When traveling to a new destination we all get agitated, wondering and imagining what is there to see and experience. Most of the travelers that I meet wanting to check famous spots in a certain place which obviously I too myself never missed looking at. But, what if you are also like me searching for a different kind of travel experience but couldn’t find it elsewhere online?
This is the reason why I decided staying 4 months in Bohol since I couldn’t find what I want online. I have been to this island since the year 2007 which mostly stayed for like 10 days but on every same spot. This time around, discovering on how do local lives in different places of Bohol become my goal. Through this, having a great pleasure of understanding even more on what else there is to experience in a uniquely small island through the eyes of the locals.
Nipa palm (another name is Mangrove palm) is commonly known as NIPA in the Philippines which is widely used for making a native house. In Bohol Philippines, there is a huge size of an area that has a nipa plantation. Thus, making NIPA roof is one of local’s source of income. It is widely seen in Laoay and Loboc area. Visiting two families doing such living, I found out that it’s mostly women who do the stitching of nipa. Nipa leaves are the main materials needed in creating a nipa hut, this is through stitching or thatching. Other than nipa leaves, bamboo sticks and bamboo skins are also used to hold in stitching the leaves. Mostly 100 pieces can be sold for about Php 150.00 to Php 400.00 depending on its sizes. If you happen to check this kind of experience like I did, just drop by at the Loboc place right before the Loboc church, there are some houses along the highway doing such.
There are plenty of seaweed farming in the Philippines, encountering one of this in the distant area in Candijay town of Bohol gives a full understanding how seaweed farming helps the local. Seaweed is a large algae growing in the sea or on rocks below the high-water mark. Exploring this with the guests when I was a tour guide has given clear awareness on how this kind of event can be beneficial to tourists, it is educational. During my 4 months in Bohol, going back to this farm is so refreshing and worthwhile. Local people emphasize how important their farming is to their livelihood. It was the low season when I got back and all their harvested seaweeds had been delivered so my solo visit becomes a great chit-chat with the people.
Check this link for more of my seaweed farming experience.
Calamay is a delicacy known in the country, which is originally created in Bohol. Traveling to the southern part of this island, this delicacy is massively available in the town of Jagna. Local sellers wandering across the town, happily sharing their own made Calamay spreading to tourists passing by why their own is the best. Calamay is a glutinous rice mixed with coconut milk and some sugar constantly stirring for longer hours on a slow motion into a huge hot pot. This mixture will then be enclosed in a shell after. Calamay delicacy brings a good income to the local, thus, in Jagna there is an organization formed by the local makers. In this way, Calamay makers believe it can sustain their way of living through helping others either by lending or any other way that the Calamay business could sustain and grow. If you opt to learn more about how this is made, one can easily visit local vendors in Jagna proper, they either take you to their organization showing their craft or visit any household. On my part, visiting one of the local makers give me a great satisfaction, but, I also get the chance checking at Ching’s Kalamay as they are located on the highway. As this is popularly known in the country, experiencing such livelihood is fulfilling.
What is Ube/ Ubi? Ube is a tuberous root vegetable in which the tubers are violet or lighter lavender in color.
Although Luzon area is seemingly famous for its huge production and plantation of this, many don’t know that almost all towns in Bohol has it and is recognized as the largest producer of ube. Ube is actually treated as a sacred root vegetable to the local. When this is dropped on the ground, they kiss it and asking for forgiveness, it’s so fragile that they somewhat treat it as one of the most important food in the world. As per my understanding from the people selling Ube Jam or Ube Kinampay (or Purple Yam to some), this has been long sacred by reason of saving everyone from hunger even from the past. During drought times in the past, ube is the only crop that was easily available and surviving people from its hunger especially during the war. This became such a valuable crop that they started planting ube in clay pots and some in plastics too. I actually first know about ube in Bohol through a friend way back my corporate days and I locked that info in my memory bank so by the time I am on the island I will visit a store. I never knew that it’s as difficult checking such place when I finally visited the island. Luckily though, in the course of my stay at the city of Tagbilaran during my guiding-work-days a few years ago, our tour driver introduced me to a local ube kinampay maker who lives at the center of the bustling city. When we both got in the house, the owner meet us and happily mentioned that we are lucky there’s a production going on. It’s such an honor watching a couple of workers making ube yam, and they are so generous giving information. From that time on, I make sure that I get the chance visiting the place and I also even introduced this to the tourists during my work as a tour guide. Their purple yam is the yummiest I tasted. This place is located near Shoppers, they already put a signage as “Ube Kinampay” outside a building. The site is a house, they have a doorbell so it will be easy for buyers to get in. There’s a chance to experience how they make it and see in actual what an ube looks like, but make sure to visit in the morning.
My few days homestay on the island of Pangagan had me the exposure of harvesting and gathering local coconut wine. Pangangan is situated in the town of Calape which is 41 kilometers in distance to the north of Tagbilaran City. Coconut wine or locally known as “Tuba” in the Visayas and Mindanao region and “Lambanog” as a whole nation. In my one day setting with the family, observing how they do it, is just overwhelming. I love how I am surrounded by those coconut trees. The farmer I meet together with his wife wakes up early every day to get the unfermented coconut juice. This juice is not from the coconut shell itself, instead, its a juice from a coconut fruit of the tree or that looks like a green pod. Which the local manually make a hole or cut the green pod so the juice will come out. The juice has a white or cream in color, but with the mixture of a grounded bark from the local for the purpose of staying it longer as a coconut wine for a day. After this has been made, they put a plastic or a bamboo container covering the hole of that green pod, set for 15-24 hours. The next day they harvest another juice dripping from that cut green pod and must be distributed to buyers in town as this coconut wine is better to drink on its first day. The taste of it will differ as days go on thus, after 2-5 days this coconut wine will turn into a sour vinegar. Learning this directly from the local is a great way as I never knew how this tuba is made. There are various of local doing this particularly huge in the east of Visayas and in Luzon area. But rest assured in every island, there is a coconut wine.
My 4 months of staying in Bohol, I know there are still more things to discover and learn. Like the one I’ve heard about the Carabao Cheese known in Ubay, Bohol which is at the eastern part of the island and others that I get from the local I meet. Even though I didn’t get the chance exploring other local living than this 5 listed here, I hope you will get time to learn one of this when visiting Bohol Philippines.
Author: Ferna Mae
Ferna is from the Philippines who travel spontaneously. Thrives to be more independent in her own skin. She first traveled The Philippines before she embarked to other countries. She believes that by traveling, her undying crave for learning excites her in a more profound way. Her flexibility had proven her that time is genuine. As a former tour guide in the Philippines, she hopes that her travel experiences will give value to the aspiring travelers. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org,