(◣_◢) to Captain's Peak

(◣_◢) to Captain's Peak

You're probably wondering about the title of my column today. The symbols make up an emoticon showing anger, the exact feeling I want to convey to the property owners of the Captain's Peak amid the Chocolate Hills in Barangay Libertad Norte in Sagbayan, Bohol.

Bohol is my home away from home and I consider it as my ultimate getaway destination. I got to come to Tagbilaran City when we visited my best friend’s home when we were still in college. It was both work and leisure as we also completed a tourism audio-video presentation about Bohol as a class project.

As an island, Bohol is surrounded by a long line of beaches. Bohol boasts of its stretch of white sand beaches found on the small island of Panglao, which is located southwest of the island of Bohol and east of Cebu. The island, which is still part of the Bohol province is divided into two municipalities, Dauis and Panglao. When we were there during our visit, we were able to enjoy and relax at the Panglao Island Nature Park and Spa, which is the best resort in the island. It’s a perfect venue for those who are on a honeymoon vacation, or for families or groups of friends just wanting to relax and enjoy the beach.

The mythological Chocolate Hills, the most popular landmark in Bohol is composed of at least 1,776 hills which can be best viewed in two locations which are the Sagbayan Peak and in Carmen, Batuan. They are called chocolate hills because the hills dry up during the dry season. Meanwhile, they are covered with green grass during the rainy season. According to one of four legends, were formed when two giants “hurled rocks, boulders, and sand at each other. The fighting lasted for days and exhausted the two giants. In their exhaustion, they forgot about their feud and became friends, but when they left they forgot to clean up the mess they had made during their battle, hence the Chocolate Hills.”

When I first saw the pictures of a pool in the middle of the Chocolate Hills, I thought at first that it was just an edited image intended to cause a stir and increase engagement on Facebook. However, it turned out that the photo is real and indeed there is an operational resort located in the area called Captain's Peak. The snapshot was taken from the vlog of a certain Renmark Nisnisan of "Ren The Adventurer". The video, which already has about more than 16 million views caught the internet frenzy and generated at least 173,000 angry reactions.

National and local investigations have been conducted, and based on these proceedings, the establishment of the said resort passed through the required processes such as the attendance of the owners to the special meeting of the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument (CNHM)-Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) and the endorsement of the PAMB Resolution No. 1, s.2018, and the approval of the said resolution by the DENR Central Visayas Office. Several incidents occurred after the approval of the resolution in 2018 including the application and approval of a business permit from the Municipal Government of Sagbayan and the start of the resort operations in 2019 even without the required environmental compliance certificate.

After the projection and ground verification conducted by the DENR on July 12, 2021, the owners received the Lande Certification Status stating that the said property is classified as Alienable and Disposable thus, giving the owners the right to legally claim their possession of the said lot. However, a year later, after the CHNM PAMB Committee on Biodiversity Conservation and Monitoring conducted, the inspectors recommended the transfer of the development of amenities and facilities such as the swimming pool, cottages, and function hall from its initial project sites near the Chocolate Hills protected zone to the resort’s parking area.

In February 2023, some residents aired their concern after the Sangguniang Barangay of Canmano passed Resolution No. 2, s. 2023, requesting Sagbayan Mayor Restituto Suarez III to repair the Canmano-Libertad Norte access road going to Captain’s Peak. The residents were concerned about the “cutting” of the feet of two Chocolate Hills in the area for the road widening. This has prompted Bohol Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado to order the Bohol Environment and Management Office (BEMO), PENRO, and the Central Visayas regional office of DENR to investigate the alleged destruction of Chocolate Hills in August 2023. A month later, the DENR issues a Temporary Closure Order of the Captain's Peak.

In January 2024, Captain' Peak owners renewed their business permit with Permit Number is BP-2024-00096-0. A notice of violation was sent by the DENR to owners for operating without an ECC. As of date, the issue is still being resolved , but what caught my further ire is the statement released by the Captain's Peak Management: "Sana lahat makita nyo po young mga resort dito kung talagang Captain's Peak lang po and naggawa ng ganitong nasa Chocolate Hills po. Meron pang mas malala pa po dito"

Wow, the nerve to call out on others who are allegedly worse than the Captain's Peak! Once and for all, I am calling out the property owners of this development. Please adhere to the regulations set by the authorities, and please stop destroying the natural beauty of the Chocolate Hills.


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