Sunday, May 16, 2004

MAY 16, 2004 (SUNDAY)

Stuck at Bohol for another day. SuperCat trips to Dumaguete cancelled due to incoming storm. We still don't know if we're going to be able to go back this afternoon because the next trip - which is at 5 PM - might not be able to leave either.

So now 12 fellows - plus Sir Tony Tan, who plays a mean game of chikicha - are crammed together in one room at Villa Alzhun, plus luggage, waiting for the news on whether we can leave already.

The only good news I can probably write as of the moment is the fact that my deadline for my two papers for Cl 182 is on May 26, and not on the 20th as I had first thought. ^_^

Tourist for a Day

Yesterday, we were given a treat: a tour of Bohol from Baclayon to Carmen and then back to Panglao. As in we had a tour bus (without the prerequisite tarpaulin on the side proclaiming our group as So-and-So); a tour guide - Marianito, a good friend of Ma'am Marj's from Holy Name University, who was a walking talking guidebook to Bohol; packed lunches and Zesto tetrapacks.

First stop was Baclayon Church, which is the oldest Catholic settlement in Bohol (sometime during the mid-1500s by the Jesuits). It's sort of strange to be standing in a place where Sikatuna's body was buried - legends have a way of coming to life in places like these. The church was done in baroque architecture, and the gold-gilded retablos were absolutely breathtaking. I even sat on the bench reserved for the gobernadorcillo of Bohol, back during those days of Spanish conquest.

Then it was down the winding road towards Loboc, where we visited the poor tarsiers, their humongous eyes blinking as camera lights flashed (despite warnings from the handlers not to use flash - the creatures were nocturnal). I was waiting for the little critters to pounce on the tourists' heads and claw them to death - poetic justice of sorts.

Then it was a 45-minute drive from Loboc to Carmen. The view was spectacular. I was teary-eyed - maybe it was because of the soft sting of the rain on my cheeks, or the fact that Sarah McLachlan was playing on the discman, or perhaps the scenery that was pasing by. The ferns along the road were gigantic - a throwback to the dinosaur era. Most country scenes in the Philippines are similar in the sense that you get lots of flatlands where the farms are, and then small towns with Coca-Cola signs and sari-sari stores with strange names like Beet Hooven.

But there was a part where we were driving along a 2-km stretch of a manmade mahogany forest and IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL! For the first time, I finally realized what "sunlight dappling the ground" actually means. And it was so cool and peaceful and earthy - not like the images of Lothlorien or Rivendell, but a real, actual forest.

When we got to Chocolate Hills (that's in Carmen), Marianito told us that we had 15 minutes to climb up 200+ stairs to the Observation Deck to see the hills. The narrow stone staircase was clogged with tourists speaking a multitude of languages - a Tower of Babel of sorts - and looking down at the sheer drop, I chickened out before I managed to climb midway through. Hence, I just explored the tourist complex until it was time to go back to the bus.

Then it was back to Loboc for the cruise down Loboc River, and then a mini-concert at the church with the internationally-acclaimed Loboc Children's Choir. Dinner was at Bohol Bee Farm in Panglao, an island off the coast of mainland Bohol.

More on those tomorrow. My fingers hurt. ^_^

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