Tag Archives: Bohol Island

Exploring – churches in Bohol and Cebu

1 Mar

While in the Philippines we had the opportunity to see some of the oldest Catholic churches in the islands, both on Bohol Island and Cebu City.  The presence of the Jesuits was seen in full force with monuments and plaques.  The churches themselves are impressive, but European style architecture and the heat and humidity that occurs in a place like the Philippines means that constant care and uptake are required.  The architects were clever with the usage of local building materials – Baclayon church is the oldest coral stone church in the region, dating back to 1727.  In Bohol especially though, the moss and mold and vines were creeping to places unknown.

The Baclayon Church was part of our whirlwind Bohol tour that I wrote about in two previous posts a few weeks ago: Exploring – Bohol Island, Philippines – a river cruise and chocolate mountains and Exploring – Bohol Island, Philippines wildlife.  The church was a different type of tourism and so I thought that I would combine it with the views from Cebu.

In Cebu we went to the place where they had placed a replica of the Cross of Magellan – a heavily symbolic site where Magellan supposedly made the first converts to christianity on his famous voyage around the world.  We then went into the huge Santo Nino complex which includes lovely cloisters, a convent, museum and the Santo Nino – a replica of the child Jesus.  One thing that I found interesting about the Sto. Nino is the large murals, painted in very bright colors that are on the ceiling and the walls surrounding the complex.  It reminded me of the stories that I heard in Spain where initially the vast majority of people who came to church were illiterate and so they used the pictures to explain the stories of the bible.  I’m sure that it was similar here as well.  Literally across the street from Santo Nino is the modern Cebu cathedral with its tasteful interior and a wonderful exhibit on the life of Mother Teresa which absorbed me for the better part of an hour.

With the Mother Teresa exhibit in a prominent place, in Cebu another key thing to note is the poverty.  After we visited the cathedral we walked around the downtown and while I didn’t feel unsafe, it was not an area that I would like to be in by myself or after dark.  It is very important that we have individuals who strive to make a difference in developing countries.  One of those is my father’s good friend who is heavily involved in an organization called The Lingap Children’s Foundation in Cebu.   It is an orphanage and surrounding programs that is based in Cebu where street children are cared for and provided opportunities.  I knew that the organization was based in the Philippines, but it wasn’t until I came back and was talking to my father did I realize that I was very close to their headquarters and didn’t go.  The programs that they have provided the area over the years have served a very important purpose.  I would strongly suggest checking out the link to the foundation that I provided above to read about the wonderful works and accomplishments they have made.

Any thoughts about religion and travel?  Visiting new places and seeing where people worship – from temples to churches to mosques can be another way of understanding your own spirituality.

With this post, this is my final post from my Philippines trip.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Exploring – Bohol Island, Philippines – wildlife

9 Feb

Along with the river cruise, we also had the opportunity to see several different types of wildlife.  Bohol is one of the last places on earth with the world’s smallest monkey, called the tarsier monkey.  My understanding is that there was a debate for quite a while as to if it really was a monkey – as when you see how small it is and the type of tail it has, it does resemble a rat with very big eyes.  One monkey could easily be carried in my two hands and a small one, maybe in one hand.

They told us that there are less than 300 of them left in the small section of rainforest that the Philippines people have managed to preserve.  In addition – they are nocturnal, so every one we saw – but one, was asleep.  Without the protection of people, this small monkey has very little chance of survival.  It is a bittersweet story – tourists come to see the monkey, but in their coming they also damage the habitat.

There were a lot of tourists there and because it was Chinese New Year, there were a lot of chinese tourists especially.  As we went to see the monkeys as they slept, each monkey had a volunteer standing beside it.  In Chinese, they were saying – “Don’t touch the monkey!  Don’t touch the monkey!”  It fits the stereotype of the rude Chinese tourist – they didn’t say it in English or any other language as far as we can tell.  Even with the warning, I saw at least one chinese tourist reach his hand into the cage.  For once, Americans were the well behaved crowd.

One of the other stops we made exploring Bohol was to a wild animal park.  We snapped some fun shots with the snakes, lizards and an ostrich before heading to our last stop for the day.

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How do you feel about animal preservation?  What’s the right balance between tourism and protection?

Exploring – Bohol Island, Philippines – a river cruise and chocolate mountains

7 Feb

As the first part of our much anticipated Chinese New Year trip to the Philippines, we spent two nights in Cebu, which left us a full day to explore.  Instead of visiting Cebu proper we decided to take a boat to nearby Bohol Island and arranged a one day trip with a driver to see the island’s many sites.  It turned out to be a nice slide into vacation mode – still with lots of things on the agenda, but in a warm, tropical climate with an air conditioned car to ferry us from point A to point B.

We started the day at the Luboc Ecotourism Adventure Park – but our adventure was definitely not of the zipline or speedboating variety.  Instead we opted for a staid river cruise with an included lunch buffet.  The blue sky, water and continuous music were a welcome change from the busy Shanghai every day. 

Our sister ship - floating by

As we were sitting eating lunch we were serenaded by a band who were waiting next to us on the pier and then on the boat we had our own live music provided by a talented guitarist who sang as well. Then, after lunch as we floated down the river, we even witnessed local people on barges doing the pole clapping dance, once again with live musical accompaniment.  Our table sang along to some of the songs and I even got in a couple of mini-head bobs.  Perhaps I could have another career in the Philippines – this one musical – but unfortunately the bar may be too high!

Bohol’s famous “Chocolate Mountains”

After lunch we went to see Bohol’s “Chocolate Mountains.”  Since the rainy season had just ended, the mountains were shades of green and brown.  It really looked like little kids had gone crazy in the sandbox with miniature hills that covered the interior of the island’s landscape.  Our tour book said that this is the only place in the world with this type of hill formation.


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After the mountains we headed back towards the coast to view some other wildlife and finish our day on the island.
Where have you taken a river cruise?  The one we took in India in Cochin was one I’ll never forget, this one was pleasant – any other places where you can float and eat?
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