Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tagbilaran-Panglao, Bohol - March 2012

Date of Travel : 14-17 March 2012

Second time In Bohol.
There is so much to appreciate in Bohol and personally, I could say that it's bang for your budget. Back in 2009, we were able to do the Country and Panglao Tour and visit most of the significant boast-abouts of Bohol. The Chocolate hills, the Man-Made Forest, Bayoyoy in Dauis, The Baclayon Church, Loboc River (just to name a few), as well as Balicasag and Panglao Islands. This year, we decided to return with an initial plan to just beach bum and relax. Although the IT was not as fat as the previous, we were still able to tire ourselves while relaxing our minds to the laid back feel of Tagbilaran and the less Tourist-Merchant Stressed beaches of Panglao and Balicasag.
Past Noon Time.
1st lesson learned. Do not take ANY of the public transport inside and outside the airport gate. Get out on the main road if possible and confirm the fee before taking the ride. The tricycle ride we got charged us P150. Our friends, Gian and Leo, who arrived a few hours earlier, were able to get a ride for only P50 with a pay with your conscience deal. My wife handed over P100 as compromise and just so as to meet halfway. Well not really, but anyway.

Jo’s Payag, Chicken Inato.
The tastiest chicken inato (inasal) I’ve tasted. City Burger of Dumaguete is awesome too and Manukan Country of Bacolod is on my list as well. We didn't bother to look into the menu. We just ordered their specialty and what we like eating best, Inato and Barbecue combo which now comes with Unli rice for P105. We were also able to taste one on top of their menu list, Kinilaw na isda. But I wasnt really a fan of primarily, fish and an overdose of Luya and sibuyas.
*Puerto Princesa’s and Dumaguete’s Jo’s Payag does not taste as good as the one in Tagbilaran.
Only one piece available at Payags, Leg part. No Pecho.
2nd lesson.
Don't expect locals to point you at the right direction. Since not every body is A1-familiar with the route to Panglao, specially the public transports going to Rona’s corner, we spent at least 30minutes walking, asking and confirming the rides.
From Payag’s, walk to J.A. Clarin Avenue up to the second corner, A. Hontanosas then turn left. The Jeep terminal is beside the Bohol Museum, Not the Bohol National Museum. Ask what jeep will pass by Rona’s Corner.

Off to Panglao Island.

The jeep is a truck.
It’s huge. It’s a truck in a jeeps body. It can sit at least 26 people on both sides. 4 at the front-including the driver. Perhaps another 15 cramped at the wooden retractable chairs in the middle. Can accommodate at least 10 people, to cling at the back end of the Jeep-SABIT(To hang on with your fingertips). And A few dozens at the TOP. 
We were able to pass by a school at Panglao which filled the bus with high school students going home. It was tight, but the kids bring in their laughter's, making it a less boring 1 hour ride.

We stayed at 2 hotels, one at Panglao and our last day at Tagbilaran.

The Lost Horizon Annex
Alona Beach, Panglao Island Bohol

Room no. 7
  • P18xx per night
  • 32 inch HD TV with Cable
  • Huge Bed with Comforter
  • Ample lights, ambient and clear.
  • A lot of Universal Power Sockets (Big plus, specially if you don't have adaptors for your 3prong or rectangular blade plugs.)
  • Split type air condition
  • Wall and Ceiling fan
  • Huge cabinet with programmable safe box.
  • Mini Ref (with readily available supplies)
  • Daily Complimentary Bottled water and Instant Coffee for two
  • Telephone
  • Hot and Cold water (Water pressure is low, Hot water not as hot)
  • Fluffy and Clean towels, mats and daily Soap supply
  • Blower available
  • Balcony with table and chairs.
  • Annex swimming pool.
  • Strong Wifi Signal (Cisco Eseries on top of each room at the ground floor)
  • Proximity to the Main road-Has two entrance and exit points-1 to the beach and 1 to the main road.
  • Service is OK.
*We were even transported by a dilapidated yellow van in the absence of the main transport van, to the Annex. It was old, rusty and a kick can dismantle the parts, but we appreciate the initial gesture. The driver was very accommodating trying to cope up with our surprised impressions. We preferred to walk thereafter the experience. :)

*The Annex is at least a 2minute walk from the beach front, slicing through the main resort and taking a private off beaten track, passing through other resorts and homes, much like Tans Resort Annex in Boracay.
The Lost Horizon-Main.
Room 7-Annex

Buen Bella Pension House.
26 Miguel Parras Street, Tagbilaran City 6300
(+(63) (38) 411-2593 / 09185297742 (Map)

Room 303
  • P9xx per night
  • Free transport to and from the Airport
  • Free breakfast
  • Window type Aircon
  • Tube type TV with Cable
  • Twin Beds
  • Small cabinets
  • Table with Mirror
  • Telephone
  • Hot and Cold water (Water pressure is low, Hot water is not hot)
  • Wifi available at the Reception

*It's motel like and the structure is not as new but we like the service, package and proximity to Brewpoint (Coffee shop) and we get to explore the main road from here.

Dolphin Watching, the Balicasag Marine Sanctuary and the Virgin Island re-Experience.
5:45AM with Gian and Leo. Unlike last time, we weren’t able to see much dolphins. This time we were lucky. Jeng and Gian were both screaming in excitement seeing em dolphins swim by the side of our boat in groups. It was an awesome experience but unfortunate that it was difficult for me to take nice photos of them even with a mid Nikon 18-135mm lens. Last time I was able to borrow an expensive but useless Nikkor 17-55mm F2.8. Wrong ONE lens to carry.

At Balicasag Island, we walked to the nearby lighthouse and took pictures before plunging into the waters. You need to rent a small boat with a manong guide/paddler for P150 to take you to the nearby sanctuary. The water, corals and huge number of fishes are still awesome. They now have ropes and floaters surrounding the area to limit snorkelers from getting to the deep terrain part of the sanctuary. This part, dividing the corals from the abyss is a thing to drop a jaw at. It’s marvelous. The sanctuary is healthy, obvious and determined by the hundreds of fishes big and small, that’ll feed frenzy on bread when you start feeding them.
Hello Balicasag Island.

Suckers for bread.

The Abyss. 

It's difficult to drown on life jackets.
Our Boat Men, 15year old boys.
We were dead hungry afterwards and feasted on the “Paluto” we ordered beforehand. Adobong Pusit, Sugpo and Extra Rice. The price is a bit steep, but knowing we help out tourism and the locals, is rather a small compromise.
Paluto. Pick what you like and they'll cook it for you.

Virgin island is a term used to identify an island, untouched and far flung. Although the one that’s part of the tour is now privately owned and still with merchants selling souvenirs and buko juice, walking at the sand bar is still not one to miss. Best when the tides are low.
Just some of the merchandise at the Virgin Island.
Sand Bar at Virgin Island. 
At Virgin Island. Now known as Pungtod Island.
Our Boat Ride.
Things to bring:
  • Dry Bag
  • DSLR- Mid to Tele Range, UWA optional
  • Tripod
  • Underwater Camera
  • Money-you’ll need it to pay for food and rented snorkeling equipment if you didn't bring any.
  • Snorkels
  • Sunblock/Tanning lotion
  • Malong, Sarong or Scarf
*Forget towels and extra shirt, you wont need to dry up or change.

Some observations about Alona Beach.
  • Food- Pasta served at Graziella is OK. Taste and price wise.
  • Hayahay Pizza is thin and crunchy, priced fair. Good for 1 person per pizza as opposed to standard claim of 2.
  • Meals are cheap at Trudis and barbecue style value meals at Panglao Birdwatchers.
  • There is a grocery and bakery near Rona’s Corner and along the entrance to Alona Beach where unlike Boracay, price their goods fairly.
  • High Tide during afternoons eats up most of the shoreline.
  • Sunrise is awesome. The round sun makes its way up the horizon at the left side of Alona at around 0545-6am.
  • Sunsets are a bummer. No visible sun plunge.
  • Short Beach. Unlike Boracay, the beach at Alona is short. Might take around 15-20minute walk, end to end.
  • Sand is not as fine and does not disturbingly stick to your clothing or foot wear unlike Boracays.
  • The cheapest Beer and Vodka we saw ranges from 35 to 55 pesos. We spent dinner and lounged on some drinks at Panglao’s Birdwatchers before calling it a night.
  • Lesser Merchants offering services.
  • Beach is crowded with Boats and small yachts due to island tours and Dive shops, so yeah, no Banana boats and Para sailings here.
Some observations about Tagbilaran.
  • Lansidiangs circle the plaza after sunset. These birds rest at the park trees.
  • Doves made the park their home. They stay at the top of the gazebo and there are also pigeon holes at the roof. They like to be fed and prefer nuts over pop corns.
  • There is an Agora or Market at the back of the National Museum. This is also where kilometer 0 is.
  • The airport is only a tricycle away. Minimum fair is P8.
  • The plaza is reminiscent of Bacolods. There is a gazebo, a church, commercial establishments and a market. There’s even a nearby chicken house like Manukan country.
  • Jo’s Payag should not be missed when in Tagbilaran.
  • Crab house is at the outskirts of the city which requires a tricycle ride to get to.(P15/person)

Surely there are lots of better beaches than Alona,  knowing however, that it is one of those getaways where you can truly rest your head on the sand without the Puerto Galera or Boracay crowd bugging you, is one missed in so called Paradise Islands.

What I enjoyed about this trip is having to go to some of the places most tourists would not have spent time to stay in. The Plaza Rizal. Observe people of different walks spend time just watching the world around evolve; students in groups, manongs playing chess, yaya’s walking their alaga, Dad and son, People feeding doves. Lansidiangs doing their rounds and huddle before finally resting at the nearby park trees after sunset, People coming out from mass at the the St. Joseph Cathedral, passing by, some sitting down at the benches-passing time with their children, humid environment but refreshing surrounding. Ahhh.

When you are born in the city, you are but deprived of these simple joys and most people have become comfortable in life's complications, forgetting the ways of the stripped and simple life. /endpreach.

I will definitely go back to Bohol to re-experience the country side tour. We have such nice memories of this place. People are generally nice and the place, laid back. I hope we can go back here in a group. The tree top adventure is one to dominate and conquer.

1st day-Lunch at Payags. // Hotel Check in. // Dinner at Graziella
2nd day-Dolphin watching-Balicasag-Virgin Island tour // Mirienda at Hayahays // Diner and Drinks at Panglao Birdwatchers.
3rd day-Morning Beach Bum // Breakfast at Baybayanon (Alona Tropical)// Off to Tagbilaran // Hotel Check in. // Lunch at Crab House // Tambay sa Plaza // Dinner at Payags // Coffee at Brewpoint.
4th day-Breakfast at hotel. // Airport.

BOHOL TRIP – March 14 to 17, 2012 (Itinerary)
March 14, 2012 - Wednesday

950 AM – 1030 AM
Taxi going Terminal 3

Terminal Fee

200 PM

Arrived at Tagbilaran

Tricycle to Payag Jo’s
225 PM

Mineral Water
400 PM
Bus going to Panglao
515 PM

Arrived at Lost Horizon
700 PM
Dinner at Graziella

900 PM

Back to hotel

March 15, 2012 - Thursday

545 AM
Start of Island Tour

Magnet – Balicasag

Lunch at Balicasag Island

300.00 + 100.00
Snorkling + Tip for kids
200 PM

Back to hotel
430 PM
Pizza at Hayahay and shake
715 PM
Dinner at Panglao BirdWatchers

Inihaw na mais

930 PM

Back to hotel

 March 16, 2012 - Friday

545 AM

Shore of Panglao beach

Bread and Water
820 AM

Breakfast at Baybayanon Resto
1110 AM – 1140 AM
Tricycle from Panglao to Tagbilaran

Tricycle going to Crab House
100 PM
Lunch at Crab House

Jeep going to Tagbilaran

PC Rental and print

Peanuts for pigeons

Drinks and junk food

Tricycle back to Buen Bella

Tricycle to Payag Jo’s
730 PM
Dinner at Payag Jo’s

Tricycle back to Buen Bella
900 PM
Coffee at Brew’s point
1030 PM

Back to Inn

March 17, 2012 - Saturday

700 AM

Prepare stuff
730 AM


Julie’s bakeshop
905 AM


Terminal fee
1220 PM

Arrived in Manila
1240 PM
Lunch at Chubby China
245 PM
Taxi back to Pasig

Overall expenses:
Wednesday Php 1,981
Thursday Php 2,695
Friday Php 1,984
Saturday Php 811.50
Hotel – Lost Horizon Php 3,790
Hotel – Buen Bella Php 950
Total Php 12,212
Airfare Php 1,270.08
Php 13,482

Wrongly waiting at the Corner of Parras for a Panglao bus.

Missing Moms milk.
Balicasag Beach.

Tonight's Menu.
On the beach, massage service.
Hayahays 4 seasons Pizza. Good for two? Nah.

Sunset, using a sunset grad filter.
Early morning, these dogs guarded us, stayed and slept beside us at the beach.

Bob Ongism.
Free Breakfast courtesy of Gians friends, Janet and Dolant.
He owns the beach.
A road in Panglao Island.

Crab House.

Means of transport around the city. The FOR HIRE sign is a ply board which can easily be turned  around and show a different signage.
Outside the Bohol National Museum.
Prepaid Metered Internet at DQ Mall. P5/10Minutes.

Bird Feeding at the Plaza Rizal.

St. John Cathedral. Just across Plaza Rizal.
Noob Polaroid Addict.

Jo's Chicken Inato.
Meet Lunch and Dinner.
At Brewpoint Coffee Shop.
Crab remains.

Video Summary