Food tripping

It was another food coma as we savored the best that Bohol and Iloilo can offer over the weekend.

I flew to Bohol last Thursday to speak at the District Training Assembly of Rotary District 3860 at the Henann Convention Center in Panglao, Bohol, at the invitation of my classmate and Incoming District Governor Twinkle Gamboa and her District Trainer and spouse, former PNP Chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa.

As expected, another superb hosting from the Gamboa couple led to a tour of Bohol Island right after deplaning and first stop was the Loboc River Cruise for lunch which was enjoyable as I was in the company of balladeer Poppert Bernadas who entertained us with a song after the sumptuous lunch.

Buffet lunch on board the Loboc River Cruise boat.*

Among my favorites was the humbang nangka, a vegetable version of that famous Visayan pork stew and the various seaweed salads, especially the ensaladang guso.

I’ve tried the Loboc River Cruise over a decade ago but the experience this time was different and which justifies why Bohol now holds second place in terms of tourist arrivals in the country with two daily flights from Korea alone.

The moment you alight to purchase your cruise tickets, all the way to the orderly manner in which you are assigned to your boat, and back to the gift shop where you end your tour, spells class. Our Rotarian guide, Guia, said the local government made use of the pandemic time when everything was closed to construct the shaded walkway and the tourism center.

They’ve halted the night river cruise though as rehabilitation continues after the devastation by Typhoon Odette a couple of years ago. In fact, remnants of the havoc the typhoon caused can still be seen by the river bends but the Loboc Church that was left in rubble after the last earthquake has now been restored.

The mandatory souvenir photo with the hills in the background.*

Next stop was at the Chocolate Hills but I declined the invitation to hike over 200 steps to reach the highest peak and gaze at the more than 1,700 natural hills as I’ve done that before when my knees where in better condition.

Last stop before heading back was the Tarsier conservation park where I had a taste of the heavenly avocado ice cream made by another famous landmark in Bohol, the Bee Farm.

The Loboc Church that was left in rubble during the 7-intensity earthquake in Bohol is now fully restored and stands majestic beside the Loboc River.*

Our feeding program continued and finally my cravings were satisfied after tasting the mouth-watering humba and the camote with latik served at the dinner hosted by former Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero in her fabulous home.

This is my second time in Panglao this year after attending also the wedding of Twinkle and Archie’s daughter, Marianne, just last month and in both times, I never had a chance to dip in their waters and I made a personal vow that next time, first on the agenda will be the beach.

A pose with balladeer Poppert Bernadas who sang our Philippine Rotary Theme Song for next year.*

After our speaking engagements the following day, Past District Governor Mark Ortiz and I had to head back to Manila after having at most, just three hours of sleep before taking the first flight out to Iloilo at 4 a.m. for our own District Training Assembly at Diversion 21 Hotel, hosted by the Rotary Club of Metro Iloilo.

It was a successful training with more than 100 incoming Rotary officers from clubs in Iloilo, Dumangas, Guimaras and Antique in attendance.

Although I needed my much needed sleep after the training ended around 6 p.m., I could not say no to the invitation of Incoming President Ayvee Genson of the Rotary Club of Iloilo South to treat us to dinner in Urban Table, owned by her daughter, which is located inside Ayvee’s Urban Glamp retreat in Oton.

It surely was another unforgettable dining experience as we were served crispy lettuce with salted ensalada, the tortang talong with mango ensalada, fried chicken inasal with pinakurat dip, their famous pinakbet rice and capped by their banana pudding for dessert which was simply heavenly.

Sharon Parrocho, me, Geri Asis, Urban Glamp owner Ayvee Genson, and Lulu Abelido (l-r) at the entrance of Urban Glamp*

Urban Glamp is another must-go-to destination if you want farm-to-table meals, all picked from Ayvee’s garden which she developed during pandemic as well. Ayvee is an accountant who took up painting while on lockdown and she proudly displays many of her over 200 artworks made during the pandemic all over the place. And she is a natural indeed which is recognized by fellow artists in Iloilo who asked her to join their group.

Urban Glamp is still under construction as Ayvee is adding more rooms but there are six rooms at the moment that can be booked, one of which has a glass ceiling so you can gaze at the stars and commune with nature within the confines of your airconditioned room. It will surely be a different experience as Ayvee made sure all the amenities are top of the line and her signature artistry is evident everywhere.

After the sumptuous dinner, we headed back to our hotel and I finally got my much-deserved 8-hour sleep before packing up again to catch our boat ride home.

Four days of feeding frenzy that will go down my memory lane with five-stars rating.*

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