This isn’t my travel experience. This is about Alex’s travel in the Visayas. She’s on a nation-wide tour — work — to bring a play to various cities in the country. By this time, she has travelled to more places in the Philippines than I have. It’s such a great experience for her. And whenever she goes to a place that I haven’t been to, I ask her what it’s like. She used to tell me about the food and the shopping until her work brought her to Tacloban City. “Kawawa sila, Mommy,” she said. Tacloban City suffered badly when Typhoon Yolanda lashed through central Philippines in early November 2013. It’s been a year and half so when Alex described what she saw, I didn’t know what to say to her.
What Alex saw in Tacloban must have left a deep impression in her mind because by the time her work brought her to Bohol, she was consciously taking photos of remnants of the disasters that hit the island in 2013. It was not only Typhoon Yolanda that devastated Bohol that year. Less than a month before the super typhoon, Bohol suffered an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale. Bohol’s most famous tourist destination, the Chocolate Hills, was partially damaged.
Despite the partial damage, the Chocolate Hills still look beautiful (thanks, Alex, for the panoramic shot). There are more than 1,200 “similarly cone-shaped hills creating a sea of hills over 20 square miles (50 sq km) with height ranging from 98 to 160 feet (30 to 50 m) with the highest reaching 390 feet (120 m).” During the summer, the dried vegetation turns the hills into chocolate-colored mounds.
Serene. Awe-inspiring. Mysterious.
Whether the Chocolate Hills bronze plaque at the viewing deck in Carmen, Bohol got uprooted by the earthquake or the typhoon, I do not know. But, as of two weeks ago, that was how it looked. This bronze plaque tells a story how the Chocolate Hills were formed from corals deposited on land by rain and erosion.
For people who are not into science-based theories about their origin, there are four legends to choose from.
Once upon a time, there were two giants who began to throw stones and sand against each other. Their fight lasted for several days. Finally, when they grew tired, they decided to become friends and leave the island where they fought. They also left behind the mess, which is now called the Chocolate Hills.
The much more romantic legend tells of a giant, once again, called Arogo who was extremely powerful and youthful. Arogo fell in love with Aloya who was a simple mortal. Aloya’s death caused Arogo much pain and misery. In his sorrow he could not stop crying, when his tears dried the Chocolate Hills were formed.
Click here to read the third and fourth legends. I don’t want to quote and reproduce them here.