Bohol Province

Bohol, the first income class island province of the Philippines was administered as residencia of Cebu, but became a separate province in July 1854, along with the province of Siquijor. 

It’s the home province of the 8th president of the Philippines, Carlos P. Garcia. Tagbilaran City is the capital and the center for business, though tourists coming from Cebu mostly travel Tubigon. It’s the nearest town from Cebu via sea.


The province is the first seat of the first international treaty of peace and unity between native king Datu Sikatuna and Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, through a compact alliance known today as the Sandugo.  A visit to Bohol is not complete visiting the statue commemorating the event.

It’s very well known for the chocolate hills, one of the country’s natural wonders and the reason why Bohol is referred to as the “Jewel of the Philippines”. 
These hills are made of limestone from the coral reef when the land was still submerged. It’s called chocolate hills because their color turns into brown during summer.  It was raining when we visit Bohol, so the hills are all green.

The second-smallest primate in the world, the Philippine Tarsier, is indigenous to the island.  It measures about 8- to 160 millimeters, only about a size of a human fist. Very shy nocturnal mammal that leads a mostly hidden life.


Bohol is also known for their white beaches, caves and diving sites. Some people compare the white sand of Panglao Island to Boracay Island.  Their diving sites are listed as one of the top ten diving destinations in the world. 

One of the oldest churches in the Philippines, the Dauis Church, can be found here along with other old churches.  This is the only province I’ve been to that has a lot of old churches.  I vowed to come back here with my mother so we can visit all the churches.
In October 2013, a month after I visited a magnitude of 7.2 earthquake hits Bohol and left a devastating damages. It was said to be the deadliest earthquake in the Philippines in 23 years and the quake was equivalent to 32 Hiroshima bombs.  

Some of the chocolate hills and almost all of the churches were damaged. They have been at this situation in 1990, when an earthquake that caused a tsunami hit it. Boholanos like other Filipinos will rise up again.
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Please click here on how to get to Bohol from Cebu.

Aklan

Aklan is another province in the Philippines that has become very popular because of it's pristine beauty. It's capital is Kalibo and home to the famous Boracay Island.
White Beach, Boracay Island
Historically, Aklan as one of the Islands of Panay was under the government of Datu Kalantiaw. Officially known as Rajah Bendaha Kalantiaw, a mythical Filipino character who believed to write the first legal code in the Philippines, called Code of Kalantiaw. 
Jawili Beach, Tangalan, Aklan
It was part of the curriculum when I was in elementary, but it was deleted in the Philippine history when one American historian proved this to be a hoax. In his study, it says that there's no Filipino ruler by the name of Kalantiaw ever existed nor that the code is older than 1914. The Code of Kalantiaw is no longer part of the standard Philippine history but the myth is still believed by Visayans.
Oldest church in Aklan, the St. Nepomucene Church
It's one of the provinces in the Philippines that was claimed for Spain by the Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. It was called El Rio de Aclan during the early Spanish accounts. Aklan was part of Capiz but became independent in 1956. 
AFGA Rock Formations, Tangalan, Aklan
It's also the home of the late Cardinal Jaime Sin. The 30th Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, known for his participation in the 1986 People Power Revolution and the 2001 EDSA Revolution. Cardinal Sin died of renal failure because of diabetes in 2005.
Jojo's Christmas Cottage, Sampaguita Gardens
Aklan, specifically Kalibo, is well-known for it's Ati-Atihan Festival celebrated every January concluding on the third Sunday in Kalibo Aklan in honor of the Sto. Nino.   It was first celebrated by the native as a pagan festival in honor of Anitos (Pagan Gods). It's now one of the popular festivals celebrated in the Philippines.
Ati-atihan Costume at Kalibo Airport
During the festival, people paint their bodies or faces in black and wear indigenous costumes and carry indigenous weapons to look like Aetas or Ati.  They then parade along the streets dancing tribal dances.  Ati-Atihan means “to be like Aetas”; the first settlers of the island. 

Aklan is one of the 7,000 plus island in the Philippines worth visiting for.

Jojo's Christmas Cottage

One of the main attractions in Kalibo in the province of Aklan is the Jojo's Christmas Cottage. Located inside the Sampaguita Gardens, this cottage features Christmas items and other themed collections. 
The cottage itself is an attraction already from afar. It's a dream house for kids and kids at heart who love Christmas.

This 3-storey Victorian house is the first Christmas-themed establishment in the Philippines. It’s the only place where Christmas is celebrated every day.
On the ground floor, you'll find a lot of Precious Moments collectibles for sale. You'll find pins, dolls, cute figurines and posters and other themed collections. The designs are unique and so is the price! :P
I wanted to buy one set, the tea making collection set, but it's too expensive for me. I just took a picture as a souvenir. The figurines range from Php200.00 to Php5,000.00, depending on the design and how unique it is.
From the entrance, at the very center of the store is a figurine of an angel beside the Victorian-style round table with flowers and figurine set. That’s if they don't change the decoration every now and then.
 
 
This is not the Christmas museum yet, but you will see that they also decorated it with Christmas theme and it actually gave you that feeling.
The Christmas museum is located on the upper floors. It's under maintenance when we went there, so I wasn't able to see the Christmas collections.
 
 
It said to feature of collections of extensive, electric and highly-specialized Christmas items. If offers a journey of how Christmas is celebrated around the world. I was kind of sad when I saw the under maintenance sign. 
 
 
I just content myself in taking pictures of the figurines, trying to control myself from buying because they are really expensive.
 
 
The dolls displayed at the stores are unique too! They clothes are designed and made by the staff. They are so tiny and detailed, and I know it's not very easy to make them. Maybe that's one of the reasons why the dolls are expensive too.
When you go further behind, there are even collectible dolls of the late President Corazon Aquino, her husband, Ninoy Aquino and their kids. I didn’t see any other Philippine President figurines.

Festival-themed dolls are located just left of where the dolls of the Aquino dolls are.
And if you are game, you can just sit in front of the wall with the Cinderella themed wall, complete with crowns for you and your special someone. Or if you don't have a special someone, then just sit there and wish for him to come.
An hour is enough to explore the store, but if you are planning on exploring the Christmas Museum on the upper floors, you will need 2 hours. Exploring the Sampaguita Gardens is included in that too.
 
 
I read from other blogs that you can also explore the mansion of Mr. Butcher, but I can't confirm that. I didn't ask because even if we can, we don't have time and it's already late.
The Php50.00 entrance fee you will pay at the gate is consumable and you can use to buy at the coffee shop inside the cottage or if you want to use it to buy a figurine, then you'll just have to pay the excess.
The cottage is located inside Sampaguita Gardens and open from 9:00 to 9:00pm daily. No tour guide, so you'll have to explore on your own.
Kalibo is known for its Biscocho delicacy (toasted bread), but make sure you buy the one in Jojo's!  It's really good, like no other I've tasted. 
Address: #1 Sampaguita Avenue, New Washington, Aklan
Phone#: +636)264-3422
Email: mariamae_sjb@yahoo.com
Website: http://sampaguitagardensresort.weebly.com/index.html
Entrance Fee: Php50.00 (Consumable and can be used to buy in their store)
Business Hours (Museum): 7:00am to 5:00pm, Daily 
 
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