With its impressive and diverse natural wonders, Bohol has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. People gravitate toward this quaint island province because of its beautiful beaches, stunning peaks, untamed attractions, exciting eco-adventures, and welcoming people.
If only there is no COVID-19, our summer getaways would have been planned out. Itineraries would be ready. Check lists would be ticked off.
But we can’t have that, at least not yet. So here I am, reminiscing a three-year-old trip in Bohol I had with three strangers turned friends.
The Making of Team Buwad
They say that people are guests in our story just as we are guests in theirs. Looking back, James, An, Shandy and I have come a long way. From day hikes to major climbs, sea to summit ─ it’s funny how far a ¼ kilo of buwad for 20 pesos has brought us.
Some people would find it funny, but that’s how the inside joke started.
An and I have met before during our hike for a cause in Toledo but we didn’t really get a change to interact. Meanwhile, James and Shandy were complete strangers to me. I was unsure how this trip would turn out for the four of us but, apparently, some people just naturally click!
Our weekend adventure in Bohol started in Ubay, a first-class municipality that boasts a strong agri-tourism. They take pride of their vast rice fields, large plantations, and huge dams.
And that is what we came here for.
After buying our last-minute errands, we charted a tricycle to take us to our first two destinations.
Our first stop is Kapayas Dam which is located in Brgy. Lomangog, Ubay. Being one of the largest dams in the province, it stretch alongside the Ubay-Alicia-Guindulman highway. Truth is, this spot was a surprise to me. I have traveled this route for a number of times but I never knew there’s huge dam within the area ─ and a very accessible one at that.
The sun was at its height when we went there but despite the heat, James, An, Shandy and I still managed to enjoy and appreciate the view. Finally, a peaceful scenery for our eyes to take a break from the tall buildings of Cebu.
On the way to our next destination, we stopped by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) office. Travelers/tourists must not miss this place for they offer some refreshing chocomilk and local delicacies for your hungry stomachs.
Cambugsay Healing Hills
Do you believe in phrase that “third time is a charm”? I can’t speak for others but I personally think this is true. Although my first two visits to this place were not necessarily fails, I could say that I got lucky on my third time.
Cambugsay Healing Hills borders the better-known Malingin Dam which supports the agricultural livelihood of the people of Brgy. San Pascual, Ubay. Apart from this main role, it is now developed as an eco-tourism park which offers a scenic venue for outdoor team buildings and community activities.
At the top is a panoramic view of rice fields, papaya and coffee plantations, as well as the neighboring Binabaje Hills of Alicia. Perhaps, this is why they call it “healing” hills. One look at nature takes your worries and problems away.
Unlike Kapayas Dam, there are shaded benches and table where you can sit and watch in silence. A designated camping area is also available for those who opt to spend the night. As for us, we only spent an hour or so since we planned to stay in Alicia.
P.S. There were two other dams in Ubay that we didn’t get to visit. The Bayongan Dam located at the heart of Brgy. San Miguel and the Benliw Dam in Brgy. Benliw. Perhaps, on our next trip, we’d get to these places.
Our exploration in Ubay finished earlier than our itinerary. We then headed back to the town center to chart a van going to Alicia. James already contacted the tourism office regarding our plan to camp at Binabaje Hills, which is now officially called The Alicia Panoramic Park (TAPP).
We were welcomed by Ma’am Godelia Lumugdang, the town’s tourism head who is also a mountaineer herself. She had us register for our climb and generously shared some of her mountaineering experiences around the country. She was also the one who contacted our guide as well as the riders who took us to the jump off point. By 3pm, we headed to the highlight of our Day 1 in Bohol.
Lahi ra jud syang bajeha…
The Alicia Panoramic Park sits in Brgy. Cambaol, Alicia. It was New Year’s Day in 2018 when I first set foot on its trails, yet who would have thought I’d be back three months later? That is what this place makes you feel. You can never get enough of it. The breathtaking landscape and picture-perfect panoramas are definitely something to behold.
Our guide told us that there were three optional trails to TAPP (at that time A,B,C). Trail A was the longest route with gradual assault. Trail B (ours) was moderate but with steep ascent. Trail C (the one I took on my solo trip) is the usual exit point for climbers and campers.
In the recent years, these hills have been a favorite site among motocross riders, mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers and campers. The once quiet rolling hills are now bustling with life. Locals and travelers alike flock the town to see its grandeur. And who wouldn’t?
The Alicia Panoramic Park offers one of the best 360° view of Bohol. Wherever you look, there are grass-covered mounds of hills and ridges. The hike is definitely amazing yet a challenging one. On a great day, the open trail can be painful with the scorching heat of the sun. But that is just a little price to pay for a priceless experience and rewarding view you get upon reaching the summit, right?
Near the camping site is a small cottage where our guides stayed. At that time, there were local campers who were celebrating a birthday and even managed to get a whole lechon to the top. Sanaol. Us four, on the other hand, just managed with our ¼ kilo of buwad. 😉
The Alicia Panoramic Park is indeed a must-visit spot that you should add in your itineraries. Here, your eyes will feast to the beauty of nature from sunup to sundown. Would we come back? Definitely yes!
And that’s it for Day 1! Will be sharing our Day 2 adventures in the next few days ─ or week. LOL!