HAVING tasted the gastronomic traditions of Bohol via the seafood-laden spreads that South Palms Resort Panglao laid out for us, experienced the wonders of nature so evident in Pamilacan Island, and seen for ourselves the massive destruction that the October 15, 2013 Magnitude 7.2 earthquake had caused on the province’s historical churches, we were ready to wind down and take it slow on our third and last day of stay at South Palms Resort Panglao (November 17, 2013). But it turned out to be one action-packed day nonetheless.
Philippine Star’s ace photographer Fernan Nebres was shooting South Palms Resort Panglao’s facilities, including the infinity pool facing the white-sand beach when we arrived at Oceanica Restaurant for breakfast at around 8:30 a.m. that morning. He had a young couple as model, so we also took some shots of them posing in the pool before we proceeded to the breakfast buffet at the al fresco Oceanica, which is the resort’s main dining facility.
It was one whole spread of breakfast fares, and I felt like having green salad that morning. So, after ordering my favorite Cappuccino and serenely enjoying sips of it, I assembled a plate of Fresh Green Salad and crowned it with a generous piece of Roast Chicken Inasal Bohol Style which I got from the carving station. Raff had slices of toasted bread to go with his own Fresh Green Salad, then we had small bowls of Noodle Soup. He then had Pancakes topped with Blueberry and I tried the French Toast.
After breakfast, we had our own food shoot with South Palms’ executive chef Dionisio ‘Toto’ de los Reyes and also sat down with the resort’s managing director Hope Marie Uy and F&B business development manager Lolita Lyn Uy for a chat about the resort, their vision for it and the grand plan that they willl implement on it.
After his official photography duties, Raff joined the guys in the group – Fernan, Gillian Gacuma also of Philippine Star, and Marvin Estigoy and Iking Dalusong of Business Mirror – in the briefing on the basics of scuba diving being conducted by the Japanese dive master who’s going to handle the dive shop of the resort. It’s called Taiken, which is Diving for Beginners, and the guys were up to it. The girls, well, we opted to stay in the sidelines and chat the time away.
After the briefing, it was time to test the theories in the water. So the guys geared up in wet suits and got into the infinity pool to put the theories into actual use. After a while, I left Raff to enjoy himself and quietly walked back to our Deluxe Pool View Room to do some writing. A few minutes after I left, the guys, together with their Japanese dive master, got on a motorized banca just like the one we took to go to Pamilacan Island the day before, and went on an actual dive in the deeper part of the Bohol Sea not too far from South Palms Resort Panglao.
It was past 1:00 p.m. when the guys got back on dry land and made their way to their rooms for a quick shower. Raff completely enjoyed his first dive, swearing how beautiful it was underwater with Nemo (clownfish) and Patrick (starfish) and others.
We had late lunch at Oceanica Restaurant, boodle fight style. Tables in the restaurant were put together to form a long table, and then the middle part of the long table was laid out with banana leaves, on which mounds of prawns, crabs, grilled pampano and tilapia, fresh lato seaweeds, steamed talbos ng kamote (sweet potato leaves), steamed rice and a medley of sliced fresh fruits could be found in mounds. We all opted to use our hands and ended up having a really good casual lunch that was supposed to be the final activity on our itinerary. After lunch, we washed up and packed up and get ready for our road trip Tagbilaran Airport to catch our 5:45 p.m. flight back to Manila.
We all dressed up in the South Palms T-shirts that resort management provided us with when we showed up at the lobby cum reception area to have our group picture taken before leaving. One by one, we trickled in, greeted by a choir composed of former members of the Loboc Children’s Choir who serenaded us with songs to send us off with their gift of music. But just as the choir’s performances were ending and we were ready to board the van, South Palms Resort Panglao’s managing director Hope Marie Uy made an announcement. Our flight, she was just informed, had been cancelled. The plane, she was told, did not arrive on time for our 5:45 p.m. flight, and Tagbilaran Airport operations cease strictly before it gets dark. The reality is that the airport has no equipment and facilities to allow planes to take off or land after dark. Too bad for Bohol, Tagbilaran Airport had become too small and too old to be able to accommodate the influx of tourists. It’s time to give that Panglao Airport, which is on Bohol’s blueprint, , some serious thought.
Anyway, with the flight cancelled, we talked among ourselves what option to take. If we really needed to get back to Manila that Sunday night, we could take the ocean ferry from Bohol to Cebu and get a flight back to Manila at the Mactan International Airport in Cebu. But the flight available was at 11:50 p.m. yet, and there was no guarantee against delays. Or we could postpone our trip to early the next morning (Monday, November 18, 2013) and take off from Tagbilaran. The first flight out would be 6:35 a.m. Less hassle. The consensus: Take the 6:35 a.m. flight from Tagbilaran, with packed breakfast prepared by South Palms.
We all took the flight cancellation and changes in flight plans in stride and decided to go malling since we had time on our hands. But not without a little extended sight-seeing first. The van took us to Bohol Bee Farm, which had a unique al fresco restaurant by the ledge fronting the sea and a The Buzz Ice Cream scooping station right by its small herb garden. I already had a cough then, but I really wanted to try the Malunggay Ice Cream and the Guyabano Ice Cream, so I did. ‘Tis why my cough has not left just yet. Raff also had Guyabano Ice Cream to go with his Spiced Ginger Ice Cream. Everybody else had two scoops each, as well.
The ice cream flavors were really interesting. Aside from the Malunggay, Guyabano and Spiced Ginger, there were Pandan, Durian, Buko, Ube, Mango Chocolate, Passionfruit, Avocado and Tomato.
A big, round and really bright full moon was up in the sky by the time we set off for Island City Mall in Tagbilaran. We stopped by a bridge to take photographs of the romantic moon, then proceeded to the mall and had dinner at The Prawn Farm there, also owned by the Uy family. Afterwards, we hied back to the resort to rest. It had been a long day, but the extended stay was well worth it.
Before sunrise the next morning, we were already making our way to Tagbilaran Airport. Everything went smoothly. Even at that early hour of the morning, Hope was awake to personally bid us good-bye with a hefty packed breakfast of Roast Chicken Sandwich with fries, an apple, a banana, and lanzones and longans in a brown bag, which we ate when we were already snugly seated in the waiting lounge at Tagbilaran Airport. Everything went smoothly, and we took the plane back to Manila armed with new memories of Bohol that we would cherish for a long, long time.
South Palms Resort Panglao – you rock! I will be back.
(South Palms Resort Panglao is located at Brgy. Bolod, Panglao Island, Bohol 6340; with telephone numbers +63 38 502.8288 and 0917-7167609.)