I would just like to share our experience with a so-called driver/travel guide known by the name of Sophia Bohol Tours. This is quite long but I just wanted to make sure I cover everything so please bear with me.
Coming from Cebu, we arrived at Tagbilaran City via Ocean Jet at 11:30AM on the 20th of June. We were greeted by our driver/tour guide Rey Uy and his wife Cristy Lyn Infante of Sophia Bohol Tours. I have heard that we have agreed to pay them a package price of Php3,500 for everything , accommodations, tours, transfers, basically anything that we would spend on except for food and shopping.
When we boarded the Innova, we had to make the 7 of us fit in the last two rows because the vehicle only had a capacity of 8. Take note that Rey and his wife were already in the front seats so we had to squeeze in 4 people in a 3-seater seat. Nevertheless, we voluntarily made another partial payment to them, no questions asked, as a sign of good faith from our part. This was on top of the initial bank deposit we made a few days before our trip.
When the vehicle started moving, Rey told us that we will be going to the market to buy food for the place we are staying. Jheng, the person who was arranging everything with them replied, “Why do we need to buy food from the market?” That was the only time we were informed that the agreed accommodations, Aros Resort, was not available on those dates for reasons beyond their control. We were booked in a private resort nearby with 3 bedrooms and a lot of space. Excuse me, there were 7 of us and 4 of our friends that were in Bohol a day before us. How would he make us fit in a 3-bedroom house? He insisted that it will be comfortable for us. Definitely, wrong again. We agreed on a total of 6 rooms with swimming pool and our own bathrooms, and do not like the hassle of cooking for ourselves.
By this time during the ride, his wife was already dropped off at BQ mall and we were instructing Rey to head over to Panglao for us to inspect the private resort so we can scout for a place just in case we didn’t like it. Even without visual inspection, we already did not like the idea that we were blindsided and was decided for without consultation. He initially replied by saying we can go on with the tour first then look for a place afterwards. We insisted that he turn around to Panglao immediately because we might come back later than expected and we would not have a choice but to just accept what they had, which is what happened to the 4 people ahead of us. Rey said to go on with the tour and he will instruct his wife to look for another resort for our accommodations, based on our agreement. Jheng suggested Paragayo.
So we proceeded with the tour, which only took a half day because of Rey’s “formula 1” driving. He was reckless not minding that there were passengers already getting dizzy with the winding road that he was negotiating like Sebastian Vettel. By 3PM, we were already confirmed to stay at the Paragayo. We also insisted that the 4 friends who were one day ahead of us to be accommodated there as they are part of our Php3,500 per head package. They should be getting what we were getting. This was already after the fact that it was their second night and their first night was spent in a cockroach resort.
There we were at Paragayo, trying to check in when we found out that we had to make another partial payment for our accommodations. Still giving him that benefit that he will still be able to deliver a hassle free vacation on the next day, we went on and paid the advance they should be paying. He said that the money that they use to roll accommodation deposits are still with Aros Resort and that they haven’t refunded it yet. Please note that I am not discrediting Aros in this narration. They were just our preferred resort that was sadly not available, and was the center of the couple’s excuse in the accommodations issue.
We went this far only because Rey asked us to give him a chance to fix the problem. However, it was already made clear to him that we will not be swept by his excuses and our agreement should be met. He was blaming his wife for the faulty arrangements and that everything will be in order so it was a new page. Everybody was already disappointed because this is supposed to be a hassle-free vacation that was all covered with our agreed package price of Php3,500. Anyway, we were too tired to argue and everyone is longing for a shower after a humid day.
Come next day morning, it was our island hopping, dolphin watching and snorkeling. Everything was going well until we arrived at Balicasag and found out that we had to pay an extra 200 per head to rent a boat to go to the sanctuary. I clearly understand why the boat we used for island hopping was not allowed to go to the sanctuary. What I did not understand is that the package should have included this cost. Lyn was insisting that we can snorkel where the boat docked. What a stupid thing to say because there is definitely no point in going to Balicasag if you are not going to snorkel at the sanctuary. So we shelled some more money which we find to be very inconvenient already. It is then that we decided to cancel everything with them and just arrange for everything ourselves. Whatever was agreed upon, was not working to our advantage.
When we reached the resort, Lyn and Rey were already waiting because we have a Panglao tour at 1PM. Jheng talked to Lyn and explained to her that the comfort we were expecting from the package is not working so we are cancelling everything, even the Panglao tour in the afternoon. We explained to her that we will be settling everything they advanced such as our ticket from Cebu-Bohol, the entrance fees to the tour sites, the tour fee, and everything they had to spend for in our account. Lyn even had the gull to charge us with 5 snorkeling sets that costs Php1,000, which we clearly know was already included in the boat fee. So whatever will be left, we will pay for, including accommodations and the boat.
After doing the math, their advances against our advances, I think Lyn only received less than Php1,000. So everything was closed and cancelled. We said that they can go, and we will be proceeding with the tour ourselves. When we went out at 2PM to have lunch, the husband and wife were still there and we repeated that we no longer require their services.
While having lunch in a place near our resort, Rey arrived implicitly saying that there is a cancellation fee. We said that there was no agreement of a cancellation fee and that we are not paying. After all the inconvenience, he had the nerve to run to the Police Outpost across the street to file a complaint against us. We followed him in our defense and had that conversation in the presence of the police officers. After explaining both sides, the police was in our favor. He however, still demands for the cancellation fee, explaining that there is a cost to the van already. The van was cancelled even before the agreed time of 1PM, at 12:30 while talking to his wife. And there was definitely no agreement or contract for a cancellation fee.
We asked him to bring his wife over to settle this because he was not the one we had an agreement to cancel the transaction. He was hesitant to bring his wife but the police instructed him to. When the wife arrived, she said that there was a misunderstanding and she thought that the tour was still on. Having aggravated his stand further, Rey became rude, arrogant and disrespectful not only to us, but also the police officers present. He was shouting at Jheng and this time I just had to butt in and shout back at him.
He went out of the outpost to create a scene but unfortunately for him, no one is sharing his sentiment. One tour guide/driver is already trying to talk some sense into him that he is just embarrassing himself but didn’t really care. We continued talks with Lyn and she was saying that it was all good and that we are settled. I instructed her to talk to his husband and settle it with him before they go.
Rey went back inside the outpost still adamant to demand the cancellation fee. After all the “tang-ina’s” and the cursing, he decided to threaten us with our lives saying “hinde kayo makakalabas ng Bohol ng buhay” (“you will never leave Bohol alive”), and left.
Rey Uy and Cristy Lyn Infante are in a blotter at the police outpost in Panglao, Bohol across Paragayo at approximately 3:15PM of June 22, 2011. The police assured us that we are safe and that he will do us no harm. Thanks to them, we are safely back in Manila.
Also, the owner of the resort also filed a complaint against him and hopefully, he will be blackballed in a number or places in Bohol, especially Panglao. So they might not be able to give you a complete tour package anymore.
To our friends or anyone planning to visit in Bohol using travel guides, avoid Rey Uy or his wife Cristy Lyn Infante. This is their website, http://www.sophiaboholtour.webs.com/ and their facebook page, facebook.com/people/…100002111722548. Their cell phone numbers are 09058100319 and 09283246615. I am not here to discredit Bohol, it is a very nice place with a lot of nice people. The place is highly recommended for nature lovers. It is just with this couple that we are very disappointed with. Thanks to the police officers and all the residents of Bohol who assisted us from this greedy person.