Bluewater Resorts

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Camiguin Island | The Island Born of Fire

Guest Writer: Jopie Policarpio

Jopie Policarpio, my mom, travelmate and blogger for barefootroamer, shares and narrates her experience tramping one of the world-renown places in the Philippines, Camiguin Island.

This Camiguin adventure could have been my birthday gift for my eldest son, last January 29, 2009 but the moment we set foot at Cagayan de Oro airport, we had to fly back to Manila the soonest time possible because his Dad had a stroke.

Three months hence, the call to complete my previously cancelled commitment had come. With a go signal from the medical team, we had to bring along his Dad to dodge off the nightmare we experienced before. But of course, Dane, my youngest, would not be left behind.

At 6:00 AM on April 25, 2009, the Cebu Pacific flight carrying my sons landed on Cagayan de Oro airport.

At 8:30 AM we were on board Paras Sea Cat on our way to Camiguin.

I thought our Camiguin island adventure would be more meaningful if we would stay at Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge. They were kind enough to still consider the reservation fee that we forwarded to them 3 months ago.

From the moment we entered into its gate however, Dane got a dreary feeling on the eeriness of the surroundings. It was as if we were stepping into another dimension. It could have been brought by the spirit of the century old acacia tree that stood magnificently in the very heart of the tree house. This gave us a good start for our Camiguin sojourn.

The young American couple that hitched a ride with us described the view below as reminiscent of Hawaii. Nonetheless, nowhere in Hawaii would you find a cemetery underneath the sea. 

This old cemetery in Bonbon Catarman was sunk by a volcanic holocaust in 1871. 

Sailing over a symphony of corals and variety of colorful fishes was like cruising with the Pirates of the Caribbean in search of the Dead Man's Chest.

Also wiped out in the said 1871 volcanic eruption was the whole Spanish settlement of Catarman, which was built in 1697.

The ruins of the GUI-OB Church, the adobe walls, belfry and convent are vestiges of the Spanish-era culture in Camiguin standing today as reminder of the havoc that nature could render instantaneously. 

While on our way to the next destination, we caught the splendid sight of the 1,250 slope of Mount Hibok Hibok, the only remaining active volcano here said to be lodging a crater at its peak. 

Mountaineers who would brave the loose rocks and boulders to reach its top would be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the islands of Negros, Bohol and Cebu.

Next was the Katibawasan falls. At its foot, we had to strain our necks to be able to have a full view of the 250-foot water fall.

Since it was already 6:00 PM, we accepted the fact that we could not stand being immersed in this ice-cold water, so we went back to Mambajao for our dinner.

Back at the Eagle's Nest, which could have accommodated up to twelve people, the four of us had the leisure to choose which place to take our rest. The high pitched humming of the crickets and the low toned croaking of the tuko (gecko) lulled all of us to deep slumber under a number of dream catchers.

We had to wake up at 4:00 AM so we could catch the sunrise in White Island. 

The boatman asked us what time he was going to fetch us from the White Island and we marked the time at 9:00 AM but while steering away from us, we shouted 8:00 AM, for the sight of a C shaped sandbar made us think that three and a half hours would be too long to explore it. 

After three hours, we decided to go back to the mainland. My eldest dreamt of his Mazda 6 gliding along the well-paved coastal road of Camiguin like a swan on a lake. 

Out of this reverie, he would not give in to a dive to see the giant oysters in Cambuhat Oyster Farm. Dane did it alone.

Disappointed that we were not able to include Mantigue Island to our itinerary, we lost our enthusiasm in climbing the Camiguin Walkway to Mount Vulcan and the Stations of the Cross in Bonbon Catarman. The one-hour hike through concrete stairs could have allowed us to have a view of Camiguin Island at the top.

We did not forget however to visit Camiguin's church.

Our tour guide was all praises for their elected officials particularly the governor and the congressman. Undoubtedly, these two had a lot of political will not to give in to the lure of Jollibee and McDo et al. 

They would not like plastics and Styrofoam add up to the pyroclastic litters emitted by their volcano. They would not allow these big establishments rob their local businessmen of consumers and source of income. 

Locals here are happily coexisting with their natural resources. They do not fish within the designated protected area; they take care of their environment. No wonder Camiguin is listed as one of the best dive sites in the world.

*we would like to thank Jopie Policarpio for some of the photos in this article


  1. Fascinating place. I hope I could go there one day and see it my self.

  2. Hope you have a great time when that time comes. thanks

  3. was just there 2 weekends ago.we hiked Mt. Hibok Hibok and we are not seasoned climbers #hard..


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