(L-R) 1. Pres. and Sis. Schmutz (Cebu Mission President) w/ his assistants and Sister Bird 2. E. Bird at Tagbilaran Airport 3. E Bird w/ Pres. Saballa (Calape Dist. Pres.) 4. Jubilee Tour 5. Tour Guides Ready to Greet Visitors
(l-r) 1. Tarsier Monkey 2. E/S Bird with Python 3. Bird Taken Down But Not Eaten by Python!! 4. E. Bird and Iguana 5. Flying Bat Asleep During Daytime
(l-r) 1. Chocolate Hills of Bohol 2. E Bird in Front of Choc. Hills Sign 3. Chocolate Hills 4. E/S Bird at Chocolate Hills
(l-r) 1. E/S Bird on Riverwatch Floating Restaurant 2. Food at Floating Restaurant 3. Entertainment on Floating Restaurant 4. Sis. Bird with Filipino Women 5. Filipino Family we met, on Vacation from L.A. (Eric Guiterez Family) 6. Upstream View of Loboc River
(l-r) 1. Bunka Boats of Bohol 2. View of Bohol Tropics Hotel 3. Bohol Tropics Restaurant Overlooks Ocean 4. View of Ocean from our Room..Beautiful!On Saturday morning, January 7, we flew from Manila to Tagbilaran City, Bohol...located just above the large island of Mindinao. The flight took 1 hr. and 20 min.
The island of Bohol is a beautiful asian paradise...also a jungle! It has many resorts located on the Panglau Penisula with white sand beaches. We stayed at a hotel called the Bohol Tropics. The view from our room was fantastic....the room itself, not so fantastic! I tried to spend most of my time out looking at the view! The grounds, pools, and landscape were all very nice. We were there for the Jubilee Exhibit, but we had Saturday afternoon open, so we took advantage of that time and hired a driver to take us on a tour of the island....a very good decision!
We first went on a riverboat/lunch trip down the Loboc River...this was when we knew for sure we were in the jungle. Many beautiful rivers run through this island, all emptying into the Bohol Sea. The water was very brown because the rainy season is just coming to an end. In a couple of months the water will become crystal clear because the mud is not continually being stirred up. Part way down the river, we made a stop, and platter after platter of food was brought on...all Filipino dishes, and very good. We were assigned a table to eat at, and ended up with a Filipino family (Eric Guiterez family) from L.A....it was so fun getting to know them. Along the river, there were two more stops where native islanders came out to sing and dance for us...we even joined them! We loved this!! The weather was hot but at least it was not raining.
Next was the Tarsier Sanctuary. This smallest of all monkeys is threatened by extinction, so it is now protected. We were led on a hike through the jungle, along winding stone paths that sometimes turned into just mud. We saw about 10 of the little monkeys. They have very large eyes and are the size of a fist.
Now it was onto the Chocolate Hills....I was so excited! Okay, so there was no chocolate at all...not even in the little souvenir shop....but the sight was so amazing! Pointed hills (about 1200 of them) just sticking up everywhere. We learned that they are caused by coral formations that rain water has fallen on, gradually building up to these mounds...so I assume they are still growing! In the summer months the grasses on the top turn brown from the sun....thus looking like chocolate on top of them. For a scenic view of the entire area, we hiked to the top of one of the tallest hills...there was a nice paved path...and the view was spectacular.
We then stopped by a butterfly conservation center where we saw some very unusual butterflies and some enormous moths...I've always had this thing against moths so I was very happy to learn that these are all native to this island! We saw many in all stages of development. Then we drove a few more kilometers to a small wild animal reserve....we wanted to see a python! I must say, we were surprised by the enormous size of the pythons and that we were allowed to go inside the cage and touch one, if we wanted to. I was a little leary, but the snake looked asleep...so why not! AFTER we had been in the cage, we were told that they (there were 2 of them) eat 2 chickens a day...they are turned loose in the cage...and the rest is history!! Our driver grew up on Bohol, and told us there are many pythons and some cobra snakes...every year a few bites are reported...very deadly! He found a python eating one of their chickens one night and lassoed it and tied it to a tree and ran to get his neighbor to help him. He said sometimes a whole brood of baby chicks would disappear in one night and they would know a python was around. One night they were driving through a mountain pass and they had to stop while an enormous python crossed the road.....I think that growing up in Idaho with rattle snakes was just fine!! Our driver had so many interesting experiences he shared. Besides the pythons, this animal reserve had several large and unusual birds, an Iguana and other lizards, animals that resembled a Bobcat, wolves, and the creepiest of all.....3 huge bats, 18 to 24 inches long, just hanging there! Yikes! Bats and cockroaches and huge moths all belong in the same class! What a great afternoon we had. It was dark by the time we arrived back at our hotel.
On Sunday we tried to call a taxi to take us to church, but none were available. The desk clerk said a tricycle was available...we said, "We'll take it!" It was about 3 miles to the Tagbilaran City 2nd Branch....what a ride! This was the second time we had ridden in a tricycle. We finally arrived at the chapel, after wondering if we would make it up a couple of hills. The branch was wonderful. It was fast and testimony meeting and the spirit was very strong. These people truly amaze us...here on a remote island...and they are just so "with it"! They are intelligent, creative, valiant, knowledgeable, very warm and friendly, and the church runs exactly like a large ward in Utah. We loved being there.
Monday morning we traveled to Calape, about an hour north along the coast. The District had the Jubilee Exhibit set up perfectly. They were so organized. Many had sacrificed much to take time off of work to be at the Jubilee to help...about 30 were there for the opening events. Well, we waited for almost 2 hours and not a single VIP came. We suggested we go ahead and start. We held the opening program and it was so nice, but then Randy and I had to leave to catch our flight. How we prayed that these saints would be blessed to have people attend the exhibit! They were so prepared and so eager to share this exhibit with people from the surrounding communities. When we arrived back at Manila, we had a text from one of the senior missionaries there in Calape. They jokingly said we should have left sooner, because as soon as we left all of these people arrived....one of the mayors, teachers, and many others. The exhibit was for 3 days and they felt was very successful. We were so grateful for the opportunity to meet more of the wonderful members in the Philippines.