Friday, September 12, 2014

Camiguin, Northern Mindanao - September 2014

Smaller than its neighboring sibling-island, Siquijor, Camiguin is also similarly given reference to Fire and is called, Island made of fire because of its volcanic ancestor and creator- one that brought wrath and one that which further shaped the island to what it is today.

Getting There:
There is presently no direct flight to Camiguin but via Manila-Cebu then Cebu-Camiguin. Some also take the CDO flight, take a 1.5hr Van ride then take the 1hr sea fare going to the island.

Depending on the proximity of your resort and season, multicab transfer is at P100/head. Our tour packaged it at P1700/head - Tour, including hotel and airport transfers. (See IT)

Albeit off peak at September, it seem but natural that commute, even private vehicles do not abound the roads of Camiguin, at least the south side. One that I initially noticed and thanked in my head having escaped the misery laden roads and filthy air of Manila.

Casa Roca, Baring, Naasag. (15-20minutes from the airport)
Tel: +63.88.387.9500

Possibly a house converted to an Inn. This place packs ambience of a garden home in all aspects. Warm accommodations, laid back feel of the carabao grass laiden patio, solemn outdoors of trees, garden plants and smashing waves below the cliff - just off the yard and if you're lucky to have made reservations to the veranda room, a spacious masters bed with wood and glass double doors and a veranda with a nipa hammock. A pinch of modern, crossed with artsy of wooden flooring and log table, chairs and rails as well as wood decorated ceilings. It's easy to suspect that the owner is foreign and yes, Jim Hann is a Canadian with a Filipina partner, Evelyn Lascuna.

If like us, weather made our island tour look bad, this is one hella place you should consider getting stuck in. Food serving is generous and sought after even when admittedly, its far off the island. Try their Seafood pasta and Grill mix (Prawn, Pork, Fish). Beer is also fairly priced at P45+-/bottle. Local and foreign shots are also available, as well as wine- be it by the glass or bottle. Coffee served via French press, serves at least 5-6 small cups.

Restroom down at the bar is Al Fresco, one to check and err, experience. Lol.

Best thing about Casa Roca is that it only has limited rooms.. Right - some peace and quiet, well, at least thats the intent. 

*Jim is a musician, and has some acoustic guitars. Jam with him if you are, he digs teh blues.

Veranda Room
With breakfast
King sized bed, comfy foam
Mosquito net, but bring insect repellant just the same
Spacious room and veranda
Bamboo chairs and tables for piling of clothes
Fan, mostly windy so not much use for it really
Ample number of plugs, 5pairs
Sea and garden view
Hammock, log table and chairs
Shared restroom conveniently just outside your door
No bidet, (there used to be one) with heater but functions only as pass-through, no hot bath

So Day One.
Typoon Luis has made its intent known, but only mildly affected our first day. At either rate, we expected the day to be soaked with the places listed in the IT.

Old Vulcan View - roadside scenic view of the sea and mountain, have your pictures taken here.

Soda Water Park (P30 Entrance / P75 cottage) 
Cold spring where you can bathe as well as drink water off the mountain spring. (Of course they made the liberty to pass em through pipes and faucets for your convenience.) You can just dip and run as there are other cold springs you can also bathe and stay longer in. Pass up on the cottage rental if then you do not intend to stay long but if the seasons wet and you’re the first in the park, ask for it for free and maybe they'd heed to the request as they did for us.

We opted to bump off the time and momentarily just pass by the Walkway and Sunken Cemetery at this point as it is drizzling.

Tuasan Falls/Tres Marias View (No Entrance/No Environmental Fees)
As of writing, the route going here is still being developed and not really one usually included in the tours. Prior, guests had to trek a little to get to the falls. The government has then been developing the area for accessibility to soon make the route to the falls more even for non trail seeking guests. 
Here, you can dip at the calmer parts of the stream but not directly, even near the waterfall drop as the waters here, coming from a long stretch is just too powerful.
View of the three mountain summits is visible from a part of the road there going.

Sto. Nino Cold Springs (P30 entrance/ P75 cottage)
Onset, you'll get pestered by offers of cook-food lunch, dampa style -before entering the resort. This is the idea that this part of the tour is at least at half of the day... Lunch.
Other than the offers of what local-ways of preparing native chicken(Sorol-chopped chicken with coconut milk and tomatoes), have a taste of their local crisp fried cassava abstractly poured with mascovado sauce. They call this kiping and are being lodged about in the resort by vendors. P5 each. (3x25 at Katibawasan Falls). 
Cook-food system is that they'll cook the agreed food and prepare it in your cottage, table wares included. In the mean time, tire yourselves and chill to the cold waters of the natural pool. Note: Some fishes- but they don’t do footspa.

16th Century Ruins (Donation)
Church grounds. Church walls remains after the 16th century volcano eruption. There is also a centennial tree here and a lighthouse.

So now back to what we previously left hanging.

Sunken Cemetery (No Entrance, register at Tourism office at main road)
The structure is but a stone throw away from the shore. Well ok, a Thor hammer throw, if you may. You can bathe here or snorkel (gear available for rent) or take a hundred peso boat ride to get to the cross. Guides and boatmen here are known for their photo concepts prevalently seen in many pictures of the cemetery cross. That big person stomping on little person with the cross at the background. If when you decide to cross across the cross structure (lol) pay the environmental feel at the tourism office after. Snorkeling here is also suggested.

Walkway to the old Volcano (P5 Registration Fee if you plan to hike and scale through the stations of the cross)

Some prefer to pass by (have pictures taken at the signage at the foot of the stairs), some - experience the story of the cross, some - like us, took the challenge for no particular reason but to just hike it and find out what’s up there.

On a sunny day and if taken at the onset of the tour, this would have been more challenging to hike but given the time of the day, (around 3pm) the sun has laid low and much of the trail is pretty much shaded. 14 stations, dont expect to arrive at the mountains summit nor enjoy a summit view but the sunken cemetery is visible from a small clearing here. Bring water, at least half a liter or load up prior. Incline is gradual. Around 235MASL. Takes about 30minutes up and 30minutes down, on a minimal-rest-pace.

Ardent Hot Spring (P30 entrance / P70 cottage)
34.2 to 33.4 depending on what part of the pool area you are. You'd think water heat will be constant in all areas but unlike Coron Palawans Maquinit Hot Springs running at 36-37C where it is just a big pool of hot water, this one is divided into parts, one running down through the other on a landscape of pools. This is responsible for the change of temperature and to the laymans effect, people flock at the top area where the water is hotter and more relaxing. The Upper and lower pool areas are only good for dipping while the middle part goes down up to six feet and stretches enough for people to swim. In all fairness, unlike that spring in Coron, you dont get off of it exhausted and throat dry.

The South Tour is almost all about dipping in water. If you do not fancy ticking these places off your list, you can also stay in one area and just bum yo faht ass. Take note though that the springs has a stay duration of 4hours for the entrance fee you paid for and requires extension after it lapses. The south side is also the peaceful part of the island. 

Spent the 2nd day at the Inn and bumped off tour till the 3rd.
If you want to go to the White Island Sand Bar, start the day early to witness the Sun rise here. Bring some form of shade (les pay for it). 

1914 Water Fountain
Located at Mambajaos Town Proper, this also serves as their rotunda. Walk further and you'll reach their small boulevard where a non working parola is also located. The park is Octagon in shape as seen from the plane (Left side when arriving). Here is also where you’ll figure out that Camiguin is still a populated island. They’ve a market place, a church and all civilization you have deprived in your head existed in the island. Vehicles are also thicker at this area and further north going to the Port area.

You'll eventually return here for pasalubong such as lanzones and Vjandeps Pastel. P70 small, P130 big sizedbox. Lanzones at P55/kilo, P15-20 during their lanzones festival every October.

San Nicolas Church - Picture taking, there is also an old bell at the side of the church.

Katibawasan Falls (P30 entrance/ P50-70 tables/shaded table)
Water's not as strong as Tuasan falls during our visit and the base around the drop packs mud, shallow waters even after a rainy night. None the less, a place to cool your head on a sunny day and have your pictures taken.

Mantigue Island Nature Park. Jump-off (Magsaysay Sanctuary) is around 45mins travel time from Katibawasan falls. Takes about 15-20mins to cross to the island.
Make arrangements at the jump-off before crossing:
P550 - boat ride
P20 - environmental fee
P50/P100 -short/long table, Shed at P150
Max stay: 4hours, no overnights

If when you decide to check out the marine sanctuary:
P50 - entrance fee
P150 - snorkle
P100 - vest
P150 - fins
From the island, the sanctuary extends to a deeper part of the waters and may require a boat (P200) to get there due to strong currents. If you know your swimming kung fu well, head over the blue float. There you'd see em fishies. Bring bread so they flock over.
They can also cook their yields here for you at a fee; we took the P280/kilo shells (+P10ricex3)
Some say they were able to get grub at eateries in the small community here. Government disputes their eligibility to stay in the island and have convinced some to vacate.

Note (on a hi-key): Prepare your Violet Ube's and Benjamin's. Investing on fins and snorkel gear is mandatory to anyone who enjoys these activities to which you can limit rental to only a life vest for the non swimmers, to entrance fees the least. And for this reason, we skipped the Giant Clam tour after Mantigue being gear-unprepared and disgusted at the expense required to appreciate these marvels, besides it was already mid afternoon and we could best spend it on hanging around further to relax at Casa Roca.

(Ostrich farm also skipped)

At any rate, we did push through the Moro Watch tower which is nothing more but a closed gate enclosure behind public school grounds. Imho, not really worth going to most especially if your tour-guide can’t spit info about it. 
Don't let my words convince you to skip it fully though, community there is laid back and sitting with the kids in the school garden is one relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

If not for the bad weather, we could have spent our time biking around (P500/day) but we're also thankful we spent it at the Inn where we just enjoyed coffee and the poetry of sound of waves crashing and trees humming with the wind. </keso>

We opted not to go through some of the spots listed in the IT so as not to cramp stay in ones we really desire to spend time in. 

Camiguin will always be one to return to despite some of the commercialism flags we expected but denied existence. Its unpolluted air is something any city despised individual will appreciate. Glorious mountain ranges almost at stone throw, makes up for cold mornings as well. Albeit lacking in spacious public parks, it makes up for the natural ones available for viewing- Mt. Hibok-Hibok, Mambajao, Timpoong, Mt. Vulcan, Uhay and Tres Marias.

Summers are its peak months but if you ever come here on Octobers, you'd get to enjoy and join their Lanzones Festival.

Package Tour:
Contact #:  0917.521.9391 / 0939.244.0521
Contact Persons: Teodoro Pabualan
Availed tour:  Php 1,700 / head for 3-day tour with from and to airport transfer

Town tour:
Places to visit:
  • Tongatoc Cove
  • Walkway To Old Volcano 
  • Sunken Cemetery
  • 16Th Century Guiob Church Ruins
  • Soda Water Pool
  • Mt.Tres Marias View
  • Tuasan Falls
  • Sto Nino Cold Spring
  • Ardent Hot Spring
  • White Island Sand Bar
  • San Nicolas De Tolentino Parish Church
  • 1914 Water Fountain
  • Katibawasan Falls
  • Ostrich Farm
  • Mantigue Island
  • Taguines Lagoon, J&A Fishpen, Lagoon Zipline Zone, Aqua Sports
  • Moro Watch Tower
  • Kibila Giant Clams
  • Tangub Hot Spring
  • Macao Cold Spring
  • Santo Rosario Church
  • Pamunglo Spring
 Where to Eat:

Helpful links:

  • Luna Ristorante
  • Kiwi Bar and Grill
  • J & A Fishpen
  • Little Bridges Taberna Ramada
  • Isla Filete Resto Steak House
  • Maestrado Tablea Resto
  • Northern Lights
  • Paradiso
CAMIGUIN TRIP – September 11 to 15, 2014 (Itinerary)
September 11, 2014 – Thursday
820 PM – 855 PM
Taxi to Terminal 3

Dinner at Dimsum and Dumplings *Yangchow combo
100 AM *next day

Arrived at Cebu Airport

*Free chickenjoy Jollibee due to delay
Php 458.00
September 12, 2014 – Friday

Coffee at Dunkin Donut
630 AM

Touch down – Mambajao Airport
640 AM – 653 AM

Airport to Casa Roca

Coffee while resting
845 AM
Start of Tour

- Old Vulcan view

- Soda Water park

- Tuasan falls

- Tres Marias view

- Sto. Nino Cold spring

*rent shed for lunch

*lunch (paluto)



- 16th Century Guiob Ruins (donation)

- Sunken Cemetery



- Walkway to Old Volcano


*chips and soda

- Ardent hot spring
645 PM
Dinner at Luna Ristorante

*mineral water
800 PM

Back to hotel

Php 5,197.00
September 13, 2014 – Saturday
700 AM


*Day 2 tour cancelled due to bad weather
700 PM
Dinner at Casa Roca

*seafood pasta

*grilled mixed (prawn, pork and fish)

*2 bottles of beer

*French press coffee (good for 6 small cups)
Php 730.00
September 14, 2014 – Sunday
700 AM

845 AM

Start of Tour

- 1914 Water Fountain

- San Nicolas Church


- Katibawasan falls

- Mantigue Island

*boat (4 hours max)

*environmental fee

*table rental (short)

*food (paluto)

*snorkel rental – 1 set

*vest – 2 set

*boat to marine sanctuary

*entrance fee to marine sanctuary

*tip to Kuya Itoy

- Morong Watch tower




EcoBag *no plastic policy in Camiguin
430 PM

Back to Casa Roca

French press coffee (good for 6 small cups)
800 PM
Dinner at Casa Roca
1000 PM

Pack our things

Php 2,799.00
September 15, 2014 – Monday
400 AM

Wake up call and prepare
510 AM – 525 AM

Casa Roca to Mambajao airport

Terminal fee

Coffee at Island Café
745 AM

Touch down Cebu airport

Coffee and bunwich at Dunkin Donuts
200 PM

Arrived in Manila
300 PM
Taxi from airport to Dog Park
330 PM
Taxi from Dog Park to Hampton

*Dog park fees – September 11 to 15
Php 2,865.00
Overall expenses:
Php 458.00
Php 5,197.00
Php 730.00
Php 2,799.00
Php 2,865.00
Php 12,049.00
Php 5,644.56
Php 4,500.00