Beauty and hope amid the Ruins: Bohol [Photos]

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. - Desmond Tutu

It was one dark afternoon. The setting sun from the side of Panglao's Borja Bridge emits a yellowish red hue. I asked the driver to stop so I could catch the moment. It's times like this when you don't need an armament of photographing tools. I figured an afternoon with the fading sun and the breeze that divide the towns of Tagbilaran and Panglao in Bohol is best captured by naked eye and stored in human memory. A few shots and I put the camera down to surrender to the inviting silence.

An afternoon that welcomed us on our way to Panglao Island in Bohol
The old provincial capitol of Bohol -grand and gorgeous despite some cracks.
That silence was a gift, a gift that was absent that one unfortunate day in October last year when a 33-second quake rocked Bohol and some parts of Visayas. It was seconds long rumble that put buildings of historical and religious significance to rubble. Tremors sent people running in all directions. That day alone, 34 churches were damaged. Rebuilding nine of them is a hopeless case even with the best repair procedures. But the absence of hope is not what I felt in my interactions with the people and wanderings around the province.

I traveled around the towns of Panglao, Dauis, Baclayon, Tagbilaran and parts of Carmen to meet some people and to revisit some sites for a photo assignment. It's been a decade since my last glimpse of Bohol. Not much have changed except for the fallen century-old structures.

Heartbreaking. But the natural Boholano warmth is one that makes you forget there's rubble on the ground. There's so much to love in this province. So much beauty amid the ruins - the lovely beaches, the scenic forests, canopy covered highways, the sunsets, the sunrise from atop one of the 1200 chocolate-colored hills, the still-standing heritage houses, the people.

The fire dancers in Alona Beach make the nights more alive. 
Tourists join the fun by "playing" with the fire.
Meet Alexis. He is the Marketing and Sales Officer in one of Bohol’s biggest hotels. I met him in my search for people who have succeeded in their search for opportunities to be part of the tourism service industry after undergoing trainings

Meet Liduvina Jumangit. She's among the entrepreneurs supported by the local project by providing support for their business during the Sandugo Trade in Bohol. Mrs. Jumangit owns Vina’s Sweets and Pastries, a destination in Baclayon famous for its special ensaymada, which is their best seller, torta, polvoron, tableya (local chocolate tablet), chocohills, banana chips coated with chocolate, and ube jam.

The 7.2 Magnitude quake destroys the San Pedro Church in Loboc

Framed. The remains of the welcome arc frame the remains of St. Peter's Church, the 2nd oldest church in Bohol

Perhaps the most famous in Bohol, the Baclayon Church. It was declared a National Cultural Treasure in 1995 and was considered one of the most preserved heritage structure...until the 7.2 Magnitude tremor.

One of the ancestral houses in Baclayon that is now part of the heritage walking tours.

Simple but classy interiors of Metrocentre Hotel 

Bohol Plaza resort at night. No sign of the tremor here.

Catching the beautiful sunrise at Alona Beach

Green and yummy. The vegetable dishes available only in the organic fields of Bohol Bee Farm.

The cozy and gorgeous Amarela Resort from the inside.

Amarela Resort's private space that costs as much or more than a five star hotel room.

This landscape of giant chocolate kisses

Boholanos are religious. These figures are placed inside Museo de Loboc that is now a part-cafe. The museum/cafe is within the compound of St. Peter's Church

Bilar’s man-made canopy of Mahogany trees

A quick stop to refresh the eyes and the mind

The October tremor reminded us that being strong is not enough. Nothing is indestructible with the forces of nature and that some things can't be rebuilt no matter how much effort and time we devote to it. 

But the Boholano spirit is as strong as the 1200 hills. I was reminded that I was standing on what these people call as "God's little paradise". A paradise where people's faith can be put to test but is always steady.

Cheers! []


Disclosure: This opportunity to revisit and photograph Bohol and its people was made possible through a photography project with Canadian Urban Institute and the Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development. Special thanks to Sir Francis,Tina, Sir Randi and the LED people. Same goes to Daidee and Dianne.


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