Travel and Food Living

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Memories of Camiguin

By May 14, 2010 , ,

White Island at day break

I worked in a  university where employees often treated to a summer adventure trip when the annual retreat is held outside Davao. This year's retreat took us to Cagayan de Oro city and our side trip was at the beautiful island of Camiguin.

Camiguin, which has a unique and spectacular setting above the sea, is Philippines' second smallest province next to Batanes, strategically located off the coast of Northern Mindanao near Bohol Sea, cradled by several volcanoes and hilltops. It is surrounded with natural wonders of white beaches, rainforest and mountains, perfect for a relaxing holiday. When I was still in my teens, I longed to visit Camiguin, but never actually imagined I could make it one day.

Swimming Pool of Camiguin Highland Resort.

And that "one day" came eventually.

It was a cool Saturday morning, the 17th of April 2010, when we left Cagayan for Camiguin. Half-past nine o'clock, the Paras Sea Cat finally roared and traversed the Misamis Oriental sea for almost three hours. It was not a smooth sailing because of bad weather and I was a little bit woozy, felt dizzy and ready to vomit during our short voyage. I was surprised with the reaction of my nerves because I am accustomed to a raging sea water especially during stormy weather in my home province, but it was really terrible, so bad that I didn't appreciate the beauty of the sea with flying seagulls as I struggled to control my swaying appetite from yielding.

 The elegant dining hall of Camiguin Highland Resort

But my discomfort soon subsided the moment we arrived and rode the van of Camiguin Highland Resort, I was amazed with the soothing countryside of Camiguin, we passed through the magnificent shorelines, along the coco and rice fields, the varied ecosystem and the thick vegetation.

I darted my gaze at the beautiful horizon and majestic mountain landscapes, across the ocean, clear blue water beckoned with tranquility. An hour later, we arrived at the fabulous Camiguin Highland Resort, a premiere hotel in the island where our group booked for one night. It was beautifully carved at the hilltop along the rugged terrain with exhilarating landscapes with in the municipality of Mambajao, Camiguin's capital town.

Camiguin Highland Resort is such a wonderful landmark with modern Caribbean architectural design surrounded with trees, mountain and wild plants. A luxury resort with comfortable rooms, overlooking the mountains and flora conservation, the place is sooo romantic with a warm welcome message in our room complete with petals in the bed!

White Island at sunrise

Our day tour kicked off at 1:00 pm after taking lunch.

The first site we visited was "A walkway to the old Volcanoes" located at the outskirt of Catarman town along its rugged cliff and trees, it has a stall market beneath, selling souvenir items. It was a breathtaking spot as visitors would have to climb atop using a concrete stairway to view the "station of the cross" landmark and the preserved trees and plants. I wasn't able to go upstairs because it was raining, I just posed for some pictures hehe!

Our second stop was at the ruins of the 16th Century Spanish Church buried during the 1871 Mt. Vulcan Daan eruption. It was a beautiful area with old walls still stood imposing around the site, situated near the coastline, this area has a spacious ground to wander. We walked passed through the small chapel, erected to mark its religious existence, we strolled at the beautifully-trimmed lawn and marveled at its medieval wall which reminded the grim past of the eruption tragedy. I and my friends had really a wonderful time here, poking fun with each other and giggling.

Soda Swimming Pool

Then we proceeded to the famous Sunken Cemetery, few miles from the church ruins. This tourist attraction, which Camiguin's status largely defined, is symbolized by a huge cross constructed in reverence to the graves buried deep into the sea during the eruption of Mt.Vulcan. My only regret was, we never able to go to the actual site because it was high tide and the rampaging of water posed some danger, so we decided to just view the site at the lobby-cliff.

Next stop was at the famous Soda Swimming Pool, a blithe sized pool surrounded with trees and mountains, small cottages available nearby. The water was super tempting but when we arrived, rainshower suddenly worn off my excitement, discarding my interest to dip in.

As much as we wanted to stay longer in the area our time was super limited and we were always in a hurry to move to the second destination. Some of my colleagues bitterly complained with this inconvenience (me included.haha!) but of course we were only following the tight schedule of the tour, so I just sealed my lips and said nothing as we embarked to the next destination- the Cold Spring resort in Sto. Niño.

Cold Spring resort is surrounded with wild trees and ecosystem, the water gushed from the hills and I was really amazed with its beautiful and relaxing environment. But then I didn't plunge into the water as some of my colleagues did, I was afraid that the moment I dived, the van we're riding will blow its silly horn!so I just rolled my eyes in amusement as I watched my friends enjoyed the cold water, then we went outside to just look around near the stall market. I didn't buy anything of course (haha!). I was a bit frustrated this time and almost fed up with the weather condition. It was absolutely disappointing as we're always caught up with rain.

We wrapped up our day with a trip to Ardent Hibok-hibok Hot spring at the foot of Mt.Hibok-Hibok, one of Camiguin's active volcanoes, its last recorded eruption was in 1953. We spent less than two hours here and we nearly collided with bad moods with our precious colleagues as we heavily argued with the time schedule, some of them wanted to go home early while we're enjoying the warm water.hahaha!

I loved its therapeutic water, a perfect tonic for tired muscles and body. I joined my friends swimming in the shallow water of just 4 feet deep hehe! It was nearly 7:00 o'clock in the evening when we left the place. After dinner, we'd plenty of time to splash at the pool. After few dips I retired to bed to relax my tired muscle brought by the stressful-always-in-a-hurry tour. I love the comfy bed and the sweet scented room, I slept soundly that night as if I never sleep for the last twenty years of my life, it was great!

At the powdery beach of White Island at day break

My sweet and sound sleep was cut short because we'd to wake up at 4:00 in the morning to visit the spectacular White Island, just outside Mambajao. After 30 minutes of waiting at last the boat that would carry us to the island finally arrived. White Island is an exotic and romantic white pristine beach with clear water that turns from cobalt blue to aquamarine green.

The picturesque surrounding has a panoramic view of mountains, hilltop and trees. And because our time was very limited, we left White Island two hours later and proceeded to Katibawasan Falls, a natural mountain wonder with a raging waterfalls smacked in the middle of the forest and boulders. Just going to this place really requires an enormous risk and courageous heart as the road is still not yet develop, nevertheless, the area is worthy to explore.

I didn't plunge though as the water is chilling. Again, the blowing of horn of the van made us cringe in slight anger. Shortly before 8:00 in the morning we're back at the hotel and packed up our things. Again, we're in a hurry as if some monsters ready to attack us. I don't even have time to change my clothes, I just took off my short, put on my jeans and my jacket and grabbed my packbag. We left the hotel room as if it was being burglarized by goons with things thrown everywhere.wahaha!

We boarded a small vessel for Misamis Oriental where a van waited to take us home to Davao.

At Katibawasan Falls

While going home riding a van, I started savoring the wonderful feeling of being relax, of being free, free to explore the world and discover other places. It was a very exciting and fulfilling adventure. Not because I was able to escape the boring work in the office but because I was able to combat finally the useless things that bothered me for quite sometime--the silly and stupid emotion that haunted and deceived me for several years. I finally eradicated everything out of my system and at last moved on from the humiliation and rejection I suffered. I also decided to keep my distance to avoid being humiliated again. It was a great realization indeed. I also began to appreciate other people in my surroundings.

Anyway, the Camiguin adventure was truly memorable because it was my first time to really enjoy the trip and the first time I experienced such a wonderful and relaxing vacation. Everything was fantastic from food, environment, companion, accommodation and the experience itself. I always love Camiguin and hope to go there again some other time. 

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