Thursday, January 8, 2015

Shoutout: Visit Bohol 2015 Travel Fair • Jan 9-11, Glorietta, Ayala, Makati City

Carrying Buzzy's paddleboard on Banacon shallows enroute to Getafe, Bohol
Was it almost a year since I last stepped on the shores of Bohol?   I got lucky to have been picked for an assignment for a travel magazine with the task of exploring Bohol mainly via kayak.   Our mentor for the undertaking was Buzzy Budlong, somewhat of an icon in standup paddling and kayaking circles, having escorted a Singapore national in a kayaking expedition across the Philippines, from Saranggani to Pagudpud in 88 days way back in 2009.  Our entry point was across Cebu strait to the Banacon mangrove sanctuary and further still, Getafe enroute to Panglao island and the new Bohol Beach Club.

Friends ask if there are other interesting sites apart from the iconic Chocolate Hills and my reply is always a loud yes.  That is not to diminish the sight of beauty of over 1,776 hills in Carmen which turn brown in summer, hence the sobriquet.  It's just that Bohol has so much to offer if one visits with an open mind.  I myself, haven't gotten the opportunity yet to travel farther north in Danao to perhaps try the SuiSlide, a 480 meter zipline, or rappelling down the roots of old trees.  Many years ago, on my first trip here, most of my week-long stay was devoted to photographing the quaint old churches, perhaps a providential thing, since the big earthquake a few years back has leveled many of them, relegating them to pictures and memories.

During our assignment last year, I discovered the wonders of Abatan River (thanks Buzzy!) in contrast to the more popular (and touristy) Loboc River.  In the quiet of the morning, it's a sublime experience to kayak all the way from Bacong Bridge in Cortez to the floodway, seeing butterflies and birds hovering in the trees forming a canopy along the meandering three kilometer stretch.

Coming back for the evening, we kayaked part of the eight kilometer stretch headed east-west for Maribojoc to watch the trees come alive with thousands of fireflies.  One word to describe the experience: magical.  The route may have been truncated due to extensive damage sustained during the 2013 earthquake but it was still a swell kayaking route to take.

Late last year, there was massive flooding following a typhoon.  Such a beautiful place is not spared from the woes of whimsical weather.  Which is why I'm writing this shoutout for the Visit Bohol 2015 Travel Fair happening this January 9-11 at the Glorietta Activity Center, Ayala Avenue, Makati City.  It would be a great help for the Boholanos if tourists will make Bohol part of their itinerary.  An added come-on would be the special performances of the world-renowned Loboc Children's Choir (January 9, Friday, 4-6pm • January 10, Saturday, 4-6pm • January 11, Sunday, 7-8pm).

For more info: Manila Secretariat: get in touch with PETCO (Philippine Exhibits and Themeparks Corporation) landline 632 88325401; email: • Bohol Secretariat: 033 4123666; email:

For kayaking tours, email Buzzy Budlong at or call 0927 5683799.  For the Bohol Abatan river tours, email


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