The Loboc River Cruise in Bohol

This, I think, was my favorite activity in Bohol. What was supposed to be lunch on a boat started at 3pm for us, what with our sidetrip to the hospital, the rains, and all. Our guide tells us that the best time to visit the river is in summer when the water is clear and not during the rainy season when it is greenish. Still, the boat ride was still enjoyable, the food, sumptuous, and the surroundings, very refreshing.

The word loboc is said to refer to the act of pounding rice. Story has it that when the Spaniards first arrived, they may have approached some people who happened to be pounding rice and asked what the name of the place was. The people, thinking they were being asked what they were doing, answered: "tig loboc" - meaning, it was their job to pound rice. Since then, the name Loboc, stuck to the place.

The entire boat ride takes 45 minutes. It is a relaxing, cool ride, with trees all around and no stinky smell at all. There is a brief stop at Busai where you can just enjoy looking at the waterfalls. My daughter was so excited, she asked: "Can we swim there?"

As for the food, it was very good. I didn't expect it to be very tasty - thinking the boat ride would be more the attraction than the food that is served. Pero masarap - as in lutong bahay sarap. What did we have?

-clear soup with veggies: patola, pechay, sitaw, and sayote
-Inihaw na baboy at manok (grilled/barbecue pork and chicken)
-cucumber with tomato salad
-buco juice (in the shell pa - with a flower and a half-sliced calamansi covering the straw)
-halabos na hipon (steamed shrimps)
-the sweetest mangoes, fresh banana, and fried banana

The people on the boat rendered genuinely friendly, efficient service.

Of course, we can never forget Mang Medik. He who sang as if he never sang those songs before and who had the warmest smile on his face all the time. He had a repertoire which included Spanish songs, Visayan songs, Beatles songs, and songs like Top of the World, You are my Sunshine, not to mention: Pamela Wan, Ocho Ocho, and Bulaklak.

Towards the end of his performance, two of his guitar strings actually even broke - but he continued performing ever so graciously.

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Of all the songs, he performed, though, our favorite is the Bohol song which went:

"Welcome to Bohol.
This is the land of Chocolate Hills.
This is the land of the golden sun.
This is the home of a noble man.
We wish you a happy coming
to our beloved Philippines.
This is Bohol, our pride Bohol,
Welcome Visitor.
This is Bohol, Loboc Bohol.
Welcome Visitor."

Spoken: "Welcome to Bohol and welcome also here in the Loboc River and Floating Restaurant. Thank you."

A sense of pride. An appreciation of things around us. A warm welcome to guests. All of these are embodied in the Bohol song which showcases the best qualities of the Filipino. So, when in Bohol, take that boat ride -- you will not only enjoy a good meal but will also be hopefully taken to a place where you can see your country in an an entirely different light - and love it more.

[By Angelica Viloria | Tuesday, November 30, 2004]

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