Chocolate Hills

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The Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills is an unusual geological formation in Bohol, Philippines.<ref name="eye">Eye on the Philippines Global Eye Retrieved 22 December, 2006.</ref> It is composed of around 1,268 perfectly cone-shaped hills of about the same size, spread over an area of more than 50 kilometers². They are covered in green grass that turns brown during the dry season, hence the name.

The Chocolate Hills is a famous tourist attraction of Bohol. It is featured in the provincial flag and seal to symbolize the abundance of natural attraction in the province.<ref>The Bohol Flag and Seal www.bohol.gov.ph Retrieved 15 November, 2006.</ref> It is also on the Philippine Tourism Authority's list of tourist destinations in the Philippines. Sometimes considered the "Eighth Wonder of the World",<ref>Sightseeing around Panglao Sea Explorers Philippines Retrieved 22 December, 2006. </ref> it has been declared the country's 3rd National Geological Monument and proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.<ref name="unesco">Chocolate Hills Natural Monument UNESCO World Heritage Centre Retrieved 14 November, 2006.</ref>

Contents

Description

Locator map of Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills are Bohol's most famous attraction.<ref name="trekearth">Chocolate Hills photo TrekEarth. Retrieved 22 December, 2006. </ref> Photographer Salvador Andre notes:<ref name="trekearth"/>

Further:

The Chocolate Hills is a rolling terrain of haycock hills — mounds of general shape which are conical and almost symmetrical.<ref>Bohol: The Jewel Paradise of the Philippine Islands www.bohol.net Retrieved 15 November, 2006.</ref> Estimated to be at least 1,268 individual mounds to about 1,776, these cone-shaped or dome-shaped hills are actually grass-covered limestone hills. The large and numerous perfect domes vary in sizes from 30 meters to 50 meters high with the largest being 120 meters in height. Aesthetically extensive, they are scattered throughout the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan in Bohol.<ref>Boholwwww.dotpcvc.gov.ph Retrieved 15 November, 2006.</ref> Bohol's "main attraction", these unique mound-shaped hills are scattered by the thousands on the island's central plain, concentrated near the town of Carmen.<ref>Visiting Bohol www.aenet.org Retrieved 15 November, 2006. At dawn or at sunset, the Chocolate Hills are an alluring sight; the whole area picturesque amidst the rice fields and the clusters of houses made of the diamond patterned sawali or bamboo slats.<ref>Bohol the beautiful www.inq7.net Retrieved 14 November, 2006</ref>

During the dry season, the precipitation is inadequate, such that the grass-covered hills dry up and turn chocolate brown. This transforms the area into seemingly endless rows of "chocolate kisses". The branded confection is the inspiration behind the name, Chocolate Hills.<ref name="unesco">Chocolate Hills Natural Monument UNESCO World Heritage Centre Retrieved 14 November, 2006.</ref>

Topography

File:IMG 0919 Chocolate Hills.jpg
The Chocolate Hills Natural Geological Monument

The Chocolate Hills and the area around it have relatively flat to rolling topography with elevation ranges from 100 meters to 500 meters above sea level.<ref name="unesco">Chocolate Hills Natural Monument UNESCO World Heritage Centre Retrieved 14 November, 2006.</ref> Higher karstic hills dominate the landscape inland then turning almost uniformly and naturally molded in Carmen.<ref name="herbarium">Bohol Island Herbarium www.pnh.com.ph Retrieved 14 November, 2006.</ref>

Vegetation

The vegetation of the Chocolate Hills is dominated by hardy grass species such as Imperata cylindrica and Saccharum spontaneum. Several Compositae and ferns also grow on the hills. In between the hills, the flat lands are cultivated to rice and other cash crops. However, the natural vegetation on the Chocolate Hills is now highly threatened by quarrying activities.<ref name="herbarium">Bohol Island Herbarium www.pnh.com.ph Retrieved 14 November, 2006.</ref>

Origin

The Chocolate Hills in Carmen, Bohol

There are a number of geological proposals regarding the formation of the hills. These include simple limestone weathering, sub-oceanic volcanism, the uplift of the sea floor and a more recent theory which maintains that as an ancient active volcano self-destructed, it spewed huge blocks of stone which were then covered with limestone and later thrust forth from the ocean bed.<ref>Bohol www.tambuli.com Retrieved 15 November, 2006. </ref>

Geologists have long debated about the formation of the hills, resulting in various explanations for the origin of the Chocolate Hills. The one written on the bronze plaque at the viewing deck in Carmen, Bohol states that they are eroded formations of a type of marine limestone that sits on top of hardened clay.<ref name="vacation">Chocolate Hills: Philippines Vacation www.philipinesvacation.org Retrieved 15 November, 2006. </ref> The plaque reads: <ref name="vacation"/><ref>Declaration of Chocolate Hills Philippines www.geocities.com Retrieved 16 February, 2007. </ref>

Another statement says: <ref name="vacation"/>

Still another way the origin is described is that they were formed centuries ago by tidal movement<ref name="boracay">Move over Boracay: Panglao Island beckons www.inq7.net Retrieved 14 November, 2006.</ref> and by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion.<ref name="unesco">Chocolate Hills Natural Monument UNESCO World Heritage Centre Retrieved 14 November, 2006.</ref> Another theory is that they were ancient coral limestone reefs shaped by many thousands of years of erosion by both water and wind.<ref name="travelguide"> Bohol Chocolate Hills www.philippines-travel-guide.com Retrieved 15 November, 2006.</ref> Geologists think that the specific shape of the hills is caused by the influences of the weather over millions of years. The breaking down of the upper layers of the limestone formations, followed by the erosion processes, resulted in these remnants in the shape of cones.<ref>Bohol www.philippines.hvu.nl Retrieved 15 November, 2006.</ref> It is likely that they were once limestone deposits beneath the sea, uplifted by the movement of plates and then smoothed by wind and rainwater erosion.<ref name="eye"/>

The Chocolate Hills are conical karst hills similar to those seen in the limestone regions of Slovenia and Croatia, only that the Bohol Chocolate Hills have no caves.<ref name="travelguide">Bohol Chocolate Hills legend will bring a tear to your eye www.philippines-travel-guide.com Retrieved 15 November, 2006.</ref> According to the karst theory, "sea level changes and uplift combined with terrestrial erosion and air exposure of biogenic reef regions have given rise to hummocky landscapes that are often impregnated with sinkholes and caves." The Chocolate Hills are considered among the examples of this karst topography.<ref name="cajes"> Cajes, Alan. A Brief History of Boholwww.aybpm.freeservers.com Retrieved 28 November, 2006.</ref>

Legend

The other explanations come from two legends explaining the formation of the Chocolate Hills. The first legend tells the story of two feuding giants who hurled rocks, boulders and sand trying to destroy each other. This fighting lasted days and exhausted the two giants. In their exhaustion, they forgot about their feud and became friends so that when they left, they forgot to clean up their mess in the battlefield, hence the Chocolate Hills.<ref name="vacation"/><ref name="travelguide"/>

The much more romantic legend tells of a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful and youthful. Arogo fell in love with Aloya who was a simple mortal. Aloya’s death caused Arogo so much pain and misery that in his sorrow, he could not stop crying. When his tears dried the Chocolate Hills were formed.<ref>The Chocolate Hills www.bohol.ph Retrieved 14 November, 2006.</ref>

Tourism development

Sagbayan Peak

The Chocolate Hills placed Bohol on the tourist map long before the beautiful white beaches of the island became major tourist destinations.<ref name="travelguide">[1]</ref> The most famous and signature tourist attraction of Bohol, it is a prime tourist destination in the Philippines<ref>Bohol - splendor underwater and Over Hills WOW Philippines Retrieved 15 November, 2006. </ref>. This is because the Chocolate Hills are among of the country's most spectacular sceneries. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who admits that she is the No. 1 tourist of Bohol for having visited the province so many times, said: <ref name="boracay">Move Over Boracay; Panglao Island Beckons Inquirer News Service Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref> In fact, the national government has chosen the Chocolate Hills as one of its "flagship tourist destinations".

Chocolate Hills in Carmen Bohol
Of the 1,247 hills, two have been developed into resorts or tourism.<ref>Bohol God's little Paradise library.thinkquest.org Retrieved 22 December, 2006]</ref> The original resort is located in Carmen, Bohol located in Barangay Buenos Aires, only a few minutes drive from downtown Carmen. The resort in Carmen is called "Chocolate Hills Complex". The more recent one in Sagbayan called "Sagbayan Peak".<ref name="peak">Sagbayan Peak: A View from the Top Philippine Daily Inquirer Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref> The original viewing station of the Chocolate Hills is a government-owned and operated resort called "Chocolate Hills Complex" located in Carmen, Bohol, about 55 kilometers from Tagbilaran City<ref>Bohol Island Sightseeing Bohol Island Hotels Travel Guide Retrieved 15 November, 2006. </ref> and about 5 kilometers from the town proper of Carmen, Bohol.
File:ChocoHillsSunsetCarmen1.jpg
Chocolate Hills Sunset in Carmen Bohol
The Chocolate Hills Complex has a restaurant, hostel with swimming pool and a observation deck where one could view and even count the hills at the view deck 210 feet above the ground. There are a total of 214 steps leading to the observation or view deck. Here one can view the landscape that is covered with more than a thousand Chocolate Hills.<ref>Bohol The Island Province www.aenet.org Retrieved 15 November, 2006.</ref> The Chocolate Hills Complex is composed of two hills developed into a resort. One hill, being the highest, is the location for the observation deck that offers the highest access to view the Chocolate Hills in 360 degrees.
View of the Chocolate Hills from Sagbayan Peak

The other way to view the Chocolate Hills is at "Sagbayan Peak", a mountain resort in Sagbayan town, about 75 kilometers northwest of Tagbilaran City. Viewing is made from the deck of an elevated ridge that provides an unobstructed view of the Chocolate Hills as well as the sea off Cebu City. This is only 18 kilometers from the Chocolate Hills complex in neighboring Carmen town.<ref name="peak">Sagbayan Peak: A View from the Top Philippine Daily Inquirer Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref>

Sagbayan Peak is a 5-hectare mountaintop resort and recreation center. Its viewing deck offers a 360-degree perspective of the Chocolate Hills plus the blue sea that separates Bohol and Cebu.<ref>Bohol's 'Sagbayan Peak' offer a new peek at the Chocolate Hills www.newsflash.org Retrieved 15 November, 2006. </ref> The peak now has a restaurant and a children’s park with Bugs Bunny, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and various other Toontown figures.<ref name="toontown">Toontown comes to Bohol's Nature Monument www.newsflash.org Retrieved November 14, 2006.</ref> Aside from the function hall and viewing deck, a hotel, a swimming pool, a driving range, a butterfly dome and even a tarsier sanctuary are now on the drawing board. In addition, a full 100-hectare (247 acre) golf course is also planned.<ref name="toontown">Toontown comes to Bohol's Nature Park www.newsflash.org Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref>

Patria Aurora Roa, tourism director for Central Visayas, was happy to see the latest addition to Bohol's tourist attractions. This was echoed by Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado who said:<ref name="peak">Sagbayan Peak: A view from the top Philippine Daily Inquirer Retrieved 15 November, 2006.</ref>


Protection

Legislation

Bronze Plaque at Chocolate Hills Complex View Deck

The National Committee on Geological Sciences declared the Chocolate Hills a National Geological Monument on June 18, 1988, in recognition of its special characteristics, scientific importance, uniqueness, and high scenic value. This means that the Chocolate Hills are included among the country's protected areas. More protection was provided by Proclamation No. 1037 signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos upon the recommendation of the DENR on July 1, 1997 which establishes the Chocolate Hills and the areas within, around, and surrounding them located in the Municipalities of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan, Bilar, Valencia and Sierra Bullones, Province of Bohol as a natural monument to protect and maintain its natural beauty and to provide restraining mechanisms for inappropriate exploitation. As such, they are covered under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as the lead implementing agency for its protection.<ref name="hbchoco"/>

Land use conflict prompted President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sign an amendment to Proclamation 468 dated September 26, 1994 declaring the land around or in between Chocolate Hills as no longer part of the national monument during the Bohol Sandugo Celebration on July 17, 2002. This amendment allowed tracts of land surrounding and within the famous tourist spot to be developed by the provincial government and other entities that have control over the area. Further, the amended proclamation ensures that the areas that have to be preserved are preserved, while those that could be developed would be excluded from the national monument area and classified as alienable and disposable by the government. The President initially decided on the issue during the joint meeting of the Regional Development Council-Regional Peace and Order Council (RDC-RPOC) of Region VII which was conducted at the Bohol Tropics Resort.<ref>GMA seeks development of parts of Chocolate Hills www.gov.ph Retrieved 14 November, 2006.</ref>

On July 6, 2004, the Philippine House of Representatives introduced House Bill No. 01147 entitled "an act declaring the Chocolate Hills as national patrimony and geological monuments, penalizing their plunder, destruction or defacement, and for other purposes." The house bill is authored by by Congressman Eladio "Boy" Jala and co-authored by Congressman Roilo Z. Golez and Edgar M. Chatto.<ref name="hbchoco">House Bill 001147 www.congress.gov.ph Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref>

On May 16, 2006, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) submitted the Chocolate Hills to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for inclusion in the list of Natural Monuments because of its outstanding universal value, falling under criteria vii - superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations.<ref name="unesco">Chocolate Hills Natural Monument UNESCO World Heritage Centre Retrieved 14 November, 2006.</ref>

Amidst reports that quarrying has leveled off some of the mounds, Governor Erico Aumentado, the governor of Bohol, issued Administrative Order No. 3, series of 2006, which prohibits the issuance of quarry permits and favorable endorsements of mining permit applications in Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan towns, to forestall any degradation of the Chocolate Hills – no matter who the applicants might be.<ref name="guvbans">Guv bans mining near Choco Hills The Bohol Chronicle Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref>

The hills have already been declared geological monuments and are covered under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) for which the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is the lead implementing agency. Aumentado said: <ref name="guvbans"> Guv bans mining near Choco Hills The Bohol Chronicle Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref>

As such, he ordered the prohibition of any quarrying and mining activities in the three towns. He tasked the Bohol Environment and Management Office (BEMO) to ensure that quarry permit applications or renewal thereof and requests for favorable endorsements of mining permit applications therein shall be denied due course, and to ensure compliance and enforcement of the order.<ref>Guv issues orders to protect Choco HillsBohol Sunday Post Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref> He also enjoined the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR to deny all mining permit applications or renewal in the named towns.<ref name="guvbans"> Guv bans mining near Choco Hills The Bohol Chronicle Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref>

Issues

Balancing their protection, resource utilization and tourism are the challenges faced by the Chocolate Hills. Their declaration as natural geologic monuments had issues. Prior to their being declared as national geological monuments, some of the hills were classified as alienable and disposable or private lands such that they were titled to some locals. The declaration consequently caused some social unrest, resulting in almost simultaneous civil uprising, led by the New People's Army establishing a new 'front', known as the Chocolate Hills Command.<ref name="karst">Policy and practice in karst landscape protection: Bohol, the Philippines www.questia.com Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref> To some farmers, the proclamation is a government scheme which suppresses their right to own lands. As such, conflicts between the "command" and government military forces escalated, culminating in two major engagements<ref name="karst"> Policy and practice in karst landscape protection: Bohol, the Philippines www.questia.com Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref>

Being alienable and disposable lands, the Chocolate Hills are seen as quarrying assets and a source of income for small-scale miners, as well as quarry materials for the province's construction projects. The challenge is how the national and local officials can harmonize the current needs of small-scale miners, the construction sector and the tourism sector, with the preservation of the Chocolate Hills.<ref>CV Context of PA 21www.neda7.net.ph Retrieved 17 November, 2006.</ref>

Even with their protected status, mining permits continue to be granted by DENR and local government units or LGUs.<ref name="guvbans"> Guv bans mining near Choco Hills The Bohol Chronicle Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref> Hence, mining and quarrying are still taking place. Because of this, the provincial government of Bohol has requested for the transfer of jurisdiction over the Chocolate Hills from the DENR to the provincial government of Bohol.<ref name="karst"> Policy and practice in karst landscape protection: Bohol, the Philippines www.questia.com Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref>

Meanwhile, the provincial government has itself suggested that the legislation defining the natural monument should be changed, which will require that the proclamation be redrafted and ratified by both the Philippine House and Senate. This is a cumbersome and costly process, on which no progress has been made to date.<ref name="karst"> Policy and practice in karst landscape protection: Bohol, the Philippines www.questia.com Retrieved 14 November, 2006. </ref>

There are also mounting complaints of poor management and dismal service at the government-owned and operated Chocolate Hills Complex and restaurant.<ref name="guvbans">[2]</ref> Added to this is the increase in the number of tourists visiting the Chocolate Hills which has caused traffic problems and safety issues, particularly in the Chocolate Hills complex.<ref>PNP takes action on Choco traffic www.boholchronicle.com Retrieved 15 November, 2006.</ref>

Future development and investment challenges within the Chocolate Hills area include: getting the national government to sanction the project; persuading landowners to sell; and convincing the Protected Areas Management Board or PAMB which has jurisdiction over the hills not to use its veto power over any investment requiring physical facilities.<ref name="toontown"> </ref>

The natural monument proclamation bans "activity of any kind which will alter, mutilate, deface or destroy the hills." A 2003 amendment regulates activity among the privately owned areas "in between hills."

Filipinos are sensitive to perceived desecrations of so-called heritage sites. In 2003, a public outcry forced a construction firm to stop quarrying at the Chocolate Hills, and was required to restore one defaced hill to its original shape.<ref name="toontown"> </ref>

Finally, investment challenges include the fact that speculators bid up property prices in the area, raising the potential cost of a proposed project.<ref name="toontown"> </ref> Getting investors to actually put their money into the poorer parts of Bohol is complicated by communist guerrillas who extort money from local officials.<ref name="toontown"> </ref> Having refused to pay, Mayor Torrefranca of Sagbayan, Bohol survived two assassination attempts since 1998, when the rebels firebombed his car.<ref name="toontown"> </ref>

New 7 Wonders of Nature Nominees

The Chocolate Hills are included in the nominees for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. As of September 29, 2008, they ranked fourth among the 77 nominees. The Philippines has four nominees in the contest; the other three are Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Tubbataha Reef and Mayon Volcano.

References

  1. a b Eye on the Philippines Global Eye Retrieved 22 December, 2006.
  2. The Bohol Flag and Seal www.bohol.gov.ph Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  3. Sightseeing around Panglao Sea Explorers Philippines Retrieved 22 December, 2006.
  4. a b c d e Chocolate Hills Natural Monument UNESCO World Heritage Centre Retrieved 14 November, 2006.
  5. a b Chocolate Hills photo TrekEarth. Retrieved 22 December, 2006.
  6. Chocolate Hills-Bohol www.luzpalma.com Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  7. a b c d e Bohol Chocolate Hills legend will bring a tear to your eye www.philippines-travel-guide.com Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  8. Bohol: The Jewel Paradise of the Philippine Islands www.bohol.net Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  9. Boholwwww.dotpcvc.gov.ph Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  10. Visiting Bohol www.aenet.org Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  11. Bohol the beautiful www.inq7.net Retrieved 14 November, 2006
  12. a b Bohol Island Herbarium www.pnh.com.ph Retrieved 14 November, 2006.
  13. Bohol www.tambuli.com Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  14. a b c d Chocolate Hills: Philippines Vacation www.philipinesvacation.org Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  15. Declaration of Chocolate Hills Philippines www.geocities.com Retrieved 16 February 2007.
  16. a b Move over Boracay: Panglao Island beckons www.inq7.net Retrieved 14 November, 2006.
  17. Bohol www.philippines.hvu.nl Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  18. Cajes, Alan. A Brief History of Boholwww.aybpm.freeservers.com Retrieved 28 November, 2006.
  19. The Chocolate Hills www.bohol.ph Retrieved 14 November, 2006.
  20. Bohol - splendor underwater and Over Hills WOW Philippines Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  21. Bohol God's little Paradise library.thinkquest.org Retrieved 22 December, 2006]
  22. a b c Sagbayan Peak: A View from the Top Philippine Daily Inquirer Retrieved 14 November, 2006.
  23. Bohol Island Sightseeing Bohol Island Hotels Travel Guide Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  24. Bohol The Island Province www.aenet.org Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  25. Bohol's 'Sagbayan Peak' offer a new peek at the Chocolate Hills www.newsflash.org Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  26. a b c d e f g Toontown comes to Bohol's Nature Monument www.newsflash.org Retrieved November 14, 2006.
  27. a b House Bill 001147 www.congress.gov.ph Retrieved 14 November, 2006.
  28. GMA seeks development of parts of Chocolate Hills www.gov.ph Retrieved 14 November, 2006.
  29. a b c d e Guv bans mining near Choco Hills The Bohol Chronicle Retrieved 14 November, 2006.
  30. Guv issues orders to protect Choco HillsBohol Sunday Post Retrieved 14 November, 2006.
  31. a b c d Policy and practice in karst landscape protection: Bohol, the Philippines www.questia.com Retrieved 14 November, 2006.
  32. CV Context of PA 21www.neda7.net.ph Retrieved 17 November, 2006.
  33. PNP takes action on Choco traffic www.boholchronicle.com Retrieved 15 November, 2006.
  34. RP back in top ranking of Seven New Wonders of Nature contest.

External links


Coordinates: 9°55′N, 124°10′E

Original Source

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