu.

Next stop on the Abatan River cruise could be the town of Balilihan, so named after the grass that carabaos love to munch on.

With several waterfalls in various levels of accessibility, this town could very well be Bohol’s water world.

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Kawasan Falls and river is easily accessible through a thirty minute motorbike ride from the town center. From a native hut which serves as its jump off point in Brgy. Candasig, it has a hiking trail which passes through a junction on the Abatan River that leads up to the falls surrounded by lush foliage. From around 20 meters height, the falls forms into a cool natural pool with emerald hues.

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Camugao Falls and river in Brgy, San Isidro offers more challenges as it is located further from the town center and the road is rough. Those who are content just to see the falls will be able to view it topside at 30 meters from a viewing area just a few meters from the access road and some rice fields. Those who want to swim in the pool at the bottom of the falls have to trek down a slippery, mossy and rocky trail which is highly recommended only for the agile and young at heart. There are no existing facilities here, just a few picnic sites made of nipa and bamboo huts, and the splendid creation offered by Mother Nature.

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According to the town’s Hon. Mayor Maria Puresa Chatto, Balilihan has just had a welcome addition to its roster of accommodations.

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MJS Camp is set to launch this summer offering backpackers and campers the opportunity to book affordable dorm type rooms, or the option to rent and pitch a tent on its massive grounds situated amidst a hilly and woody area. With an Olympic sized swimming pool in its vicinity, it enables the municipality of Balilihan to formally make its bid to become the host and venue for Bohol’s swimming competitions.

Afficionados of everything that is organically grown will enjoy the agri-town of Maribojoc.

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It has a Demo Farm Training Center which started off with funds provided by the municipality and is now privately run by a cooperative. An ideal display center encompassing several hectares for organic farming, they grow lettuce, eggplants, cherry tomatoes, an assortment of herbs, aloe vera, kamote tops, papayas and other crops which they cook and serve for lunch to guests.

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There is an area for raising hogs which are fed animal feeds mixed with juices extracted from the same crops and vegetables, making the hogs healthy and disease-free, as well as effectively eliminating the nasty smell that normally surrounds animal farms.

They are able to butcher an average of two hogs for the Sunday market every week. The price per kilo of organically grown pork is just a bit more expensive but well worth every cent knowing that what you have is lean meat that you can cook any way you want.

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End your day in Maribojoc with a sunset view of the bay at the Punta Cruz Watch Tower. Recently renovated and restored, it is the perfect backdrop for a romantic shoot provided that the weather is good.

A souvenir of the massive earthquake that devastated the province in October 2013, the Punta Cruz Watch Tower area has uplifted ridges showing where the shoreline has receded to reveal a rock floor which used to be at the bottom of the sea.

It is always good to finish off your Abatan River cruise with Firefly Watching at the Abatan Main Village Center in the municipality of Cortes.

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You hop on a boat which can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 20 guests and ride out into the dark mangrove forest with only the dimmed light of a bulb to guide the boatman to avoid scaring off the fireflies. Only certain areas of the mangroves and particular trees at that are frequented by fireflies all throughout the Abatan River. If your camera is not sensitive enough to capture images of fireflies without the use of a flash, then you should just relax and enjoy the experience rather than concern yourself with selfies.

The tour guide is quick to explain that glaring lights and noise should be avoided, and that utmost respect for the environment and these natural wonders should be practiced so that future generations can enjoy Firefly Watching.

Governor Edgar Chatto who is now on his last term of office bared plans of turning the Abatan River into a Living Museum during dinner with media guests in Tagbilaran City recently.

According to him, several foreign experts and consultants were amazed at the biodiversity of species of flora and fauna found on the Abatan River. They suggested to install labels along the way, so that guests will learn to appreciate nature and absorb information much like in a museum. Only this time, the museum is outdoors and alive, hence a Living Museum.

Gov. Chatto’s sound advice to the 48 mayors in his province: not to worry if their municipality’s tourism assets are in various levels of popularity and acceptance with the market.

“Each town has something unique to offer and their time will come,” he stressed.

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With “Behold…… Bohol” as the tagline for promoting eco tourism in his province, the Governor is confident that Bohol and Boholanos will continue to make their mark in tourism.

Just as watching fireflies dance on silhouettes of trees in the middle of a river at night is magical like watching thousands of tiny fairies lighting up a tree with fairy dust.

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Sincere gratitude to Ms. Josephine Remolador-Cabarrus, Ms. Gina Peluchi Kapirig and Mr. Neil Gerard P. Reyes of Bohol Tourism Office for the introduction to the Abatan River, and all the Municipal Tourism Officers of Antequera, Balilihan, Maribojoc and Cortes, and Abatan River Cruise tour guides for service beyond the call of duty. Cruise on!!!

Banner photo on Abatan River from www.bohol-sunside-resort.com

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A glimpse of Bohol’s past at Alona Tropical Beach Resort

Alona Tropical Beach Resort, one of the pioneer resorts in the area, is located at the east end of Alona Beach, fronting the widest and most private portion of the beach. The native angled roof of the resort’s Baybayon beachfront bar and restaurant is a distinctive feature of Alona’s shoreline.

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The sizeable compound has a pool with an outdoor jacuzzi and several types of rooms spread throughout the spacious grounds landscaped with tropical foliage. Most rooms and cottages are designed to evoke a rustic feel, using woven kalakat walls and bamboo furniture, but there are also more modern rooms available.

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One of the couple who own the resort is the current mayor of Panglao, the Honorable Mrs. Leonila P. Montero. When not busy dispensing her duties and responsibilities as mayor of Panglao, she finds time to check on her resort facilities and to mingle with her guests. She has just recently added another attraction to Alona Tropical Beach Resort: the Antique House.

5Located just adjacent to the resort’s reception area, the two-storey house showcases her antique collection of wooden furniture, glass dinnerware, statues and religious icons and objects, glass lamps, brown and white ceramic pieces, and knick knacks which were slowly acquired through the years.

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Knowing her love for antiques, Bohol’s dealers would specifically seek her out to offer her pieces before making them available to other collectors.

106787 (1)8 (1)For a bit of Bohol’s history and a taste of the finest white sand in the area, book at Alona Tropical Beach Resort. You just might get the chance to personally meet the town’s mayor for a guided tour of the beloved estate she calls home.

For more information, please check out

http://www.alonatropicalbeachresort.com

5 (1)Heartfelt thanks to the Hon. Mayor Leonila P. Montero, her husband and her able team headed by Operations Manager Mr. Roldan B. Cuevas

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Front Office & Marketing Promotions Manager Mr. Deo Guden, and Resort Special Concerns Manager Mr. Rico Guigue for hosting our overnight food and accommodations during the Men of Poi (fire dancers) location shoot at Alona Beach.

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