San Jose de Buenavista

Antique’s capital town of San Jose de Buenavista grew from settlements that started out as a visita.

Small communities that were visited by the priest of the parishes they were attached to were called visitas during Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines.

In the case of San Jose, it was once attached to the town of Antique that was founded in 1745.

It was called Malaiba when it became a sitio of what was then the town of Antique. Sometime from 1787 to 1790, Governor General Berenguer de Marquina granted the whole Mailaba estate to Agustin Sumandi.

San Jose de Buenavista is teh capital of Antique.

Not long after that, in 1972, Malaiba was turned into a town and Sumandi became the first gobernadorcillo.

Since the place was dedicated to San Jose, it was decided the town should adopt the name of its patron saint. During the ceremonies creating it into a township, government officials and dignitaries were so taken in by the view of the place from the sea that they added “de Buenavista” to its name of San Jose.

Upon a petition from the people, San Jose became the capital of Antique in 1802. It started out with the pueblos of Guintas, Hamtic, and San Pedro.

Hamtic was later separated from San Jose through an executive order issued by President Ramon Magsaysay in 1945.




A sleepy community located close to the provincial capital, Hamtic plays a considerable significance in Antique’s history.

This town is home to the Malandog Marker that commemorates the first Malaysian settlement in the Philippines and the first Filipino governor of Antique who was a local hero during the Spanish revolution.

A local epic on Panay history called the Maragtas tells of 10 Bornean datus who sailed northward with their families and first settled in what is now the village of Malandog in Hamtic.

The Malandog Marker that commemorates the first Malaysian settlement in the Philippines.

The Province of Antique commemorates this arrival with an annual celebration called the Binirayan Festival.

Historical shrines

Hamtic used to be the provincial capital before it was moved to San Jose de Buenavista. Antique also used to be called Hamtic way back in the 13th century when the island of Panay was divided into three sakups (jurisdictions): Hamtik or Hantik (now Antique), Aklan, and Irong-Irong (Iloilo).

Gen. Leandro Fullon Shrine.

The name Hantik comes from the large black ants called “hantik-hantik” that were plentiful in the area.

The town of Hamtic is eight kilometers from San Jose. Some of the historical and cultural shrines in the town include the Campo Santo (old stone church in Hamtic Cemetery), Gen. Leandro Fullon Shrine that depicts the birth of the Republic, and the Evelio B. Javier statue at Barangay EBJ.

The first Malay settlement. (Photo provided by Antique Provincial Tourism Office)




There is a simple explanation as to why this town is called Anini-y. Back when it was newly settled in the mid-15th century, people saw that the place was irrigated by small rivers flowing down from adjacent mountains.

Historical writings will tell you they named the town “anini” after a local word that means “a place of small rivers.”

A storied version passed down through the years tells of a love true and forbidden between a native princess, Anini, and brave and dashing warrior Nogas who was unfortunately descended from a family of slaves.

ANINI AND NOGAS. A mural of the love story between princess Anini and brave and dashing warrior Nogas.

Star-crossed lovers

In the tradition of such tragedies, their love was never meant to be. Nogas was killed and thrown out to sea while Anini pined for him and died of loneliness. From her burial spot on a rocky spot by the Anini-y coast, her tears continue to flow and has become the hot spring of Siraan. A short distance away is the body of her beloved that has been turned into Nogas Island.

Town myths aside, church historian Fr. Pedro Galende described the first settlers of Anini-y as wandering fishermen who reached the place by following the sea coast from one of the villages up north.

In 1714, it only had a population of 660. Anini-y was a visita of Antique and visited by its parish priest at least once a year. Its patron saint is San Juan de Nepomuceno.

The old Balete tree on Nogas Island.

Great man of Anini-y

Citing one of the reports of Fr. Hipolito Casiano dated 1705, who was named parish priest of Antique and Cagayancillo in 1690 and again in 1714, Fr. Galende said many of the 3,000 people from Cagayancillo who had been converted to Christianity were asked to settle in Anini-y against their wishes.

According to Galende, a decree issued on Dec. 20, 1861 turned Anini-y into an independent parish. The declaration only became official the following year when Governor General Jose Lemery followed it up with an order of separation dated March 22, 1862.

Considered the great man of Anini-y, Fr. Jeronimo Vaquerin was credited with completing the restored Spanish era San Juan Nepomuceno Parish Church.

The Anini-y church.



Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park

He was young and idealistic, and his heroism was seen as a crucial catalyst in the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship.

Antiqueños gather yearly here at the Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park to remember the former governor who was gunned down at the peak of the snap presidential elections on February 11, 1986.

Javier was a staunch supporter of former President Corazon Aquino. He was martyred on the very spot where a bronze statue of him created by the late national artist Napoleon Abueva now stands.

Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park
Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park

Many in Panay Island consider Attorney Evelio Bellaflor Javier as their “Ninoy Aquino.” His death further added fuel to the growing anger towards the regime of the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr.

Born in Hamtic, Antique on October 14, 1942, Javier took up Bachelor of Arts and majored in History and Government at the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU). He went on to finish his Bachelor of Laws in the same university.

Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park

Javier was married and had two sons. He was only 28 when he ran and won the gubernatorial seat of Antique in 1971. Memorabilia of his life are now on display at the Museo Antiqueño inside the Old Capitol.




Experience Antique, where mountains meet sea

Welcome to Antique!

The homeland of the Antiqueños is a rustic idyll of pristine islands, hot and cold springs, ancient churches and ruins, scenic beaches, and wooded mountain trails.

It is a paradise of picturesque spots and exciting experiences. Going from one place to another is to bask in the sight of majestic mountain ranges or the cerulean blue sea peeking out from behind roadside trees.

A walk along our highland trails is a chance to encounter such rare flora as “corpse flowers” and carnivorous plants.

A journey through the 18 towns in the province can lead to rare parasitic or carnivorous flowers, open up to a vista of valleys and peaks, or end in the sight of red-tinted or clear waterfalls, terraces carved on the mountainside, a running spring with the coldest water, and gushing rivers or quiet lakes.

Antique Provincial Capitol.


Before it became Antique, the province was called Hamtic way back in the 13th century. The legendary datus who came to the Philippines from Borneo created the first Malay settlement in a town that now bears the province’s old name of Hamtic.

Of the legendary datus who went on to occupy Panay Island, Datu Sumakwel chose to remain and live in Antique.

The town of Hamtic used to be the provincial capital but it was transferred to San Jose de Buenavista in 1802, wrote Fr. Pedro Galende in his book “Angels of Stone.”

Another Catholic Church historian, Fr. Juan Fernandez, said early on that progress and modernization came slowly to Antique because of its isolated location.

Historical landmark commemorating the first settlement.


Antique today takes pride in its unspoiled islands and preserved forests.

Narrow and long, and bordered by the Cuyo East Pass of the Sulu to the west and tall mountain ranges to the east, Antiqueños can rightly claim that Antique is where the mountains meet the sea.

Viewed from a map, Antique is shaped like a seahorse on the western border of Panay in Western Visayas. It is one of four provinces that make up the island mass.

Those who liken Panay Island to a three-cornered scarf see Antique as an oversized jagged hemline. Its unique location gives it one of the longest coastlines in the country.

A view of Nogas Island.



Anini-y Church

Dedicated to San Juan Nepomuceno, the Church of Anini-y in Antique dates back to the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines.

It is believed the first town church was built way back between 1630 and 1638, when Anini-y was still a visita first of Antique and then Dao, by priests assigned to minister to the small local population.

Although the foundations of the first structure still existed when the second church was erected close by around 1845, there were no records as who built it, according to Fr. Pedro Galende in his book Angels of Stone.

It is believed the first town church was built way back between 1630 and 1638, when Anini-y was still a visita first of Antique and then Dao, by priests assigned to minister to the small local population.

The second church was destroyed during World War II.

Galende said the current one is a full restoration of the Anini-y Church made of masonry that Fr. Jeronimo Vaquerin started building close to 1900.

Except for a large arch near the main altar, the third Anini-y Church was basically finished in 1898. Galende described it as being made of coral stones, with one main nave and transept, and complemented by a three-story belltower that rose 25 meters high.

Anini-y became an independent parish through a decree issued on December 20, 1861 but took effect only on March 22, 1862 when Gov. Gen. Jose Lemery signed the order of separation. It had been administered by Augustinians since 1581.

Dapitan Featured Places

Dakak adds posh suites, facilities in exclusive zone full of Hydrocodone!

Huge high-ceilinged rooms that open out to a lanai and wide vista of sea and sky from their perch atop a cliff, the luxury suites of Dakak Park and Beach Resort deliver on their promise of opulent accommodations.

Dakak luxury suites
The entrance to the luxury suites of Villa Angelina, a super exclusive zone on the clifftop of Dakak Park and Beach Resort.

The resort adds another exclusive zone to Villa Angelina, this time on the clifftop, for guests who desire a getaway that’s far from the crush of holiday goers but without relinquishing ultimate luxuries.

A typical Villa Angelina cliffside casita is enormous and leaves more than enough breathing space even with the king-size bed in the middle plus the day bed and plush recliners by one side and mini work area on the other. They all have a private barthroom with a medical kit which contains among other things, hydrocodone.

Which , for those who don’t know what that is, helps with all sorts of pain. That is just in case you fall or hurt yourself. You maybe wondering if is it legal to buy hydrocodone online, the answer is yes. They have their own doctors, who can identify if you are a candidate to have hydrocodone sent to your house!

Dakak sunset
View from the almost finished sunset bar at Dakak’s exclusive clifftop zone.

Cliffside casitas

One whole wall facing the sea is made of glass to allow guests an uninterrupted view of the panorama of deep blue and lush greens that make up the Dapitan City coast.

Villa Angelina private veranda
Each cliffside casita comes with its own private veranda that overlooks Dapitan City’s coastline.

Each luxury suite, also called a cliffside casita, has its own private veranda with a jacuzzi for those times when you just want to take it easy and relax in your very own hot tub while you take in the view.

The well-appointed room is complemented by a spacious and lavish en suite.

Villa Angelina infinity pool

The cliffside zone of Dakak Park and Beach Resort has its own infinity pool that is exclusive for Villa Angelina overnight guests. Soon, the area will have its restaurant and bar that makes the most of the spectacular views from the top.

Dakak infinity pool
Only guests staying at the Villa Angelina luxury suites have access to the infinity pool built atop the cliff.

Dakak’s luxury zone is serviced regularly by resort vans.

A cliffside casita is just a brief ride away from the resort’s stretch of fine white sand and warm sea. It is also only a short walk down to the beach.

Cliffside casita jacuzzi
Each Villa Angelina cliffside casita also comes with its own jacuzzi.

Dakak accommodations

Outside of Villa Angelina, Dakak Park and Beach Resort has affordable deluxe, family, and big group rooms. It also has overnight packages that come bundled with city tours and complimentary entrance to Gloria de Dapitan’s Fantasyland.

Cliffside casita interior
A cliffside casita has more than enough space for a king-size bed, enormous closet, couch and recliners, and mini work area.

Check out the Dakak website for the updated room rates and offers.

Dakak Park and Beach Resort is also currently building a world-class golf course of Greg Norman design that is scheduled to partly open in July.

Featured Places

Taiwan Guide: Places, food, experiences in the ‘beautiful island’

Taiwan wasn’t high in my list of must-visit places, but two trips later and it had become one of my favorite destinations.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL HALL. This octagon-shaped building was built as a memorial to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

The capital Taipei was bustling without being chaotic, food was plentiful and inexpensive, it was so clean we had no qualms eating along alleyways and in markets, and efficient public transport allowed us to move around with ease.

When it comes to tourist attractions, Taiwan has mountains and woodland trails, parks and gardens, grand structures and temples, old-world places and modern cities.

The sun sets in a sea of clouds at the Alishan National Scenic Area.

The island nation is so close to the Philippines that tribes in Taiwan’s Lanyu Island share similarities in language and culture with the Ivatans of Batanes.

Taiwan attractions

Whether it’s a lengthy stay or brief getaway, any trip to a new place should always include time for the busy capital and Taipei hosts more than enough interesting places of cultural, historical, and natural value to keep one occupied.

If your trip is only for two nights and limited to Taiwan’s metropolis, don’t despair. You can still tally up quite a list of spectacular experiences without having to go far.

Taipei, after all, is home to:

Taipei 101

This engineering feat has a high-speed elevator that takes guests from the fifth floor to the Observatory in the 89th floor at a record breaking time of 37 seconds.

Taipei 101
View of the Taipei skyline from nearby Elephant Mountain.

The change in air pressure for such a swift ascent can be a little bit unpleasant but they distract you by dimming the elevator lights and showing a replica of the night sky complete with constellations and shooting stars on the ceiling. Fortunately, the ride takes less than a minute.

One floor down from the indoor observatory is the engineering marvel that is the wind damper so don’t miss it. The outdoor observatory in the 91st floor may be off limits depending on weather conditions.

National Palace Museum

The local guide in my first trip to Taipei, Jane Fan, shared an interesting fact about the National Palace Museum. Majority of the museum’s treasures are Chinese cultural relics and artifacts passed down by the imperial courts. These were shipped to Taiwan due to fears they would be destroyed following the rise of communism in China.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai-shek, the first president of Taiwan, was largely credited with its economic development.

Archway entrance
Archway entrance of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

In honor of his contributions, the Taiwanese built the two-level Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall within a large complex that also features Liberty Square with its manicured gardens as well as the National Concert Hall and National Theatre.

Presidential Office Building

Taiwan’s current president holds office in a sprawling Baroque structure designed by a Japanese architect and built during the Japanese occupation.

Visitors are allowed in some parts of the Presidential Office Building at specific times. Visits are allowed from 9 a.m.-12 noon on weekdays and up to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Check the facility’s website for the visitor schedules and guidelines.

Longshan Temple of Manka

The Longshan or Lungshan Temple of Manka is a Buddhist temple founded in Taipei in 1738.

Taiwan is generally tolerant when it comes to worship practices, and there are minority religions like Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism as well as native sects aside from the three main ones of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

The Longshan Temple of Manka in Taipei dates back to 1738 and is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist temples in Taiwan. This religious structure was built in honor of Guanyin or Goddess of Mercy and is used by Tao and Buddhism followers.

Elephant Mountain

While the Taipei 101 Observatory allows visitors a bird’s eye view of the metropolitan, Elephant Mountain gives them a panorama of the skyline with Taiwan’s tallest building as main feature.

Elephant Mountain
These steps lead all the way to the top of the Elephant Mountain in Xiangshan District.

The best time to climb up through is late in the afternoon leading up to nighttime. The trail is made of stone steps and really goes all the way up to the top of Elephant Mountain. Some measure of fitness is required in the climb. Wear good footwear and bear in mind that the top of the mountain is several degrees colder than the downtown area.

Ximending District

For shopping in Taipei, no place beats the neighborhood of Ximending when it comes to quality and value for money. There might be cheaper clothes, shirts, bags, souvenirs and other goods sold in the night markets but the Ximending retail shops carry the quality local and global brands.

Din Tai Fung

The capital Taipei hosts the first Din Tai Fung, the original xiao long bao house that spawned a chain of restaurants.

There is a long line of locals and tourists eager to dine at Din Tai Fung so make sure you set aside 40 minutes to an hour for the wait to get a table.

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market
If there’s one thing that the Shilin Night Market is known for, it’s authentic and scrumptious Taiwan dishes.

One of the biggest night markets in Taiwan, the Shilin Night Market combines cheap, delicious eats with inexpensive retail goods like shirts, bags, shoes, and souvenirs like ref magnets or key chains. A whole floor (basement area) is devoted to food and features many of Taiwan’s must-try treats.

Other places

If your schedule allows it still, a few more nearby attractions are absolutely worth your time.


A walk along the train tracks of Shifen Old Street is like a trip down a bygone world. Shifen evokes memories of olden times with its nostalgic ambiance and people going about their everyday chores along the railway of the Pingxi line.

Tourists fly lanterns in Shifen Old Street, a community by the railroad tracks in Pingxi District of New Taipei City.

These houses sell souvenirs, other knick knacks, and the sky lanterns that tourists release into the sky with their hopes and wishes.


Whenever I think of the former gold mining town of Jiufen in the mountain area of Ruifang District in New Taipei City, I think of food. It’s hard not too since this once prosperous and booming town nicknamed “Little Hongkong” during its heyday is packed full to the edge of narrow lanes and alleyways with restaurants, teahouses, and cafes. During the two times that I’ve been, I never missed having some of the ice cream and peanut roll served to perfection in Jiufen.

Peanut ice cream roll
Peanut ice cream roll is popular fare in Taiwan and they make it exceptionally well in Jiufen.


Yangmingshan National Park is a nature spot that’s very accessible from downtown Taipei. It covers a hundred square meters of gardens, woodland, wildlife, hiking trails, and hot springs.


While a brief visit is already fulfilling, a longer trip is even better because it gives you more time to check out this place that the Portuguese once called Formosa or “beautiful island.”

Alishan National Scenic Area

Alishan walking trails
The Alishan National Scenic Area has scenic trails that lead to ancient trees, temples, ponds, and spectacular views.

One side trip we highly recommend is to the Alishan National Scenic Area. The most popular attractions in this mountain preserve is the sunrise and sunset. Alishan sunrise and sunset viewing, however, requires staying overnight. Getting to Alishan from Taipei requires spending at least half of your day on the road.

Staying two or more nights is even better as you get to fully enjoy all that Alishan has to offer, which include hectares of woodland, uphill and downhill hiking trails, ponds, waterfalls and temples.

Taroko National Park

Another attraction that’s worth a visit is Taroko National Park. It is so big, it traverses three areas in Taiwan: Taichung Municipality and the counties of Nantou and Hualien.

Taroko features spectacular views: ravines and rivers, foot bridges, tribal settlements, temples, hiking trails through rocky and forested landscapes.

More photos of Taiwan destinations:

strawberry glaze
Strawberry and cherry tomatoes glazed with syrup and served on sticks  are popular treats at Shilin Night Market.


Ximending shopping
The Ximending District is one of the top shopping areas in Taipei.


Jiufen alley
An alley in Jiufen brims on both sides with food and souvenir shops.
Dapitan Places

Dapitan celebrates Kinabayo Festival

Street dancing, a music festival, and a motocross with live band are just among the activities lined up by the Dapitan City Government for the Kinabayo Festival 2017.

Held annually in honor of St. James the Greater, the city’s patron saint, the Kinabayo Festival falls on July 25 but the City Government usually holds several events in the run-up to the main day.

Gloria de Dapitan
Gloria de Dapitan’s Fantasyland is a popular attraction in Dapitan City.

St. James the Greater is also the patron saint of all Spain, and Kinabayo reenacts the Spanish-Moorish wars, in particular the Battle of Covadonga. This was where Spanish forces took their last stand against the Saracens and were victorious due to the intervention of St. James.

For this year, festivities start from July 16 and include a duathlon, golf and bowling tournaments, fun run, hip hop competition, and beauty pageant.

Dapitan City Kinabayo Festival 2017

Here’s the full Kinabayo Festival 2017 schedule:

July 11-15

Invitational Bowling Championship

July 16

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 a.m. – Duathlon Invitational Race
3:00 p.m. – Parada sa Patron
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – DCGEMPC Night (Cultural and Sports Complex)

July 17

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – Hip Hop competition

July 18

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – JRMSU Night (Cultural and Sports Center)

July 19

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – Pre-pageant (Barrio Uno Center Stage, Gloria de Dapitan)

July 20

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 a.m. – Zumba
1:00 p.m. – BMX Street Competition (City Hall Drive)
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – DepEd Night (Cultural and Sports Center)

July 21

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – Indak Pinoy (Cultural and Sports Complex)
– DJRMDH (City Plaza)
– 5th Night Motocross with Live Band (DAMPA)

July 22

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
6:00 a.m. – Mountain Bike Race Duathlon
8:00 a.m. – Golf Invitational Tournament (Dakak Golf Club, Inc.)
9:00 a.m. – Songwriting Competition
9:00 a.m. – 1st Mayor Rosalina G. Jalosjos Football Tournament (JRMSU Main Campus Sports Arena)
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – RMIDCI Nights (Cultural and Sports Center)

July 23

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:00 a.m. – TAKBO para kay TIAGO
8:00 a.m. – Golf Invitational Tournament (Dakak Golf Club, Inc.)
9:00 a.m. – Continuation of 1st Mayor Rosalina G. Jalosjos Football Tournament (JRMSU Main Campus Sports Arena)
10:00 a.m. – Open Dart Tournament (Gloria de Dapitan)
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:30 p.m. – Miss Dapitan 2017 (Cultural and Sports Center)

July 24

4:00 a.m. – Diana/Recorida
5:30 a.m. – Mass
8:00 a.m. – Mass

12:00 noon – Patunob
– Sinug
– Loa
1:00 p.m. – Mass baptism, confirmation, wedding
2 p.m. – Indigay sa Patik (City Plaza)
5:00 p.m. – Jornada
5:30 p.m. – Novena
6:00 p.m. – Novena mass
7:00 p.m. – Candlelight Rosary Procession

July 25

4:00 a.m. – Mass
5:30 a.m. – Mass
7:00 a.m. – Mass
8:30 a.m. – Mass
10 a.m. – Pontifical mass
12:00 noon – Mass
2:00 p.m. – Mass
3:00 p.m. – Street dancing competition (JRMSU Main Campus Sports Arena)
– Horses on Parade
– Horse racing contest (Sta. Cruz beach)
4:00 p.m. – Mass
5:30 p.m. – Mass
6:00 p.m. – Lights and Sounds Parada
7:30 p.m. – Car show (Barrio Uno, Gloria de Dapitan)
9:00 p.m. – Music Festival (City Plaza)

Bohol Places

Bohol sanctuary protects Philippine tarsiers

A forested area in Corella has significantly increased the number of the endangered Philippine tarsiers in Bohol.

Tarsiers flourish when they have a big area to live in as they are loners and extremely territorial animals and the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary has effectively enlarged the size of their habitat, said field manager Carlito Pizzaras.

The Philippine tarsiers are under the genus Carlito, one of only three groupings of primates under the Tarsiidae family, in recognition of the Boholano’s efforts to conserve them.

Guided tours are allowed in some parts of the sanctuary.

Two other genera are the Tarsius, found on Sulawesi and surrounding islands, and Cephalopachus, existing in the southern parts of Sumatra and the island of Borneo, explained Nong Lito, as Pizzaras is fondly called by family and friends.

Philippine tarsiers

There are currently around a hundred tarsiers living in the 8.4-hectare Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Bohol, which is being managed by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation.

However, only a hectare is open to guests who want to look at the Philippine tarsiers in their natural habitat. Entrance to the tarsier viewing area, where guests are accompanied by a guide at all times, is only P50 per person.

One of the Philippine tarsiers living in a wildlife sanctuary in Corella, Bohol.

Although Philippine tarsiers each need a hectare to live in, Pizzaras said they were able to have five live together peaceably within this size of land by ensuring there is enough food for all.

Tarsiers eat grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, butterflies, moths, beetles, stick insects, ants, bees, wasps, and even dragonflies. They are nocturnal animals and prowl at night, chasing and fighting off other tarsiers they’d come across on land they consider their territory, Pizzaras cited.

Very early in the morning, local guides would tour the viewing area and find out where the tarsiers have camped out for the day. The guests are then brought directly to the spots where the tarsiers are when they visit.

Wildlife sanctuary

We were only able to look at two of the primates during our guided tour. Pizzaras said they have identified at least five pregnant tarsiers, one or two of which are in the viewing area, and don’t want them disturbed.

Philippine tarsiers are excitable and have been known to kill themselves by holding their breath when under stress. Pizzaras said this has been known to happen when people get too close to the animals or there’s a lot of noise.

This is why a few of the rules of the viewing area include keeping quiet when looking at the sleeping tarsiers and not using flash when taking pictures.

Pizzaras said any other way of breeding and conserving Philippine tarsiers doesn’t work, in a dig at the one in Loboc where the animals are kept together in a cramped space.

According to him, the Provincial Government is setting aside 167 hectares of timberland to increase the size of the sanctuary. The area is contiguous to the existing Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary and will provide a big boost to current conservation efforts in Bohol, he explained.

Carlito Pizzaras manages the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Bohol.

Tarsier man

The diminutive Pizzaras, called tarsier man, said there were still quite a big number of tarsiers in Bohol in 1966. It was at this time that Pizzaras, who was 12, started getting interested in and taking care of the animals.

Many people discouraged him, telling him the animals were difficult to handle. Tarsiers are known locally as “maomag” – a Boholano term for large and bulging eyes,

The destruction of their habitat and the increase in the number of house cats, which hunt tarsiers, cause the primate’s population to go down.

When he started the sanctuary upon the urging and with the backing of Bohol Beach Club owner Anos Fonacier in 1996, there were only around 10 of the tarsiers.

There are currently a little over a hundred in the sanctuary but this will further go up with the collaboration between the Provincial Government and Philippine Tarsier Foundation, he added.

To reach the sanctuary, visitors need to walk from the main highway through a narrow road flanked by trees.

Popular attraction

The tarsiers are very interesting animals and a popular attraction in Bohol. They are one of the smallest primates and a grown tarsier is only about the size of an adult human hand.

Although the town of Corella is only 30 minutes away from Tagbilaran City, transport to the sanctuary in the village of Canapnapan is quite a challenge especially if you go there on your own and not as part of a tour group.

Getting there

Jeepneys bound for Sikatuna pass close by but they wait until their designated departure time, which could take as long as 30 to 45 minutes if like us you were unfortunate enough to go there when one had just left. They wait at the terminal near the Island City Mall in the Dao District of Tagbilaran. Fare per person was P17.

Going back to Tagbilaran City is also a challenge since only a few public utility vehicles ply this route. After waiting for close to 30 minutes, we were able to flag a metered taxi going back and fare was around P200.