Sandugo Festival 2014: Celebrating unity and resiliency

Bohol Sandugo Festival 2014 by Shaken yet resilient. This best describes the Boholanos as they recover from the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shocked the province on October 15, 2013.

Fast forward to nine months after the earthquake, Bohol continues to rise from the rubble.

Amid the gloomy weather last July 27, the colorful costumes and warm smiles of the participants brightened the day in Tagbilaran City in celebration of the Sandugo Festival 2014. Rain or shine, the 12 groups from different schools and municipality danced with gusto.

Bohol Sandugo Festival by

Here’s a slideshow of the street dancing and the show down at the stadium.

The contingents of the Bohol Island State University clad in gold and green emerged as the champion and bagged Php 300,000.00. The Tribu Nagkahiusang Balilinhon from the Municipality of Balilihan was declared first runner-up while the Holy Name University placed second. The first runner-up was awarded with Php 250,000 while the second runner-up received Php 150,000.

Watch the video highlights of the festival (shot using iPhone and edited using iMovie for iPhone).

Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto, who is also the chairperson of the festival, said that the Sandugo Festival is a springboard for the people to unite. It also celebrates the resiliency of the Boholanos. The word “Sandugo” means “blood compact”.

The Sandugo is the historic blood compact that transpired between Boholano chieftain Datu Sikatuna and Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi on March 16, 1565. The blood compact sealed the Treaty of Friendship between the Boholanos and the Spaniards. It is considered as the first international treaty of the Philippines.

*Special thanks to USAID-COMPETE, Bohol Tourism Council, Bohol Provincial Tourism Office, Department of Tourism and Amorita Resort for inviting to witness the Sandugo Festival.

Bohol Adventures: The Climb to the Balete Tree

This is no horror story. Yet, the Balete tree has been tagged to horror stories such as the white lady at the Balete drive. It didn’t cross my mind that a time will come that I will climb a balete tree.

When we went to E.A.T. Danao in Bohol, my goals were to do the root climb and the famous PLUNGE also known as the canyon swing. The E.A.T. Danao guides introduced themselves (but I forgot their names). I was too excited to do the root climb.

It was not an easy path. The riverside of the Wahig River has too many rocks and boulders. One wrong step would result to a sprained foot. Finally, our guides pointed a tree. It was not just an ordinary tree. It was a Balete tree with its humongous roots hugging a wall like something’s hidden underneath.

The CHALLENGE: Climb the towering wall which measures 60-feet high using the roots of the balete tree.

J volunteered to go first. He was fast even with his weight. lol. Thanks to his height. He was able to get up fast. I followed. I looked up at the resting point and thought, “Nah. This is easy.”

But lo and behold, when I held the roots and placed my feet on each hole, I found it to be the opposite. hahaha. I spoke too soon. It must be the lack of exercise. Physical fitness, I need you badly. Just look on how focused I was while climbing.

And yes, my friends asked me to smile for the photo-op. Whew! It was about three minutes before I got to the top.

CHALLENGE #2: Rappel down the 15-meter wall.

The next challenge was to rappel down. It isn’t my first time to do rappelling but it did feel like the first time. It was four years ago since I last rappelled so I have somehow forgotten how to do it.

Thanks to the guides who showed us a demo first. I was able to get down with intact bones and flesh. :)

The root climb and rappel at E.A.T Danao cost Php 400.00 but the experience was priceless.

Where to stay in Danao: Jose Gonzaga Farmers’ Foundation Inn

I looked out of the window. Everything’s pitch-black. Only the headlights of the bus illuminated the road. It was almost 7:00 PM when we arrived at Danao Poblacion.

Thank goodness, habal (motorbike) drivers Kuya Tamay and his father were waiting for us at the intersection. Kuya Tamay said that Ate Dahlia, the staff of Jose Gonzaga Farmers’ Foundation Inc (JGFFI), informed them that we’re arriving. Ang babait ng mga Boholanos! Daghang Salamat!

In the darkness of the night, we rode the motorbike to the Foundation Inn, where we’re staying. It was about 15-20 minutes away from the Poblacion.

Ate Dahlia welcomed us at the cozy JGFFI Inn that looks like a large bahay-kubo (native nipa hut). It has three rooms that can occupy three persons each.

Each room has a comfort room. However, the comfort room was only for toilet use. The shower room was located at the back.

The room was basic but clean.  An electric fan ventilated the room. Thanks to Ivan Henares’ entry. I found the Jose Gonzaga Farmers’ Foundation Inn. I thought they would be serving organic food as what Henares and company experienced. However, during that time, there was no cook.

Hence, we ate dinner at the EAT Danao Adventure Park. Special thanks to Kuya Tamay and his father who took us to the park after we left our things at our rooms.

The ride from Poblacion to the JGFFI should be just Php 40.00 each but since they were so kind to assist us even to our dinner area and back to the inn, we paid them Php 300.00.

The DINNER at the EAT Danao Adventure Park was a bit pricey but it served its purpose—to fill our hungry stomachs.

Our dinner comprised of breaded porkchop, sinigang na hipon, lechong kawali, fried chicken, rice, and drinks for Php 1,175.00 for 4 pax or Php 293.75 each. Kaon ta!

Even though there’s a lodging inside the park, we preferred to stay at the JGFFI inn. By doing so, we had also helped the farmers. According to Ate Dahlia, part of the Php 300.00 per person that we paid for our room goes to the projects of the JGFFI for the farmers of Danao.

If you’re looking for convenience, then it’s better to stay at the park’s lodging. But if you want to help locals at the same time, enjoy their place, then stay at a place like JGFFI.


  • Jose Gonzaga Farmers’ Foundation Inc. Contact Ian Gonzaga- 09173252426 /Dahlia -09204009588
  • JGFFI Lodging Rate- Php 300.00/pax
  • Lodging inside EAT Danao Adventure Park– Php 1,300 for 2 pax.
  • EAT Danao Contact: Ms. Wiena- 0917 302 1700
  • Habal-Habal Driver: Tamay – 0946 906 9205

Commuting 101: How to get to EAT Danao

Got a thirst for adventure? E.A.T. Danao will definitely quench that thirst when you’re in Bohol. Probably, you’re searching on ways to commute to E.A.T. Danao Adventure Park. Their website gives you a list of choices for transport services.

But here’s what we actually did to get to EAT Danao.

1. From the airport, we headed straight to Dao Terminal. But just a warning, talk first with your trike driver or else you might get charged as high as we had been charged. We were charged a total of Php 200 from the airport to the Dao Terminal. Thank God, we’re four in a group to divide the cost, making it Php 50 each.

2. Dao Terminal is near Islands City Mall. Upon arriving at the terminal, we hurriedly went to the bus with the signage Sagbayan/Danao. Thank God! We were able to find a seat for the 3:00 PM departure of the bus. It would be a three-hour ride to Danao.

3. When you reach Danao Poblacion, hire a habal-habal to get to EAT Danao.


  • Be early at the Dao Terminal Station so that you’ll get a good seat.
  • Make sure you have eaten before riding the bus or bring food with you when going to Danao in the afternoon.
  • Advantages of riding a bus: more legroom/ riding with the locals
  • Disadvantage of riding a bus: longer travel time
  • You have the option to ride a van. But just a warning, you might wait for other passengers to fill-up the seats. Vans are faster by an hour.
  • Schedule of buses and vans to Danao can be found here.
  • Contact a habal driver to pick you up when you reach Danao poblacion. Trip@dora recommends Tamay and his father. You may reach him at 0946-9069205.



Bohol has a special place in my heart now. (haha) Don’t ask why.

I kept on coming back to Bohol because it has a lot to offer. It’s one of those places that you’d love going back to. In Filipino, “Di nakakasawa sa Bohol!”

My first trip to Bohol was with my family in 2006. I vividly remember how I enjoyed the Loboc River Cruise and the Loboc Choir. “Balik Bohol” was their farewell song. Indeed, I returned to Bohol in 2009. But this time, it was for work. Back then, I was a reporter who covered and documented a kayaking race.

After three years, I came back to Bohol with a new thirst for adventure. This time, it’s with my friends and J. Encouraging my friends to travel was a bit difficult. Thanks to seat sales!

So where in Bohol did we go to?

  • Tagbilaran
  • Danao
  • Panglao
  • Balicasag Island
  • Baclayon Church
  • Chocolate Hills in Carmen
  • Loboc

We only had 4 days and 3 nights and yet, we managed to visit these destinations in Bohol. We stayed in 3 different lodgings in those 3 nights.

Here’s my Bohol Itinerary:

Day 1-Hello Bohol!

15:00:00Leave Tagbilaran Dao Terminal for Danao via Bus
18:00:00Expected time of arrival at Danao/ Check-in at Jose Gonzaga Foundation Inn via habal-habal
18:30-19:00Check-in/Settle Down/ Wash up
19:00-20:00Dinner at EAT Danao

Day 2- Action-packed Adventure

6:00-7:00 AMWake up
7:00-8:00 AMBreakfast at EAT DANAO
8:00-9:00 AMCaving/ Spelunking at Ka Mira Cave
9:00 AM-10:00 AMRoot Climbing
10:00 AM-10:15 AMThe Plunge
11:00-12:00 NNLunch
3:00 PM-5:00 PMRide Van back to Tagbilaran
7:00 PMCheck-in at Bolod Beach Resort
7:30 PMDinner

Day 3- Swim and Snorkel

5:00 AM-6:00 AM Breakfast/ Leave Panglao
6:00 AM-11:00AM Dolphin Watching/ Snorkeling in Balicasag/ Virgin Island
12:00NN-2:00PM LUNCH
2:30 PM-6:00 PM Country side Tour: Baclayon Church, Tarsier, Chocolate Hills, Loboc River
6:00 PM- 7:00 PM Check-in at Nipa Hut Village
7:00 PM-8:00 PM Dinner at Loboc Floating Restaurant

Day 4- Home-bound

5:00-6:00 AM Breakfast
6:00-7:00 AM Leave Loboc for Tagbilaran

My itinerary might not be applicable to others who want to relax. I just did this to maximize my Bohol Birthday trip. But next time, I will stay in one place and try slow travel. Crossing my fingers :)

Stay tuned for the next posts: Where we stayed, Trip Expense Report, The Plunge Experience and much more.