Day for lovers, ‘Balik sa Bohol’ take center stage

Published February 14, 2021, 8:34 AM

by Deedee Siytangco


A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other. —Anonymous

Happy day of hearts! May all of us experience true love, sent through virtual platforms or video chats or a simple phone call. It is still not yet safe to snuggle in the arms of loved ones who come to visit, whether in large family reunions or even smaller, more intimate groups of 10.

Observe safety protocols to the max, and stay home, I am told repeatedly. Even our household staff must remain indoors and so hurray for on-line groceries, whatever you need—fruits, veggies, meats, sauces, baby milk and diapers, items of clothing.

Bright news is that, in Metro Manila, churches are now allowed 50 percent occupancy, up from 30 percent!

On Feb. 17, it is already Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. Those who wish to mark their foreheads with holy ash, but still can’t go to the church can have their members do it for them while reciting the prayers prescribed by the church and the admonition that “dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.” This must be done in the spirit of repentance. Also, if you are ready to go to church, we are now allowed to burn our palaspas of palm leaves from past Palm Sundays.

More good news for us Catholics: In celebration of 500 years since the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines, the Archdiocese of Manila has designated 10 churches in the archdiocese as pilgrim churches! This means we can gain indulgences when we visit the churches!

The pilgrim churches, according to the release, are to be the “centers of prayer, forgiveness, and charitable works during this jubilee year.”

The pilgrim churches are the Manila Cathedral (Manila), Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene / Quiapo Church (Manila), Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Guia (Manila), Archdiocesan Shrine of Sto. Niño de Tondo (Manila), San Pablo Apostol Parish (Manila), Santa Clara de Montefalco Parish (Pasay), National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Makati), Sts. Peter and Paul Parish (Makati), San Felipe Neri Parish (Mandaluyong), and St. John the Baptist Parish (San Juan). The Jubilee Year will open on April 4 this year and close on April 18, 2022, with the Second National Mission Congress in Cebu.

Bohol Chocolate Hills

Good news for local tourists: Newly launched on-line promotions by the stakeholders in Bohol have reopened that scenic province to tourists! I look forward to finally revisiting my favorite beach resorts, like the Bluewater chain, sail down the river and eat lunch on board, visit the tarsiers in their natural habitat, gaze at the Chocolate Hills, visit the old churches, eat their delicious food, and bask in the sun for vitamin D!

Tourism secretary Berna Romulo Puyat

Tourism secretary Berna Puyat has happily told us that she looks forward to more people traveling to Bohol. “I want them to experience the beauty and wonders of the province. We at the DOT (Department of Tourism), along with provincial and local leaders, are committed to protecting the health and safety of locals and tourists alike. We hope to regain the trust and confidence of Filipinos to travel again in their own country as it is essential to the revival of our tourism industry,” she says

As Bohol tourism stakeholders collaborate to launch the first-ever and biggest selling campaign, dubbed as Balik sa Bohol: Bohol Online Sale, which will run from Feb. 21 to March 14. Now is the best time to start planning a visit.  

Bohol’s readiness to handle tourists in the new norm has been tried and tested after the province successfully hosted the country’s biggest government-organized travel trade event and first hybrid Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) in September last year. Three months later, the Philippine Tourism Destination Inventory and MICE+E Bohol Familiarization Trip was also held in Bohol.

The two events, which attracted national and even international attention under the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector, were organized by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and the DOT. Prior inspections were done on accommodation establishments, food and beverage facilities, transport, travel and tour operators as well as sites and attractions to assess their readiness and to ensure compliance with various safety protocols.  

There are price drops up to 70 percent in rooms rates and prices of food, tours, and related services at the resorts, hotels, and tour operators during the online promotions.

Margie Munsayac

Participating brands are Amarela Resort, Amorita Resort, Be Grand Resort Bohol, Bohol Bee Farm, The Bellevue Resort, Best Western Plus The Ivywall Panglao Resort, Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort, Bohol Beach Club, Chocolate Hills Adventure Park, The Acacia Glamping, Donatela Resort and Sanctuary, Loboc River Resort, Mithi Resort and Spa, South Palms Resorts Panglao, Angels’ Wings Tours and Travel, Baclayon Travel & Tours, Bohol Holidays Travel & Tours Inc., Coordinates Tours and Travel, and Travel Village. The platform is powered by Atlantis and co-sponsored by Cebu Pacific Air.

For more information on the Balik sa Bohol: Bohol Online Sale, email Margie Munsayac at [email protected].