Monday, June 23

Camiguin: The Island of Fire

It has been a long, humid day. Boarding time took three and a half hours and another thirty minutes before we sailed away.  I could not believe what I was seeing in front of me as our vessel slowly approached the shores of Camiguin island. The sun was at its mightiest.  But the scorching heat did not hinder me in appreciating the splendor of what was looming ahead.  Camiguin greeted me with a silent flying kiss.

Mang Ronald Rabile, my tour guide of the day, was very kind to monitor my arrival the moment my plane landed in Laguindingan airport at a little past six that morning.  It was Holy Thursday, a holiday here in the Philippines, when Catholics spend time in the provinces for worship or vacationing. 

It was my first time to travel during this peak season.  I did not regret going on this solo trip as it a very new experience for me.  It's been years since I last traveled solo.  My recent trip to the south reignited my wanderlust and my curiosity of traveling alone.

I checked in at Enigmata Eco-lodge.  A backpackers' haven located in a hilly part of of Mambajao.  After a quick shower (a no-no), we hopped on Kuya Ronald's motorbike to beat the sunset.  After a quick meal on a roadside carinderia, we admired the old houses (worthy of a separate post), the breathtaking sunset and ended my first day at Sunken Cemetery. 


Enigmata Eco-lodge
Camiguin's gorgeous rugged coastline

As I was staring at the first sunset I experienced in Camiguin, I found myself closing my eyes for a while, my lips curling for a tiny smile. I felt the sweet wind touching my face ever so softly. The last of the sun's rays tingling my inner being. 


The most breathtaking sunset I have seen next to the one I have seen in El Nido

This inscrutable feeling, ever so encompassing. Belief in a love so true, so rare. My heart is ballooning, a love like no other. My heart has been captured by you, my southern poet.  


Visitors were taking their time taking photographs with the yellow sunset as their backdrop.  I was not able to capture mine at this other spot but I was able to catch a much better, if not the best sunset I have seen, at this sexy curve on the road.  It was the moment when the sun's rays are already fighting to keep their eyes open.  A time when dusk would cover everything in a manner of seconds.  It was such a lovely sight.


This cross is erected to serve as a reminder for the lives lost in the volcanic eruption that wiped out the town that used to lie here

The sunken cemetery was the next and the last spot we visited on our list on my first day.  This is one of the more popular spots and it did not surprise me that a lot of people are still waiting by the shore, waiting for their turn to set foot on the cross planted meters away from the shore. Diving enthusiasts would have a field day since the underwater boasts of unnatural attractions - tombstones. The cross serves as a reminder of the tragic volcanic incident which happened in 1870.  It wiped the town which used to stand here.  

I had dinner at La Cocina on my first night at the island.  A quaint old house-turned restaurant.  Kuya Ronald said that the owner of the house is a DOT (Department of Touris) Regional Director.  To my delight, they made a great effort in preserving this fabulous time pieces - stored in glass cases for visitors to admire.


Dining at La Cocina is very relaxing.
Though the price is not for those on a tight budget.

My first day in Camiguin, though spent mostly on the road, was just the start of my love affair with her.  I slept early, determined to explore most of the island paradise in the next two days.

My second day started with a trip to one of the tallest falls I have seen at 70 meters in height.  Katibawasan Falls was neck-breaking.  I had to squint a bit in order for me to see where the waters were actually coming from. The waters were cool but not too much.  A dip here in at high morning is recommended.  The falls was blessed to have been surrounded by high mountain walls and lush canopies.  


The tall (really tall!) Katibawasan Falls


I visited the Old Church Ruins the night before but I knew I had to pay it another visit since it was already dark when we did so.  The ruins reminded of the old churches of Bohol. The ruins are in perfect condition.  The bell tower even resembles an old castle ruins somewhere in Europe.  This site is special for me because it screams history.





Be happy! Hug a tree.

I found a gargantuan tree just right to the old convent.  My guide, Kuya Dodong, said it is a century tree.  I remembered a quote that if you want to be happy, you should hug a tree. And so I did. 




Between our next destination, I asked my guide to stop at this sexy curve so I could take my signature pose - that is laying down on the middle of the road.  I did this too in my recent trip to Abra.  We had to time it perfectly though.  I think I made my companion nervous as he heard a car revving down the road.  I quickly got up, laughing.  It was so much fun!


Laying on a deserted road is one of my favorite past times lately

We then visited Bura Soda Water Spring.  From its name, they say it tastes like soda but when I drank a sample, I find nothing really different.  I took a quick dip here too.  


Bura Soda Water Spring


Tres Marias



The moment I laid my eyes on these cute mountain triplets, I knew I had to take a photo with them.  Obviously, these peaks are so much alike that they are literally called tres marias.  Tuasan Falls is located at the foot of these peaks.  The roads leading to the falls is still under construction at the time I visited so going up was a bit of challenge.  It was not a hindrance to the tourists though.  


And my visit to the island was profoundly highlighted by my visit to While and Mantique Islands.


White Island









Camiguin became popular because of White Island.  This is according to my guide, Kuya Dodong, on my second day in the land of seven volcanoes. Truly, a visit here is a must and not paying this gorgeous sandbar is definitely a regrettable decision.


As soon as I stepped on its soft, white sands, I remember my reaction was similar when I first stepped on Calaguas Islands.  I couldn't take my eyes off my surroundings and as such, I walked on all corners and took countless photos.  I am sure it would have been more beautiful if I were alone there.  I would be able to truly capture the place's serenity.

Mantique Island








Mantique Island is also a must-visit when you to go Camiguin. This is farther from the main land compared to White Island.  Larger at about 7 hectares, a small community still thrives on the island.  I learned though the government is pushing this to be a free zone and developed soon for tourism purposes. 

We trekked a bit and followed the signs and forest trail.  The sand is also powdery white and the waters are very clear too.  It also offers a breathtaking view of the island. 

We also dropped by at the other towns.  The ambience here is so laid-back that time seemed to stopped. Here I witnessed the authentic buhay-probinsiya which made me smile.  

Sagay


A public park with swimming pool


The church and the park at Sagay
A pebble stone beach

Guinsilban


A charming school in Guinsilban

The watchtower ruins is located just at the back of the elementary school





I also ventured into Camiguin's underwater world. Though I only explored the surface, it made me more conscious on my actions towards the environment.  


Underwater Camiguin


Did you see Nemo?
And that lone starfish reminds me of someone :-)
Rows of giant clams 





It is rare for me to leave a place with a heavy heart (the last time was when I left Vigan). Turning my back to you makes me see the promise of returning, of kissing the seas again with you, of chasing magnificent sunsets with you. Our love affair has not yet culminated. It's like someone has left a hole in my heart, but I'm not heartbroken. It's more of this rushing feeling, much like when I knew who I have fallen in love with. I love you Camiguin.


Camiguin Tour Guide
Kuya Ronald Rabile, motorbike  +63 9106593349.

How to Get Here
By Air from Manila, any local airline to Cagayan de Oro (Laguindingan Airport)
From the airport, ride vans to CDO terminal (Agora) at P 99.  From there, ride a bus/van going to Balingoan Port in Misamis Oriental then catch a ferry to Camiguin.

Where to Stay 
Camiguin Ecolodge
Dorm starts at P 300 per person



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Other Parts in this Series

Part 1  You Are On It! 
Part 2  Camiguin's Ancestral Houses


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