Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wandering the other Wonders of Carmen

How many of you have visited the famed “Chocolate Hills”? Hmm, I see a sea of hands being raised hehe. Now tell me, how many of you have seen the town where those hills belong? A… not too many, I see. This is why I opted for this kind of roam… to see what I was curious about – the places that the regular “Bohol Countryside Tour” does not normally go to. Those hills are actually scattered mostly in 3 towns, one we have just passed by (Sagbayan), another we won’t stop by on this tour (Batuan), and the third is this our destination: the town of Carmen, Bohol. Ah, like it was from Inabanga to Danao and Danao to Sagbayan, our Sagbayan to Carmen run was equally on picturesque rural scenes dotted by those hills. This time they were more frequent! Well yes, some parts of the road too were yet unpaved. And yes too, it rained along the way! But our ‘motocross tour’ kept on, ‘come rain or bed-weather’!

Carmen should probably have the right to claim it is ‘the heart’ of Bohol. Its in the very middle of the island in the first place. While this town also has a cold spring, a ‘rosary hill’, caves and a mini-forest, the ‘chocolate hills’ is of course main attraction – to the extent that no one bothers to see the town center itself other than to pass by if and when their chosen route happened to be passing through. Note: tours from Tagbilaran NEVER include the town center, just the chocolate hills. What did I want to see at town center anyway? Nothing in particular as usual, just to be there because its center of town and anything else that might interest me.

The church. This was our first stop immediately upon entry into the poblacion of Carmen. This church is catchy and won’t fail to earn anyone’s second glance even from afar. Just look at that picture and tell us what you see/feel. That thing on top looks so big and heavy right?! Hehe quite a unique way to install a belfry. At least, here is one church that takes symmetry seriously! Like the bell is the crowning glory of the church! I like! Skirting around though, this church looks like its too enclosed. Well maybe it is also air-conditioned in whatever way. There are a lot windows for light to pass through though. Let’s go inside?!

Inside? Ah eh… its… shiny hehehe! Aside from the pews that shine bright in their varnished finish, the posts (or are those called pillars) do not seem to like being outshone. Ah I could not make out what that marbly orange and brown finish is made of. Is it paint? I wonder hehe! Is it real marble? Why do they all seem to shimmer? The companion offered what he thinks it is saying “linoleum”! And this was my turn to say “gago” hehe. Well, whatever that is, it really catches one’s attention. When I stared at the floor trying to make out if there was a pattern or design in the arrangement of those greenish tiles, it was my pilot’s turn to add his own bright idea telling me it was “abstract” hahaha. As we all laughed standing on the center aisle, one of the folks called out from entrance saying “excuse me…”. Ooops! Kids were practicing their entrance routine for some kind of a performance – probably for the “sugat” celebrations tomorrow.

Looking up at the ceiling mesmerized me that the two drivers and the companion wondered why I sat at one of the pews just looking up there for some time. No I am not religious, I don’t even understand what the other depictions are. But thinking at the time and effort that must have been accorded to render such work of art is to me a “should be priceless” memory worthy of credit in history books. Imagine yourself being asked to paint biblical scenes in the floor of a big place like the church. Even if you’re a consummate artist, not easy right? How much more if you were asked to do the same up there? I can’t even start to imagine how the painter/s clambered up there in the past where surely steel and aluminum scaffoldings were yet unheard of. Now about those lace-like trimmings on the squares and the circles. I looked at them more intently and I think they're not painted but carved wood painstakingly stuck there to be so. Oh my double wow!

The companion once again tried to turn me off saying those are paintings on linoleum and pasted up there. I said I’d doubt that since I could see the wood joints. Well, even if indeed they were painted or printed on anything and pasted up there, it must still have been quite an effort. I suddenly remembered other churches with similar ceilings like Carcar, Sibonga, etc. Yeah yeah, at least whatever is illustrated up there, it does not include faces of politicians and/or a festival committee who solicited (NOT donated ha?) money for the making of such paintings. Hmm, you probably know what I mean. If not, the next time you enter some historic church or basilica in Cebu, try looking up hehehe. Anyway, this church in Carmen at least has its ceiling with those relevant paintings still intact, unlike that which we saw at Inabanga. Sigh, really.

Btw, I like the simplicity and uncluttered look of this church’s altar. Just the retablo with those golden flowery whatevers. Notice that bare table? Everything is made of marble. But I think its tasteful for the parish not to have made any fantastic or fantasy designs about that table so it does not distract anyone during mass. You could even see if a priest might try to stick his chewing gum under the table hahaha! Mind you, the companion said something that to me was informative and believable. He says the altar-boys spreads a white cloth that is supposedly blessed or sacred on the table before a mass service starts. Eh, he even mentioned what the cloth is called but I forgot what. The drivers nodded in agreement, so probably the companion was not again blabbering foolishness just to irk me hehe! Lastly, do you see that curtain sway? That is how airy (or should I say “windy”) this part of the church is. Coolness! Especially for the priest who must wear his “sotana” to say mass, even on hot summer days hehe!

The Municipal Hall. Hey, am not so sure if this municipal building quenched my thirst or actually made me thirsty hehe. Look at it. It looks so refreshingly delectable! Like its some kind of a juice drink or sherbet or fruit shake, right?! Needless to say, its undergoing a continuous facelift. I would not even be sure if part of the original externals is still evident. But I did see a signage somewhere front that this “Carmen Presidencia” was care of national funds through the efforts of a certain Simeon G. Toribio, congressman from 1946 to 1953. That means this presidencia will have been made somewhere along those dates. But the use of those bright colors and translucent plastic as foyer surely means this building is being made up with recent technologies, trends and tastes hehe. What color is that? Powder Yellow or Baby Yellow? How flamboyant hehe, ka-kiat ba hehehe!

Oh, this municipal hall is nestled on a hill overlooking the road and crowded on all sides by trees trees and trees! The place is real cozy even at midday. I just don’t know if it is so inside that building. At one corner, we saw that improvements on the side entrance was still in progress. And here we go again… both companion and I thought you can just remove the seal(emblem) and name of the building, then you should be ready to happily and proudly transplant the building to any place somewhere along Quezon City’s Araneta Avenue hehehe. My driver asked wondering if funeral homes and columbaries are that big in Metro Manila. And I said “sus, tall buildings gayud”! Anyway and at least… the color of this building is so dainty you wont easily mistakenly think that this is where hearses emanate from! Hehehe, peace to the architect!

We liked strolling around this place btw. Instead of a wide expanse of plain grass as in Calape or Clarin, Carmen Municipal Hall’s irregularly contoured surroundings teems with tall trees that virtually everywhere is a shade. Many may consider it trash or rubbish, but I liked walking around with all those dead leaves scattered on the ground. Feels like you really are with nature. It’s a tall climb down to the road btw, so they put big long steps on that steep portion. Am not sure though why they had to put a grotto of Mama Mary on those stairs. Maybe the mayor thinks his munisipyo is also a church hehe. Hello separation of church and state! Anyway, don’t worry if you hate climbing stairs. There’s a road that skirts around so vehicles can approach the very area of this municipal hall.

Hah, we still wanted to have pictures beside their “municipal bus” that sported a livery of the “new 7 wonders of nature” but our drivers said we have to go to the Chocolate Hills.

Oh well, so we did! Let’s go there next!

If you want to read the chronology of all stories on this tour, click the following:
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34


  1. hi!
    u forgot to mention that simeon toribio is actualy the second filipino to win an olympic medal. he won a bronze in high jump during the 1932 olympics in LA.