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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beach Fun at Panglao and The Glasshouse



After countless feeble attempts to describe what the country is all about, we have finally hit the nail on the head with  a campaign that captures the essence of Philippine life which is simply “fun”. The upbeat music and  fast moving visuals with short text messages capture the spirit indeed.  

I mean what else can we hold on to . . . we are not an ancient city,  nor do we have castles or royalties to boast of,  we have no snow for skiing or ice skating, our recreation centers or movie studios are not as state-of-the-art as those of developed countries.  But “Fun in the Beach”, we will take any country on.  First, show us your finest beaches, only then we can advance to the “Fun” aspect.

So we also have some negative elements around like some corrupt official here or there, bad traffic enforcement and behavior,  some unmaintained toilets,   a roach crawling about, cheating on taxi rates,  and if you are careless with your things, a cunning snatcher will be around. Which country doesn’t have these pests? . . . But one thing is certain, we can live up to the “fun” image because it is a synergy of people and places.  Call Filipinos shallow and corny because it may be true, but in our standards, that which matter to us, we are having fun and if you don’t want to join us then that is totally up to you.  


Beaches, Fiestas, and Smiles , I believe, are the key words to describe  the Philippines.  If you want to beach and you want to party, then you have come to the right place.  We have them all over the place, and all the time.  Boracay is known with the International community but that place is just the tip of the iceberg.  We have lots more, some even unknown to the Filipinos themselves as these places may still be underdeveloped.  But let me take you to another growing popular beach spot that can boast of powdery white sand as well.  Welcome to Panglao, an island in Bohol province of tarsiers and chocolate hills that is gaining popularity with the European crowd.


After landing  at Tagbilaran City airport, an hour and 15 minutes flight from Manila,  I was picked up by a service that took only 15 minutes to cross over the bridge  to Panglao where I stayed at The Glasshouse at Dauis Highland.  This two-bedroom fully-serviced villa was my home for the next few days as I explored the city as well as the beaches.  



After getting comfy and settling in during my first day,  I was taken for lunch to a nice, popular,  reasonably-priced beach-front restaurant called Linaw, managed by its Belgian owners.  They grow their own organic vegetables and their meals range from P100 to P280. 

We passed by the town’s classy delicatessen called C.U. Bakery for some cheese and bread on our way back.  The ambiance was not something you would expect from a province establishment but more of an international level type.  I ravished the brie cheese with Tanduay Ice after dinner while savoring the romantic view of the  citylights from The Glasshouse veranda that overlooks the bridge and Tagbilaran city.



The next day, I had the chance to explore what the  city had to offer.  We had lunch, movie, and a gelato at one of their biggest malls, BQ  Mall.  The buko pandan gelato over crepes drizzled with chocolate sauce worth only P100 was something to keep coming back for at  the 3rd floor nook of the mall called, Gelateria.  It was clearly a favorite hang-out place for the students and foreigners.

Come happy hour, we drove 15 minutes to a tapas bar  near Alona beach called Le Rendez-Vous.  A healthy dinner of Ceasar’s salad with iced tea was their specialty for me.  This place became a hang-out for me in the next few days because of its strong wifi signal, nice friendly staff, as well as its proximity to Alona beach.  I also had the pleasure of meeting the nice French owner  who also happens to be the owner of L’Elephant Blue Cottages and Cougar boat services for beach activities such as snorkeling, sightseeing,  or island-hopping.


The next few days were precious as I woke up to a daily dose of gorgeous sunrises by the main veranda or the upper veranda near the room.  Late morning activities included swimming by the pool or doing some computer work by the settee beside an inspiring glass wall.   

This glass wall framed a live picture of the neighboring island surrounded with water that flickered by the strong sun rays, my constant uplifting view during my stay.  Afternoons were either spent  in the beach or sunset strolling or jogging around  The Glasshouse vicinity of rustic, rolling hills landscape.


Lunch out included a humble turo-turo, called Andreas,  patronized by divers and some foreign tourists which is walking distance to Alona Beach.  Another nearby beach called Dumaloan, located beside Bohol Beach Club,  is a cleaner and whiter alternative to Alona  but charged an entrance fee of P50 per head as well as parking fee.  They also rented out shaded tables which ranges from P250-P350 for whole day family  or barkada picnics (They charge for excess hours as well). 


On my last night, we picked up a hot and crispy  Sicilian pizza for dinner at Alfredo’s Pizzaria along the bridge from Tagbilaran City to Panglao island.  Their pizza prices ranged from P120 to P370 for gourmet type of regular pizza, you just have to drop by this little pizza shop by the bridge.   
Since this was my first trip to Panglao, this is all the experience I can share  for now.  If you don’t have any airport pick up service, there are nearby trikes or shuttles that can provide special trips for you straight to the beach that will cost you from P150 to P300. 
 

Airport pick up and drop off as well as beach trip car service is included in the package when you book at The Glasshouse.  For more information and reservation, visit their Facebook page at The Glasshouse in Bohol.

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