One of the few things that I remember about Bohol in my grade school’s Philippine geography subject is the Chocolate Hills. This is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Bohol apart from the Philippine Tarsier.
From my reading, there are more than 1260 hills scattered across a total land area of approximately 50 square kilometers. It was the summer of 2010 when we last visited them, and although it was my second time to be there, I still felt the excitement.
You’re probably wondering, why are they called the Chocolate Hills? They look green, don’t they?
Green Chocolate Hills
Here’s the thing, our country is basically made up of two seasons: the wet and the dry. The hills are actually limestone covered in grass, and during dry season, the grass tends to dry up and the hills turn chocolate brown. Thus, the name Chocolate Hills was derived. And what’s more amazing is that they have almost the exact same conical and dome-shape form. If you’re familiar with Hershey’s Kisses, then you could just imagine these hills scattered around like kisses.
Although it was already the dry season, the hills were still in their greenest form. They’re still just as lovely, but I feel like rain on a summer has definitely affected them. Climate change, most likely.
There are two main areas where one can view a concentration of the array of hills. One is at the Sagbayan Peak which has a butterfly garden, a restaurant, and a children’s park (as of 2007) and the other is at the Carmen’s Peak. I was fortunate to observe on both 6 years ago and have noticed that there were less people at the Sagbayan Peak compared to that of Carmen’s. For me, however, the view at Sagbayan is better than the latter.
Fast forward to 3 years later (2010), we decided to re-visit Carmen’s peak instead as it was nearer from where we were located. We were dropped off at the town of Carmen and climbed one of the hills which was turned into an observation deck.
The “viewing” hill at the chocolate hills complex in Carmen Bohol
You’d probably think that from afar, these hills are just tiny, like as if they’re just as tall as a 3-storey building. Well, you’re definitely wrong! We had to climb 214 steps to get to the observation deck at the top of the hill. I know I didn’t have the stamina because I could still remember that at some point, I needed to pause and catch my breath. But, it was all worth it.
These hills actually range from 30 to 50 meters high with the highest at around 120 meters. So that’s as tall as atleast a 10-storey building, right?
Good thing though is that there’s only one direction of stairway traffic, and, it is acceptable to pause for a photo op.
A view of the complex at the top of the hill
Fellow tourists at the topmost viewing deck
Almost brown chocolate hills
The view from the top
As always, going down was easier. Apart from taking a different route, this one wasn’t a steep stairway and again, there’s a one-way traffic.
From here, you could still see countless hills scattered a bit farther from the one we were at.
Plants along the path downhill.
Several legends tell us how these fascinating Chocolate hills were formed.
One is, these were actually stones and sands thrown by two giants who eventually became friends and have forgotten that they’ve made a mess and left off, thus forming the chocolate hills.
Second is, these were tears by a giant who cried tremendously when his loved one died, again resulting into the tears as the chocolate hills.
Next is, these were a carabao’s crap which were caused by unknowingly eating spoiled food strategically placed by locals (because this carabao said to have eaten their crops and the locals became fed up!).
And lastly, another giant excreted everything he ate to win a woman’s affection. Both craps resulting into the chocolate hills.
The viewing hill at Carmen, Bohol
Regardless of how these were formed and where they’ve originated, I know that the Chocolate hills is one of the world’s fascinating miracles. It would be hard (albeit possible) for man to make such an amazing landscape, but, for how long? Although there are a few scientific explanations as to how a hill or the hills have been created, for some reason, God decided to shower more than a thousand of them and place them perfectly at Bohol.