I came to Bohol for exactly two reasons: tarsiers and chocolate hills. Bohol was the only island in the Philippines that I wasn’t drawn to for its beaches, but for nature and wildlife. Tarsiers are some of the smallest primates in the world, and can easily fit in your palm, that’s how tiny they are! In my opinion, they look like little gremlins, with big heads and big round eyes, and I had been dying to ‘meet’ one ever since I’d seen a picture of one of these rare creatures. They are, similar to sloths, both cute and ugly at the same time.
The other thing I came to Bohol for, the Chocolate Hills, took a bit more effort to see (including a wild ride through the fields on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle), but it was well worth it. I couldn’t believe the sight of hundreds of cone-shaped hills sticking out of the ground as far as the eye could see! In total, there are over 1,300 of these hills spread out over 50sq km (20 sq miles), all between 100 and 165 feet (30 and 50 meters) high. The hills are made of limestone and covered with grass, and because they are seen as a ‘superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance’, they have been submitted for UNESCO World Heritage status as Natural Monument.
Because nobody can really explain how these hills were created, local folklore has several legends about the formation of the hills. One says they are tears of a heartbroken giant. Another one says that there were two giants, fighting each other, throwing huge rocks at each other – which are the chocolate hills. Two other legends indicate that these are in fact feces left behind by giants!
While I wasn’t sure why these lush green hills were named after chocolate (other than that they reminded me of Hershey’s Kisses, would you agree?), I later learned that this is because they are brownish, chocolate-colored during the dry season when the green grass dries up.