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Ask a native what’s new in Tagbilaran, the capital of the tourism whirlwind that is the Province of Bohol, and he is likely to point you to a suicidal stunt 72 kilometers away, or ask that you take a circuitous and meandering route around its famous hills in a neighboring town on a buggy ride.

It’s your call, this time around. The “Suislide” A good 72 kilometers from Tagbilaran, and an even better twohour drive from the city, Danao is the home of two of the country’s longest: Dagohoy’s revolt, which lasted 85 years, and the longest zip line in the Philippines to date (at almost half a kilometer). The latter is cleverly named the suislide, a calculated reference to the daredevil nature of the activity. The  latest addition to the park’s many attractions, it was inaugurated December of 2008 and has been drawing a number of adventure enthusiasts by sheer word of mouth.

Picture this: you are dangling from threadlike cables on a main 450- meter long cable that spans a gorge. Below  you, after a drop from a 50- storey high building, are the rapids of Wahig River. After your guide shouts “Bomb’s away!” from your side and a confirmation comes from the one on the far end, there is no turning back—you are pushed to the edge of the cliff, sliding with a hissing suisssssss to the other side, at the mercy of gravity. If all goes well, it is over in under a minute, depending on your weight. The thrill of putting your life on the line like that, though, is a buzz that lasts much longer.

A return trip can be arranged by the site’s trained personnel. You can go back seated (best for taking photos or a video of the entire experience) or lying facedown like a flying lemur to savor the sensation of flight. The zipline is safe even for children, accompanied by a guide, of course. One may also opt for the thrill of rappelling down the cliff surface below the viewing deck. The park also offers less dangerous endeavors like kayaking, river tubing, camping, and the unique root climb, where one holds on to gigantic exposed balete tree roots to climb a rock surface. By the time you are reading this, they will also have installed the first canyon swing in the country (the closest other would be in Nepal), where one is suspended over the same gorge as the suislide and is swung like a pendulum over a perilous height. The local government unit, which runs the park, also plans to put in avia  ferrata (“the iron road”), rings of metal screwed into the rock surface, in an unpredictable
pattern for a challenging climb.

True to their history, Danao is leading their own quiet revolt in the travel industry with these maverick ideas, transforming an out-of-the-way inland town by iron willpower and volunteerism, harnessing people’s organizations to run and manage the adventure park into a must-see, must-experience destination.

To get there, ride the buses bound for Danao at the Dao Bus Terminal in Tagbilaran (Php75/US$1.55 per person, one way) and stop at the Municipal Hall of Danao. The habal-habal (motorcycles) will take you the sevenkilometer distance to the site (Php30/US$0.62 per person, one way). If pre-arranged with the park staff, they can send a vehicle to fetch you at the Municipal Hall. Tour vans or cars at the airport or seaport can also be arranged for travel (Php2,500/US$52 on the average for whole-day use for vans, less for cars).

E.A.T. Danao (Extreme, Eco, Educational Adventure Tour) – Tel.+6338 5073106 loc. 187 (Mayor Tom Gonzaga’s office); mobile no. +63917 302 1701 or +63921 759 4403; http://www.eatdanao.multiply.com;zip-line rates start at Php350 (US$7)

The Buggy Ride
Viewing from atop a deck not enough for you? Take matters into your own hands and rent an all terrain vehicle to explore the Chocolate Hills! Continuously reinventing the travel experience, the guided tour breaks down the fun into as short as 30 minutes (at Php 400/ US$8.32 per person) to explore the Three Sisters’ Hill; to the whole shebang of four hours (Php 1,800/US$37 per person) that brings one through Three Sister’s Hill, Eight  Sisters Hill, the mini rice terraces, and ends with a dip to wash the dust off at the Anislag Water spring. Kids can even have their own 50cc ATVs to drive alongside your 150cc unit. ” Bohol ATV Rentals; Buenos Aires, Carmen; tel. +6338 416 0340; mobile no. +63929 470 2537; http://www.g1atv.com http://www.tagbilaran.gov.ph

The Bol-anon in Pop Culture
A popular local ditty playfully suggests: “Kon ikaw Inday mangitag pamanhonon, Siguro-a baya Inday ang Bol-anon (If you are looking for a fianc?, miss, make sure he’s a Boholano, miss.)!” But do they make good husbands? The song emphasizes the Boholano’s kindness and the willingness, above all, to love you forever. It also hints, however, of his philandering and predilection for flirtations…a stern warning within an invitation.

And what of the ladies? Another pop song depicts her as an old-fashioned tease, playing hard to get is her game. In “Pasayawa Ko ‘Day (Miss, shall we dance?),” an inventive duet that transpires as a conversation between a suitor and the object of his affection, she shoots down his advances with witty barbs, while the choreography (it is always performed with a dance) brings the couple physically closer at the refrain.

But the most unfair pop culture reference to the Bol-anon is a play on their unique take on the Visayan language (where the y is pronounced as a hard j and the k is a hollow h sound).“Ija-ija, aho-aho/what is yours is yours, what is mine is mine” has become a catchphrase to describe the Boholano. Anthropologists claim that it is a reference to the first Shri-Visayan settlers of Bohol who were noted for their stingy nature, the very same group that migrated to Northeastern Luzon where the reputation colors the Ilocano. Yet come May, without fail, says the urban legend, the Boholano is sure to flock homeward for the fiesta, where every single home is open—literally—to everyone.

www.tagbilaran.gov.ph

This article was provided by Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Magazine.Mabuhay Magazine is published by Eastgate Publishing Corporation (email:  info@eastgatepublishing.com; website: www.eastgatepublishing.com).