The island of Panglao in Bohol is one of the first places we visited in the Philippines, next to the neighboring island of Cebu. Why we chose to pick this place as one of our first destinations is no-brainer: the island of Panglao has long been known as one of the most beautiful and peaceful islands in the country.
So November of the previous year, we took a ferry from the highly-industrialized city of Cebu en route to Tagbilaran City, the capital of the province of Bohol. When we arrived in Tagbilaran port, a car provided by Dumaluan Beach Resort (the resort where we stayed in Panglao) was waiting for us and took us directly to the hotel. A heavy rain welcomed us in the island, but it didn’t last long.
On our way to the island of Panglao, which is a 30 minute-ride from the port, the ever-friendly driver gave us a brief history of the island and some interesting facts about it. According to him, Panglao Island has 2 municipalities: Dauis and Panglao. Also included in the island’s territory are three smaller islands which are the Balicasag Island (where we would partake one of the most bountiful underwater feasts the next day), Gak-ang Island, and the Pontod Island (also known as the Virgin Island).
We also asked our driver where the name of the island came from. He answered right away, as if he’d been expecting this question to pop out all along. The present name of Panglao is believed to either come from its former name “panglawod,” meaning “to the open sea” or from the local term “panggaw,” referring to a native fishing tool/technique used by the local fishermen. In any case, our curiosity was satisfied.
We then asked our driver about his personal experience when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the island in 2013. He narrated how he and his family fled from their house and ran to the nearest open space they could find to protect themselves from falling rubbles. His harrowing account made us fell silent for a time and thought about all those who fell victim to that disastrous event.
After a short silence, our driver shifted our conversation to a lighter tone. We were crossing the bridge that connects the island of Panglao to mainland Bohol when he said that wearing a face helmet is prohibited by law in Bohol. We thought he was kidding, but he continued to say that the law was created to help the police clearly see the faces of possible crime suspects coming from neighboring provinces and pass by the island of Bohol, or worse find a safe refuge from authorities here. Well, that sounded reasonable aside from the fact that a 2015 study conducted by the World Health Organization revealed that more than half of those who die in road accidents in the Philippines are motorcycle riders usually because of the absence of protective helmets.
When we arrived at Dumuluan Beach Resort, the hotel staff confirmed our reservation and ushered us to our rooms. We stayed in a room beside a not-so-big but elegant swimming pool. When we saw the room where we would be staying the next couple of days, we ohhhhd in surprise and excitement. The room was large enough for the 3 of us to fit and with a very comfortable comfort room and a big-screen television. We surely couldn’t ask for more.
After setting our things down, we surveyed our environs and proceeded to the beach front. The view that welcomed us was something you would see in the pages of Travel + Leisure magazine or the images posted in Beautiful Destinations‘ Facebook page or Instagram account.
It is difficult not to feel instantly in love with the island, we tell you.
Armed with our cameras and beach slippers, we took a long stroll along the beach and explored some neighboring resorts, beach clubs, and private properties. You’ll never run out of picture-perfect images after an hour of stroll along the white beach. The sands are not as powdery as that of Boracay, but the waters are as as clear and refreshing as Boracay’s.
Time flew so fast that afternoon. We barely noticed the sun setting over the horizon while we were talking about what happened to us individually in the last 8 years.
A side note: We graduated from high school in 2007 and finished college in 2012. One is now a seafarer, another is an engineer, the other is an IT expert, and the other is a writer. We found it quite amazing how our friendship did not end after such a long time.
Seeing the sun beginning to descend over the horizon, we went our way back to Dumaluan Beach Resort and we’re just on time to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets we have ever seen. The sky was clear and the vastness of the ocean provided a perfect backdrop for a breathtaking sunset.
Well, it is said that even the sun sets in paradise. This fleeting phenomenon did not last very long and as long as we wanted, but it was a timely reminder for us about one of life’s many truths: that life is finite but it is this very finitude that actually makes it very special and precious.
As night fell over the island, lights from nearby restaurants and bars started to light up and provided everyone the chance to spend the night in a more lighthearted and cozy way.
The island of Panglao in Bohol became our first home away from home. It was one of the first places in the Philippines that we explored and relished its beauty. We found our stay there short (and we’re planning to go back there soon), but that shortness actually reminded us that life is short too, yet beautiful. And we’ll just have to make the most of our stay here while we can.