This past weekend, I was with my family and relatives at the beautiful island of Panglao located on the equally beautiful island province of Bohol. It was my second time to be on the island. The first time, a couple years ago, we stayed to relax at the Panglao Island Nature Resort, on the northern tip of Panglao. This time, we had a great experience at the Bohol Beach Club, on the southern tip of Panglao. The four-day vacation in Bohol was a generous treat from my wife’s sister.
|Bohol Beach Club here I am!|
|I am in a white sand paradise!|
|The cool water is so inviting.|
|Lie on me, the hammock whispers.|
While Panglao Island Nature Resort is known for its infinity pool and serene massage spa, Bohol Beach Club is famous for its long white sand beaches, probably a kilometre long. And for a beach lover and runner like me, this makes a world of difference. It spells swimming on the turquise-colored water and running on the sandy shore.
Plus, the accommodations in Bohol Beach Club are lovely yet unobtrusive to the scenic place. The cottages seem to blend in with the trees. There are no garish buildings in this resort. Plus, the hotel staff from the driver, reception lady, bell boy and waiters are friendly and ready with a smile to be of help. They made me feel welcome from the get go. I simply love this place.
Arriving on noontime of Friday the 13th, I had the afternoon to myself as my son, my wife and her sisters and their families were already on a tour of the famous Bohol attractions like the Chocolate Hills, the Loboc River cruise and the cuddly Tarsiers as they arrived the day before. I took advantage of this respite and decided to go on a long run.
The long run I mapped out for the Friday afternoon was a 14-km journey to the town of Dauis from Bohol Beach Club and back. I traversed 4 barangays: Bolod, Liba-Ong, Dao and Biking. Running at 3pm in the hot afternoon in a rural province like Bohol, one gets amusing and even quizzical looks from the barrio folk. But this is the life of a runner. You run whenever and wherever you can to continue the training for even longer ultra distances.
Early morning of Saturday, I had a 30-minute easy run on the sandy shore of Bohol Beach Club. Running on the white sand beach, I got to feel the soft surface. But a drawback is the uneven surface on the sloping shore. Moving towards the morning sun, my right leg would be stretching a bit longer than my left leg. Thus, to counter it, I must run the opposite direction (away from the morning sun) at an equal distance so that my left leg will be the one to do more of the work.
|Running at 7 in the morning|
|Running back and forth in the sands of Bohol Beach Club|
|Finally giving in to the whisper...relaxing on the hammock after my morning run|
After my refreshing early morning run, I got to join my family visit a few more of the tourist attractions in Bohol. This time, from Panglao Island, we went back to the main Bohol Island and went north uphill to a small town called Antequerra, a half marathon distance from Tagbilaran City. The main tourist attraction in this place is the Mag-Aso Falls.
It is so-called “Mag-Aso”, not because there are many dogs, but the word “Aso” refers to the mist that is formed as the river water drops by roughly 30 feet. To reach the foot of the waterfalls, tourists and trekkers alike will go down a 197-step stairway. As you go down, one can’t help but admire how peaceful and green the place is with so many many trees and the quality of the air evidently much much better than Metro Manila. You get a sense that Boholanos know how to take care of their environment. And this is more evident as you reach the waterfalls and the river itself. It is clean. No signs of plastic or softdrink bottles or styros, unlike other waterfalls I have visited in Luzon. The water is so cool and clear. My son, niece and nephews love the place.
|Enjoying the waterfalls|
Given that it was nearing lunchtime, we headed back to Tagbilaran City for food . Our tour guide/driver named Amboy took us to Payag Restaurant. Entering the restaurant, it will be clear to the visitor that the owner very much like chicken and roosters. There is the cock of St. Peter at the foot of the stairs and a jumbo chicken at the end of the stairs. Then inside the dining area, there is a cabinet filled with chicken figurines coming from all corners of the globe. The walls area is adorned by chicken mugs and the lampshades are egg-shaped. The owner knows chicken and the piece de resistance is Payag’s chicken inasal. It is the best tasting chicken inasal I had, better than Mang Inasal’s or that of Bacolod Chicken. I would agree with Ricky Lo’s column at the Phil Star entitled “10 Things to Love about Bohol”, that one of the 10 is the Payag Restaurant specialty.
|At Payag Restaurant|
|Chicken Inasal of Payag Restaurant|
After the delicious lunch, we headed back to Bohol Beach Club. I was very happy because I would get to explore more the resort. The whole Saturday afternoon, I spent happy hours at the white sand beach. Not drinking beer but going for some swim at the wave-tossed waters and then going for more walking at the sandy shore. Early evening hours saw me swimming with the kids at the pool. Not in 1 but in all 3 of the swimming pools of Bohol Beach Club.
Our Saturday evening was topped off by a sumptuous dinner in the Alona beach area of Panglao Island. It is the center of nightlife in the island and the happenings there is akin to the white beach in Puerto Galera. Lots of food, drinks and many tourists. We had our fill of crabs, shrimps, squid, talakitok and my son’s favorite, inihaw na liempo. I must say that the waiters and cooks in this place were really friendly and attentive to the needs of the diners, despite the huge number of the dining guests.
|Grilled delight at Alona Beach|
Sadly, all good and happy things must take a break. So, on a Sunday morning, we packed our bags, checked out of Bohol Beach Club and motored back to the airport in Tagbilaran. The airport (both the runway and the airport building) is small for a tourist-heavy province like Bohol. All passengers waiting to board 4 airplanes (for Cebu Pacific, PAL, Zest Air and AirPhils), numbering roughly 500 were packed in an area that can comfortably accommodate less than a third of that number.
Thus, there were many passengers seating on the stairways and many more standing up on the hallways. Among those standing were my older companions (my wife’s mother and my bayaw’s mother and aunt) but there were a couple of young ones who offered their seats to them. The young ones may or may not be Boholanos. And if they were not Boholanos, I guess I could imagine that the beauty of Bohol and the friendliness of its people inspired these young ones to be as friendly and accommodating as a Boholano.
Truly, I like visiting Bohol. It is a place that is blessed with awe-inspiring nature. It is equally blessed with awe-inspiring people that are very welcoming of tourists. No wonder, when the Spaniards came to Bohol in 1565, the conquistadores led by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi made peace in a blood compact with Rajah Sikatuna, smitten no doubt by the friendly smile of the Boholanos. Contrast this to the bloody reception Ferdinand Magellan got in Mactan in 1521. To this day and age, the smiles of the people and the beaches and hills of Bohol still work their charm.
|We look forward to your return, the beach seems to be saying with a smile as I depart Bohol Beach Club.|
Yup, it is more fun in the Philippines. And the fun is in the variety of islands to visit and the people to meet.