A six-hour tour around Camiguin

Camiguin waking up before 6am.

As mentioned in my post about how to commute to Camiguin and our stay in Enigmata Ecolodge, we had a pretty eventful vacation over the weekend. Our two-day, fifteen-hour itinerary was drastically cut to just over six hours. (*Note: The photos in here, aside from the watermarks, are not processed or edited, unless they came from my Instagram, which I will note.) This was our tour package:

First day:
Walkway to Old Vulcan via crucis
Sunken Cemetery
Guiob old Church ruins
Soda water pool
Sto. Nino cold spring
Katibawasan falls
Ardent hibok-hibok spring

2nd day:
White bar/island
Mantigue Island
Zipline

We were able to go to Ardent on Friday night, but the rest of the itinerary was cut to a 6am to 1pm schedule of:
White bar
Walkway to Old Vulcan
Sunken Cemetery
Guiob old Church ruins
Katibawasan Falls
Mantigue Island
Zipline

And this was further reduced to exclude the White bar because the coast guard only allowed the tourists to go to the white bar at 1PM, and at 1PM we had to be finishing our lunch already. Bummer. We didn’t get a discount from Kuya Teddy, and we let it go, hoping that Kuya Robert will get an even bigger share.

So after almost 20 minutes of taking pictures at Enigmata, we were on our way to our supposed first destination. But before we got there, Kuya Robert stopped beside the road to take photos of us with the mountain as the background (refer to photo above). It was beautiful, but then my companions decided we should take photos with a slightly different background…and we ended up here:

My heart is ozzing black… Just kidding.

We don’t know what Kuya Teddy was thinking as we took photos of ourselves sitting (or in my case, lying down) on the road but he gamely took photos of us. There were no other people on the road since it was still way too early. However, a multicab (the one and only!) saw us on the road taking photos and they slowly passed by us, while looking at us with questions on their faces. We ignored them, hehe.

Me taking a shot of ate Koku taking a shot of Chichi. Whew!

Then off we continued on with our journey. We reached the Walkway to the Old Vulcan first. I was so excited to go here, thinking I’d like to go all the way to the top, but apparently that would take us half a day. We couldn’t finish the Via Crucis either because that would take us 2.5 hours. This is one of the things I’ll really do to if I ever get the chance to revisit Camiguin. (My friends, let’s go back to Camiguin!)

The Walkway is filled with life-sized depictions of the Stations of the Cross.

After just two stations, we had to continue on to the Sunken Cemetery. It was amazing to see it from the road. The waves were coming in a circle around it but it kept stopping around the cross. It was like the sunken cemetery became holy ground, respected even by the sea.

A glimpse of the Sunken Cemetery from the road.
The Cross is actually just to memorialize the cemetery that sank underwater when Mt. Vulcan erupted in the 1800s. The Cross was erected in the 1980s. You can take a boat to the cross itself or you can just take pictures from the viewing deck. We didn’t go to the cross anymore, but even from the deck, it felt so mysterious.
The waves never broke past that circle. It was amazing.

There were two men there, I think they were boatmen, and Kuya Robert told them to take pictures of us because they know some “tricks”. After maneuvering our hands, they came up with this:

After several more photos of this type, we decided to say goodbye and continue on with our journey to the Old Church Ruins.

I didn’t enter this place because it felt too crowded inside.
The 7am sun peeking through the ruined walls to shine on us.
A majestic tree by the ruins. I just had to take a photo.

After the Guiob Church Ruins, we passed by the White sandbar again and were told that we could only go out at 1pm. We decided to forego it and continue on to the next stop on our list: Katibawasan Falls. A little trivia about the White sandbar, as told by our guide: The sandbar used to be much bigger until one day, a ship came and docked near there. After the third time that it docked there, they finally realized that it was siphoning off sand from the White sandbar, so it’s smaller now. It was only after the third time of docking that the ship was banished from going there. If this is a true story, I hope the government of Camiguin did something to punish those who stole the sand instead of just banishing them.

Okay, let’s shake off the bad vibes for now. I thought Katibawasan Falls was going to be warm and cozy…and it was. It was cozy, but definitely not warm. We were freezing our bums off, but once you get used to the cold and you keep moving, you won’t get too chilly. The upside is that if you go out of the water, you won’t get cold from the breeze.

Katibawasan Falls

While swimming, I could not help but imagine how nymphs must have felt when they first swam here, with just the mountain around you. It was utterly quiet and peaceful, and the water was so clean. If it wasn’t for our hurried schedule, I would have liked to stay longer.

And the water is so clear. If you don’t have eye problems, you will be able to see the bottom clearly. It’s not deep, really. It’s just about two to three feet. At the end, where the falls drops, the area is cordoned off. They say that it’s too deep there and the current might suck you downwards.

I don’t know why we’re laughing here, but I like how happy we all looked!

The ground is slippery so my sister and I wore our Sandugo sandals while swimming. Chichi went barefoot, but she barely left the stairs anyway.

It was in Katibawasan Falls that we had our first taste of their scrumptious fried chicken. Kuya Robert told us to just order from one of the stalls outside Katibawasan and he’ll bring our food to us while we swim. When he finally arrived with our food – there’s no other word for it – we devoured it. And I mean we were like people who haven’t eaten anything in days! (And we had a filling buffet the night before :p) We all had fried chicken, and it was just so delicious. We paid P45 each, p35 for the chicken and p10 for the rice. The p35 is enough for one small person, but it’s just one wing. It’s pretty pricey, but we didn’t know it would be that small, and we just decided to have a big lunch.

After Katibawasan Falls, we were finally on our way to Mantigue Island. Mantigue is not as popular as the White sandbar of Camiguin. It’s this small island near Benoni Port and the population there is so controlled. According to Kuya Robert, their electricity is through solar panels. Based on the few blogs I’ve read online (which made me decide to convince my companions to go to Mantigue), it is just utterly beautiful there, and it’s a great spot for snorkeling. Me, I love to snorkel – it’s a fantastic way to see the fish and corals without having to dive if you’re not a good swimmer – so I was really looking forward to looking at the fish here. I recall that Kuya Teddy told us that he will foot the snorkel gear at P50/person. He really said that. But Kuya Robert did not get us snorkel gear, and I only noticed that when we got to Mantigue. I was quite disappointed, but I didn’t want to be pissed off so I just shrugged it off.

My first photo of Mantigue Island, facing Camiguin. That’s Kuya Robert carrying my backpack from My Drawing Room

Since we were having the most eventful vacation ever, I was not surprised anymore when our little boat was suddenly battered by huge waves. The water was very calm when we left shore; in fact, we kept joking that we should just go back to CDO then while the water is still calm. But, as the boaters told us, that was the first time that the waves were huge on the way to Mantigue, as the water is usually so tranquil there. Oh, aren’t we just the luckiest? :p

A little piece of this not so well known paradise. And yes, the sand is really white!

Since the waves were too huge, it wasn’t a good time to snorkel or go around the island. It’s a good thing we didn’t get those snorkeling gear then! The sand looked so soft, I just had to take off my sandals and walk barefoot. It was a good decision because the sand was great to walk in on. It reminded me of when I was in Boracay 20 years ago at the age of 5, and I was running across the sand. It felt like that then – clean, powdery, and unspoiled. There are also a lot of corals on the beach of Mantigue, and also a few holes on the sand which Kuya Robert told me were made by crabs.

I love that our carefree moment has been captured on film 🙂

The fine quality of the sand didn’t fully sink into my consciousness until the wind blew so hard, and my sister and I watched with rapt attention at the sand flying over the beach. It was the first time I’ve seen sand in a beach do that.

My sister and I had so much fun in the water, and we met some other yuppies from Manila as well. Meeting other people and discovering more information about the place I’m visiting is one of the things I love traveling 🙂

Tip #1: Make sure to wear sunscreen! We were in Mantigue by 10am but the sun was really harsh. I think we would have had major sunburn if we didn’t slather on some protection before we went out to the island.

Tip #2: If you’re coming from Camiguin and there are huge waves, keep your bags that cannot get wet on the left side of the boat, facing Mantigue Island. Coming from Mantigue, just cover your bags with leftover life vessels to keep them from getting wet.

After Mantigue, we went straight to J&A Fishpen for lunch. Kuya Robert also said that we can shower there. Since we already checked out of Enigmata when we left in the morning, we had all our things with us, and we didn’t have anywhere else to go. We were in dire need of washing up. We had to pay P30/person. The shower stall is small, and the door is a little rotted, but it was sufficient. The staff at J&A might tell you to put your things in a chair outside the stall. Don’t. Otherwise you might have to open the door butt-naked just to grab a towel. There is a hook inside the door where you can hang your bag. The water was warm and it was pleasant to take a bath.

After we all took our turn in the shower, we had a delicious lunch of shrimp and another round of their delicious chicken. Right after that, Chichi and I went to ride the zipline. The ride costs P400/person, but you will ride twice. You will zip over the water, too. It was a great way to see more of Camiguin overhead. It was pretty secure and I didn’t feel scared that I’m going to fall down. The one thing I didn’t like about the ride was that in the jeep that brought us to the tower where we will start our ride, they brought two metals that we will need. However, it kept rattling and just blasted our eardrums. My ears were ringing afterwards. You have to wear the helmet before you ride the jeep to the tower because the road up is not cemented and I kept banging my head on the ceiling of the jeep.

The zipline ride was over before I know it! Before I went to the tower, my sister asked me how she will know if it was me on the ride. I said, “I’m the one flapping her wings!” True to form, I did flap my arms like a bird on the way back to the restaurant (the first zip is towards the opposite side of the tower. The second zip is towards the restaurant, which is in the middle of the tower and the first stop). I was fearful at first, this was only my 2nd or 3rd time to go zipping, but after a few seconds in the air, I stopped being afraid and just tried to enjoy the sunshine, the wind on my face, and the view of the sea. It was such a novelty experience for me to go zipping over water!

Port of Benoni

Right before 2pm, we were able to go to Benoni port, which is about five minutes away from the zipline. As of this writing, there is no terminal fee in Benoni. It looks new and was clean and spacious inside. As soon as our jeep entered the terminal’s compound, several porters jumped on our jeep, ready to grab our bags and earn some bucks. It was pretty disconcerting, to tell you the truth, and this coming from a Manila girl. We ignored them and bought the tickets ourselves. They said, “the tickets are P530!” but the tickets only cost us P510. So do be wary and just go straight to the ticketing booth.

I was so eager to get to our favorite seats (it was the same roro we rode from Friday night) that I walked right up to the entrance of the roro as the vehicles were being unloaded. I watched, fascinated, as they sprayed something on the wheels. I don’t know how I must have looked like to the men in the pier, me with my kiddie-looking backpack and huge eyes, but it was one of my treasured memories of my trip to Camiguin. They were spraying something on the wheels, and I asked out loud, “Ano po yang snspray nila sa gulong? (What are they spraying on the wheels?)” One of the men turned to me and said, “Ah, disinfectant. Kayo rin, ginanyan nung pagdating niyo dito. (Ah, disinfectant. Even you were given that when you arrived here.)” I was taken aback and said, “Hindi ah! (No, I wasn’t!)” and he said, “Diba may tinapakan kayo? Yun na un! (Didn’t you step on something? That’s it.)” So, when you reach Benoni and you have to go through this small passage where there is a wet mat on it, do step on it. Let’s keep the place safe.

Again, the water was calm when the roro departed the port at 3pm…and true to form, of course, the waves started to get big. A lot of people got pretty seasick. Me, I just stared out into the water. To help my sister ease up, we started singing some of our favorite songs until we reached Balingoan. For some reason, on the right side of the ship, where the sun is, it looked like there were huge clouds, and like beyond the sea, everything was disappearing into nothingness. On the left side of the boat, there was barely any sunlight and looked so peaceful. And then at the end of the horizon, the ship will drop off to the edge of the earth (I blame the Pirates of the Carribean:At World’s End for this dramatic illusionary :p)

And I think it was only fitting that we exit Camiguin with the same beautiful view as we entered it:

The view as we bid Camiguin farewell. Oh so beautiful.

And that’s how we were able to tour Camiguin in six hours. We were always in a hurry, but the beauty of the place, coupled with our boatloads of humor and patience, and great company, helped us to relax and enjoy the time we had.

The time we had was actually very insufficient, but I’m glad we were able to make the most of the time we had. If you’re wondering why didn’t we just go switch our schedule and stay in CDO then go to Camiguin on Saturday and go back to CDO on Sunday, it’s because we weren’t sure if we could get back to CDO on Sunday enough to pursue our other plans. By the time we could have gone back to CDO that Friday, we would not have been able to pursue our other must-do activity – one that was specified by my sister that we should do. 🙂

Our tour was arranged by Kuya Teddy, but our driver was Kuya Robert. Kuya Robert is awesome! He took a lot of photos of us while we did our thing, and he would tell us how long we have that we could spend per tourist spot. Also, he made sure our things were safe, and he would even carry our things with us. Please keep in mind that your tour guide/driver’s meals are not included in the package. I thought we were, and he was so shy to tell us that it wasn’t included, so I just shrugged it off and said we’ll take care of him. Do take care of your tour guide, and he’ll return your generosity. 🙂

Kuya Teddy Pabualanfor complete tour packages with/out housing
Mobile: +63939 2440521 (Smart) or +63906 4912604 (Globe)
Website

Kuya Robert just for tour and multicab rental
Mobile: +63919 3286404 (Smart)

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