Touring Two Provinces at Central Philippines: Cebu and Bohol
“It is more fun in the Philippines!”
This is the tourism slogan of the country that had attracted thousands of tourists to the country. Some of the top tourist destinations include Boracay, Palawan, Ilocos, Surigao, Davao, Cebu, Bohol, and many more.
And there is a good reason why foreigners are attracted to these islands. The hospitality of the Filipino people, good food, beaches, blend of culture, and history have contributed to the increase number of foreigners to the country.
One of the most famous tours and vacation itineraries is a trip to Cebu and Bohol.
Cebu Province consists of more than a hundred islands and islets. On the largest and main island, one could find Cebu City – the oldest city in the country.
On an adjacent island, Mactan Island, one can find Mactan-Cebu International Airport – second busiest airport in the country.Other popular islands in Cebu include Bantayan, Camotes, Malapascua, and Olango.
The province has been dubbed as the queen city of central Philippines wherein all commerce, trade, education and industry occurs.
But aside from being a business center, Cebu had been dubbed as the 7th best island destination in the Indian Ocean-Asia region in 2007 by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine.
It was also awarded the best Asian-Pacific island destination in 2004 (ranked number 7), 2005 (ranked number 8) and 2009 (ranked number 7).
Tourists have a chance to immerse in a rich cultural history, get a chance to stay at world class hotels, interact with whales, and many more.
A neighboring province is Bohol that consists of 75 islands and islets. The post popular island, aside from the main island is Panglao Island. Panglao is linked to the main island by a bridge.
Visiting the province one could see century old churches, pristine beaches, diving and snorkeling spots, resorts, the famous Chocolate Hills, and of course the endangered tarsier.
Location of Cebu and Bohol
The two provinces, Cebu and Bohol are separated by the Cebu Strait. Cebu could be found on the west and Bohol on the east.
One could travel between the two provinces via ferry. There are several ferry companies operating within the two provinces.
What to see and do
Both provinces offer a lot. There are important landmarks, historical sites, and exciting activities that one could enjoy. Definitely boredom could not be felt when touring these places.
And to fully enjoy these provinces different tour packages are offered. Of course one could also create their own itinerary. Here are some things that could be done in both cities.
Basilica Minore del Santo Nino
Basilica Minore del Santo Nino or Minor Basilica of the Holy Child or simply Santo Nino Church could be found at the heart of Cebu City.
This church is known to be the oldest Roman Catholic Church in 1565 when Spanish explorers brought the image of Santo Nino de Cebu.
The church was inaugurated as a basilica in 1965 by Pope Paul VI stating it was “the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines.”
In 1521 when Spanish explorers led by Ferdinand Magellan reached the islands they brought a Christian cross and erected it in what we call Magellan’s Cross.
Years later, a chapel was built to protect the said cross. Currently it stands adjacent to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino.
Cebu Taoist Temple
Another attraction in Cebu City is Cebu Taoist Temple which was built by the Chinese community. The most distinguishing feature of the temple is the entrance which mimics the Great Wall of China.
Because the temple is located on elevated ground, one gets a splendid view of downtown Cebu. The temple is open to public.
A ritual is performed including washing hands, walking barefoot inside the temple, and dropping two blocks of wood.
The orientation of the block of wood would determine if the prater is granted; if the two blocks of wood are facing up then the prayer is granted, else it is not.
Fort San Pedro
Fureza de San Pedro or Fort San Pedro was built as a military defense structure against Muslims in 1738. However, it also became the fortress of Filipino revolutionaries in the 19th century.
Currently it serves as a landmark along Plaza Independencia near the pier.
Lapu Lapu Shrine
The Lapu Lapu Shrine at Lapu Lapau City was erected in honor of the Philippines first hero. It is a 22 meter statue made of bronze.
Another memorial place which is located at Mactan is Magellan Shrine. This shrine was built in 1866 to pay tribute to Ferdinand Magellan, a Portugese explorer who rediscovered the country. The shrine is the same place where he died.
The whole country in general has various festivities and one of the most famous is the Sinulog festival celebrated every third Sunday of January.
It is done in honor of the Holy Child Jesus of Cebu. The whole festival lasts for nine days and on the ninth day there is a Mardi-Gras like grand parade.
Aside from the Sinulog there are other festivals being celebrated at other citieslike Pintos Festival in Bogo, Karansa Festival in Danao, Panagtagboo Festival in Mandaue, and many more.
Bohol is famed for the Chocolate Hills. No, it is not a mountain of chocolate rather it is a natural wonder made of corals and limestone.
Corals and limestone have been covered with grass that during summer it becomes dry turning to a brown color, hence the name Chocolate Hills.
For years it had attracted thousands of tourists. There is a viewing deck and souvenir shop at one of the hills.
The tarsier is the world’s second smallest primate and could be found within the forests. In Bohol there is a conservatory (Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary) dedicated in protecting and taking care of them.
Guests are prohibited from taking flash photography and making any noise within the conservatory because these can cause disturbances to the tarsiers.
Loboc River Cruise
Another famous activity in Bohol is the Loboc River Cruise. Passengers get the chance to dine and be serenaded while cruising the river.
There are several stations in which children sing, while adults sell different native products. The whole cruise takes around an hour.
Blood Compact Shrine
The Blood Compact Site was the venue of Sandugo which was a historic moment in Philippine history. It was the first treaty of friendship between Spain and the Philippines.
While in Bohol do not miss staying at Panglao Island. The island only occupies 80.5 kilometers and is connected to the main island by a road. It is divided into two parts: Dauis and Panglao.
On Panglao side one could find all the best beaches. One should not worry because there are numerous world-class hotels, budget accommodations, restaurants, and activities.
Loboc Ecotourism Adventure Park and EAT Danao
These two adventure parks are the newest attraction in Bohol. It features extreme activities for adventure seekers.
Century old catholic churches
Bohol in general has hundreds of century old churches. Since the colonization of Spaniards churches were built that stand until this day.
The most famed church in Bohol is Baclayon Church. In 1995 the said church was proclaimed a national historical treasure.
Another historic church is Daius. It had gone renovations but still maintained the unique Spanish architecture. The most unique feature of the church is the well situated at the center of the altar.
Along Loboc River one could find Loboc Church with the unfinished bridge. It is declared as a National Historical Landmark and a National Cultural Treasure.
Aproniana Gift Shop
Before leaving the province do not forget to buy some souvenirs. And the best place to shop is at Aproniana Gift Shop at the town of Baclayon. The store offers shirts, plush toys, food, keychains and magnets.
However, in 2013 a strong earthquake with magnitude 7.2 devastated Cebu and Bohol causing massive destruction of infrastructure including old churches and buildings.
Two weeks after a typhoon battered the same regions causing more destruction and loss of lives.Currently, more than 1 year after the natural disasters, the people are coping up and returning to their lives. Business and tourism are also back.
Beaches, hotels, and parks are renovated to make a comfortable stay for their guests. Although historic buildings are still in rumbles, tourists are still visiting the provinces to see what was once the grandeur of central regions of the Philippines.