Bohol is an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region, consisting of Bohol Island and 75 minor surrounding islands. Its capital is Tagbilaran City. With a land area of 4,117.3 square kilometers (1,589.7 sq mi) and a coastline 261 kilometers (162 mi) long, Bohol is the tenth largest island of the Philippines. To the west of Bohol is Cebu, to the northeast is the island of Leyte and to the south, across the Bohol Sea is Mindanao.
The province is a popular tourist destination with its beaches and resorts. The Chocolate Hills, numerous mounds of limestone formation, is the most popular attraction. Panglao Island, located just southwest of Tagbilaran City, is famous for its diving locations and routinely listed as one of the top ten diving locations in the world. Numerous tourist resorts dot the southern beaches and cater to divers from around the world. The Philippine Tarsier, considered the second-smallest primate in the world, is indigenous to the island.
Boholanos refer to their island homeland as the "Republic of Bohol" with both conviction and pride. A narrow strait separates the island of Cebu and Bohol and both share a common language, but the Boholanos retain a conscious distinction from the Cebuanos. Bohol's climate is generally dry, with maximum rainfall between the months of June and October. The interior is cooler than the coast.
The people of Bohol are said to be the descendants of the last group of inhabitants who settled in the Philippines called pintados or “tattooed ones.” Boholanos already had a culture of their own as evidenced by the artifacts dug at Mansasa, Tagbilaran, and in Dauis and Panglao.
Bohol is derived from the word Bo-ho or Bo-ol. The island was the seat of the first international treaty of peace and unity between the native king Datu Sikatuna, and Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi, on March 16, 1565 through a blood compact alliance known today by many Filipinos as the Sandugo.
The earliest significant contact of the island with Spain occurred in 1565. In that year on March 25 (March 16 in the Julian Calendar), a Spanish explorer named Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in Bohol to look for spices and gold. After convincing the native chieftains that they were not Portuguese(who raided the islands of Mactan in 1521), he made a peace pact with Datu Sikatuna. This pact was signified with a blood compact between the two men. This event, called the Sandugo("one blood"), is celebrated in Bohol every year during the Sandugo Festival. The Sandugo or blood compact is also depicted on Bohol's provincial flag and the Bohol provincial seal .
Two significant revolts occurred in Bohol during the Spanish Era. One was the Tamblot Uprising in 1621, which was led by Tamblot, a babaylan or native priest. The other was the famous Dagohoy Rebellion, considered the longest in Philippine history. This rebellion was led by Francisco Dagohoy, also known as Francisco Sendrijas, from 1744 to 1829.
Politically, Bohol was administered as a residencia of Cebu. It became a separate politico-military province on July 22, 1854 together with Siquijor. A census in 1879 found Bohol with a population of 253,103 distributed among 34 municipalities.
Because of the Spanish colonial period, several municipalities in Bohol have names of towns in Spain like Getafe. This municipality is sister city with the Spanish city of the same name. In Getafe, a street is named Isla de Bohol (Island of Bohol), a unique name for a street in Spain.
Mainland Bohol is oval-shaped, having a gentle, rolling terrain. Bohol's mountainous interior is home to rare and endangered flora and fauna. At certain points, hills drop steeply to the coast from a maximum elevation of 870 meters (2,850 ft) above sea level. The interior uplands are fit for agro-forestry and high value agricultural production. The central and northern lowlands have also fertile grounds and abundant water supply. Over a hundred caves have been identified, the biggest of which is found in the eastern part which makes Bohol ideal for spelunking adventures.
Hills dominate the island of Bohol. Two ranges run roughly parallel on the northwest and the southeast. An interior plateau is dominated by limestone hills. In Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan, these hills form near perfect cones in great numbers and are collectively referred to as the Chocolate Hills. The Chocolate Hills in Carmen, Bohol are considered one of Philippine's natural wonders and Bohol is often referred to as the Jewel of the Philippines. They are hills made of limestone left over from coral reefs during the ice age when the island was submerged. They turn brown during the summer, hence their name.
White sandy beaches dot the coast of the island. The sand is often of such high quality that it is exported to other beaches in the world. The most well known of these beaches are in Panglao Island, and there, numerous islets have similar, yet untouched and pristine beaches.
There are four main rivers that run through Bohol with Loboc Riverbeing the most famous for its river cruises, running from the center of the island to the southeastern coast. The largest, Inabanga River, runs in the northwestern part of the province. The Abatan River in the southwest, and Ipil river in the north.
Development programs at the Tagbilaran Airport involve the extension of the runway length to 2,500 meters, to handle the A320s that will serve the direct route to Manila. The small Fokker 50 planes that used to fly the Manila-Tagbilaran route have been phased out and are now replaced by Philippine Airlines' as well as Cebu Pacific's Airbus A319s . Improvement of the ramp area will soon accommodate bigger aircraft and a modern airport building will also be constructed.
Though a number of national flag carriers are already servicing the Tagbilaran City Airport, a proposed international airport (see Panglao Island International Airport) has been planned on the nearby Panglao Island to accommodate bigger aircraft and handle larger volumes of passengers and tourists to the province. The said International Airport in Panglao is built-up with controversy. Accordingly, lands located in the right-of-way (ROW) owned by the private sectors that were bought cheap are being sold expensively and are giving the project a slight glitch. Thus, creating further issues and delays.
The Tagbilaran City Wharf, now called the Tagbilaran City Tourist Pier, has port facilities such as:
There are 9 daily ship calls to Cebu, 5 being fastcraft ferry trips. Daily passenger traffic is approximately 4,000. Other regular destinations are Manila (four times a week), Cagayan de Oro City, Dumaguete, Dipolog, Iligan, Larena, Plaridel and Ozamiz City. There are other smaller ports that cater to Cebu and northern Mindanao routes. The Port of Tubigon, the busiest among the smaller ports offers more than ten daily round trips plying the Cebu-Bohol route. The Catagbacan Port in Loon serves the roll-on roll-off services between Cebu and Bohol for those who have vehicles plying this route. The Port of Jagna offers services that ply between Bohol to Cagayan and Camiguin (with roll-on, roll-off) route. The other ports are Ubay, Talibon, Getafe, Buenavista, and Clarin.
Bohol has 2 major AM radio stations namely DYRDand DYTR, both based in Tagbilaran City. Another AM radio station, DYZD, based in Ubay, is being operated by DYRD. Both DYRD and DYTR also operate FM stations with the same names. There are multiple weekly or bi-weekly newspapers like Bohol Chronicle, Sunday Post, Bohol Times, Bohol Standard and Bohol Bantay Balita. An online news website called Bohol News Daily aggregates news from various sources.
Bohol is wired with telephone facilities that provide domestic and international linkages, supplied by three service providers: PLDT, Cruztelco and Globelines. Mobile phone firms, Globe, Smart, and Sun Cellular have also established entry in the province.
Access to telecommunications can also be made easily in the towns through the 138 public calling stations. Forty-three (43) payphone stations are conveniently located in strategic places and major commercial centers in the capital city.
A project with Globelines involved the installation of a province-wide landline connection increasing the number of lines from 2,000 to 13,000.
The road network is well-developed facilitating access to all barangays. The P1.2 billion Bohol Circumferential Road Project, covering a total of 262 kilometers (163 mi) along the national highway, will improve the road network. Phase I of the project, which will link about half of the province from Calape to Candijay, is ongoing.
The province is fully energized with the National Power Corporation being the sole supplier. Actual generation capability of 93.5 megawatts is supported by the following facilities:
A mini power plant of the Bohol Electric Cooperative serves the five barangays of Cabilao Island in Loon town. The 21 billion Leyte-Bohol interconnection now brings geothermal power of higher capacity base 80-100 megawatts.
Water supply is made available in Tagbilaran City and in the nearby municipalities on a 24 hour-basis with completion of the Tagbilaran Water Supply Project. Thirty-two (32) deep wells with submersible pumps operate at a daily capacity of 19,000 cubic meters.
Several water projects are in the pipeline to respond to water requirements for both domestic and industrial use. The Central Visayas Water and Sanitation Project and the construction of Level III water systems have made water available in 16 other municipalities. Likewise, the development of Ujan Spring in Cortes with a daily capacity of 3,500 cubic meters and Loboc River which will generate at least 100,000 cubic meters daily capacity are currently being pushed.
Tourism plays an increasing role in the island's economy. An international airport is currently planned for Panglao which houses the most-visited and accessible beaches in the province. Proponents of the scheme hope that the new airport will increase Bohol's reputation as an international tourist destination although the plan has been dogged by ongoing criticism.
The results of the Labor Force Survey conducted in 1999 by NSO in Bohol show that the province's potential labor force increased to 691 thousand of which 66.4% are in the labor force. Employment rate, at the end of 1999, increased to 90.5% from 85.35% in 1998. However, an increase in underemployment was noted by 6.7 percentage points, from 5% in 1998 to 11.7% in 1999.
Employment was predominantly agriculture-led. Bohol's inflation rate in 1999 increased to 11.3%, 2.5 percentage points higher than the rate in 1998. The purchasing power of the peso at 1988 prices was pegged at P0.71 in 1999, among the lowest in the region. A slight difference in the minimum daily wage rates between Tagbilaran City and Bohol's municipalities was also noted at P121.00 for the city and P108.00 in the municipalities.
Based on the 1997 survey, Bohol's average annual family income , pegged at P56,940.00, was among the lowest in the region. The average annual expenditure in 1997 for a Boholano family amounted to P50,754.00, the highest in the region. Fifty (50) percent of Bohol's families have their main source of income from entrepreneurial activities while 27% from wages and salaries. In 1994, Bohol's poverty incidence rate of 42.3% was the highest in Region 7, higher than the national average rate of 37.5%. However, this has been decreasing over the years from a high 60.5% in 1985 and 54.7% in 1991. Monthly poverty threshold in Bohol in 1994 was at P5,978.00, higher by 24% from that in 1991. The incidence of poor families was placed at 44%, a decrease by 16% from 1991.
As to the flow of commodities in and out of the province from Bohol's ports, limestone top the list of exported commodities of the province in 1998 toppling G.I. sheets which became the number 2 exported product of Bohol. Other outgoing top commodities include rice, banana, cattle, mangoes, native products, hog, carabao, nipa shingles copra, raffia, salted fish, salt and cooked fish with a total volume of 426 thousand metric tons. Plywood tops the list of incoming commodities followed by manufactured goods, appliances, hardware/construction materials and feeds, among others with a total recorded volume of 264 thousand metric tons for the top 15 commodities.
From this same report, it is noted that, among the incoming goods in Bohol, the province had been importing rice over the years. In 1999, Bohol was estimated to have imported 290,008 bags of rice per report gathered from NFA. Noteworthy, also, is the significant increase of foreign ship calls in Bohol which the PPA is attributing to shipments of limestone by foreign vessels. As of 1999, a total of 34 foreign ship calls were recorded by PPA at the PSC Private Port. Also, there was an increase in the number of domestic ship calls as well as in passenger and outbound/export cargo in the province as reported by the agency. In 1999, a total of 6,997 ship calls were recorded for the 7 major seaports in Bohol. For the Tagbilaran Port, the average monthly number of ship calls for 1999 was 300 for fastcrafts and 778 for conventional vessels. A cargo increase was also recorded with more inbound cargo than outbound cargo.
As of September 1999, the Board of Investments (BOI) Portfolio of Investments registered one new project in Bohol costing P7.501 million in the area of alcohol production. The combined paid-up capital of corporations and partnerships registered with the SEC for Bohol rose to P500 million from P200 million in 1998 levels.
The number of DTI-registered single proprietorships increased in 1999 relative to 1998 levels, but value of corresponding planned investments dropped. Average value of intended investment per single proprietor was P132.0 million, down from P253.117 million in 1998. Although predominantly an agricultural province, micro and cottage industries also play a vital role in Bohol's economy.
In the light of Bohol being identified as a tourist hub, inflows in the area of tourism and manufacturing can serve as possible venues for Bohol's future investments. Letter of Instruction No. 75 issued on May 22, 1973 serves as a major guideline in indicating areas for tourism related investments and infrastructure development while Proclamation No. 1801 proclaims certain areas in Bohol as tourist zones which includes the Islands of Panglao, Cabilao and Balicasag.
Aside from its pristine white-sand beaches and the Chocolate Hills, Bohol's tourism assets also include centuries-old churches and towers, scuba diving haven, majestic falls and caves and historical landmarks as well as primitive and exotic fauna and flora. Different tourist destination sites have been developed by the Government to boost this industry.
The literacy rate of the province of Bohol is high at 93%.