Back in third year college, I was fortunate enough to experience studying AH 5 (Art and Society) under the tutelage of Professor Julius T. Quiz or “Sir Kibz” as we fondly call him. We were his last batch of students before he migrated to the US (or as what my Tibak friends call, Lupain ng mga Imperyalista, LOL) with his family. On the final chapter of the subject, we were taught about the basics of photography – rule of thirds, S-curve, cropping, funny perspective and many more. As part of the subject’s requirement, we went to Camiguin to apply what we have learned from his lectures about photography. I haven’t been to this island before but heard a lot of good things about it. I was pretty excited and worried at the same time.
Look, I was so thin back then! Yikes!
Katrina and I were the oldest students who joined the field trip. A few hours before our scheduled departure, I learned that my close friend, Yuri can’t make it to the trip. I thought I won’t enjoy the company of sixteen to seventeen year olds who kept blabbering about Justin Bieber and American Idol.
Although, the show must go on. I shouldn’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity (sadly, my family is not fond of traveling). After the roll call, we finally left Davao 30 minutes after 8PM. The night was dry and cold.
It was my first time to join a field trip with people whom I barely knew.
It was a long trip. A very long trip, I should say. We stopped by at Montevista, Compostela Valley for dinner and left 30 minutes later. Street lights became scarce as we entered the province of Agusan del Sur. It was very dark and the highway was only illuminated by the headlights of our bus. The excited chats and cheers of my classmates slowly faded as some of them started to doze off in their seats. Eventually, I started to close my eyes and the next thing I knew, it was half past two in the morning and we were already in Butuan City. We stopped by at a gasoline station for a refuel. And off we went to the highway again. 15 minutes before 5 AM, we finally arrived at Balingoan Port, Misamis Oriental where a barge silently floats near the pier, patiently waiting for us.
At half past five, we departed Balingoan Port. It would take us an hour and half before reaching Camiguin Island. As the barge sailed its way to Volcanic Island, we were greeted by the dramatic awakening of the sun. The view was really breathtaking.
The day looked promising and from that moment, I knew that we were going to have a great time in Camiguin.
A Little Bit Of Camiguin
Camiguin is an island of volcanic origins composed of four young stratovolcanoes overlying older volcanic structures. Among 13 volcanoes and domes, Mt. Hibok-hibok is the most famous. Its last eruption was recorded in 1953 and is still considered as active.
Another notable volcanic eruption occurred in February 16, 1871.
Tremors were felt by villagers and its severity drastically increased until April 30 when a large volcanic fissure opened up 400 yards southwest of the village of Catarman, northwest of Mt. Hibok-hibok. It caused the inception of Mt. Vulcan and continuously poured lava into the sea whilst gaining height and width.
Eventually the old town of Catarman was destroyed by a violent volcanic eruption. A portion of the town sank 20 feet below sea level. This is the place where the famous Sunken Cemetery is located. All that remains of Old Catarman were the ruins of a Spanish Church, an abandoned convent and its bell tower.A Cold Start
After eating a sumptuous breakfast, we alighted a jeep and embarked on a new adventure. We first visited Sto. Niño Cold Spring. There were a few people when we arrived. The water was cold and the resort was relatively clean.
After the swimming-slash-photoshoot session, we went back to the jeep and drove at least 7 kilometers north of the resort. We entered another cold spring – Bura Natural Soda Water Swimming Pool. I was curious, of all names, why Soda? To answer my query, I even tasted the water of ‘Soda Spring’. I didn’t taste like Coke, Pop Cola or any other soda brands. Maybe Mr. Soda from America found this cold spring and was named after him. Hmmm.
Kidding aside, we were the only people at this resort. Of course, we never failed to take pictures. It’s actually a standard protocol – snap a photo then swim.
The Town That ‘Lived’
Manong Driver (I forgot his name, sorry) drove us to the old town of Catarman (the place is now called Brgy. Bonbon) where the ruins of a church, bell tower and convent laid. I believe Manong Driver is Camiguin’s renowned drag racer because he drives so fast! Good Lord. Anyway, the place was so solemn. During that time, I thought about the villagers who sought refuge when Mt. Vulcan erupted. I thought about the women and children who drowned as some part of the old Catarman sank 20 feet below sea level.
We also went to the famous Sunken Cemetery, one of Camiguin’s famous diving sites. During the volcanic birth of the Mt. Vulcan that lasted from 1871 to about 1875, some areas in the town of Bonbon subsided, sinking the cemetery of the town to below sea level. The place is commemorated by a huge cross erected in 1982.
The roundtrip bangka ride to the cross cost Php 20. I even asked the bangkero to lower the price, but he didn’t listen to me. Yeah right, my ‘tawad’ skill sucks big time.
We drove north to the Old Walkway to the Volcano. We didn’t dare to climb the stations of the cross because (1) it would be tiring and (2) the heat was unbearable. Climbing several hundred steps to the summit would be deadly; worse than the infamous Death March.
All we did was to take some pictures of the place. We also took some fancy photos of ourselves.
Take A Deep Plunge!
We ate heavy lunch (crispy pata, liempo, unlimited rice and sorbetes for dessert) at the house of Sir Kibz’s colleague. After that heavy meal, we went back to the jeepney and about to embark on a new adventure. Next destination – Katibawasan Falls. Along the way, the road wasn’t paved and steep. There were lots of potholes on the road which tested the skill of Manong Driver. I admit he was a really good driver because we didn’t fall off the cliff. LOL
Katibawasan Falls is located 5 kilometers southeast of Camiguin's capital, Mambajao. The water cascades 250-foot down to a lagoon surrounded with orchids, ferns and other common epiphytes.
Almost all of us took a dip at Katibawasan Falls. We even dared to swim right at the ‘impact zone’. As we neared the impact zone, the wind grew stronger and the droplets of water felt sharper and more painful. But it was really a good experience.
And now, let me present you… my favorite part of the trip!
Next destination: White Island. It was almost three in the afternoon when we left Katibawasan Falls. We drove through the busy streets of Mambajao until we reached a secluded beach in Agoho. There, two bangkas were waiting for us. Some of my classmates were hesitant to ride a bangka since it was only powered by two paddlers, and not by a mechanical engine. It was a 10 minute journey of braving the big waves of Bohol sea. I won’t forget one classmate of mine who kept her eyes closed for the entire duration of the trip. She kept on mumbling “Hail Mary’s”. I surmised she called all of the saints. I think her prayers were effective because we safely arrived at White Island. Hurray!
White Island is a white sandbar (duh) located off shore in the volcanic island of Camiguin. There were no trees or shelters of any kind in the island. It is completely uninhabited and is generally horseshoe shaped, although the tides constantly reshape it.
A local fisherman offered us to eat the guts of a sea urchin. I never had tasted such exotic sea food, thus I grabbed the opportunity. It only cost Php 20, by the way.
And for the verdict? It was delicious but bitin.
Soon after, we went back to the secluded beach of Agoho and boarded the jeep. The brave ones, including me decided to sit on top of the jeepney. It was a bit scary though because we kept on dodging from live wires and low-lying tree branches. Our last destination was the infamous Ardent Hot Spring Resort.
Upon entering the resort, I was surprised to see multitudes of people! Too bad I don’t have a decent picture. This picture was grabbed from Google:
Oh, I do remember this place!
We were supposed to visit Mantigue Island but due to some reasons, it was called off.
We had dinner at the house of Sir Kibz’s colleague. Like hungry lions, we feasted their sumptuous meals and within a few minutes, we consumed all of it. We were THAT hungry. We went back to the resort to rest. I never thought that we’re going to tour the whole island in just one day. For our first and last night at Camiguin, we drank a few shots of The Bar before retiring at 1 AM.
So long, Camiguin!
We left the resort at around 5AM. We hurriedly went to the port to catch up for the early morning departure of the barge to Balingoan Port. Everyone was still groggy and sleepy, including me. But I fought it since I was about to witness another beautiful sunrise.
It was beautiful. Very, very, very beautiful I must say.
I didn’t really expect that I would enjoy this trip. I met new friends, which flooded my mail with at least thirty pending friend requests from Facebook. Elle-oh-elle.
Also, Camiguin is a very beautiful and peaceful place. Life there is very slow and simple. There were no gargantuan malls or any commercial districts. I can’t imagine myself living with that kind of life. But, I realized that one should live life slowly in order to appreciate those things and people around him. Sometimes living in a huge metropolis has one big disadvantage - we tend to overlook those little things that used to be part of our lives.
I would want to go back to this beautiful island. See you soon, Camiguin!