It has been two years since our family’s grand reunion in Los Angeles, California and on 2017, we took the party back to where it all started— Bohol, Philippines.
All Cabagnots hail from Bohol and my grandmother grew up there herself. As time passed, the family started spreading out to different corners of the world and multiplying by the hundreds! Truth be told, I really don’t know most of them but grand family reunions like these are best for connecting with and getting to know them—though remembering everyone is THE challenge when you’re introduced to hundreds in a span of three days and it’s not the same set of family every reunion! My oh my, what a huuuge family I have!!
I’m no Bohol newbie, having visited a couple of times since my youth but things do change over the years, making my Bohol experience different every single time! Before officially meeting with the clan, we took time to re-explore the province starting it off with…
A River Cruise Lunch at the Loboc River
All aboard the humongous bamboo raft for a buffet feast and some serenading! For Php 450, you get to cruise along the river, have your lunch, have a singer sing local songs throughout the ride, and stop by a local tribe’s community for some photo ops.
At the Ati tribe, you get to interact with the tribe members who have already set up the area with souvenir booths, donation boxes, archery area, and tribal decorations such as a bamboo jail. You’d have to donate money when you make use of their props for your photos so make sure to have some change with you—it’s not mandatory but it helps support them. The kids in particular LOVE to entertain!
We used to check out the tarsiers too, the world’s smallest primate with BIG eyes, but we decided to skip that this time and just move on the next activity. Did you know that they are endangered and they are highly sensitive animals? When in captivity, they can turn suicidal and they are also nocturnal so having them bothered all throughout the day by tourists only stresses them out! They’re very cute but try to skip this one too, please.
En route to the Chocolate Hills, you’ll find yourself shadowed and surrounded by a 2-kilometer stretch of Mahogany Trees. Oh, this beauty! We just had to park on the side of the road and get out of the car to fully immerse ourselves in this man-made forest. The trees’ branches seem to have already blocked the sun out, making the whole road dimmer and cooler. We were enveloped by Mahongany and it felt like a different world. But before you get carried away in a daydream, be mindful of the road! It is still an open road where cars pass. Don’t wander carelessly in the middle of it!
Chocolate Hills Adventure Park
Oh, this is new! I remember Chocolate Hills much differently when I used to visit it. I remember a long and steep staircase that we had to hike up to set eyes on the gorgeous view of thousands of haycock hills as far as your eyes can see! They’re called “Chocolate Hills” because they are normally green but it turns brown during dry season.
This time, our driver introduced us to a whole new experience that levels up our Chocolate Hills stopover—The Chocolate Hills Adventure Park!
Located in Carmen, just over an hour away from Tagbilaran, you get to have your dose of adrenaline whilst surrounded by the hills! My main agenda, Sky Cycling!
150 feet above ground, I found myself biking in mid-air only supported by wires that stretch to 550 meters—I was riding a bicycle on a wire!! I wasn’t sure what to feel while going back and forth that line. I was awestruck by the hills (it really is beautiful to see!) but then again, I was also biking through the rain and I could feel the wind swaying me as I pedal. GASP! Thankfully the bike was sturdy enough to withstand the winds.
Other activities you can do in the park are:
- “The Wave Runner” Surf Zipline — yes, you get to zipline while riding a surfboard!
- Tree Top Rope Challenge
- Visit the Butterfly Garden
- Sumo Wrestling — while wearing a thick foam-filled sumo wrestling suit!
- And so much more!
Sevilla’s Bamboo Hanging Bridge
It’s Day 2 and we were on our way to the Sevilla church where the whole clan shall be gathered to hear mass…but we got sidetracked again! We stopped over Sevilla’s hanging bridge and tried to cross it. There are two bridges hanging above the Sipatan river and both are intricately woven using bamboos. I guess it makes for a sturdier bridge that way and indeed it was—or at least it felt like it! OK! Back on the road!
Helloooo family! We actually filled up a whole church! Ha!
While hearing mass, I couldn’t help but notice the stained glass church windows. While most churches would usually show images of the Stations of the Cross, this one was way different and I still have no explanation. The windows had illustrations of the Aztec Empire and Aztec Temples. Mind you, it’s a Catholic church. Someone please enlighten me?
Cabagnot Ancestral House
Also in Sevilla is our clan’s ancestral home. This is where we all had lunch and got introduced to everyone by family batches. By evening, we gathered in a huge ballroom of a restaurant for a more formal dinner complete with performances and a buffet.
Alona Beach, Panglao Island
Our hotel, Henann Beach Resort, was right-smack in the heart of Alona Beach where the nightlife thrives! My cousin Andrea and I walked in and out of numerous bars to check out the scene until we ended up in a reggae bar by the sea— Aliahailey Bar. We found the perfect spot to have a few drinks and dance!
On the last day of our grand reunion, we had a Hawaiian-themed lunch by the beach as we spent our last hours together as one BIG family before we said our goodbyes for now. We then hopped on a ferry and zoom zoomed all the way to Cebu!
We had one more night to spare so my family decided to check in at the Shangri-la Beach Resort in Mactan for a much-needed rest and relaxation which involved a tan, a swim, and another buffet dinner! Ha!
If we had more time, we could have explored Cebu more but it was time to head back to Manila. I’ve already done my fair share of Cebu adventures which you can check out HERE. There’s still more to explore in Cebu and I am definitely planning another trip back!
And that wraps up our Grand Family Reunion for 2017. Next one will be on 2019 and word is, Hawaii is next!