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Country > Philippines > Bohol > Tagbilaran
Date > 2017 > Sep
Activity > Traveling


Tagbilaran Revisited Sep 7-12, 2017

Tagbilaran Revisited

Location Google Map: Bohol Tropics Resort, Tagbilaran City, Bohol (province), Philippines

Tagbilaran is Special
I find Tagbilaran special in many ways:

  1. proximity to everything - Tagbilaran is right in the hub of Bohol. Alona Beach is just 30 minutes away, the pristine waters of Loboc River is within reach, Chocolate Hills is a short ride away, and with Tagbilaran's port, you're just hours away from Cebu, Leyte or Camiguin.
  2. ideal (city) size and intensity
    • Manila has long been a poster-city for dysfunctional living - that's why I left that place.
    • Cebu City has great urban facilities, but it is too congested already with traffic choking the (city) streets. It's also polluted and expensive.
    • Dumaguete is charming, but too small, you can walk the central hub in an hour - it needs more diversity.
    • Davao is laid back and cheap, but its growth has been nearly stagnant - and there's martial law there at the moment.
    • Which leaves me with Tagbilaran - it's not yet congested, traffic flows in the inner (city), highways are nearly empty, low cost of living, safe (low crime rate), big enough to be diversified, people are still laid back and not too caught-up in themselves.
  3. cheap movies - yes, obviously, I'm a movie buff. Nowhere else in the country can you find first-run movies in good movie houses for P120 (Cebu City movies go for P220). There are 3 malls with movie houses (even though they all show the same movies) - BQ, Island City Mall and Alturas.

    Notice none of them are any of the Big 3 - Ayala, SM and Robinsons? I'm beginning to think these big national mall chains are also jacking up the prices across the board whenever they show up in a (city). Perhaps Tagbilaran is better off without them. I know the local powers-that-be are protecting their own interest by keeping the Big 3 out, but I also think that by doing so, they are also protecting the interest of the small Mom-and-Pop stores. The Big 3 just bulldoze their way like European nobility whenever they establish their presence in any (city), leaving in its wake, flattened small businesses. I didn't see this angle until I came to Tagbilaran. The entire time, I had this mindset that the presence of the Big 3 was a validation that a certain place has "arrived". Now I'm rethinking that.

Unfinished Business
After Cebu City, it could have been any destination - Coron for outdoor adventures with Greg, Tagbilaran for the above reasons (and for being just a short trip from Cebu City), Davao for durian or even the Himalayas for Vipassana Meditation. But Jeanne secured a cheap room for me in Tagbilaran - and it was as simple as that. Besides, I somehow feel I have unfinished business in Tagbilaran as I had to leave sooner than desired during my last visit.

I found the cheapest boat fare with Lite Ferries at P150 for a 4.5-hour trip. Alighting in Tagbilaran Port, I rode my bike with the full weight of my luggage on my back. My dorm room wasn't too far away.

Bohol Tropics Resort
on the boat for Tagbilaran

Unscrupulous Landlord
The room in the boarding house that was arranged for me was for P3k/month - already beyond my range as a budget backpacker on a rat-string. But it was my 'in' to get back to Tagbilaran. However, upon arrival, the landlord immediately jacked-up the price close to P4k - I bailed. It's typical of sleazy business owners who promise one thing but pull the rug from underneath you when they get you cornered. In a way, I was also relieved to have my 'out' coz the place was a dump - clogged drains, blaring radio at 5am, no hooks in the washroom, narrow passage with aircon drippings above you, etc. I just feel bad for all the non-complaining students who put up with it.

Bohol Tropics ResortBohol Tropics Resort
I wasn't attached to Tagbilaran. If I couldn't find a suitable and affordable place, I'd just move on somewhere else. But as good fortune would have it, as I was cycling around the (city), I noticed this big resort by the water. I went in and got to talk to management and offered my web services + more (I'm practically a human Swiss Army knife). The person I talked to came across as forward-thinking and genuinely concerned about the challenges that lay ahead. There was resonance. I came at the right time. They needed what I offered - and I needed a roof over my head. The workscope for me was for a major build, but it was a good fit. We shook hands on a barter deal and that got me this wonderful resort for a home for 30 days + breakfast for 2! Now I can even invite my friends to join me for breakfast, which makes for good bonding.

This resort is huge! 3 swimming pools, a dive center, alfresco resto-cafe overlooking the water, multi-level beach houses, lots of function rooms - all in a manicured greenery. They even decorate the construction barriers to blend in with the surroundings instead of being an eye sore.

I could do ballroom dancing inside my room! 2 beds, fridge, cable tv, closet, safety deposit box, balcony fronting the water, etc. My washroom is likewise spacious. The room itself is not new (they are currently developing a new annex) but well maintained. It feels like Alice in Wonderland.

Breakfast Conversation
With my stay at Bohol Tropics Resort, I am privileged to have a breakfast guest - how cool is that? Usually, you meet friends in a big group setting. Of course, conversation boils down to its common denominator, or what I call big-group-talk - nothing wrong with that, but it's never as intimate as a quality one-on-one talk with someone across the table. You can talk about things you otherwise would not talk about within a big group setting. interestingly, it would be rude for the other person to be fixated on the phone while it's just the 2 of you talking (ha-ha, one person comes to mind). More importantly, the other person reveals other dimensions to him/her that may not otherwise be obvious or presented. Yes, QUALITY one-on-one with a flesh-and-blood person (not virtual) from across the table...everyday!!!

Public Markets
Discovering Cogon Public Market was a delight. I discovered a popular sikwate/puto maya place, tuba/bahal/bahalina vendor, kinilaw carinderia and all other cheap but delightful essentials. There are many such public markets in Tagbilaran alone, each having a personality all its own - with somehow a different price level for the same commodity. E.g. - durian is P90/kilo at Cogon Public Market while at Dao Public Market, it's P120/kilo!

Cycling in Tagbilaran
It wasn't easy bringing my bike along with my 2 heavy and bulky packs - but it was all worth it. I'm mobile to explore any fork on the road or turn to any corner without knowing where I end up - usually discovering a nice eatery or specialty store. I am not reliant on public transport, I save a lot of money on transport fare, I get fit, I don't leave any carbon footprint and I'm free to go where I want to go. I cannot underscore just how exponentially enhancing a bicycle is when I travel.

Ending Thoughts
In my deterministic paradigm, I had to bail out of the dump boarding house because my benevolent universe already has something else lined-up for me - Bohol Tropics Resort. All I had to do was 'not settle' and follow my bliss - and everything fell into place (which includes meeting the resort manager with whom I felt a connection with - she apparently is part of my karmic process). Again, in an abstract form of manifestation, this is the kind of dynamics I have with my universe (which essentially resides in me...but I don't want to go into a gnostic discourse here).

I practically have a full month left in Tagbilaran. I've only scratched the surface...and I plan to dig deep! So far, everything beautiful is falling onto my plate - meaningful/challenging work, a roof over my head, breakfast conversation with friends, a bicycle for mobility, a whole new horizon to explore and more people whom friends lined-up for me to meet.

The same place can have a different energy and can interact with you a different way in a different time - so don't write-off a place simply because it didn't work out the first time. The last time I was in Tagbilaran, there was an element of struggle - that was my cue to leave. Now, there is abundance - this is likewise my cue to stay and explore possibilities. This is how my benevolent universe talks to a cryptic language I now understand.

For all the abundance, thank you! Thank you Bohol Tropics Resort (and its management - I'm tempted to mention a name, but for privacy reasons, I won't), thank you Jeanne (for making the Tagbilaran choice for me), thank you to all my Bohol friends who made me feel welcome, thank you Tagbilaran for being a home!

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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Tagbilaran Travel Info / Tips
  • Tagbilaran has P120 first-run movies at Inter Island Mall, Bohol Quality Mall and Alturas Mall - the only city in the country that still keeps that price
  • you can buy Bahalina (aged, decanted and alcoholic coconut sap) at Cogon Public Market. Not every city in the country sells this....Leyte is also famous for Bahalina
  • there is good P15 sikwate (native chocolate drink) and puto-maya at the Cogon Public Market...just ask around
  • tricycle ride around the city is only P10/pax
  • laundry is only P25/kilo, minimum of 1 kilo, for pick-up the following day
Bohol Google Map

Google Map Bohol, Philippines

tourist attractions in Bohol tourist attractions
  • Danao Adventure Park in Bohol Danao Adventure Park - zip lining, cable car ride, caving, river rides/trekking, off-road buggy ride, root climbing, rappelling and ultra-glide rides
  • Alona Beach in Bohol Alona Beach - hub for tourists with hotels, resorts, restos, bars and dive shops
  • Chocolate Hills in Bohol Chocolate Hills - hills side-by-side shaped like giant Kisses chocolate
  • Tarsier in Bohol Tarsier - pocket-sized marsupia looking like a monkey
  • Balicasag Island in Bohol Balicasag Island - one of the best dive spots in the Philippines
  • Loboc River in Bohol Loboc River - river cruise on a boat
  • Anda Beach in Bohol Anda Beach - fine white sand beach with resorts, restos and cottages, 3 hours by bus from Tagbilaran
  • Cabagnow Cave Pool in Anda, Bohol Cabagnow Cave Pool - brackish water pool about 5ft deep inside a limestone opening on the ground, 8 feet deep, P50
  • Lamanok Island in Anda, Bohol Lamanok Island - walk on a 100m bamboo bridge on stilts to a resto area to take a boat tour to caves and nearly attractions, P300
  • Combento Cave Pool in Bohol Combento Cave Pool - cave pool with underwater cave system, P20
  • Can-umantad Falls in Candijay, Bohol Can-umantad Falls - long narrow drop until it hits a bulbous mound spreading it into a a curtain-like water canopy and down into a splash pool
  • Canawa Cold Spring in Candijay, Bohol Canawa Cold Spring - deep refreshing cold spring with developed pool area
  • Firefly Tour in Candijay, Bohol Firefly Tour - evening boat ride into the river to watch fireflies
hotels in Bohol hotel
  • Fox & The Firefly Cottages Fox & The Firefly Cottages - SUP paddle boarding, luxury riverside native cottages, mountain bike tours, SUP yoga
    Baranggay Valladolid, Loboc, Bohol
  • Bohol Tropics Resort Bohol Tropics Resort - seafront location, manicured surroundings, swimming pool, resto/bar
    0133 Graham Avenue, Brgy. Cogon, Tagbilaran, Bohol 6300
  • Oasis Resort - Alona Beach location, dive center, resto / bar
    Alona Beach, Panglao, Bohol
yoga in Bohol yoga
  • Jing Yoga - health & well being through yoga
    Jing Yoga The Courtyard - Airport Road fronting the church
    Jing Yoga Bohol Meditation and Yoga Center - 2nd Floor Lim Magtajas Bldg. CPG Avenue
Bohol Travel Info/Tips

Bohol FYI / Tips

  • the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located within the Alona Beach area
  • the tourist attractions in Bohol are far apart and spread-out. It would be difficult to visit them all using public mass transit. Better hire a van (P3500/day) if in a big group, or rent a motorcycle (P400/day + gas)
  • Bohol relies on its tourism for revenue. As expected, everything they can capitalize on from tourism is extensively used and developed

Tagbilaran Port to Panglao

You can charter any tricycle from the port all the way to Panglao (~P300), but if you want to do it on the cheap,
  1. don't take the tricycles lined-up inside the port. Walk past the port gate and immediately outside, you'll see many tricycles. Take one to the bus terminal in Dao (~P15)
  2. in Dao, take the jeep that plies the Panglao route (~P20)

Tagbilaran (Bohol) to Cebu City by boat

** schedules and rates keep changing, call for latest schedule
  1. Weesam Express - departs 6:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:00 PM
    one way: Economy (aircon) P500.00, Economy (non-aircon) P400.00, First Class P600.00
    round trip promo (at least 2 days advance booking): Economy (aircon) P600, Economy(non-aircon) P500, First Class P1200
    round trip promo (1 day or on the day booking): Economy (aircon) P800, Economy (non-aircon) P700, First Class P1200
  2. Ocean Jet - departs 6-7:05-8:20-9:20-11:40AM, 1-2-3:30-4:20-5:30-6:30PM, 2 hours, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
    Open Air / Tourist Class P800, Business Class P1000
    +63(32)255 7560 / +63 (32) 255 0115 / 0917 638 0000
  3. SuperCat (2GO) - departs 5:50-11AM, 3:45-5:25-8:15PM, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
    P 500.00
    +63 32 233 7000

Things to do, Places to go in Bohol

  1. Chocolate Hills - this is a clustering of more than 1200 hills within a 50km2 area. They range in height from 30-50 meters. What's unusual is their near-perfect conical shape resembling an individual chocolate chip. No one knows how they were formed. Entrance is P50/pax.
  2. Tarsier Conservation Area - located Upper Bonbon, Loboc. The tarsiers are no longer being played at by tourists as circus props, but instead, visitors now view them in cordoned-off areas in their natural 6ha habitat. As they are territorial and nocturnal, they are predictable on where they can be viewed. P50/pax.
  3. Alona Beach (Panglao) - Alona Beach is the tourist hub of Bohol. It has 1.5 kms of white sand beach lined-up by bars, hotels and restos. Alona is also the jump-off point for Balicasag Island, a world class dive destination.
  4. Danao Adventure Park - located in Barangay Magtangtang, 72 kms (2 hours ride) from Tagbilaran. Adventure activities include river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock climbing and ziplining.
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