It was a ticket that I was unsure of using. I had just come back from three (or four?) back-to-back trips, and I was running out of funds—despite it being my birthday a few days back. But I decided to come back to Camiguin anyway, and it was a short yet sweet trip.
Last time I went to Camiguin, it was an arranged press trip, so I practically had to do nothing but be there and look for stories. In contrast, on my return, I had no plans whatsoever. Sure, I knew the places I wanted to revisit, but I didn’t arrange anything, not even a hotel.
I’m quite the adventurous kind, but with Camiguin, it’s hard to leave things to chance because it isn’t as progressive as other places in the Philippines and thus things can be hard to come by.
I decided to wing it out anyway. I touched down in the airport early in the morning, partly groggy due to lack of sleep. I walked to outside the airport and took a tricycle. I asked to be taken to the center of town, to a decent place I can sleep in.
For a little more than 500 PHP (~10 USD), I had a bed with thin sheets, a small TV, air conditioning, and a shower with no heat. It was clean and totally nothing fancy—way a far cry from the hotels and resorts I review for my blog. It reminded me of when I was only starting to travel years ago, when any sort of accommodation was acceptable, long as it’s cheap.
After a couple of hours’ nap, I ventured out into the sweltering sun to start my day. My first destination was the one that struck out as most memorable to me on my first trip—White Island. Following advice from the locals, I took a tricycle to the jump-off point on one end of Mambajao.
I was expecting that I could join another group of tourists to get to the island, but after waiting for 30 minutes, I decided to not waste a minute any longer and just pay for the entire boat. Although it only cost 400 PHP for a back-and-forth trip, it was out of budget. But I just thought that it was also necessary for me to help out the communities I visit.Technically not an island, White Island is more a shoal or a sandbar. It’s only a 10 minute boat trip from the mainland of Camiguin, and it’s understandably one of its major highlights for its powdery white sand and crystal clear waters, amid a backdrop of Mount Hibok-Hibok.
Coming to White Island at midday was both a blessing and a curse. The sun shone at its mightiest, yet at least, save for a small group of tourists, I had the place practically to myself.
I went back to the Mambajao town center to have a simple lunch of roasted chicken and rice. Afterwards, I took the services of a friendly habal-habal (motorcycle) driver to take me up to the mountain for Katibawasan Falls. It took perhaps 20 minutes for us to get there.
What I love about Katibawasan Falls is that not much has been done around it, thus preserving its natural beauty. And it seems that the locals have taken upon themselves to preserve and respect the place by keeping the water clean and by leaving no rubbish behind.
After a quick dip and more photos, I asked the driver to take me back to the town. But before I went though, I had the kabkab, a cassava flour cracker topped with coconut jam.
No visit to Camiguin is complete without tasting pastel, a bun with a delightfully sweet yema custard filling. It’s surely one of the island’s claim to fame, and the best ones are made by its homegrown brand, Vjandep.
The last item on my list was to catch the sunset at Sunken Cemetery, which is located next town in Catarman. According to the locals, I could easily commute going there, and so I did—but not without a long wait for the jeepney to fill up.
I was thrilled when the jeepney started its engines and left the terminal; it was clear that I would make it. But as luck would have it, in the middle of our trip, the jeepney ran into some engine trouble and required us men to push it across. The skies were already dimming by then.
But I was thankful to have made it right before sunset. The iconic cross illuminated by the remaining sunlight was clearly a sight to behold.
I went to the airport first thing the next day, and I was happy and content. Although I’ve extensively traveled across the “Island Born of Fire” in the past to explore everything it has to offer, I was still captivated by its natural wonders that have been preserved well still.
And honestly, I missed traveling my old style of traveling—having no plans whatsoever and staying at a place that’s at least acceptable. I used to be more spontaneous, hungrier for real travel and adventure. And I wish I had more of those trips every once in a while, where I can take a break from the big cities, pricey hotels, and luxurious food to appreciate the simpler things in life.