Going to the island years ago was quite an experience of what I can really say as a modern outback way of living. Few people live there, not much jeepneys for a ride (so imagine the waiting), and most of all, much to my dismay, not even a single mall standing. When I say mall, I mean really a grocery plus shopping mall with restaurants and all great tasting food stuffs in one building, just like how SM City looks. I got so used to malls in the other provinces that I was totally shocked when I knew there’s not a single one out there.
The Camiguin Island is the second smallest island in the Philippines. On this island, you can see seven volcanoes, which is the reason it is called as the ‘Island Born of Fire”. I was so amazed with the bounty of natural resources in this island.
The mayor lets go of development to preserve the natural resources and the freshness of the island’s environment. The air is so clean. Definitely, not polluted unlike in the city. I wonder how the island was able to manage the economic and social challenges that stem from resource wealth.
Is the idea of preserving the habitat this way a curse or a blessing to the people? Only them can tell what they choose to call their state of life. If you are from the city and you go to the island, you would definitely call it a curse of politics, but if you are a local who loves to promote uncorrupted environment for a wisp of clean air, you would say “I am blessed”.
Control measures were taken to lessen the problem about landfill and garbage. No malls, so less plastics and other garbage. There is a big potential for growth, but they were determined and not greedy enough to clamor for too much development that can destroy the island. They depend much on tourism for incoming $$s.
In the morning, most moms were already awake at about 5am multitasking cooking and cleaning the yard. I can remember my childhood in the province, when I used to wake up seeing my mom sweeping the backyard, while the food is steaming hot still at the dirty kitchen. It was such a nice childhood you cannot experience in the city anymore because of the disconnect created by the fast paced busy timelines of the couples.
The region enjoys a bounty of natural resources, which in particular are very much what both local and international tourists came for – the sea, the waterfalls, the sunken cemetery, the mountain trails, and the sleeping volcanoes. I doubt if I would call the volcanoes a blessing. For such a small island, I think it will sink for even one of those volcanoes to erupt.
The Camiguin Island Sunken Cemetery
The cemeteries are the least visited places during a tour, contrary to parks and shopping malls, but this particular cemetery, which is meant to be the final resting place of the poor locals who died years ago, has been making a buzz and is becoming popular with its new name “The Sunken Cemetery”.
This is the funniest part of my trip, because it made me feel and sound dumb. My dummy mind thought of the sunken cemetery as just like the regular, old and modern cemetery you can see anywhere in the Philippines, but lying in the shallow waters of the island.
I was looking for a view like the regular cemeteries we see nowadays, with the only difference of being underwater. I did not see anything, so I asked the guide where the sunken cemetery is, and he pointed right below to where my bangka is. Yaiks!
Photos taken December 23 2013 at Sunken Cemetery, Camiguin Island, Philippines
All I saw were mounds of large rocks piled on high and a large cross. Why all those rocks? Because they were buried over 400 years ago and there were no services and grave designs like what we have now ha ha. So, that is one mistake I had that you need to inform yourself also – they were not buried recently!
In archaeology, rock art is human made markings placed on natural stone. The aboriginal burial graves were mostly covered with mounds of large rocks and mud. Over time, they hardened while some got damaged. The locals, years ago, bury their loved ones in graves made of firm soil and rocks to make sure that the structure will not collapse and the dead will never be disturbed by the living.
More so, for me, to make sure the dead will not come out and maybe scare the living? Our great movie producers have made quite a story about “Dawn of the Living Dead” or similar stories that made the cemetery a one scary place to visit for a picture perfect selfie.
The guide says the stones were the sunken coffins. In the past, people bury their dead under stones piled up high. The cemetery actually sunk during the volcanic eruption in 1871.
Okay, since we are talking about cemeteries, let me give you a bit of the journey to eternity and its memoirs and how the Filipino people regard the word sementeryo (cemetery). The term sementeryo or campo santo usually sends shivers of scary thoughts and bits of fright among the locals, because of the popular belief that the sementeryo is inhabited by ghosts (white lady and other colored ladies or not of this world beings).
The practice of burying the dead goes back to the pre-Hispanic era where the dead are being honored and put to rest in their graves with the belief that they may rise again at the end of times, ops not the end of the world, just the afterlife! The physical rising that is scary, it was the afterlife or as we say, when you go to heaven.
Depending on the culture and beliefs of the specific group, there are many ways they bury the dead, rituals and everything. The usual practice is performing the last ceremonial rites. Anyway, some cemeteries now serve as monuments or landmarks of the historic journey of the people in the Philippines Islands.
The Sunken Cemetery is just abot tanaw, which is actually about 20 to 30 meters away from the shoreline. Visiting the area is free, but if you want to go to the big cross and take selfies, you are going to pay the guide and the bangka for a minimal fee.
If you want more adventure and a closer look, you can take your GoPro and snorkel near the corals and tombstones or just swim through the clear waters up to the main cross, which is approximately 100 meters away.
The cemetery sunk after 3 volcanic eruptions that started in 1827, 1862, and then lastly in 1871. However, in 1948, Mt. Vulcan erupted once again and got the area sinking a bit deeper into the sea. The cemetery is located at Barrio Bonbon, Catarman in Camiguin.
The sunken cemetery has been noted as one of the interesting diving sites on the island. The island is full of unique natural attractions that can spike interests, which is one of the reasons tourists from around the world were coming in flocks to see the ruins. Besides, the locals there were very hospitable and nice.
The large cross, usually found in public cemeteries and located across the island, is best to visit in the afternoon near sundown or daybreak. Rented bangkas are available to take you to the large cross.
You can catch a good view of the Mt. Hibok Hibok on the spot and the softly blowing waves of the sea. If you go there at noon time, you may not enjoy your short stop because of the heat. There is no shade for you to hide from the sun there.
Santo Nino Cold Spring
The Santo Nino Cold Spring is one of the best free flowing swimming pool that can make your Coke ice cold. It refreshes your senses and freezes your skin and veins to the max. How could you? Try staying for about 5 minutes and see your lips turn to blue.
The water of the swimming pool comes from the natural cold spring that flows down from Mt. Mambajao, filtered by layers of rocks from the mountain, and ends up at the pool naturally clean. I must warn you and I am not joking, girl, the water is really cold like it came from the freezer. So, when you jump into the pool, make sure you stretch your arms and really do some activity like swimming or paddling or freeze to death ha ha.
Photos taken December 23 2013 at Sto. Nino Cold Spring Swimming Pool In Camiguin Island
The swimming pool is really deep and large. It measures 25 meters by 40 meters and about 2 meters deep. The cold spring water has been designed to spring from the sandy bottom. This might come as a surprise, but when you jump into the pool, you will see live fishes swimming. This is the most interesting part, because my mind wandered again, oh Lord, I hope none of these fishes is a piranha ha ha.
The locals believe the natural spring water can make your skin feel smoother and make your face look years younger, but there has been no proof yet, maybe because no scientist bothered to really look at the water content. The food there is terrific, but if you want to cook your own food, you are allowed to cook right there. The pool is located in Barangay Bonbon, Catarman.
Entrance fee is P30 for adults and P15 for children below 10 years old. Senior citizen is only P24. Rent for the small cottages or shed is P75 for 3 hours. If you want to be sitting under the sun, you can just rent a table and chairs for P50 for 3 hours. You are required to pay an additional fee after the 3 hours. Inquire the rates first before you go inside the pool.
Ardent Hot Spring
This is my favorite spot. I love just sitting and enjoying the smooth rustle of the water from my neck down to my back. You can stare at the people around you, don’t worry it is normal there, because you are going to do nothing, but simply enjoy the hot spring and the crowd.
The water of the Ardent Hot Spring is magnificently heated by the active Mt. Hibok Hibok volcano. It is the only active volcano on the island. If you go take a hike towards the peak of the volcano across loose rocks and boulders, you would gasp at the breathtaking view of the nearby islands of Cebu, Negros, and Bohol.
The hot waters feel soothing and relaxing, which can make you imagine of an expensive sauna bath. The hot spring is one of the real time highlights of the island. It is located in Esperanza Tagdo, Mambajao, Camiguin, a 10 minutes or 4 km from the Agoho and Yumbing beaches, which is the mountainside of the Mt. Hibok Hibok.
Photos taken December 23 2013 at Ardent Hot Spring, Camiguin Island
The water comes right of the forest with a temperature of just above 400C and then mixed with some cold spring water into a separate pool. The highest pool has the highest temperature, while the second biggest pool has about a perfect for swimming 350C temp.
There are 6 pools separated by rocks, and by a natural elevation of the mountain side. The overall landscape gives you a sight of the natural stone formation, trees, shrubs, and decorative plants. The stone pathways were creatively created with a good restructuring of the tropical trees and shrubs, including flowering plants.
The pool is 4 tiered with varying depths and temperatures. The hottest and the biggest pool is at the top, which is 6 ft deep. The structure of the pool was designed in a way that the excess water at the top cascades into the other open pools below and then continues downwards.
There is a mini waterfall from the third pool to the fourth where you can sit and spend chika time (chatting) with friends. On the right is a clean canal that brings in the cold water from the top (coming from another spring) to keep the temperature at tolerable levels. The bottom 5th and 6th smallest pools are hotter and cozier.
Right next to the spring, a few steps away is the restaurant and cottages. This is a government operated recreational facility.
The entrance fee is P20. Price for dormitory rooms is P 3,200 per day. Duplex cottages is P1,200 per day. You can get an extra bed for P175 per day. The family size shed is P150 for the first 3 hours. Regular size tables is P70 for the first 3 hours. You incur an additional fee if you stay over 3 hours per hour.
Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge and Art Camp
I never want to be here again. This place gives me the creeps. It feels like there are eyes watching you. I did not even attempt to explore the place around the Treehouse, because my gut feeling is not good.
It makes me feel there are spirits out there, lurking somewhere and ready to jump on me. Were they successful in creating an eerie feeling to its visitors?
The Enigmata is actually an Ecolodge surrounded by vines and shrubs. The place offers a home away from home type of accommodation to visitors and also, facilitates art camps for kids, host artists and promotes workshops or culture based art camp focused on recycling and energy conservation.
Photos taken December 24 2013 at Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge In Camiguin Island
The Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge and Art Camp is quite scary if you visit there late afternoon or near sunset. The place is described as eco-friendly and provides a different kind of stone sculptures as well as recycled pieces of wall arts and blinds made out of bottle caps and recycled magazines.
At the center of the complex stands the century old acacia tree, where the 3 storey Treehouse was built around it. The Eagle’s Nest Suite is at the 3rd floor, the Shell Garden Suites is at the 2nd floor, while the Backpacker Room is at the ground floor. Regardless of the cheaper rates, I am still afraid to go back there.
The name Enigmata literally means to open your eyes and enter the journey inwards the creative circles of mind. I think my opening of the eyes made quite a bad detour to horror movies ha ha. But, you should go there. The place is good for selfies, regardless of whatever.
The Enigmata Treehouse is located at Maubog, Balbagon, Mabajao, Camiguin. You are allowed to go there and just visit the place.
Old Gui-ob Church Ruins (Catarman Church Ruins)
The church was ruined and totally devastated during the volcanic eruption in 1871. It was established in 1697 and what remains now for you to see is an old Spanish built church with adobe walls. Although the church lost its roof, some of the ruined walls and columns still stands even today.
The ruins are surrounded by huge trees that will give you a little shade if you happen to visit at noon time or mid day. The line of trees leads to the ruined bell tower. On the other end, was the old convent that was also, not spared by the volcanic eruption.
Photos taken December 23 2013 at Hill by the Sea Road Stop In Camiguin Island
Photos taken December 23 2013 at Old Church Ruins In Camiguin Island
A thick vine is now growing healthily across the ruins. You can light a candle there and take your snapshots. There are children selling candles there and are too enthusiastic to take your photos too. I watched them running against each other and laughing. They are happy to see any visitors there and just stare at you.
For sure, they won’t leave you, because they find it entertaining to watch you look at the walls of the ruins and take your selfies there.
Yes, I know. The walls have no meaning for them and finding you looking at it and taking pictures can be very amusing from their perspective. They just hang out there and are ready to take your picture for a fee. The church is located in Bonbon, Catarman.
The Gui-ob Church is about 30 minutes from the town center of Mambajao. It is about 20 to 25 minutes from the Paras Beach Resort and about 7 minutes from the Sunken Cemetery.
Most of the people who once visited Camiguin never fail to go back. Even myself, I am planning to go back there someday, because I really fell in love with the waterfalls, the people, and the unpolluted environment or shall I say, fresh air. My experience was awesome!
The Katibawasan Falls is an interesting ice cold 250 ft high waterfall surrounded by orchids, trees, and boulders. It is located at the foot of the Mt. Timpoong in Barangay Upper Pandan, Mambajao.
The water falls down into a man made bluish green rock pool surrounded by orchids, wild ferns, trees and boulders. I really love this place. The ice cold water is the perfect antidote for the tropical heat of the island.
Photos taken December 24 2013 at Katibawasan Falls In Camiguin Island
The provincial government of the Camiquin island developed the place to boost tourism. For a minimal fee, you can enjoy a good cold swim, sitting on rock picnic tables, using clean public restrooms, and their cookout facilities.
The area surrounding the Katibawasan Falls has been transformed into a local park for an added appeal. At that time, you would really appreciate hearing the splash of the water instead of honking horns in a crowded city. What a change!
If only I was prepared for the bikini body at that time, I could be swimming in a two piece. Sigh!
You will pass through a long and winding road going to the waterfalls. A special trip will cost about P800.
Giant Clam Sanctuary
Funny, but I was not really that attentive with the sanctuary and its surroundings, but I was so impressed with the food there. The mom’s living near the area were what you can call as home resto entrepreneurs, and they cook the food right from the kitchen of their homes.
Photos taken December 24 2013 at Giant Clam Sanctuary In Camiguin Island
The Giant Clam Sanctuary is near the Kaliba beach in Cantaan. The sanctuary has conserved over 2,600 clams. About seven out of the nine species of the giant clams in the world can be found in this giant clam conservation project and nursery home.
You can rent a swimming gear and dive into the ocean to take a closer look of the clams. The beautiful white sand of the Kaliba beach is a good place to sit around, doze off, or just eat the good food you ordered while waiting for your other companion to finish snorkeling clams.
The J&A Fishpen Resort and Restaurant
At the entrance, the J & A Fishpen Resort and Restaurant will greet you with a green welcome of their lush hanging plants or vines and bamboo cottage, thus giving you a feeling of being one with nature.
The entrance is truly remarkable. You can learn a little about decorating without spending at this restaurant. You just put some bamboos and let the vine grow. I do not think the plants were even trimmed in a timely manner.
Photos taken December 24 2013 at J&A Fishpen In Camiguin Island
The restaurant actually looks like one big bamboo cottage made of stilts. As you sit there and wait for your order, you will be happy to let the soft sea breeze comfortably blow your hair and skin. The structure of the bamboo stilts and how it was designed to catch your eyes, are awesome.
This restaurant serves only Filipino dishes. You can buy a whole buko and let them crack it for you so you can drink the fresh water right from the coconut fruit.
After drinking the water, you can request for the waiter to open the buko so you may eat the coconut meat. They cooked everything well here. I was happy, full and contented.
Honestly, the all food in the menu tasted good plus they were priced cheaply! The view of the man made lagoon was an addition to the attraction of this restaurant. Anywhere you sit, you can enjoy watching the stilts and the Tanguines lagoon. The J&A Fishpen is located at the Benoni, Mahinog, Camiguin.
The Camiguin Walkway is an 8 km path adorned with 14 human sized sculpted statues of the Station of the Cross. It is located at the Barangay Bonbon, Catarman near the Mt. Vulcan. This place is popular among the Roman Catholic devotees and serves as one of the pilgrimage places in the Philippines during the Lent season.
This Walkway is the path you may take uphill going to the Old Mt. Vulcan (Old Volcano) and Station of the Cross. This is not for people who cannot tackle uphill and a bit strenuous activity because to tell you the truth, I really panted after a few steps going up.
Photos taken December 23 2013 at the Walkway Station of the Cross In Camiguin Island
The Walkway is the most popular tourist spot in the Camiguin Island. As a pilgrimage site, people go there for some sort of spiritual enrichment. The pavement of the first 4 stations was already cemented, so expect that there are not many trees near it to provide shade.
It is located in the barangay Bonbon, Catarman, Camiguin. If ever you get to the topmost area, you get to see the western part of the island. This place has always been the venue of the Panaad Festival held every Holy Week.
Camiguin has an Ostrich Farm inside the Provincial Animal Breeding and Ostrich Production Center. The center is a research facility meant to improve the breeding of farm animals, which includes the ostrich. If you are lucky, you can take a tour around the facility and get a handshake with the big birds.
The Pabuas Cottages have a nice, pleasant, good-for-family-and-kids kind of atmosphere. I booked there because I found it cheaper. The owner and the staff were very friendly and keen on their guests’ needs.
Right outside each cottage is a porch like sitting area for you to relax at night time or eat lunch and dinner. Cooking is allowed at the kitchen provided right after the cottage near number 7 if you want to cook your own food.
The cottages are fully equipped with aircon, cable TV and Wi-Fi. The rooms come in different sizes, but you can also request for an extra bed at a lower cost.