The Chocolate Hills
Credit: Ramir Borja, Wikipedia, CC BY

The island of Bohol is striking in its beauty. It has forests and flowing water. However, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol are what really set it apart. There are somewhere between 1,260 and 1,776 conical shaped hills on this island. They are symmetrical, range in size from 30 meters to 120 meters, and are covered with grass. There is a scientific reason for these hills, but the Chocolate Hills are also the center stage for some interesting myths.

The Science Behind the Chocolate Hills

While the hills look almost other worldly jutting from the flat terrain there is a scientific explanation. The Chocolate Hills are made from limestone. They are karst hills and one of the best example of conical karst topography in the world today, making them a unique and spectacular thing to look at.

The island of Bohol, like many islands, was under the sea. Fossils show that it was likely a shallow bed where coral, mollusks, and algae grew in the marine limestone. Over time tectonic movements lifted this area of the sea upward. Rainfall, surface water, and ground water all had a hand in shaping these interesting cones and domes. The plains that surround the hills is fairly flat and contains a number of caves and springs.

The Chocolate Hills have been covered by top soil through natural process and then tough vegetation grew on the hills. The vegetation is made up of mostly grasses with two types being the most prevalent. These grasses turn bright green when the rains come and then turn a rich brown during the dry season. It is this brown color that gives them their name and many people view them like giant Hersey's Kisses plopped down along the lush landscaping. Some say that they were named after the sweet chocolate of the Hersey's Kisses, but it's hard to know for certain if this is the case.

Even though this is the most widely accepted scientific answer to how the Chocolate Hills were formed there are still some questions that scientists haven't been able to answer. Of all of the karst topography on the earth, this is by far the most unique and striking. It is unknown as to why or even how they have retained such symmetrical shapes in the cones and domes. There are others out there who list different reasons for these cone shaped hills. Some say that they are uplifted coral deposits. Others say they are resulting from volcanic action on the island. Neither of these explanations are supported by facts though and the island has no volcanic rock on it showing that it was never created through volcanic action.  

Chocolate Hills Legends

While science has sought to prove how they Chocolate hills came to be in modern times, it hasn't always been that way. Many legends have surrounded the creation of they odd landscape and some people still hold on to these beliefs today.

The first legend says that the hills were created during a fight between two giants who hurled rocks, boulders, and even sand at one another. They fought for days and finally fell into an exhausted state. After falling asleep they woke up, forgot why they were fighting, and went off in peace. They left behind the area where they had feuded so fiercely and the landscape was forever changed.

A more romantic legend tells of love. A giant named Arogo was destined to live forever. However, he fell in love with Aloya. Aloya was mortal and time passed quickly. After she had died Arogo was in so much pain that he cried out giant tears. The tears landed across the island of Bohol. After they dried they formed the Chocolate Hills.

A third legend is not quite as pretty as the one before it. It tells the story of a giant moose or carabao (type of Southeast Asian water buffalo) that ate all the crops of one local village. He continued to eat and it angered the villagers. Finally they put out all of their spoiled food and the animal ate it. His stomach was so upset that he left behind mounds of feces which dried and formed the hills.

The story of a giant named Miguel is a similar one. He was gluttonous and ate everything he could find until one day he saw a beautiful woman named Adrianna. He wanted to lose weight so that he could win her heart so he left behind everything that he had eaten. His feces changed the landscape, but he won the girls love.

A nicer legend tells of giant children who spent their days playing on the Island. They decided to have a contest of who could bake the most “cakes”. As children so often do they mounded their mud cakes up and let them bake under the sun. In a hurry they made as many as they could and were called home at the days end before they could destroy them. The hills baked in the sun and when the children returned they didn't have the heart to tear them down, so the chocolate hills were left there for all to enjoy.  

The Chocolate Hills(93142)
Credit: Jeroen Hellingman, Wikipedia, CC BY

Aliens, Anybody?

It isn't really surprising that some alien theorist have latched on to the Chocolate Hills and come up with their own explanation. No one has any explanation of why the aliens left behind these hills or what it is that they were doing. But because they don't seem to be man made and the scientific explanations don't explain their strange shape, it is believed that extraterrestrial beings could be responsible.

It doesn't help that Bohol is home to an unusual and alien looking creature as well. Those in favor of the alien theories behind the origin to the Chocolate Hills are usually also in favor of the idea that the tarsius is a pet left behind by alien visitors. This odd little monkey certainly has the look for something out of this world.  

No matter how the Chocolate Hills came to be they are a sight to see. In fact, they bring in a lot of visitors and are a huge part of Bohol tourism industry. If you ever get the chance, it seems well worth the time it takes to check it out!