Bohol has a collection of 10 geosites to start with in its bid to be declared as Global Geopark by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Dr. Patrick Kames McKeever Secretary of the International Geosciences and Geoparks Programme of UNESCO will be arriving in Bohol on July 23 and will stay until July 27 to evaluate these sites.
UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM) and University of the Philippines (UP) School of Urban and Regional Planning (UP SURP) grooms Bohol to be declared by UNESCO as a Global Geopark.
A series of meetings, capacity building and site evaluations had already been conducted in line with this.
If UNESCO gives the nod, Bohol will then be the first Global Geopark in the country.
The UNESCO representative who will come in late July, Dr. Patrick Mc Keever, is also the chief of the Earth Sciences and Geo-hazards Risk Reduction Section of the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences of the Natural Sciences Sector of UNESCO.
Governor Edgar Chatto and NATCOM Development Management Officer/Programme Officer for Science and Technology Freddie Blanco invited Mc Keever “to visit Bohol to conduct an assessment of its potential and discuss or meet with the local stakeholders”.
This is in line with the intention of PH NatCom and UP-SURP to nominate Bohol as the first UNESCO Global Geopark from the Philippines.
In a letter dated June 28, 2018 sent to Mc Keever thru UNESCO NATCOM Deputy Executive Director II Lindsay A. Barrientos, Chatto, for his part, also expressed the provincial government’s intention to establish the Province of Bohol as a Global Geopark “to be inscribed by the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, the first in the Philippines”.
Chatto introduced the Island Province of Bohol as the 10th largest island in the Philippines located in Central Visayas, “with a population of 1.3 million and is richly endowed with geological, archaeological, biological and cultural assets which we believe are important ingredients of a geopark”.
The 10 proposed geosites in Bohol that UP-SURP, UNACOM, and the provincial government have listed include the Alicia Schist in Alicia, Lamanoc Island in Anda, Philippine Tarsier (Carlito syrichta) and Wildlife Sanctuary in Corella, Chocolate Hills in Carmen, Uplifted Marine Terraces in Maribojoc and Loon, Hinagdanan Cave in Dauis, Balicasag Marine Sanctuary in Balicasag Island, Baclayon Church, Loboc Church Ruins, and the Newly Restored Dauis Church in Dauis.
In his letter, Chatto described Alicia Schist as “an elongated body of foliated rocks located in the municipality of Alicia believed to be Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous in age making it the “Oldest Rocks” of the province.
Lamanoc Island in Anda is “one of the hidden gems of Bohol for its unspoiled forest, intriguing caves, and fascinating overhanging rocks that sometimes make islet appears to magically hover above the blue sea”.
Chatto further described that “this limestone formation is witness to the local community’s rich cultural history evident in numerous burial caves and present-day ritual sacred place for local imams”.
He also stated that as “the home of the endangered smallest primate in the world, Tarsier Sanctuary was formulated by the provincial government of Bohol”.
“Its main thrust is to provide and support the conservation and preservation of habitat, promotion of ecotourism, as well as, environmental awareness and provide a research program for national and international primatologists,” according to Chatto.
Chocolate Hills in Carmen, has been described as “one of the most unique Cone-Karst landscapes in the world formed approximately one to five million years ago”.
“Its unique morphology is a reflection of the islands’ complex structural and tectonic history. Aside from its unique morphology, it is also popularly known for its marvelous brown chocolate color during the summer months,” as Chatto described the Chocolate Hills in Carmen.
The Uplifted Marine Terraces in Maribojoc and Loon is “a unique geological feature which was created during the 7.2 magnitudes Great Bohol Earthquake in 2013”.
“The event has resulted in one spectacular display of forces of nature- -the uplift of an extensive marine platform along the coastal areas of Maribojoc and Loon municipalities. Known as the “Loon-Maribojoc Geological Monument” the uplifted coastal area covers some 137 hectares or 1.37 square kilometers of coastline stretching eight kilometers,” as Chatto described the uplifted marine terraces.
For Hinagdanan Cave in Dauis, Chatto said it “is naturally made of limestone, a lighted cavern with a deep lagoon and about 100 meters long of beautiful rock formations presented by large stalactites and stalagmites”.
“Balicasag Marine Sanctuary in Balicasag Island is a 400-meter marine sanctuary of healthy corals and various pelagic organisms. Various diving experiences are offered in the island from submarine cliffs and underwater caves.”
For Baclayon Church, Chatto described that it “was founded by the Jesuit priests in 1596 and became the oldest Christian settlement in Bohol, also, the second oldest church of the Philippines”.
“Partially damaged by the 7.2 magnitude Bohol earthquake but was fully restored in the following years with the effort of the provincial government and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines,” Chatto described the Baclayon Church.
Loboc Church Ruins in Loboc “became the second Christian settlement in Bohol as it was established by Jesuits in 1602, and the present coral stone church was completed in 1734”.
It is classified as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines”.
The Loboc Church “was severely damaged when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol and other parts of Central Visayas on October 15, 2013”.
The Newly Restored Dauis Church in Dauis “is one of the erstwhile churches in Bohol and a fine representation of Byzantine-Romanesque architecture. It was founded by the Jesuits Father Diego de Ayala and Joseph Gregorio”.
The construction of Dauis Church “was conducted by Father Julio Saldana in 1863 and was completed in the early 1920’s”.
“With the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake in year 2013, the church was partially damaged but was fully restored in 2017,” according to Chatto.
Having these 10 proposed geosites, the provincial government hopes that Dr. Mc Keever’s assessment on them “would eventually merit the approval of UNESCO to be part of the Global Geoparks Networks in the Asia-Pacific and the world,” Chatto added.