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South Asia - Bohol

Bohol is the tenth largest island of the Philippines, and includes 75 minor surrounding islands.

It is a popular tourist destination with its beaches and resorts. The Chocolate Hills, numerous mounds of limestone formations, is the most popular attraction. The formations can be seen by land (climbing the highest point) or by air via ultralight airplane tours. Panglao Island, located just southwest of Tagbilaran City, is famous for its diving locations and routinely listed as one of the top ten diving locations in the world. Numerous tourist resorts dot the southern beaches and cater to divers from around the world. The Philippine Tarsier, the second-smallest primate in the world, is indigenous to the island.

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Bohol is accessible both by air and sea. Several domestic airlines offer direct flights to Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol. You can also reach Bohol through passenger ships and ferries plying the routes between coastal cities and towns.

If you are from outside the Philippines, you can take a flight to either Manila or Cebu before taking another flight or boat ride to Bohol. Cebu is preferable to Manila since it is closer, but only a few international flights arrive there. After arriving in Manila, you can take any of the daily domestic flights to Tagbilaran City which takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and Air Asia offer regular flights from Manila to Tagbilaran.

Ferries and ships are obviously slower than aircraft, but they can save you a whole lot of money. If you are in Manila, you can also take a boat ride via Superferry, which is cheaper but takes more than 24 hours to arrive in Tagbilaran City seaport.

If you're in Cebu, you may choose to ride a fast catamaran ferry (also known as "fastcraft") to Tagbilaran City seaport. This usually takes about an hour and a half, and costs more or less 500 pesos. Supercat and Oceanjet are some of the operators of fastcraft trips to Bohol. If you're on a tighter budget, there are slower ferries that can take you to Bohol at less than half the price of fastcrafts, but they usually arrive in four hours.

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History: Bohol island came about as a result of Act 2711 implemented on March 10, 1917. It is believed that the first Boholanos descended from the last group of settlers in the Philippines, the Pintados or tattoed ones. Artifacts excavated in Mansasa, Tagbilaran as well as Dauis and Panglao revealed that the first inhabitants had their own culture three hundred years prior to the coming of the Spaniards. The Pintados already had their own writing method despite using perishable materials like leaves and bamboo barks. Likewise, they spoke their own language resembling that of the surrounding provinces.

As early as the 5th century, the early Boholanos had already been engaged in trade with the Chinese as distributors delivering the goods to as far as Mollucas in exchange for honey, spices, and other items.

Tourist in the Philippines ought to know that the name Bohol was believed to have come from the name of a barrio called Bo-ol, a town discovered in Tagbilaran City, which was among the first destinations visited by Ferdinand Magellan and his expedition. History tells us that the Concepcion, one of Magellan’s ships, was burned here after he was killed in Mactan.

In 1565, Miguel Lope de Legazpi stopped by in the eastern municipality of Jagna. Together with Rajah Sikatuna and Reyna Sigala, Legazpi made a blood compact in a nearby village in what is Tagbilaran City today. In commemoration of this event, President Elpidio Quirino established the Order of Sikatuna, an honor bestowed by the President on diplomats.

Bohol became a Jesuit mission in 1595. Bohol was then a part of Cebu and was called a residencia. However, on July 22, 1854, it became an independent politico-military province as well as the island of Siquijor. In 1879, Bohol had 34 towns and had a population of 253,103.

Bohol etched its name in the history of the Philippines because of two significant revolts during the Spanish Period. In 1621, a Babaylan spearheaded the Tamblot Uprising. The second revolution, lead by Francisco Dagohoy, took place from 1744 to 1829 and goes down as the longest revolt in history.

After the Spaniards were defeated by the United States during the Spanish-American War of 1899, local authorities assigned by General Emilio Aguinaldo took control of the province. However, the Americans, led by Major Henry Hale from the 44th Infantry Battalion, seized control in March 17, 1900 in one of the fiercest battles in the history of the province when it defeated the Boholano forces commanded by Colonel Pedro Samson.

After the war, the Americans restructured and reorganized the whole of Bohol. They constructed roads, homes, and established the first schools in the province. On March 17, 1917, the Americans declared Bohol as an independent province.

The American occupation of Bohol ended when the Second World War broke out. On May 17, 1942, the Japanese occupied the province by entering Tagbilaran. The Boholano forces fought the Japanese for three long years.

The Americans returned on April 11, 1945 and liberated the province from the Japanese forces. On July 4, 1946, simultaneous with the declaration of independence in the Philippines, Bohol gained its independence.

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Weather: From November to April, the northeast monsoon (amihan) prevails. Except for a rare shower, this is the mildest time of the year. Daytime temperatures average 28 °C (82 °F), cooling down at night to around 25 °C (77 °F). The summer season from May to July brings higher temperatures and very humid days. From August to October is the southwest monsoon (habagat). The weather during this season is not very predictable, with weeks of calm weather alternating with rainy days. It can rain any day of the year, but a higher chance of heavy showers occurs from November to January.

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