Despite the fun and exciting legends of the hills’ origins, the name is much more simple. When the country transitions from its usual tropical state to a dry season, the color of the hills makes an epic change from green to brown. According to locals and geographers alike, these now-brown hills resemble lumps of chocolate—more specifically, Hershey’s Kisses—as far as the eye can see.
Filipinos are rather fond of folklore, so there are a few mythical origins as to how the hills came to be.
One tells the story of two giants who threw boulders, rocks, and sand at each other for weeks while feuding over who was more powerful. When they reconciled, the giants forgot all about their battle, and the messy lumps they left on the ground became known as the famous Chocolate Hills.
Another story is a little more humorous: a town was pestered by a giant carabao who did nothing but eat the villagers’ crops and eventually relieved its load in the plains, which dried up and became the hills.
Yet another story takes a more romantic turn: according to legend, a giant named Arogo fell in love with a mortal who died, causing him to grieve for her endlessly. His tears dried up to be the glorious hills we know today.
Considering the variety of legends as to how the hills formed (which was the erosion of coral uplifts), it’s pretty lucky that “chocolate” is the name that stuck.