Here is the 2nd of the 2-part travel account of our Cagayan-Camiguin vacation. Don’t forget to read Part 1 first!
Camiguin shall always stay in a special place in my heart, as this is where my soul mate and I chose to celebrate the beginning of our life as husband and wife.
FROM CDO TO CAMIGUIN
After enjoying the city of Cagayan de Oro, we proceeded to the Agora Terminal for our ultimate destination – Camiguin! After an hour and a half on the road, we arrived at the Balingoan Port of Misamis Oriental for a 1-hour boat ride to the Benoni Port in Camiguin. The bus fare was PhP 110 per person while the boat fare was Php 106 per person.
The first part of the boat ride was uneventful, plus the boat looks old and rusty. I made sure I didn’t drink too much before the ride or I’ll end up using the boat’s common toilet – bad idea. But, a few minutes later, I heard cameras clicking. Wow, dolphins escorting us to the island – what a grand welcome!
THE PERFECT PLACE TO STAY
When we stepped on Camiguin, we saw some men offering rides. We have earlier arranged for a car to fetch us from the port, so we’re just looking who among them has our ride. We heard someone calling my husband’s name, so he must be the one. He escorted us to a white car with its driver waiting to open the passenger door. We saw others getting their rides, as well. There were other cars, multicab jeepneys and tricycles. Our ride cost us PhP 450 for a one-way trip from the port to Camiguin Highlands in Mambajao.
Camiguin Highland Resort
Tel (088) 387-0515 to 19
Fax (088) 387-0516
The ride to the hotel was an experience by itself. It passed by a magnificent view of the sea, as well as of old homes and natural forests, reaffirming that this island truly is a paradise.
But, you know, it really felt odd when our room number in Camiguin was the same as that we had in Cagayan de Oro! Hmm, good that Ouija (a horror film produced by GMA Films and shot in Camiguin) was not before our trip. Else, I would have passed it as eerie. I actually did not watch Ouija. Aside that I don’t usually watch horror movies, I wanted my Camiguin memories to remain a love story with no tinge of suspense thriller.
We strolled around the resort for the rest of the afternoon. It has a pool, a recreation area, a karaoke bar and lots of photo venues. As the night approached, we went back to our room to freshen up and watched some TV. Since the resort had limited channels, my husband checked with front desk regarding their in-house movie. It was really cool when they made my husband choose from a list of titles and played his choice! He chose ‘The Notebook’ so that is what we watched, and perhaps all the other guests watching the same channel. Haha..
When we heard drums and gongs, we figured it must be a signal for a party or something. True enough, when we checked outside, there were performers in full costume! There were also a number of guests gathered to enjoy the buffet by the poolside. A hotel staff informed us that they invited the winners in the Tableau Competition held during the Lanzones Festival. It turned out we arrived at Camiguin the day after the festival’s culmination! Well, that explains the lanzones display on the streets. Lanzones is the island’s main fruit attraction. Locals said that they have the sweetest lanzones in Camiguin.
THE ISLAND TOUR
Our 2nd day was reserved for an island tour. The hotel arranged our itinerary for the day. We originally thought of taking a motorcycle for the tour, but changed our minds when we saw the place and imagined how hot our trip would be. It was a good thing we made reservations for the hotel’s car the night before, as we overheard the hotel staff, the next morning, explaining to 3 other guests that the cars have all been booked and only a multicab jeepney is left available. Well, the jeep definitely cost lower at PhP 1,500 for a whole day tour compared to the car’s PhP 2,500, but the car definitely provided more comfort considering the heat, especially at noontime. Motorcycles were also available at PhP 500. For large groups, they provided coasters with a capacity of around 20 persons for PhP 4,500.
WALKWAY TO THE CROSS
The Walkway to the Cross is the climax of Panaad (translated as ‘commitment’, in English), which is a 64-km circumferential walk done by devotees during the Lenten season. We went as far as the 3rd station before we felt short of breath and decided not to go through all 14. Lots of souvenir shops lined up at the Walkway’s entrance, where we grabbed a few shirts, with prices ranging from PhP 100-200. With the number we bought, they gave us free key chains!
The shore just across the marker of the famous Sunken Cemetery will already give you a nice view, but when we saw a boat, even if the man maneuvering it seemed to struggle against current to keep the boat on the right direction, we felt the desire to set foot on the cross marker. My partner and I both know how to swim, just in case, anyway. Besides, this is actually one of Camiguin’s more popular diving spots. My curiosity was not enough for me to take a look at what’s under the boat, though. I’d rather leave it to my imagination.
We’ve heard that it was the provincial government who had the cross put up to mark the cemetery that sunk due to the 1871 volcanic tragedy. After all, Camiguin’s 238 sq. km. area lodges 7 volcanoes!
The ride cost us PhP 10 per person for a round trip, but we gave the boatman a tip for being friendly. While we were trying to find a spot where we can take photos of us with the cross, he suggested an angle. And voilà, picture perfect!
A sign at the entrance of Sto Niño Cold Spring says that shoes are not allowed inside. Since I was in sneakers, my husband bought me a pair of pink slippers at PhP 30 from one of the small stores there. We dipped our feet to feel the coldness of the cold spring. While we enjoy having our feet tickled by small fishes, an elderly lady approached us and offered lunch. She gave us a handwritten menu and took our order of ¼ kg sinugbang isda (grilled fish), ¼ kg kinilaw (fish cooked in vinegar), 2 rice and 1 L Coke (they ran out of small sizes), which we paid for less than PhP 200!
The Ardent Hot Spring was the best-known hot spring of the island and that was why I expected more from it. Its natural pool was hot, all right, but it is not where I’d like to take a dip, with all those little things (I don’t exactly know what they are) floating on the water. We have to look for a cleaner spot where we can sink our feet and, at least, still experience their hot spring. The warmth of the water relaxed our feet, though.
We passed by the island’s business center to buy 10 small boxes of Pastel or soft buns with different sweet fillings, the most popular of which is the yema or custard fillings. A box of 6 buns cost PhP 55.00 while the bigger box of 12 buns cost less than a hundred pesos at the VJANDEP bakery. Although the Pastel is from Camiguin, it is readily available in Cagayan de Oro, but at a slightly higher price though. We also stopped by Landbank which has the only – yes, the only – ATM in the island. You could just imagine the queue! But, our resort accepts credit cards, so running out of cash is no problemo.
Katibawasan Falls, located at the foot of Mt. Timpoong, was our last stop. It was already dusk when we arrived. We were excited to see the 250-ft high waterfalls and from the entrance, we could already hear the strong splashing of the water to the rock pool. We went down to feel the water when we realized we were the only people in the area! It may sound romantic to some, but as for me, I felt my nerves tightening. I was kind of imagining Godzilla or an anaconda suddenly appearing out of the wild ferns and boulders to eat us up and no one was there to help us! Some imagination, huh? I was about to ask my partner to leave when the area’s keepers appeared. Whew, I totally thanked GMA Films for not coming up with Ouija before our trip!
Aah, Camiguin… home of so many beautiful memories. It’s an island we will truly cherish, always and forever.