From Under the Sun to Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Panglao and Dauis, Bohol, the Philippines

April 3, 2011

Even a whirlwind trip to Bohol would not be complete without sun-worshiping and spelunking. I gotta hand it to my sister for packing our itinerary with as varied an experience as night and day. From bumming around the beach to cavorting in a cave, she got it all covered in the space of a few hours.

Beach Buds: The Transcendental Tourist and his Sister at Bohol Beach Club

Panglao Island: La Isla Bonita

This was a no feet-up vacation; we had to stick to a schedule, which only allowed a couple of hours for beach-bumming. That crossed out beaches requiring long road trips or boat rides. Given my sister’s ticking clockwork efficiency, the Bohol Beach Club in Panglao Island was our best bet for some sun, sand, and surf. Its kilometric stretch of white sand was exclusive to resort guests, but they allowed in day-trip visitors for a consumable P500 (almost $12) entrance fee – a deal we couldn’t pass up.

We were immediately seduced by the invitingly clear water. My mother, whose swimming days were long behind her, frolicked in the sand (Oh, that was me; she just walked!) in her age-appropriate spiral sun dress. The wide beach and the shallows that went on forever inspired high jinks even at high noon. My sister’s teenage nieces combed the sand beneath the surf for half-buried marine life. Their trophy specimen was a baby octopus, which they kept in a bottle but later released in the water.

La Dolce Vita di Mamma Mia

Bohol Beach Club

Away from the hordes at public beaches, the Bohol Beach Club’s peace and quiet was well worth the fee. The food that came with it made it a bargain. Large servings of mostly seafood dishes were more than enough for a foodie mom, two starving sibs, and two growing girls. The mango-and-sagoย was the cherry on top (the dessert literally had one). Life was a beach, but I wish it were beachier.ย I could’ve lived in that beach, but soon we were off to the next town for another adventure.

Mother and Duaghter Going Gauguin

Life’s a Beach

There were journeys that a man must take without his mother. One such journey was down a hole on the ground. This time my mother took exception to spelunking; I went down with my mom’s girl Friday and my sister’s nieces.

Bohol’s landscape was pockmarked by caves and caverns, such as the Hinagdanan Cave. Local people explored the hollow underworld through ladders they lowered into one of several holes that punctured the ground, hence the name whose root word in Visayan meant ladder. The slippery steps, a 90-degree drop into the chilly darkness, were paved for tourists.

Hinagdanan Cave in Bohol

Say Spelunking!

A deep, dark lagoon almost entirely occupied the cavern. Joey, our guide, walked us through the craggy edges, over sharp stalagmites, while he dished out warnings, historical accounts, scientific facts, and funny jokes with aplomb. He claimed that serpentine drawings on the cave walls were prehistoric. We had to take his word for it despite a nagging feeling that they were modern graffiti. If it were true, it could mean that this hole was a huge snake burrow before human invasion.

Joey’s photography skills were as spot on as his punchlines. He hijacked my camera, fiddled with the settings, directed our poses, and took crisper photos than I could’ve managed.

Cave Art and Cave Man

Directed by Joey, the Cave Guide (He titled this “May Bukas Pa”) in Hinagdanan Cave, Bohol

This was my second visit to Bohol. Despite its diverse attractions, the province still had many tricks up its sleeve. Yet another reason to go back would always come up.

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Heaven: Mom and TTT

67 thoughts on “From Under the Sun to Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

  1. How inviting that beach looks! Beautiful colors. I’ve spent the past week enjoying the California coast and redwood forests. Life is grand. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • It is seductive, Cath. I’ve also been to Muir Woods and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with mom! Lovely places, wonderful memories. La dolce vita!๐Ÿ™‚

  2. ohhhh so sad hindi kame nakapag spelunking…. well we are sand addicts and would trade anything just to make tambay sa sand kahit wlang sun…. pwedeng pwede magtayo si ate ng travel agency talagang may sked hehehe….. and joey ang galing nya mag direct ha… galing din ng photos!

    • Beach naman tayo next. Let’s give heritage houses and colonial-era churches a rest.๐Ÿ˜€ Yup, my sister is an OC travel operator and guide. And next time to visit Bohol, look for Joey for your spelunking needs, hehe.

  3. Age, since I have seen many of these pictures, I wasn’t sure if I had read this post. Gauging from the comments, I gathered that I haven’t read this one. This visit seems like a wholesome one where you enjoyed a bit of everything. I especially liked the dark caves. Do the caves have any art form from those times? Perhaps the existence of a community with their totems drawn on the wall? As you have mentioned, the snakes do look modern. Some research would be great.

    Thanks for resurrecting this post for us, Age.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    • This post is hot off the press, Mrs. Sus! But yeah, you’ve seen the photos in my FB page album. Photos always precede the blog posts. Still a lazy blogger.

      I researched the net but nothing about the authenticity of these drawings. Either it’s new or repainted.

      Next time, I’d enjoy more of ONE thing – the beach!!!!!

      Cheerio, Mrs. Sus!

  4. Love to visit this place! I will add Bohol to my itinerary but time will tell when! I will just read your post and enjoy reading and use imagination as if you were there.

    • It’s a must-visit province, Inno! It really has a bit of everything, except an urban jungle. Spare at least 3-4 days there when you come here for vacay. Obviously, I’m promoting my favorite province.๐Ÿ™‚

    • Haha we were just social climbing. We were not billeted in the resort. Only on a day trip. I’ve already been to Alona Beach last time, so I wanted to see this snootier stretch of the same coastline. Plus, my posh sis would not have anything less than BBC exclusivity.๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I miss Bohol and the beach! you did a lot of activities in such a short span of time ah! Alona is great, but I prefer the other side cause of the long stretch of fine sand.๐Ÿ˜€

    • Yup, my sister is worse than a package tour! Haha! We had our mom with us so we wanted her to sample everything. You’re right, topless soloflighter – that long (and wide) stretch of fine sand in BBC is to die for.

      • bwahahahaha. ‘topless’ or ‘naked’ siguro dapat yung mga keywords? but yeah. ok na ako sa shortened one. para focus na lang sa lugar.๐Ÿ˜€

  6. You people seem to have had a nice time๐Ÿ™‚ it so clearly comes across the pictures. And the meditating pic of yours is classic! Me likes it๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Let’s put this way: Our mom had done time in the house, raising her kids. So now we’re giving back by showing her some good time.๐Ÿ™‚

    • As I always say: The family that travels together, bonds together. Thanks Jim! Our cave guide, Joey, knows his way around cameras.

    • Mom shopped for this trip! She also bought a halter top sun dress and then had buyer’s regret. She didn’t want to look like a merry widow.๐Ÿ™‚

      True. Photography skills should be one of a guide’s qualification. Joey had it, plus personality. Winner!

    • @Blaine: I always give your blog a peek.Your photos are fantastic. Btw, the link you posted is broken.

      @Sheril: White sand and clear water – what’s not to like?๐Ÿ™‚

  7. AJ, you have so much fun! Kuddos to your sister who can organize such an amazing adventure in a short time. i think you must make a wonderful travel companion!

    • Yeah. she’s our tour guide with a whip.๐Ÿ˜€ This was a memorable trip. We went to 3 other islands after this so expect more family outings in this blog.๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Naiimagine ko ang sister mo sa katayuan ko when I was there. hahaha! Punong abala. We chose PINR over BBC before. Ang ganda rin pala. Babalikan ko yan. hihihi! Game na game talaga si mommy mo. Cute Cute! ^_^

      • why not shoknut. Magba-basag alkansiya ako para lang sa overnight stay na yan. hahah! Nakapag Balicasag ka ba before? Try mo naman sea side. Agua Bendita mode. Super nice din ng corals nila.

        Btw, natuwa ako sa santino pose. lol! Tinapay at alak na lang ang kulang.

    • Yup, nakapag-Balicasag na ko after we went dolphin-watching. Gandwa! Di lang kami nag-diving kasi di naman ako nakapagbasag-alkansha. Kulang sa budget, haha! So may tahmuh ka, nag-Agua Bendita mode na lang kami sa dalampasigan.

  9. Haha! Your sister reminds me of myself and my obsession for covering as many places in such a short span of time—often to the annoyance of my travelling companions.๐Ÿ™‚

    Lovely photos, AJ! Makes me miss home the more.

    • Oh no, if I traveled that way – I’d need a vacation after my vacation!๐Ÿ˜€ She never wakes up early at home, but on the road she’s our alarm clock! I’m a more laid-back traveler.

    • It’s a family thing. Mom used to do all the planning; my sister inherited the position with aplomb.

      Come visit our beaches, Mari!

  10. yung Cave guide din namin ang kumuha ng pics sa Hinagdanan..
    saka sabi sakin gayahin ko daw si Santino, prayer pose daw..

    yoko nga! lol!

    yung mga cave paintings..
    ginawa lang yun mainly for tourist..
    wala na kasi masyado rock formations..
    masyado nang sikat ang bohol..
    I love bohol though! very much!

    • @Iam Herbert: Yup, go!

      @Simurgh: We must’ve had the same guide! LOL! But the camwhore that I am, I did pose but with my own variation, hehe. Yeah, I didn’t really buy the idea of brightly colored ancient cave art. Good choice of design though.๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Got to come back to this link..
    I could say, you really know how to have fun in a stretch of a few hours.. you can blame your sister’s iti, but you’re the transcendental tourist after all. Wanna go back nah to Bohol, unfortunately Im fairly new to this touristy traveling in our country..
    Sometimes I confuse myself, am I a tourist or am I a traveler?
    boundaries blur in my book.. but then the pleasures of traveling is out there waiting for us.

    • You’re so right, Pala-lagaw. I don’t sweat the tourist-traveler dichotomy. People travel for their own reasons within the limits of their resources and availability. Not everyone wants to leave their careers to go backpacking the world. What’s important is how traveling enriches one’s life.

  12. Wow, didn’t know Bohol offered a site such as this. Although spelunking and visiting caves can be an adventurous thing to do, I would probably skip these off of my list. I’m claustrophobic.. so if I had a traveling companion with me who wanted to try this, I might have to watch and wait from the sidelines.. =P

    • Bohol has several caves because of its typical karst landscape (pockmarked limestone), which also created the uncanny geological feature that is the Chocolate Hills. This particular cave is quite roomy inside; it’s actually one big hole in the ground. Would that still make you feel claustrophobic?

  13. Wow Ganda talaga ng pilipinas! Hope to visit Bohol soon…. The water is so inviting! Sobrang init now parang gusto ko na tuloy magbabad dyan now na!

    • Hinagdanan Cave is highly touristified, for better or for worse. There’s an endless stream of people going in and out of it, and there are local guides as well to ensure your safety. If you mean encountering snakes and other strange creatures, I think they’ve all abandoned this cave as their habitat a long time ago!๐Ÿ˜€

  14. Bohol! our family’s well-loved destination! I’ve been to Panglao Island a couple of times yet it never cease to amaze me. Check out my Bohol traveils at www,gastronomybyjoy.com

  15. you really had to say age-appropriate. love that you still travel with your mom. sana ganyan din anak ko. anyway, i haven’t been to bohol but one travel blogger once wrote that bohol is the ultimate philippine destination. bohol has it all…from architecture, beaches, culture down to adventure and food.

    • I also say that. That’s why I don’t get it that most people stay in Cebu longer and just take a day tour in Bohol. I’m like, Bohol is the place to be! I mean what’s there to see in Cebu, right? It’s just a city like Manila.

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