Discovering Bohol: Loboc River Cruise

   Popularly known as the most famous river in Bohol, the Loboc River is considered to be one of the major tourist destinations in the island. With such beauty, tourism took its place by promoting the river through various cruises while still preserving the river’s natural habitat and cleanliness.

   After our service tour driver paid for our entrance, each one of us were handed out with our own gate pass to the floating restaurant. The gate pass itself is also a post card which you can keep as a souvenir.

   It took us a while to go inside the boat as the crews were still refilling the food from the buffet table. As we wait, I can’t help myself and asked my brother to have my picture be taken looking as grumpy and hungry as ever while waiting for our turn to  jump into the floating restaurant and eat.

   Since we still have time, I took the opportunity to chill out with the boys.

   As soon as the crews gave us the go signal, we hurriedly climb aboard and from there, we were all welcomed by a  solo guitarist who was entertaining the crowd with its country musics.

   Since its noon time already and we’re all hungry, its time for us to grab something to eat. Here’s me munching my way towards the floating restaurant’s lunch buffet— burp! ^_^ ….

   As the boat traversed its way towards the long river, we came to a halt on a rondalla house wherein we were welcomed by the Loboc River Choir  with a song and dance number. What I liked the most was seeing foreigners enjoying themselves and having the time of their life while dancing along with the locals.

   I’m not really sure how long this cruise was but I guess it’s around 30-45 mins. Several tiny waterfalls marked the end of our river cruise before the boat turned its way back to the port.

   As we were almost near to our final destination, we saw some daring kids climbing their way into a coconut tree while some of them were jumping towards the river through a rope tied into the tree .

   Before docking, I grabbed my camera and took a shot of the long river cruise port.

   Just outside the port’s exit, several souvenir shops and stores lined up.

   Before leaving, we tried out the famous ice cream made by the Bohol Bee Farm — malunggay flavored ice cream on a camote cone. Simply delicious! yum yum yum…^_^

Discovering Bohol: Xzootic Animal Park

   Xzootic Animal Park is a small but well-maintained zoo located at  Agape, Loay. Aside from the usual animals that we see, this park also houses several exotic animals. The place is well-known by its main attraction, the 200 kg Burmese python “Norio” which is a 9 yr old snake. Just beside its cage, another 6-yr old Burmese python by the name of “Nelia” is being displayed as well.

   Before entering Norio’s cage to have my picture be taken, I asked the zookeeper if the snake had already eaten as I don’t want to be bitten by it. Even if it says tamed on the tarpaulin, safety was still my utmost priority at that time. I learned that the snake had just eaten 2 whole chicken — talk about appetite.

Norio and Me

If real, live snakes are not your type, you may opt for this one. ^_^

I must say that my favorite activity here at the zoo was the picture-taking with the iguana. It was my first time to actually experience a live and scaly creature be put on top of my head so the excitement that I felt at that time was really kicking up.

aye aye, sir

Here are some of the animals that you may find here at the park.

On the contrary, I was really surprised to see Barney here. I just couldn’t see how Barney would fit in here and what is its actual relation to the zoo. I can’t seem to find the connection. Nevertheless, my mom did enjoy taking picture with it. ^_^

Say Cheese!

Just a thought on the side, I wonder if the name “Xzootic” came from the combined words of exotic and zoo since both words really describe this place? I don’t know the answer to this as I never did ask any zookeepers about it but it makes sense if it did.

Things You Need To Know:

  1. Entrance fee is Php 20 / person.
  2. Donation boxes can be seen from outside the cages of various animals. Giving money is not mandatory but for those who have extras, feel free to give some. According to one of the zookeepers, they use the money to buy foods for the animal.
  3. Picture taking with the snakes are free. Just bring your own camera. However, donations are very much welcome here.
  4. Picture taking with the iguanas are not free. It costs Php 10 for every 3 shots. Personal cameras will be used.
  5. If in any case you don’t have any camera with you, there are photographers within the area who can help you out with that. However, each picture costs Php 100 and if you want it to be framed, they will charge you for another Php 50.
  6. If you are planning to buy Peanut Kisses as your pasalubong, the best place to buy is here. It will only cost you Php 140 (6 pieces of Peanut Kisses per pack).

Discovering Bohol: Blood Compact

   Considered as one of the most famous historical event in the Philippines, the Blood Compact Shrine is a life-size bronze monument that depicts the Sandugo (Isang Dugo or One Blood) event that happened between Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Rajah Sikatuna. This event symbolizes the Treaty of Friendship formed between the two parties dated March 16, 1565. As part of a tribal tradition to their friendship,

   Each of the two leaders made a small cut in his arm, drew a few drops of blood from the incision, mixed it with wine, and drank the goblet containing the blood of the other. Thus was the first bond of friendship between Filipinos and Spaniards.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandugo

   The monument itself is located at Barangay Bool, Tagbilaran City. However, the event didn’t happen at this area. Just a few meters away from the shrine is the actual location of the Sandugo that took place in the island of Bohol.

image courtesy of stoicpassion.com

Just behind the shrine, one can already find a majestic view of the sea.

 a backdrop view of the serene sea

Good thing for us, the weather was really good at that time and only a handful of tourists were in the area. I can say we were in a great timing as we were able to take several souvenir photos together with the statues.

smile and kampay!

Just outside the shrine is a souvenir shop. Lots of great items you can find in this place from wallets, key chains, bags, shirts and so much more. However, it’s too much early for us to buy pasalubongs at this period as this was only our first stop. If in case you’re planning to buy souvenir items with Tarsier motifs, there are street vendors just outside the shrine which sells these items for a much cheaper price as compared to those being sold out in a store. Please keep in mind though that the choices are limited only and the items being sold here are selected.

souvenir shop
trying out the hat

 

Discovering Bohol: Baclayon Church

     The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion or more popularly known as the “Baclayon Church” is considered to be one of the oldest stone church in the Philippines. Constructed during the Spanish occupation and completed in 1727, this massive structure itself is rich in history and of the arts.

Interesting Facts I have learned from our tour:

  • It took 10 years to complete the building of the church.
  • Its walls and foundations were made out of coral stones  which they took from the sea, cut into square blocks, and piled on to each other.
  • Around 200 native laborers were forced to do the work.
  • Bamboos were used to move and lift the stones.
  • The binding component used in building the church is a mixture of powdered lime stones and egg whites — an old version of what is now called “cement”.
  • The Baclayon Pipe Organ, which was made in 1824, is still in use today to grace all masses held at the church.  It was restored only in 2008 after being dormant for more than half a century.
  • The organ is the third oldest pipe organ in the Philippines.
  • The “green” color of the walls are not paint but rather moss– a proof that the stones are alive ( quoted from Elmer, our tour guide)

  • Outside the church, an image of Padre Pio’s face can be seen from one of its posts.

Family picture with Padre Pio at the back

  • No nails were used to build the altar and to connect the heavy beams.
  • The altar’s design was based on Baroque style.

full view of the church’s altar

  • The colored panes are limited only to the basic quatrefoil “florentine” patterns and color choices would be amber, green and blue only.
  •  Inside the church was a dungeon where they used to the punish natives who violated the rule of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • The Museo de Loboc was originally a priest’s rectory which was then converted later to a museum that showcases a handful of religious relics, artifacts and other antiquities left by the Spaniards dating back to the 16th century.

Old Rectory House converted into a museum

  • The tabernacle is the oldest item in the museum.
  • All statues around the Immaculate Concepcion have significant relation in her life.

close up view of the statues

Things You Need To Know:

  1. Entrance fee to the museum is Php 50 / person.
  2. No picture-taking is allowed in the museum but is acceptable inside and outside the church.
  3. Dress codes are strictly implemented at the church.

Entrance to the church and museum

A salute to the church’s bell tower

hand painted walls and ceilings

checkered floor tiles

green moss on the walls

Discovering Bohol: Budget and Plan

     Going on a trip is a lot of fun but the process of preparing the trip will never be that easy. The hassle of finding a place to stay and planning where to go maybe cumbersome and time-consuming. For people just like me who are on a tight budget, looking for a cost-effective trip will require some extensive researching, planning and budgeting in order to maximize every resources that we have. Good thing that airline companies nowadays offer seat sale promos which allow travelling to be more possible and tourist destinations to be within reach. In addition, various blogs, reviews and articles about different service tours and accommodations are definitely a big help as they now provide options to better help us with our decisions. Thanks to Google and the Internet, planning a trip is now as easy breezy which can take place even at the convenience of our own home.

English: Chocolate Hills, Bohol Province, Phil...

English: Chocolate Hills, Bohol Province, Philippines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     In a few days, me and my family are off to Bohol for a vacation. Its been a while since we had our last family bonding and outing so we are all definitely looking forward to this trip. It took us some time to prepare for this one as all of our schedules barely match with each other and all of us are working. However, there’s a saying that goes, “if there’s a will, there’s a way.” Just to give a brief background, we got our ticket since last January so the amount we paid for each person were way lower than the usual rates. It’s a good thing that seat sales are common this time around as these gave us a reason to book for this long-awaited flight. For the accommodations and tours, we just closed it off last week since it took us several months to negotiate for the rates as well as the availability of the service. After several attempts of haggling, we finally got ourselves the trip that we wanted and we were able to find a house that are well  within our budget.

     As seen below, here are our trip’s itinerary as well as the cost that we have incurred for this trip alone. Other expenses such as the foods and pasalubong are still not included here so its better to have extra cash in your pocket. Enjoy! ^_^

RP-C3228

RP-C3228 (Photo credit: airforcefe)

Round Trip Ticket Per Person via Air Philippines (Promo Fare) : Php 916.00  (inclusive of  taxes, fees & charges except terminal fee)

 Note: fare varies depending on seat sale

Vacation Tour Package : 5 pax @ p2,980.00 per person (tour services rate without accommodation)

Contact Person: Kuya Dodong (09292742015)

ITINERARY:

DAY 01 = Check-in Resort Upon arrival

  • 40 minutes grocery shopping is allotted (to buy your provisions at BQ grocery department)

DAY 02 = BOHOL COUNTRYSIDE TOUR (8 hrs – start 9am)

The famous Loboc River

The famous Loboc River (Photo credit: JeneaWhat)

  • Blood Compact Site
  • Baclayon   Church
  • Python Snake/Ostrich
  • Loboc River Cruise and Luncheon
  • Tarsier Watch (smallest primate)
  • Man-made Forest
  • Hanging Bridge
  • Butterfly Sanctuary
  • Chocolate Hills
  • Souvenir shop

DAY 03

  • Activity 01= DOLPHIN WATCHING, ISLAND HOPPING,SNORKELING,SWIMMING 6-8hrs = time flexible
    • On-board Motorized Boat with life-saving gadgets and boat operator/crew assistance.
    • Jump-Off time 5:30-6:00 AM
    • Guests will be the one to pay for:
      • Php100/set of snorkel & face mask.
      • Php 150 per pax payment for swimming guide
      • Php150 per pair of swimming shoes
      • payment food in the island – lunch
  • Activity 02 = New Exciting Firefly Watch at Maribojoc River – 5:30pm

DAY 04 = PANGLAO/DAUIS TOUR 3-4 hrs – start 9am

DAUIS CHURCH, PANGLAO,BOHOL

DAUIS CHURCH, PANGLAO,BOHOL (Photo credit: martindemo)

  • Panglao shell museum
  • Hinagdanan cave
  • Dauis church
  • Bee Farm – guest may have their lunch in the farm-guest expense
  • Bayoyoy the dwarf man
  • To airport after tour

INCLUSIONS:

  • transfers IN/OUT
  • Air con transport for Day Tours
  • Motorized boat for sea tour – including firefly watch
  • Entrance Fees
  • Buffet Lunch at Loboc River on board floating restaurant
  • Fuel
  • Tour driver/guide

House No. 10

ACCOMMODATION: Alonaland Resort

Overnight Rate: Php 2300

  • good for 6 persons
  • 2 Sleeping Rooms (1 King size bed and 2 Double beds) 
  • 2 Split Type Airconditioner
  • Warm Water Shower
  • Living room with Cable TV
  • Electronic Safe
  • Kitchenette with Refrigerator and Gas stove
  • Internet, Billiard Table and BBQ places are free to use
  • just a 10 minute walk to the Alona Beach Center or a 3 minute travel with the resort’s free beach shuttle (8am-11pm)

Source: http://www.alonalandresort.com

Gelatissimo Cafe: A Sweet Treat for My Sweet Tooth

     Located in Serendra, Gelatissimo Cafe is a small haven for sweet lovers like me. It features gelato products that provides an array of flavors which can make our boring day into a happy and sweet one.

- front view of Gelatissimo Cafe in Serendra -

     A lot of questions came into my mind upon entering the cafe but one question stands out from the rest of the pool. What’s the difference between a gelato and an ice cream? If you’ll ask me, I thought they are just the same in looks and flavor. However, I did my own research and here’s what I found out:

      In Italian, Gelato literally means “frozen,” but it’s often translated as “Italian ice cream.” Ice cream is made with mostly cream, which is heated along with sugar and other flavoring ingredients, including sometimes eggs, to form a custard base. Then it is frozen while being churned, with varying amounts of air. The average amount of air in ice cream is 60%. Ice cream is then whipped to increase volume and unify texture. It is ideally served cold and hard. By industry standards, frozen desserts labeled ice cream must have at least 10% milk fat content. Premium and “super premium” brands typically have 12-18% milk fat.

     On the contrary, Gelato is made with mostly milk in its creamy variations (resulting in less milk fat content, usually 4-8%), along with sugar, flavorings and sometimes eggs, with much less air added in (20% average), and then stored at warmer freezing temperatures, generally resulting in denser flavors, bolder colors, and a much softer serving texture. Sorbetti are fruit-based gelato flavors essentially starring crushed fresh fruit, water and sugar.

Source: Ron in Rome

     The first thing that captured my attention was the gelateria’s interior design.  Its walls were adorned by red wallpapers with  big Italian words printed on it. The ceilings as well as the store’s lights and fixtures set up the mood by creating a relaxed and romantic ambiance.  In addition, the way they organize these new and unused gelato cups on one side of the wall kinda form an art that was truly an eye catcher for me. However, there’s no better way to describe the place than what is stated on their website:

Gelatissimo’s branding fully recreates the Florence gelato experience incorporating Italian music, photographs and a romantic Italian experience.

- an Italian experience inside Gelatissimo -

     As soon as we got inside, a display of various fresh sorbets and creamy gelati (plural for gelato) welcomed us upon entering the gelateria . Different flavors of gelato were offered on us to entice our awaiting taste buds. From the classic flavors of mango and chocolate up to its unique flavors such as the Chili Chocolate, surely there is something that will make its customer drool and be gaga over the available frozen, sweet treats. Delizioso! ^__^

- uber gelato treats -

     Since I love chocolates, I decided to try their Chocolate Truffles & Chocolate Almond gelati. They both have the right amount of sweetness which were really my preference when it comes to frozen delights.  Aside from that, the gelati were so creamy and delicious, I can say that it is sinfully yummy! Oh, did I mention that I was craving for almonds too. ^__^

- my 2 flavored cup -

     One flavor that really captured my attention was the Chili Chocolate. I’m not sure how it was made or processed but I can really say that this one got a kick on its own. Out of curiosity and peer pressure (hopefully not!), my friend ordered the Chili Chocolate gelato. She made us try out the flavor and all I can say was “WOAH“.  The first time I put that thing  into my mouth, it tasted like your typical chocolate flavored ice cream. However, after 3-5 seconds, that’s when the story changed. I can definitely taste the zing of the chili as it slowly melts into my mouth. Good thing that the gelato was made out of milk which helped neutralize its hot flavor. I can say that it’s a unique and one-of-a kind experience for me as I have never tasted anything like this before. I wonder if this store will ever try to come up with a wasabi or kimchi flavored gelato as an addition to its line up? Just thinking out loud ^__^ 

- image courtesy of Keropokman -

     After ordering, we decided to stay outside the cafe to enjoy these sumptuous desserts. The heat of the sun was really scorching at that moment as it was already past noon time when we got to the place. Since the gelati were melting quickly, I decided to take a picture of all of our orders together as a photo souvenir of our food trip.

- from left to right: Raspberry & Mocha Sorbet | Chocolate Truffles & Chocolate Almond Gelati | Chocolate Truffles & Chili Chocolate Gelati-

     Before going any further, do you still remember the hungry customer from my previous blog? She now has a second companion. Please meet my friend, the Hungry Hungarian Lady without the Hungarian. We call her that because whenever she orders the Hungry Hungarian Pasta, she either sets aside the hungarian sausage toppings on her plate or just give it away to somebody who is very willing to take it. Having much said and since I have already introduced and provided these two ladies too much exposures, its time for us now to get back to the real story. ^__^

- my "Hungry" buddies -

     Going back, the place also offers other products such as sundaes, beverages and shakes. Since I’m not good in memorizing things, I decided to just take pictures of their menu list instead. This way, I’ll be able to check their prices from time to time or at least provide us an idea on how much it would typically cost as the prices indicated in the photos may change without prior notice.

     Overall, the Gelatissimo Cafe is a must try place for those who love sweets or even everyone. For more information about the store locators, please check out their page. Buon appetito! ^__^

Notable Celestial Events in 2012

CHIN2X:

Hi Marvin, I would like to share your post to my blog. Thanks – Crisel ^_^

Originally posted on Journey to the Stars:

This year comes with its share of many remarkable skywatching events that we can participate in.  The most important is the rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in  June 2012. The next time this will occur again is in 2117. We have the unique opportunity to observe this. (A note to Philippine observers: We are in a good location for this event!)  Moreover, there’s also the Mercury elongation in February, Jupiter-Venus conjunction on March 13-15, the solar eclipses on May 21 and November 14 and  our favorite annual meteor showers.

The list below also contains some tips for Philippine observers.

Clear skies and happy observing! :)

February 20 – March 12 :  Best Chance to see Mercury

The planet Mercury will be far enough from the Sun’s glare to be visible shortly after sunset. Mercury will reach greatest elongation from the Sun on March 5, reaching a relatively bright magnitude…

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