The Philippines attracted over seven million visitors in 2018 and more than two million in the first quarter of 2019. Very possibly, their itinerary included a visit to the island of Bohol and participation in one of the country’s colorful street parties.
Bohol is famous for its Chocolate Hills, a geological formation comprising more than 1,700 hills over 50 square kilometres. Unusual in shape and appearing symmetrical in size when viewed from a distance, the grass covered hills turn chocolate-brown in the summers.
The Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary is home to the tarsier, a small animal with huge eyes that are as large as its brain. If you’ve seen The Hobbit, the movie adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s collection of epic high-fantasy novels, the fictional character of Gollum looks a lot like a tarsier. You can watch these gentle creatures in their natural, protected habit and take a photo with them. You may even catch them display their unique morphology: being able to move their heads 180 degrees in either direction.
The streets of the Philippines come alive in celebration of festivals that have a religious basis or commemorate key events in the country’s history. Only a few weeks away is the Panagbenga Festival, (translating to the Flower Festival), hosted by Baguio City between February 1 and March 8 this year. The festival is a tribute to the city’s flowers and held in commemoration of the city’s rise from the devastating Luzon earthquake of 1991 that cost thousands of lives. The awe-inspiring spectacle features vibrant floats decorated with flowers and street dancing performed by talented dancers in costumes and props inspired by flowers.
If you can’t make it in summer, try coming in October for the pretty crazy MassKara Festival in Bacolod. Gorge on local delicacies, dance from sunrise until sunset, and take part in pig-chasing, pole-climbing, mask-making and coconut milk-drinking contests.