The Tragic Love Story Behind The Chocolate Hills
One of the most famous tourist attractions in Bohol is the Chocolate Hills, there are more than 1,268 cone shaped hills with a strange geological formation that not even the best geologist can explain. The chocolate hills are spread around an area of over 50 square kilometers and they vary in size from 30 meters to 120 meters in height. The Chocolate Hills of Bohol can appear endless when it is viewed atop the hill in Carmen, which is a town in Bohol where the Chocolate Hills are located. There is a viewing deck that can help give you a 360-degree view of the hills, and they are as far as your eyes can see. It is even more beautiful when it is viewed from a plane, as they can appear to be thousands of mole hills that are situated around the verdant surroundings.
Another unique trait of these limestone chocolate hills is that they are completely covered in grass and the cone shape is common to all the hills even though they are different in sizes. The hills look like chocolates during the dry season when the grass turns into brown.
The grass found on the hills are called Imperata cylindrical and Saccharum spontaneum and ferns. The trees grow on the base of the hills and not on the hills themselves and they are lush, and they are also verdant rings around the hills, it makes it almost bare cone-shaped making it a natural beauty.
The flatlands that are surrounding the Chocolate Hills are given to corn and to rice farming and it gave the hills a gorgeous green backdrop. The elevation ranges from 100 to 500 meters above sea level. The higher hills can be found but the cone-shaped ones are found in Carmen, Bohol. The most popular and acceptable geological theory of the hills is that they were the result of the weathering marine limestones that took thousands of years to evolve. Others say that the hills were evolved and formed years ago by the coral deposits that were uplifted or that they erupted from the sea in a massive geological shift, and the rain water as well as the erosion for the past years had put the finishing touches.
The Chocolate Hills is considered as the one of the “Eight Wonders of the World”, it has also been declared as the 3rd National Geological Monument in the Philippines by the National Committee on Geological Sciences on June 18, 1988 as it recognizes its unique characteristics, its scientific importance and its scenic value, it is also one of the country’s protected areas.
The Chocolate Hills was declared as a natural monument in 1997 and they are now covered under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as the lead agency that is assigned for its protection.
It was in 2004 that the Philippine House of Representatives introduced the House Bill No. 001147 wherein the hills declared as a national patrimony and geological monument, penalizing any plunder, anyone who destructs or deface the hills and other damaging acts.
On May 2006, the DENR has submitted the Chocolate Hilss to be a part of the UNESCO World Heritage and to be included in the list of Natural Monuments because of its universal value, its natural phenomena and areas of exceptional natural beauty. Because of this, the hills are now listed as one of the best tourist destinations in the Philippines by the Philippines Tourism Authority. The hills have been a tourist desitnation way before people flooded the white sand beaches of Panglao, Bohol. It is also now featured in the flag of the province and the seal of Bohol to symbolize the abundance of the city and its natural attraction.
There are legends surrounding the creation of the Chocolate Hills, and each of them differ and it will depend on who you are asking the story from. One legend says that thousands of years ago, the food of the towns people was stolen by a giant water buffalo. The people then placed all of their rotten and uneatable food in one massive pile for the water buffalo, who then became sick after devouring it. He then defecated many times all over the land and it left massive mounds, which dried up and is now called the Chocolate Hills.
Another legend says that thousands of years ago, there were star crossed lovers living in Bohol. The woman was from a wealthy family while the man was a farmer. The woman got pregnant and the farmer wants to marry her, however the father of the woman does not want them to be together so he ordered for the execution of the farmer. The woman was left devastated about what happened to her lover that she fell ill, it was said that she went around the area looking for the body of her lover, because of sever depression she collapsed and died. The hills represent her pregnant stomach and for every year that she did not find her lover, a hill was formed.
The most popular legend is that of the two giants from two different sides of the island. One of them came from the south while the other came from the north of the island. They were fearing for their lives because the people left and they settled in the remote areas of the island. It just rained and the field was muddy, the giant from the north began to pick some of the mud that has accumulated and he made a ball out of it and he then threw it at the other giant from the south. It then hit his left shoulder, because of this he wanted to get even with him so the giant from the south threw a ball of mud back to the other giant and it hit him right in the face. For some time they threw balls of mud to each other back and forth, it went on for hours, they both went out of their wits and they charged towards each other. The people of the town just stood and watched them battle it out as a fierce fight between the two giants with no one giving up. Finally, they punched each other hard until both of them fell to the ground and died.
What was left of their fighting were hills of round balls of mud that they threw on each other. After the fight, the farmers came back to the field, they buried the two giants, and they went on to lead a peaceful farm life. During the dry season, people can see these brown hills that range and stretches for miles across the island and that they look like candy chocolates when seen from an elevated view. When harvest time comes, the hills turn green and palay shoots out from them and it makes the fields a fresh look.