QUAKE AFTERMATH- CHOCOLATE CRINKLES: Chocolate Hills, one of the country’s popular tourist destinations, in Sagbayan town in Bohol province have been disfigured following the Oct. 15 powerful earthquake that struck Central Visayas. This aerial shot was taken by Inquirer photo correspondent John Chua.


Map of Bohol, Philippines

Visiting Bohol may just be the right way to start your sojourn of this beautiful country with warm friendly people.

It is the tenth largest island in the Philippines comprised of 72 more small islands around the main. Bohol has gained popularity as a good tourist destination with its tropical forest, the unpolluted beaches and the spectacular lush landscape.

One only needs to see a tourist spread with the tarsier hugging a tree, looking so innocently snug to its natural habitat, to get convinced about what this small province can offer.

Bohol’s Pride Three main attractions tourists just cannot say no to – the verdant rainforest with the world’s smallest monkey, Chocolate Hills and the unexploited beaches.

What comes along with these three attractions are beyond what tourists can expect – trekking, snorkelling and diving or just a lazy relaxing day at the beach, all rolled into one small island.

[BEFORE] Chocolate Hills, Bohol, Philippines

The Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills is nothing one has laid eyes on anywhere in the world. The sloping mounds changed colors with the season. During the rainy season, the hills are luxuriant green and during the dry season, the landscape changed into brown shades, thus its name. One cannot keep the camera shutters from clicking once you see these amazing hills.

Diving Sites The last of the not-to-be-missed attractions in Bohol is its diving site expanse. A visit to Panglao Island can be a refreshing shift from the close encounters with Mother Nature. This place prides itself to having some of the nicest beaches in the island.

Panglao Island is a limestone and coralline island and no diver would trade a week stay in this place for anything. Panglao has preserved a picturesque traditional rural town layout.

So, if one has not been to a real rural town, Panglao can give you a clear picture of what it looks like. Diving enthusiasts would rave about the white-sand Alona Beach which could be a good starting point of their beach-hopping galore.

Balicasag Diving Spot, Bohol

The house reef of Alona Beach known as Kalipayan or “Happy Wall” teems with attractively colourful corals, sea fans, some juvenile barracudas and small groupers.

This takes a good six-minute boat ride from Alona Beach, or for those Olympic swimmers, it’s an easy reach by swimming from the beach.

Another 12-minute ride by ‘banca’ (boat) from Alona Beach would bring you to Arco Point or more poignantly called “Hole in the Wall” where one can see rare fish species swimming along the wall.

Island Hopping

What can be better than hopping from one island to another? And you need only a pump-boat to do that. You can start with the fascinating whale and dolphin watching tour at Panglao Island, followed by hopping from Pamilacan Island to Balicasag to Cabilao Island. Each of these islands managed to keep its pristine natural condition.

Tarsier – World’s Smallest Monkey

The Smallest Monkey – Tarsier Bohol is one of the few islands in the Philippines with the virgin forests still intact and conserved.

Locals organize day-trips into the jungle where you can smell and breathe the forest air and maybe get the chance to meet some rare species in the jungle.

The tarsier is one great sight to behold especially if you catch them undisturbed. Like the sloping Chocolate Hills, the tarsiers are not to be missed by visiting tourists.

Other Attractions Bohol’s people are friendly, warm and hospitable, typical of every Philippine rural townsfolk nature.

People have a ready smile for just about anyone. Everyone can offer a place to stay in their home, if you are not picky.

That’s hospitality – Philippine style. Fruits abound in the island given that agriculture is the other major source of income of this island second to tourism.

Durian - The durian is considered as "the king of all tropical fruit". The durian fruit is very big and heavy. A durian can weight up to 10 pounds. The whole skin consists of big, sharp and hard spines! Asian people are really fans of this 'king'. To open a durian, you need to insert a knife between the spines. The durian is high in proteins, minerals and fats. The durian is one of the most expensive fruits. For Asian people it tastes so good that it is worth the money!

Heard about ‘mangga’ (mango), saging (banana) and guayabano (soursop), durian (durian)? These are the local fruits you can get to taste when you visit the island. Look at the pictures and these mouth watering fruits will get your tummies grumbling.


After Bohol quake: Worry, recovery BY BEA CUPIN POSTED ON 10/20/2013 11:48 AM | UPDATED 10/20/2013 7:30 PM

A BELL WITHOUT A BELFRY. The bell of the San Vicente Parish Church in Maribojoc, Bohol lies among the church's ruins, 20 October 2013. Photo by Franz Lopez/Rappler

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines — Songs are sung and prayers are said. But the church bells do not toll.

It's Sunday morning, October 20, in the capital city of Bohol, where only 6 days ago, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck, affecting large parts of the province.

The city's St Joseph Cathedral, unlike many others in Bohol and nearby Cebu province, is intact. But cracks in the building make it unsafe to enter so mass is held right beside the church, under a tarpaulin roof.

Here, people try to find a sense of normalcy, despite the aftershocks that are a rude reminder of what happened on October 15.

Inside a fast food joint, someone accidentally drops a huge pan. The reaction is instantaneous — people are jumpy, the mood is tense. "Ambi nako'g linog nasad," says one customer (I thought it was another earthquake.)

Tagbilaran's department stores and commercial complexes are open, banks have since reopened, and transportation is back to normal. Some families camp out in the city's evacuation centers, but most are back in their homes, most now bearing cracks from the quake.

It's a different story in other Bohol municipalities affected by the quake.

A province of tents

FOUR-LETTER WORD. A 'Help' sign is seen while Filipino children play outside their makeshift tents in rice fields drive following a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Calape, Bohol, Philippines, 16 October 2013. EPA/Dennis Sabangan

In most towns, residents camp outside of their homes or in open fields, afraid to go back to their homes because of the aftershocks. Old buildings are a wreck and churches are in ruins.

Diri Flores, a resident of an island barangay in Calape, was out at sea when the quake struck. "Murag gisayaw ang isla," he told Rappler. (It was like the island was dancing.)

Nearly all families from his community fled from the island via pump boat in fear of a tsunami. The sea receded and within a few minutes, came gushing back, surprising residents who were already trying to board their boats.

Sink holes started forming along the barangay's sandy shore. It was like nothing they had ever seen in their lives.

More than 160 families moved to mainland Calape, except for the senior citizens who stayed behind. By Friday night, only around 99 families stayed behind. By Saturday, only 60 families from the barangay were staying in Calape's poblacion.

Diri and his wife, Isabel, said they have no plans of going back to their homes any time soon. "Bahala na among mga balay ug gamit, basta safe mi," Isabel, who evacuated with only the clothes on her back, said. (We don't care about our house and things anymore as long as we're safe.)

Her 5-year-old daughter, Isabel said, is showing signs of trauma from the quake and its aftershocks. "Ug milinog, muhilak nalang sa niya, unya mushagit nga 'mama, naa nasa'y boo,'" she said. (When there's a quake, she'll start crying and she'll scream: mama, there's another quake!)

Food, safety

In the town of Clarin, an entire barangay is now uninhabitable after the quake. Barangay Bonbon residents, like Calape's evacuees, stay in makeshift tents pitched in the town's open spaces.

It's not perfect but it will do, residents say, although they do worry over basic necessities — what they will eat or drink when the relief goods run out. The other day, packs were given out to families but these were barely enough to feed a family of four.

Health issues are slowly becoming a concern in Bohol's municipalities. Community centers and hospitals buildings are still inhabitable after the quake. Doctors and nurses instead set up makeshift wards outside the hospital itself.

There, work continues — from stitching up the chin of an adventurous child to delivering babies. In one health center in Clarin town, medical staff has made 3 deliveries in a day.

Diarrhea is also starting to become a worry in Clarin as potable water is still in short supply. Dr. RJ Demandante, Clarin's municipal health officer, says the town's usual water source has long been questionable, with cases of E. coli bacteria.

Demandante says while she has a supply of diarrhea medicine, it might not be enough to meet the demands of a disaster situation. "Nahadlok ko'g mahutdan ko," she said. (I'm worried I'll run out of medicine.)

Worry — that's the emotion prevalent in affected Bohol towns. They worry about food, the communities they leave behind, the aftershocks that don't seem to end, and the lives that they will have to rebuild. –

The Legendary Chocolate Hills From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Chocolate Hills in Carmen, Bohol.

The Chocolate Hills is a geological formation in Bohol Province, Philippines.

There are at least 1,260 hills but there may be as many as 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres (20 sq mi).

They are covered in green grass that turns brown (like chocolate) during the dry season, hence the name.

The Chocolate Hills is a famous tourist attraction of Bohol. They are featured in the provincial flag and seal to symbolize the abundance of natural attractions in the province.

They are in the Philippine Tourism Authority's list of tourist destinations in the Philippines; they have been declared the country's third National Geological Monument and proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Locator map of the Chocolate Hills. Dark brown indicates the greatest concentration of the Chocolate Hills in the Bohol municipalities of Sagbayan, Batuan, and Carmen. Light brown indicates a lesser concentration of the hills in Bilar, Sierra Bullones, and Valencia.

The Chocolate Hills form a rolling terrain of haycock hills – mounds of a generally conical and almost symmetrical shape.

Estimated to be from 1,268 to about 1,776 individual mounds, these cone-shaped or dome-shaped hills are actually made of grass-covered limestone. The domes vary in sizes from 30 to 50 metres (98 to 160 ft) high with the largest being 120 metres (390 ft) in height.

Bohol's "main attraction", these unique mound-shaped hills are scattered by the hundreds throughout the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan in Bohol.

During the dry season, the grass-covered hills dry up and turn chocolate brown. This transforms the area into seemingly endless rows of "chocolate kisses".

The branded confection is the inspiration behind the name, Chocolate Hills.


The vegetation of the Chocolate Hills is dominated by grass species such as Imperata cylindrica and Saccharum spontaneum.

Several Compositae and ferns also grow on them. In between the hills, the flat lands are cultivated with rice and other cash crops. However, the natural vegetation on the Chocolate Hills is now threatened by quarrying activities.


The Chocolate Hills are conical karst hills similar to those seen in the limestone regions of Slovenia, Croatia, northern Puerto Rico, and Pinar del Río Province, Cuba.

These hills consist of Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene, thin to medium bedded, sandy to rubbly marine limestones. These limestones contain the abundant fossils of shallow marine foraminifera, coral, mollusks, and algae.

These conical hills are geomorphological features called cockpit karst, which were created by a combination of the dissolution of limestone by rainfall, surface water, and groundwater, and their subaerial erosion by rivers and streams after they had been uplifted above sea level and fractured by tectonic processes. These hills are separated by well developed flat plains and contain numerous caves and springs. The Chocolate Hills are considered to be a remarkable example of conical karst topography.

The origin for the conical karst of the Chocolate Hills is described in popular terms on the bronze plaque at the viewing deck in Carmen, Bohol. This plaque states that they are eroded formations of a type of marine limestone that sits on top of hardened clay.

The plaque reads:

The unique land form known as the Chocolate Hills of Bohol was formed ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion.

The plaque also makes reference to a fanciful explanation of the origin of the Chocolate Hills that is unsupported by any published scientific research, i.e. either Hillmer or Travaglia and others, when it states:

the grassy hills were once coral reefs that erupted from the sea in a massive geologic shift. Wind and water put on the finishing touches over hundreds of thousands of years.

Self-published, popular web pages present a variety of fanciful and less credible explanations about how these hills formed.

They include sub-oceanic volcanism; limestone covered blocks created by the destruction of an active volcano in a cataclysmic eruption; coral reefs that were raised from the sea as the result of a massive geologic shift; and tidal movements. The lack of any exposed or associated volcanic rocks anywhere in the Chocolate Hills refutes the popular theories involving volcanic eruptions.

These theories involving either a sudden, massive geologic shift, coral reefs being erupted from the sea, or tidal movements lack any collaborating evidence and support among geologists.


Four legends explain the formation of the Chocolate Hills.

The first tells the story of two feuding giants who hurled rocks, boulders, and sand at each other. The fighting lasted for days, and exhausted the two giants. In their exhaustion, they forgot about their feud and became friends, but when they left they forgot to clean up the mess they had made during their battle, hence the Chocolate Hills.

A more romantic legend tells of a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful and youthful. Arogo fell in love with Aloya, who was a simple mortal. Aloya's death caused Arogo much pain and misery, and in his sorrow he could not stop crying. When his tears dried, the Chocolate Hills were formed.

The third legend tells of a town being plagued by a giant carabao, who ate all of their crops. Finally having had enough, the townsfolk took all of their spoiled food and placed it in such a way that the carabao would not miss it. Sure enough, the carabao ate it, but his stomach couldn't handle the spoiled food, so he defecated, leaving behind him a mound of feces, until he had emptied his stomach of the food. The feces then dried, forming the Chocolate Hills.

The last legend is about a gluttonous giant named Miguel that eats everything in his path. One day he came to a plain. He saw a beautiful young woman named Adrianna. To win her affection, he needed to lose weight. So he excreted everything he ate. In the end, his fecal matter covered the land and he won Adrianna's affection.

Tourism development

The Chocolate Hills Natural Geological Monument

The most famous and signature tourist attraction of Bohol, it is a prime tourist destination in the Philippines. The national government has chosen the Chocolate Hills as one of its "flagship tourist destinations".

Of the 1,247 hills, two have been developed into resorts for tourism.[20] The original resort is located in Carmen, Bohol located in Barangay Buenos Aires, only a few minutes drive from downtown Carmen.

The resort in Carmen is called Chocolate Hills Complex. The more recent one in Sagbayan is called Sagbayan Peak.

The original viewing station of the Chocolate Hills is a government-owned and operated resort called "Chocolate Hills Complex" located in Carmen, Bohol, about 55 kilometres (34 mi) from Tagbilaran City[22] and about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the town proper of Carmen, Bohol.

The other way to view the Chocolate Hills is at "Sagbayan Peak", a mountain resort in Sagbayan town, about 75 kilometres (47 mi) northwest of Tagbilaran City. Viewing is made from the deck of an elevated ridge that provides an unobstructed view of the Chocolate Hills as well as the sea off Cebu City. This is only 18 kilometres (11 mi) from the Chocolate Hills complex in neighboring Carmen town.

Sagbayan Peak is a 5-hectare (12-acre) mountaintop resort and recreation center. Its viewing deck offers a 360-degree perspective of the Chocolate Hills plus the blue sea that separates Bohol and Cebu.[23] Aside from the function hall and viewing deck, a hotel, swimming pool, driving range, a butterfly dome and a tarsier sanctuary are planned. A 100-hectare (250-acre) golf course is also planned.


Bronze Plaque at Chocolate Hills Complex View Deck

The National Committee on Geological Sciences declared the Chocolate Hills of Bohol a National Geological Monument on June 18, 1988, in recognition of its special characteristics, scientific importance, uniqueness, and high scenic value.

As such, this included the Chocolate Hills among the country's protected areas. More protection was provided by Proclamation No. 1037 signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos upon the recommendation of the DENR on July 1, 1997 which establish the Chocolate Hills and the areas within, around, and surrounding them located in the Municipalities of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan, Bilar, Valencia and Sierra Bullones, Province of Bohol as a natural monument to protect and maintain its natural beauty and to provide restraining mechanisms for inappropriate exploitation.

As such, they are covered under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as the lead implementing agency for its protection.

Land use conflict prompted Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sign an amendment to Proclamation 468 dated September 26, 1994 declaring the land around or in between Chocolate Hills as no longer part of the national monument during the Bohol Sandugo Celebration on July 17, 2002. This amendment allowed the tracts of land surrounding and within the famous tourist spot to be developed by the provincial government and other entities that have control over the area.

Further, the amended proclamation ensures that the areas that have to be preserved are preserved, while those that could be developed would be excluded from the national monument area and classified as alienable and disposable by the government.

The President initially decided on the issue during the joint meeting of the Regional Development Council-Regional Peace and Order Council (RDC-RPOC) of Region VII which was conducted at the Bohol Tropics Resort.

On July 6, 2004, the Philippine House of Representatives introduced House Bill No. 01147 entitled "an act declaring the Chocolate Hills as national patrimony and geological monuments, penalizing their plunder, destruction or defacement, and for other purposes."

The house bill is authored by Congressman Eladio "Boy" Jala and co-authored by Congressman Roilo Z. Golez and Edgar M. Chatto.

View of the Chocolate Hills from Sagbayan Peak

On May 16, 2006, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) submitted the Chocolate Hills to the UNESCO World Heritage for inclusion in the list of Natural Monuments because of its outstanding universal value, falling under criteria vii – superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.

The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations.

Amidst reports that quarrying has leveled off some of the mounds, Governor Erico Aumentado, the governor of Bohol, issued Administrative Order No. 3, series of 2006, which prohibits the issuance of quarry permits and favorable endorsements of mining permit applications in Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan towns to forestall any degradation of the Chocolate Hills – no matter who applies for such.

The hills are already declared geological monuments and are covered under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) for which the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is the lead implementing agency. Aumentado said:

The provincial government is exerting every effort to preserve and maintain the natural wonder – including the plains between, connecting and surrounding them – since they are the major attractions in Bohol's tourism industry and a heritage to be shared with the world.

As such, he ordered the prohibition of any quarrying and mining activities in the three towns. He tasked the Bohol Environment and Management Office (BEMO) to ensure that quarry permit applications or renewal thereof and requests for favorable endorsements of mining permit applications therein shall be denied due course, and to ensure compliance and enforcement of the order.

He also enjoined the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR to refuse all mining permit applications or renewals in the named towns.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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