Rich, dark & moulded to perfection: The chocolate hills, Bohol
A long time ago, on an overcast midsummer day, in the lush green province of Bohol, an unforeseen eruption of a rumpus, changed the course of the days of yore forever. Rocks, boulders and sand whizzed across the Filipino landscape for days, as two grim giants brawled fiercely for reasons still unknown to the contemporary times. One fine day, exhausted by the intensity and span of the battle, the giants conjointly pulled out the white flag and buried the hatched. Although the end of the battle was a rather peaceful one, it left behind a permanent mess of rock, boulder and sand mounds. And in the present day, it is these giant mounds that have taken the name of ‘The Chocolate Hills’ in the Filipino province of Bohol.
Nobody is too old for giants and legends, that’s the Filipino way. Especially, when origins are unknown or things lack a single reliable explanation, resorting to mystical myths and fascinating legends are their only logical option. However, here’s the funny thing about folklore and legends, as they pass on from one generation to the next, major alterations come into the picture and you then have what was one story, told in numerous different ways. In the end, it’s a choice, you believe one or none. In Bohol, although all versions of the story include giants, they vary from fierce brawls to romantic gestures and age old humor, but believe it or not, in the end, they all make their way to the formation of the fudgy mounds of the chocolate hills.
Well, it’s time to rest that bewitched inner child and get real. As believably true as it may sound, the formation of the hills has been credited to the weathering of marine limestone. Coral reefs that emerged post geological shifts beneath the waters are another explanation to the existence of these topographical marvels. Although numerous geological explanations exist regarding the formation of the chocolate hills, these are the two most widely accepted and sought out theories.
Time and again, these pristine hills of Bohol have been tagged as the eighth wonder of the world, drawing yearlong attention from tourists for its distinctive and striking characteristics. However, let’s address the long awaited question, why ‘the chocolate hills’, when there isn’t even the slightest hint of chocolate? Well, more than a thousand hills of varying size are widespread over a 50 square kilometre area covering the towns of Batuan, Sagbayan and Carmen in Bohol. These hills, usually enveloped by a lush green vegetation tend to dry up into a brown, chocolate like color during the summer. And it is because of this browning during the summer, Bohol’s majestic hilly landscape has taken the name of, ‘The Chocolate Hills’.
Although not fudgy, toffee like at all, the hills of Bohol are still wondrous, forming a haycock shaped terrain of conical and seeming symmetrical mounds covered in grass and fern. Being one of the most famous tourist attractions of Bohol, the hills are also a feature of the provincial flag and seal, symbolizing the surplus of natural attractions in the province. As the name chocolate hills suggests, the best time to see the hills would be when they're brown and chocolaty, which is the dry summer season in the Philippines, spanning from November to May. And as for where the best view of these fudgy Hershey’s, ‘chocolate kisses’ lies, it’s the viewing deck of the Chocolate Hills Complex in Carmen, and at the Sagbayan Peak.
Described by those who have witnessed these giant mounds, as a dream come true, until you get your dream ticket to this world famous site, all you can do is treat yourself to some real chocolate, moulded to perfection just like the chocolate hills of Bohol.