Unearthing the mysteries of Anda, Bohol

Jason Domantay, Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Here’s an intriguing myth from Anda:

Once there lived a woman named Francisca whom people called Ka Iska. Some say she was a powerful witch or a ‘mangkukulam.’ One day, the village men tried to attack her but she escaped and sought sanctuary in Lamanok Island. People continued to pursue her. However, their efforts became useless since Ka Iska vanished in Lamanok. Eventually, people found skeletons that are believed to belong to her.

What happened during the last days of Ka Iska has never been confirmed. What is clear is that some people believe that the ghost of Ka Iska still lives in the caves of Lamanok island.

A lot of people may be scared to visit a place where such a story exists. However it is this myth that drives tourists to visit Lamanok island in Anda, Bohol.

Going to Ka Iska’s lair is an adventure in itself. One must walk along the lush mangroves in order to get a boat ride to the island. There, people are greeted by giant limestone cliffs. Further walks up the island will reveal skeletons of ancient men.

Yet the most exciting part of the trip is a visit to various caves that are believed to be the home of the famous witch. It has an eerie atmosphere that can make spines tingle.

Congressman Arthur Yap of the 3rd District of Bohol says that Lamanok is ‘a ritual island.’ “There are ancient paintings there,” he says. True enough, in the island, one can see hematite drawings that still remain on the cave walls.

The place

Anda is located at the southeastern part of Bohol. It may not be as popular as Panglao or Balicasag island but it is has a rich heritage and white sand beaches that appeal to people looking for new places to explore.

“The biggest lure (of Anda) is the fact that it is quaint. It remains uncongested, affordable, very private and secluded,” Yap added. “You should visit Anda because there are four hectares of mangroves here and there are dozens of islets waiting to be discovered and visited by tourists.”

Yap says that eco-tourism is what makes Anda stand out. He also assures travelers that a trip here will not burn a hole in the pocket.

“The food is affordable, the area is clean and crime is almost non-existent. It is very safe for tourists,” Yap said.

Still, the biggest potential come-on of Anda is its pristine waters. Indeed, the place is blessed with endless stretches of white-sand beaches that make a quick swim a calming experience.

“What Western and Asian tourists love about the Philippines are the beaches. So after Panglao, which is now getting congested, you will see that there is nothing left to develop except the beaches of Anda. This is the next frontier.”