Last August during Buwan ng Wika (It’s the month schools dedicate the curriculum to learning about the Philippine language and culture) Sam’s Kindergarten level focused on the Visayas region. I distinctly remember it because the parents were asked to volunteer and help teach the kids about typical foods, dances, animals, and tourist destinations found in and around the provinces there. Sam, an avid learner, took everything to heart. Of course since then she’s asked to visit Visayas countless times. Technically she has been there already several times — to one of the country’s most popular tourist islands, Boracay. And yet, a visit to the same place (while it is a wonderful place to be in every year), can get boring for an adventure-seeking peacock like Sam, and she still insisted on seeing more of the region.
Thankfully the opportunity came about when a client of YBS, Amorita Resort, asked us to visit for a weekend. Kris and I decided to take the whole team, as well as our families and make it our annual outing. Needless to say, Sam was over the moon. We weren’t only going with her favorite travel buddies M and N (I suppose we do travel a lot together!), “I’m going to see, and be and go to what I learned in school! Wheeee!” was her exact exclamation. Everything came out in quite the jumbled squeal.
The trip was made so worthwhile from the get-go because Amorita took the liberty of hiring for us one of THE best tour guides in town. She really lived and breathed everything about Bohol, it’s past, present and future. She knew every single detail and explained everything to us very very well. And she engaged the children and gave them age-appropriate trivia. Even I was still learning something from her too.
I hadn’t been back to Bohol in quite a while so it was a refreshing visit to see how much had changed with the province. It was sad nonetheless to see the toll earthquake had when it hit last October. A lot of the ancient churches had collapsed, and as our tour guide Kathy said, it was pretty much because they were 300 years old.
Our first stop was the Loboc River Cruise, where you have a buffet meal and entertainment on a boat while riding down the Loboc River. It takes over an hour to get up and down the river back to your starting point, and there is even now a stop midpoint where the natives dress and sing and dance in the local dialect. Sam could appreciate it because they did a dance called the Tinikling, where people jump in and out to music while trying to avoid getting their feet stuck between two bamboo poles. “We did that in school mom!” she told me.
Then of course a trip to Bohol wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills. The Tarsiers are now placed in a sanctuary of sorts and people are prohibited from holding them. Apparently, these animals are solitary as much as they are nocturnal (big words Sam learned on this trip), and hence, nosy tourists that hold them stress them out. I didn’t know that this sometimes causes them to bang their heads until they give themselves an internal brain bleed and die. Yeeesh!
The kids were all surprisingly quiet as we visited the primates who were trying to sleep. That’s another new thing I learned — Tarsiers aren’t monkeys! Jamie was fascinated by them too and surprisingly absorbed a lot of what our tour guide Kathy was saying about them.
There’s not much to be said about the Chocolate Hills, as it is still a wonder all on its own. Kathy gave the kids the exact count and my post-epidural brain forgot what it was. She also told them how the Chocolate Hills came to be and why they weren’t so “chocolatey” anymore after the earthquake. To know more, you should go take a trip yourselves!
On the way home we visited the site of the Blood Compact monument, another quick anecdote I had to relay to Sam. I suppose this part she didn’t learn about yet at this age.
The next morning we got up at 5AM and went out on a boat to watch the Dolphins jump and feed and play, another activity Amorita arranged for the group. We saw several pods and both children and adults alike were fascinated and excited. Generally a tour group could have also gone snorkeling or scuba-diving in Pangalusian island and then had lunch there afterwards, but we had the kids so we needed to cut the activities up so they could rest. Besides, we also wanted to enjoy the beautiful resort of Amorita and their wonderful service.
Ria once told me in a meeting that Amorita is known for its “infinite experiences” because they will really cater to each guests’ unique needs and wants. And I’ve heard the same from friends who’ve stayed there before. “They really spoil you“, I was told.
There’s a personal message from the person who turns down your room at night. The kids get their own treats and messages too!
In fact when we met the resort manager Hermie, Sam went up to thank her for the cookies, but also mentioned that “my baby sister doesn’t like chocolate too much. She prefers strawberry.” Hermie’s reply was that she’d have the chef bake an extra batch of Strawberry cookies specifically for Jamie — and lo and behold when we arrived at our room that night, there they were!
Amorita is famous for their seaside villas which has a jacuzzi and view that overlook the beach. It really speaks of a private getaway, and if you chose, you really wouldn’t have to leave the premises. It’s perfect for people, couples and families who want their own space and pace. The last time I went to Bohol, I didn’t stay in Amorita and now that I have, let me tell you it’s worlds apart from what the others have to offer.
Amorita is currently in progress with its second phase of villas and function areas that are set to open this May. From what we saw, it’s going to be quite breathtaking. They’re even putting a two floor dining area and bar which promises to have sumptuous dishes, and a huge, huge infinity pool! The space for each villa is roomy enough and well-thought through. Every little detail is worked out. I suppose that’s the difference when the owners are hands on with the project from start to finish. Their vision really shines through.
Although Amorita was not in Sam’s curriculum last August, they definitely played a key role in helping bring what she learned in school to life. From the food to the best tour guides and most optimal schedule we had during our visit, Amorita made sure we left the island with a lot more than what we came with. They enhanced and magnified everything Sam learned in school, and taught Jamie a whole lot of culture too. They’ve taken everything to memory and to heart, and are both definitely looking forward to going back for more.