TRAVEL: Bohol, Philippines

SOMETHING OTHER THAT RELAXING in Alona Beach and seeing the Chocolate Hills and tarsiers made me remember why I need to travel. Here are stories from my Labor Day weekend in Bohol, Philippines.

If there’s anything I learned from public school where we had 100 kids in one classroom, or going to a US college with towering foreigners, or attending free walking tours in San Francisco with either middle-aged Europeans or American elderly, it’s this – always stand next to the tour guide. You can hear better, learn more and ask questions on the side. That’s my thought early morning of May 2nd, three weeks short of my wedding day.

I’m in Bohol and about to take a Day Tour. Determined to explore and get to know the island as much as I can, I left my sleeping girlfriends (Nelia, Geraldine, and Melanie), forgot about my own fatigue, and spent more than I budgeted. “I’m going by myself,” I said. I planned to sit next to the driver for the next 8-hours of the tour.

What To Do In Bohol

CHOCOLATE HILLS. Dome-shaped hills made of grass-covered limestone


Wikipedia describes Bohol as, “a first income class island in the South of the Philippines.” From my hometown Cebu, Bohol is just a short 2-hour boat ride. I know people who take this trip almost weekly, so I was sure it wouldn’t be a hassle of the ride. I paid P950 pesos for round trip tickets.

      Map of Cebu and Bohol

     Map of Cebu and Bohol

From the pier in Cebu to the capital of Bohol, Tagbilaran, my friends and I took a 40-minute tricycle ride to Panglao. The girls wanted to go there for the beach and resorts, which Bohol is known for. I also heard today it’s like the second Boracay. I’m really not that crazy for beaches – I’ve lived in California for five years, after all – so what I wanted to do was explore. On the way to lunch at Alona Beach, I saw a sign.

Bohol Group Tour – 400 pesos only

  • Chocolate Hills
  • Tarsier
  • Baclayon Church
  • Loboc River Cruise & Buffet Lunch
  • Man-made forest
  • Butterly sanctuary
  • Python
  • Bamboo
  • Hanging Bridge
Tip: They advertise P400 pesos but including entrance fees, the cost would go up to P1,100+.
“Omg, count me in,” I said to myself. I slept in early while my friends went out for drinks that night.

A Conversation With A Boholano

It’s the end of the long day and we’re heading back to Panglao. I started a conversation with the driver, Jonas.

“Kuya, anong mga trabaho meron dito sa Bohol?,” (Brother, what kind of jobs are common here in Bohol?) I asked. I want to learn about rural living.

“Depende kung may pera yung pamilya nila. Kung kaya, magtatapos ng college tapos yung trabaho eh hotel, IT or seaman,” says Kuya driver.  (It depends what their family can afford. For those who can, the kids usually could go to college and work in the hotel, IT or seafarer industry.) “Kapag walang natapos, edi sa sales sa mall or dun sila sa resorts.” (If they have no degree, they usually work in the mall or resorts.)

I told him about my uncle who is a seaman and how hard it must be like to be away from family 6-9 months of the year. We both agreed that the job is, ‘madaming pera pag baba, pero ubos pagsakay.’ (There’s money when you get off the boat, and there’s none of it left when you ride again.)

Then I realized why I love traveling in the first place – it makes me get out of my own bubble. The narcissistic problem of eating too much, stress, failing to finish a to-do list, worrying about which boat to rent on my wedding weekend, pulling my hair when Google Docs won’t load. Turns out,  sitting in a cramped, hard 12-seater tour van in Bohol is the lesson I need at this moment in my life. It’s never about me. And still, sitting beside the driver is the best tip ever.


About the Author

 Crystal-NeriCrystal Neri is a Content and Social Media Marketer. She is a Hootsuite and Hubspot certified expert, covering travel, self-improvement and marketing trends. A graduate of Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Crystal currently works for international companies looking to expand their marketing team in Cebu. Say Hi to her on Twitter (@nericrystal).

Have you been to Bohol before? Let me know if you have any travel stories or tips to share in the comments section below. Also, say Hi to me on Twitter (@nericrystal) or subscribe to my newsletter below.

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