^

Travel and Tourism

In photos: Christmas in Bohol after 'Odette'

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com
In photos: Christmas in Bohol after 'Odette'
Two faces of Bohol last Christmas: The badly hit Loboc, home of the province's pride and joy Loboc River Cruise (left); a tarsier survivor of Typhoon Odette (right, top) and Hinagdanan Cave that was left untouched by the super typhoon.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

BOHOL, Philippines — In Manila, a mere Internet connection or social media glitch is enough for people to go ballistic and make hashtags like “Facebook down” trend on Twitter.

But in Bohol, just last week after much of Visayas was bulldozed by Typhoon Odette, it is mind-boggling how people can still smile and wave strangers with charming “Hellos” — all the while as they picked up the debris and broken pieces left of their homes or were hanging clothes drenched in muddy flood. Their smiles were so bright that one can't tell they were facing days-to-a-month of dark nights without electricity and with meager rationed water.

Of course, that didn't mean that they were not sad. This might even be one of the worst Christmases in their lives. But while in Manila, people might be complaining of what kind of presents they got last Christmas, in Bohol, even a bottle of mineral water or a pack of crackers was welcomed with seemingly endless "Thank Yous" as if these were the best gifts they ever had. It was nothing short of humbling.

Last Christmas, my family and I went to Bohol despite worries of water and electricity shortages, to distribute some relief goods and help spread some cheer to typhoon victims. The trip, however, turned out to be more for our advantage: the strength, resilience and calmness of the Boholanos, even with another low pressure area looming in the horizon (raised to an orange rainfall warning as of today), inspire and lift the Christmas spirit into a much higher ground no flood could reach.

The sky might cry, but there was no tear seen from any eye in Bohol, even from big ones like the tarsiers'.

Some of the following images may look dystopian, but life and tourism go on in Bohol. If there's one take away from Bohol after Odette for the New Year, it's defintely, "Hope has overcome despair."

 

The once flourishing floating restaurants of Loboc, made lively by the angelic carols of the world-renowned Loboc Children's Choir, have been sunk almost like the Titanic.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
The once flourishing floating restaurants of Loboc, made lively by the angelic carols of the world-renowned Loboc Children's Choir, have been sunk almost like the Titanic.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Kilometers and kilometers of residential houses in Loboc dry their muddy clothes, furniture and appliances under the sun after damaged by flashed flood. As of last week, they relied on rationed and spring water from the mountains for drinking and cleaning.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Even markets, banks and convenience stores were emptied by the floods in Loboc and its neighboring towns.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
'Kapit lang': Out of the five tarsiers in the viewing area of Loboc, only these two were recovered after Odette. The other three were believed to be still alive and were just hiding behind the rocks. The conservationists, however, said that over a hundred other tarsiers were still safe under their care in a more remote conservation facility in Bohol.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
A view of the Chocolate Hills from atop one of the hills. A tour guide said if there were some good things that Odette did, it was first, that debris was washed off from the hills and their surrounding rice fields and second, that the rice fields received enough irrigation.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Visitors exploring the Chocolate Hills and surrounds aboard bug cars and all-terrain vehicles. Muddy puddles left by Odette provide added opportunities for adventure.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Untouched by wars and storms: The Hinagdanan Cave in Dauis in Panglao Island stayed pristine even after Odette. A local tour guide said there are about 30 other underground caves with small natural lagoons near Hinagdanan, but this one is the largest and with the biggest entrance. It got its name from "hagdan" or "ladder" since ladders were once used to enter the cave, which was discovered by the private owner of the land after clearing decaying branches.

For a tip of any amount, a local tour guide would assure visitors of their safety, and take their pictures, inside the cave. There are life vests and floaters that can be borrowed for free. The water is subject to high and low tides because it connects to a nearby sea. Fish can also be spotted in the waters, but little swallows live amid the stalactites and stalagmites. One karst formation is believed by locals to form the face of the Virgin Mary.

One can stay and swim in its cool and refreshing natural, slightly salty waters until 4 to 5 p.m. only because only a couple of generator-powered lamps were working and the owner of the cave is saving on diesel that powers the generator. Only parts of Bohol have been restored with light and water as of today.

Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

After a day of adventure in Chocolate Hills and dipping in Hinagdanan Cave's lagoon, cap off the day with a feast of organic food and desserts in nearby Bohol Bee Farm in Panglao. Although parts of the farm have been destroyed by the typhoon, its restaurants, resort, cafe and community centers for Raffia weavers and other local artisans have remained operational.

Apart from homemade ice cream in different quirky flavors and honey-flavored drinks, grilled seafood and flower salads are among the restaurant's must-trys. Within the compound, one can also visit the organic farm from where the restaurant sources its ingredients.

Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Wild dolphins spotted on the way to Balicasag Island from Panglao.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
While corals were bleached by the typhoon, colorful fish still thrive to greet divers off the coast of Balicasag Island in Panglao.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
One of the many sea turtles spotted in Balicasag Island's marine sanctuary after Odette.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Ship graveyard: Small boats wrecked by Odette in Balicasag Island (left) and Panglao port. 
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Some of the local fishermen and boat guides that received care packs courtesy of Philstar.com, using prize vouchers from Grab Philippines. The destruction of their boats disrupted the livelihood of local fishermen in Bohol.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Care packs bought from GrabMart were distributed to Odette victims in Loboc, Alona Beach and Panglao. Since only big resorts along Alona Beach had generators last week, some locals camped outside the resorts at night together with their children to bask in some light.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Instead of canceling their trips, many Bohol travelers squeezed in some relief goods into their luggage and distributed them to the locals in typhoon-hit tourist destinations like Loboc. Even COVID-19 frontliners in the airport were happy to receive any form of help, most especially bottled water.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
The Virgin Island near Panglao has a Padre Pio chapel that has been closed due to the pandemic. The chapel was also damaged by Odette.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
A small yacht sits atop a small commercial building in Panglao, but it was just a quirky addition to a restaurant, not displaced there by the typhoon.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Dark clouds loom over the 18th century St. Augustine Church and its bell tower in Panglao.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
St. Augustine Church sits near the ruins of the original one presumed to be built by the Jesuits in 1782. The church has been known for its ceiling murals depicting the sacraments. Outside, locals set up makeshift stores to give joy to young visitors despite Odette.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
A full moon in Alona Beach provided some light for the island that still largely relies on diesel generators after Odette destroyed many of Bohol's power lines.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Although tourists missed the Christmas carols of Loboc's famous children's choir these holidays, some talented people with special needs still serenade travelers at the airport. They might be thirsty from the lack of drinking water, but the performers sang their hearts out nonetheless, assuring everyone that Bohol and those ravaged by Odette will soon rise again.
Philstar.com/Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

RELATED: LIST: Here's where you can donate to 'Odette' relief efforts

BOHOL BEE FARM

PANGLAO BOHOL

TYPHOON ODETTE

Philstar
  • Latest
Latest
Latest
Recommended
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with