Showing posts with label Mambajao. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mambajao. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Camiguin: White Island and more of Camiguin

My day started quite early today. I woke up at 5 a.m. to take a pump boat to White Island. The habal-habal had offered last night to take me around the entire island today for PHP400. And I thought it was worth it since we would start at 5 a.m. and I wouldn't have to worry about the gas since it was included.

So from the pension house, it was a few minutes ride to the beach closest to White Island which is in Yumbing if I'm not mistaken. Unlike White Island, the sand in Yumbing was very dark because of the volcanoes. The usual charge for a pump boat to the island was PHP400 but I got it at PHP350. It was still kinda dark when we left for the island not just because the sun wasn't up but since it was quite cloudy that morning.

White Island is a sandbar about two kilometers from the beaches of Agohay and Yumbing. It is also known as Medano Island.

When I got there, the island was in the shape of a horseshoe but I was told that its shape changes depending on the tide. This uninhabited island offers visitors a stunning view of Mounts Hibok-Hibok and Vulcan. I noticed some bamboo and nipa tents, wooden benches and tables on the sandbar. I would later learn that these were set up by some enterprising residents of Camiguin who sold coffee and breakfast to early birds like me, lunch, snacks and drinks.

I bought for myself a kilo of lansones for breakfast. It would be a shame if I did not try out the lansones in Camiguin which is said to be the sweetest in the country.

As if to taunt me, it started drizzling. From White Island, you could clearly see the rain clouds drenching Camiguin Island. It's a good thing the rains didn't last long and the sun finally came out before I left.

I didn't stay too long on the sandbar since I had a lot more to do for the morning. So by about 8 a.m., I was back on Camiguin Island.

After freshening up, it was off for a trip around the island. Camiguin province only has five municipalities and you could visit all of them in just two hours. Here is a map of Camiguin which you could refer to while reading. We first went around Mambajao to check out some old structures.

From Mambajao, we went southwards towards Mahinog. We stopped over in Barangay Tupsan, the last barangay of Mambajao to take photos of the Borromeo House completed in 1928. I was tempted to go inside to check out the house but I didn't have much time since I had four more towns to visit.

In Mahinog, we again stopped to take photos at Hubangon where there were more old houses. You can't miss the white and chocolate brown Pascual Lim ancestral home (below right) built in 1924 since it had Chinese characters on its facade.

Near the boundary of Mahinog and Guinsiliban, we passed by the Taguines Lagoon, which some say is man-made but is actually an old volcanic crater. It is used primarily as a fishpen but has a floating restaurant, lodging facilities and a conference hall. Aside from that, there was nothing much to see in Mahinog.

As we neared Guinsiliban, the road moved further away from the coast and we were treated to some inland forests. But we would find ourselves near the coast again as we nearned the town proper. Along the way, it started to drizzle again! What wierd weather since it would rain, then the sun would come out, then it would rain again. Oh well!

There were more old houses in the poblacion of Sagay. But the most popular landmark of this town is its coral stone church completed in 1882. The facade was still intact but like in many Philippine churches, the priests did a good job in erasing most of it since the inside looked more like a multi-purpose hall than a church to me. Sigh!

We then proceeded to Catarman and the first thing I noticed in the town proper was the old municipal hall which had three years on its facade - 1912, 1917 and the last one was covered but it was somthing like 1928. They have a newer municipal hall a few meters up a hill, which is quite old as well, and its good they preserved the old one which is now the local civil registrar.

In front of the new municipal hall is a 1928 monument of Dr. Jose Rizal (below). Attention to it is however obscured by a satellite dish in front of it as well as a tall wire fence right beside it. There were also a lot of old houses in Catarman.

From the town proper, we proceeded to the Sto. Nino Cold Spring four kilometers away. I didn't intend to swim but I guess it would be nice to check it out. The resort had a pool measuring 25 meters by 40 meters and half a meter deep of cold spring water sprouting from its sandy bottom. I'm sure it would be fun swimming here during a hot summer day. But looking at the cold water on a rainy day wasn't quite enticing.

Next on the itinerary was another cold spring resort, the Soda Swimming Pool in Bura which was known for its bubbly soda-like water. I should come back during the summer so I could appreciate all these cold therapeutic springs. By this time, the sun had come out again. At 11 a.m., we were back in Mambajao and I asked the driver to take me to the old houses near the market area (below).

Obviously, I could not take a jeepney or van back to Benoni since I would miss the 12 noon ferry back to Balingoan and a later ferry would be cutting it too close to my 5:30 p.m. flight. So I accepted the offer of the driver to take me there for an extra PHP100 which is the habal-habal rate from Mambajao to Benoni. On the way back to Benoni, I noticed the sign to Katibawasan Falls. Arggghhh! I completely forgot about it and I had planned to visit it today. But since there was no more time, I was resigned to the fact that I would have to see it when I visit Camiguin again.

We got to the port just in time since they were already pulling the plank. Had I arrived a minute later, the ferry would have left! I didn't even have time to buy Camiguin's famous pastel!

From Balingoan, I took a van to Tagoloan where Simone was waiting for me. I had lunch at the hospital since she was still doing her rounds. Only then was I able to savor the pastel, which is actually a dinner roll filled with yema. Although they come in different flavors now but you will have to buy them in their shop in Mambajao. We left the hospital at about 3:30 p.m. which gave us just enough time to drive to the Lumbia Airport for my flight. And now I'm back home, back to reality and back to work. Until the next adventure!

More photos of Camiguin in Multiply.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Camiguin: Island born of fire

Camiguin is the second smallest province of the Philippines both in size and population. Only Batanes is smaller. But with a population density of 232 people per square kilometer, it is the 16th most densely-populated province.

There are two ports in Camiguin that receive ferries from Balingoan, the one in Guinsiliban which is used by those with vehicles, and the one in Barangay Benoni in Mahinog which is the main passenger terminal since it is closer to Mambajao. There is another port in Barangay Balbagon, Mambajao but this is for Cebu-bound ferries. The fare from Balingoan is PHP100 plus a PHP7 terminal fee. The trip takes approximately an hour and 15 minutes. We left a little past 2 p.m.

I arrived in Benoni at about 3:30 p.m. and took a jeepney from the terminal to Mambajao for PHP26. The trip was about 30 minutes. While on board the jeepney, I was floored by the number of ancestral homes still standing in Camiguin. The province continues to retain its character and old world charm. I would later learn after reading the DOT website that "Camiguin Island is famous for its ancestral homes gracefully dotting the streets all over the island" as well as its eight volcanoes which is why it is referred to as the island born of fire.

I got off in the poblacion area and asked people at the municipio where I could find cheap lodging. Good thing there was a pension house a few meters away. I got an air-conditioned room at the GV Pension House good for two people for PHP500. A non-aircon room is PHP350.

After freshening up, I went straight down to find a ride around town. I wanted to see as much as I could before dark. The hotel staff were very helpful and they got me a habal-habal which would take me to the sites in Catarman as well as the Ardent Hot Springs for just PHP300. It was worth it since he took me around for about 4 hours. The going rate for renting a motorcycle for 8 hours is PHP500 and that doesn't include gas and a driver.

Our first stop was the Sunken Cemetery in Barangay Bonbon, Catarman. On the way, I saw even more ancestral houses (above). As we neared Cataraman, I was treated to out of this world vistas of the Camiguin coastline, Mount Hibok-Hibok and Mount Vulcan Daan (left) up close.

The sunken cemetery used to be part of the old capital of Camiguin. According to local historians, Mount Vulcan had four recorded eruptions. It was the third eruption in 1871 that sunk Cotta Bato and its cemetery under the sea. Remnants of the structures and gravestones were still seen during low tide but the fourth eruption in 1948 buried the area deeper by around twenty feet. In 1982, a large cross was built on the solidified lava to mark this old gravesite that has become known as the sunken cemetery and one of the world’s most unique diving sites since the coral-encrusted tombstones can be visited by divers.

After a few photos, we went to the ruins of the old church which was on top of a hill. The marker calls it the church of Cotta Bato, but some accounts call it the old church of Gui-ob. The walls, and parts of the belltower and convento are all that remain of this church.

We then went back to the pension house so that I could change for the visit to Ardent. The hot spring was six kilometers from the poblacion in Barangay Tagdo, Mambajao. It is the most popular of Camiguin's hot springs. In the resort is a natural pool of about 40 degrees celsius coming from the bowels of Mt. Hibok-Hibok. The best time to go for a swim is late in the afternoon up to the evening, it closes at 10 p.m., so that you could really appreciate the warm water. You pay a PHP30 entrance fee.

While I was getting “warmed” up, it started to rain. So I stayed in the water a bit longer hoping the rain would stop. But it didn’t. So I decided to have dinner at the place. The food was nothing great and quite expensive. It was not worth it. If it only stopped raining I would have eaten dinner in the town proper.

Since it didn’t seem like the rain would stop, I decided to leave when the rain started to weaken. All I could remember was that I was shivering all the way back since I was soaking wet, the temperature was quite cold, and it was drizzling. I went straight to bed as soon as I got back to the pension house since I lacked sleep and I needed to be up at 5 a.m. the next day.

More photos of Camiguin in Multiply.
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