June 19-25, 2017
Location: Tagbilaran City, Bohol (province), Philippines
With Raisa in Valencia
After 7 days in Panglao, it felt time to move on again. Raisa offered a night's stay at her place in Valencia where I had an engaging talk with her dad. Her place was huge and luxurious, I could be forgiven for thinking I never left my posh Oasis Resort digs in Panglao. Raisa didn't have to, but she drove me all the way to Tagbilaran from Valencia (1 hour!) to drop me off to Tr3ats Guesthouse - the cheapest place in town. Love you girl!
Finally, I was in Tagbilaran. First order was to find a cheaper place or a hotel deal for the following night. At P488/night at Tr3ats, I was still hemorrhaging cash.
That's how it is for me - I live in extremes. Either I work out a hotel deal and find myself in a luxurious room otherwise I pay cash in some cheap hole-in-the-wall guesthouse, if there was one available. I have slept on a hammock in Siargao and even spent a night on a waiting shed in Quezon City - all good as that is part of the uncertainty experience I signed-up for. There is hardly a middle ground for me.
I went to just about every hotel, guesthouse and inn for a lodging deal but no decision maker was around. I emailed, but still, nothing - probably ended up as spam. When it rains it pours, but when it doesn't, it usually means drought. I couldn't continue staying at Tr3ats. This means I couldn't stay in Tagbilaran anymore.
Kins and Dang
I asked friends if they knew a cheap room I could rent for a month. I wanted to stay a little longer in Tagbilaran before moving on. I'm still enjoying my stay and I'm already too tired moving out too often, too soon. Luckily, Kins, my Vipa sis, was able to arrange a host for me - Imelda 'Dang' Miner. I was a complete stranger to Dang, but just the same, she offered me a vacant room in her house for the next 4 nights - that was a sigh of relief! I had an extended lease on Tagbilaran.
With Kins and Dang, both of them working at the University of Bohol, my new scene was the academe. I sat in Dang's class, attended the school general assembly and met some of their colleagues. The whole thing was a flashback to my teaching days in UP Diliman when I taught a web design class to Fine Arts students.
Bonding with Dang
For the most part of the 4 days, I was just hanging out with Dang, tagging along if I am welcome. I really had no set objective in Tagbilaran except to roll with the flow. Mornings, I would normally prepare omelette, crepe or french toast and spend a little time chatting, not unlike the one I have with Jeanne in Cebu City. I can understand her frustration in dealing with a system not as optimized as the US where she spent a great deal of her life at.
There are 3 malls in Tagbilaran. No, it's not Ayala, Robinsons or SM. They're BQ Mall, Island Center Mall and Alturas Mall. Without the presence of the ubiquitous Big 3, I thought Tagbilaran was sleepy, slow and backward. I couldn't have been more wrong. In fact, I have a sense Tagbilaran is better off without any of the Big 3. Why? As a movie buff, it's my frustration not seeing enough movies because they have become unreasonably expensive - P220/movie. That's the standard rate at any of the Big 3. But here in Tagbilaran, the movie houses inside the malls run first rate movies for P120! And these are newly constructed, nicely appointed movie houses in clean and spacious malls! If any of the Big 3 were around, I don't think the movies would be priced that low. I would even suspect the presence of the Big 3 in any town or city jacks up prices across the board.
With movies becoming affordable, I was watching a movie a day...woohoo! The Mummy (so-so), Wonder Woman (a must), Transformers (mindless waste of time and money), Everything Everything (ok). I actually ran out of movies to see at one point. All 3 malls were screening the same movies. It was like high school all over again when I could watch a movie everyday.
With Wonder Woman, I somehow felt for Aries (the bad guy) about his sentiment for human presence. I feel quite strongly that humans are the virus plaguing this planet. We poison the air, we pollute the water, we have created weapons of mass destruction to destroy the Earth several times over! Dogs don't shit in their own backyard, but we do. Earth is better off without us. But Hollywood prevails of course - happy endings rule. I also agree that at the end of the day, it's all about love. However, with the movie, the love-realization wasn't given enough effort and reel-time to develop into a compelling aftermath. My 2-cent movie review.
Raisa and Ging
I continued to spend time with Raisa and Ging in Tagbilaran. I see them as my yogini breathren. We'd spend time and chillout over coffee. I feel their concern about my well-being. I'm touched. I love these guys but I had to ask them not to feel that they have to look after me. I am actually enjoying all this uncertainty and unpredictability notwithstanding I look unsettled.
I learned that Tagbilaran had a local Theosophical Society lodge. I asked Kins to take me along their weekly Thursday meetings. Turns out, they haven't met in a year! But learning a guest wanted to attend, they somehow managed an ad hoc gathering. Moderating the meet-up was the gracious Maria Corazon "Cora" Ponteres. The staff of the TS school, Golden Link joined the gathering as well.
It was more of a sharing instead of a discourse on a Helena Blavatsky writing. I shared my story about life on the open road without a home and with very little money. While the "little money" is an integral part of my narrative (because I want to dispel the prerequisite-myth of money), I am cautious that it doesn't come across as a plea for a freebie. I am also aware that such apprehension resides only in my mind as the people I come across with are genuinely generous - as I am to them in my own currency.
The evening extended beyond the meeting. Cora took us all out for late dinner at Metro Hotel where the conversation continued. Later, she dropped me off Dang's place. Thank you Cora and Kins, thank you everyone!
I could sum-up my 5 days in Tagbilaran in 5 words - Ging, Raisa, Kins, Dang and Cora! Somehow, the most wonderful moments I celebrate are almost always, in the company of great women. Women who are equally beautiful inside, as they are outside. How privileged can a man get? I wish I could offer them as much generosity as they have given me. L♥ve you guys!
Having left Dang's house, it was time to bid Tagbilaran goodbye.
Next stop: Anda, Bohol
Bohol FYI / Tips
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located within the Alona Beach area
- the tourist attractions in Bohol are far apart and spread-out. It would be difficult to visit them all using public mass transit. Better hire a van (P3500/day) if in a big group, or rent a motorcycle (P400/day + gas)
- Bohol relies on its tourism for revenue. As expected, everything they can capitalize on from tourism is extensively used and developed
Tagbilaran Port to PanglaoYou can charter any tricycle from the port all the way to Panglao (~P300), but if you want to do it on the cheap,
- don't take the tricycles lined-up inside the port. Walk past the port gate and immediately outside, you'll see many tricycles. Take one to the bus terminal in Dao (~P15)
- in Dao, take the jeep that plies the Panglao route (~P20)
Tagbilaran (Bohol) to Cebu City by boat** schedules and rates keep changing, call for latest schedule
- Weesam Express - departs 6:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:00 PM
one way: Economy (aircon) P500.00, Economy (non-aircon) P400.00, First Class P600.00
round trip promo (at least 2 days advance booking): Economy (aircon) P600, Economy(non-aircon) P500, First Class P1200
round trip promo (1 day or on the day booking): Economy (aircon) P800, Economy (non-aircon) P700, First Class P1200
- Ocean Jet - departs 6-7:05-8:20-9:20-11:40AM, 1-2-3:30-4:20-5:30-6:30PM, 2 hours, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
Open Air / Tourist Class P800, Business Class P1000
+63(32)255 7560 / +63 (32) 255 0115 / 0917 638 0000
- SuperCat (2GO) - departs 5:50-11AM, 3:45-5:25-8:15PM, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
+63 32 233 7000
Things to do, Places to go in Bohol
- Chocolate Hills - this is a clustering of more than 1200 hills within a 50km2 area. They range in height from 30-50 meters. What's unusual is their near-perfect conical shape resembling an individual chocolate chip. No one knows how they were formed. Entrance is P50/pax.
- Tarsier Conservation Area - located Upper Bonbon, Loboc. The tarsiers are no longer being played at by tourists as circus props, but instead, visitors now view them in cordoned-off areas in their natural 6ha habitat. As they are territorial and nocturnal, they are predictable on where they can be viewed. P50/pax.
- Alona Beach (Panglao) - Alona Beach is the tourist hub of Bohol. It has 1.5 kms of white sand beach lined-up by bars, hotels and restos. Alona is also the jump-off point for Balicasag Island, a world class dive destination.
- Danao Adventure Park - located in Barangay Magtangtang, 72 kms (2 hours ride) from Tagbilaran. Adventure activities include river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock climbing and ziplining.
Carlos P. Garcia Island
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