Friday, February 10, 2012

embracing Ramon|Camiguin

last part

Come hell or high water, we continued our adventure to the breathtaking White Island. It was stormy, but one still could appreciate it's natural beauty. It was paradise. To go there, we need to ride banca/pump boat for 10-15 mins that cost us 75 per person back and forth.

The white island is named such because of it's white sands. It was like an island in the middle of the sea with nothing but sands and some sea stones and weeds. There was no establishment because that was literally really in the middle of the sea. There was only a floating hut. One can rent snorkels too. So for that little time in that paradise we enjoyed even with Ramon creating dark skies, pouring rains and making huge waves.

Yes! We embraced Ramon.We stayed there for almost an hour and a half, swimming, playing and picture taking even with the rain. When we were back on the sea shore, we were supposed to take a bath with fresh water but because there is limited water coming out from the shower, we just changed to dry clothes. Our elder companions were asking locals for the situation of the weather and if ferries were allowed to travel. They say coastguards have not permitted any ferry to go since morning. :(

We still tried our luck and went to Benoni port to ask but along the way, the rain poured very hard and the sky is unseen. Ramon embraced us back, we had no choice but to go back to Catarman. I was really depressed, no signal, I will miss my flight, I'll have to book new ticket, clothes are mostly wet and financially - broke and most of all STRANDED. That Tuesday night with no hope left, I prayed "I know You do make things happen for a reason and I know You would not forsake me. You'll stand by me and help me make it through. I humbly ask You to give me strength and guide me what to do and what way You want me to go. Im disappointed as of the moment and I'm sorry".

Early Wednesday morning, the skies are brighter but still the dark clouds exist. We made our way back to Benoni port. There I made calls to the office of my status and give update to Mama. The coastguards still did not permit ferries out even if it's not raining anymore because the storm signal in Camiguin is still at number 2. We saw some ray of sun but that was not an assurance of the weather they said. There goes everyone else's hope of catching their afternoon flight.

So we made our way to Mambajao to find internet caffee and buy stuffs while waiting for the text from coastguards. Some of our companions opted to book a hotel in Mamabajao than going back to Catarman while us left were deciding if we'll go back to Catarman or to Katibawasan falls (hehe. adventure goes on). While on the internet, we saw the storm signal already lifted out and we called up coastguards again and there went there go signal.

Those who booked a hotel already stayed while us went back to Benoni and started our journey back which ends that unforgettable Camiguin trip with Ramon.

Special thanks to Ebarle family, jeepney driver, my companions and to God for the unforgettable journey.



some ray of hope

fun under the rain

it's more fun swimming with storm

definitely more fun

picture taking ala under umbrella


the stranded ferry

our jeepney throughout the journey

meeting Ramon|Camiguin

2nd part
map of Camiguin for your guidance

Benoni is in the municipality of Mahinog while our accomodation (care of the ancestral house of Eme's family) is in the opposite side (Catarman town). Eme's cool parents who were also with us in the trip took the lead. We boarded on the rented jeep and we were really over loaded but it was more fun. Hahaha. It's more fun in the jeepney! We made our way to Mambajao the capital to buy the supplies we will be needing for our overnight and 1 day stay in Camiguin. There, I learned the the delicious Vjandep Pastel which I first thought is a CDO delicacy was originally Camiguin made and we had our visit to the first bakery who produced it. Pastel by the way is a bread stuff with yema inside and it's really famous pasalubong request if you go to CDO or Camiguin for that matter.

It was dark already that we started to travel to Catarman. The province is likely the typical countryside (no-streetlights-many-trees-on-the-roadside). Most of us were sleeping to in the jeepney to recharge after almost a day of traveling. Then it started raining, Ugh. We reached our destination past 9 in the evening and we were tired and hungry. 

The house was situated along the road and 70 meters from the sea shore. Since we were in a province, the road was not busy (not at all), it would take perhaps an hour before you hear a motorcycle or a vehicle passing and again silence. What we would hear were the waves in the sea washing the shore. Once we got inside the house our eyes twinkled by the sight - FOOD, lots of them and so we had a feasty dinner to fill our stomach that rainy evening plus some fresh coconut juices and meat. It's more fun eating in the Philippines.
The house - since it was the ancestral house. No one live there anymore and there are only caretakers who would check on it once in a while. It's a 2-storey house with a terrace, a lawn/garage and surrounded by trees. I saw for the first time an orange tree there (really? i wasn't hallucinating that. hmmmm. I'm having doubt with my memory now but I'll confirm that). The 1st floor has 2 bedrooms (I think those were just addition but originally the bedrooms were upstairs), living and dining room and the back was the dirty kitchen. Near the dining room, beside one of the bedrooms was the toilet. The 2nd floor has 3 bedrooms. The stairs are wooden and really the typical old houses and since nobody lives in there anymore, it made the big old house kinda creepy, scary and haunted (not so). According to Eme's mother, the room I occupied with my housemates was the oldest one. There was no bed, what was there was an old cabinet, an altar and some old photo frame. We were given 'banigs' (mats) and pillows/blankets and arranged our things on the floor.

But that was not our day yet, amidst the rain we continue our planned night swimming in a hot spring (Ardent). On our way, we stopped by an open souvenir shop in Bonbon Catarman. That shop is actually at the foot of the Walkway to the Old Vulcan & Via Crucis which is the top spot in Camiguin during Holy Week. They have this tradition called Panaad and not just the Kamagong but many Filipinos and tourists all over the world go there. On the east side (the sea), one could see the big cross or the popular Sunken Cemetery. I have bought some things in the shop including a souvenir tshirt.
Ardent hot springs, the entrance was 20 pesos and outside it were souvenir shops too still open when we came at around 11PM. The rain had somehow stop or just drizzles  for a moment so we enjoyed our swimming in the really relaxing hotsprings. The effect is soothing for the body and I was not surprised to see that there were also other people swimming there that late including a pair of lovers. Yes, the night swimming in hot spring is a romantic way I suggest. There were 4 pools of hot spring which are all connected from the source. As you get nearer to the sources, the warmer the water is. The last 2 pools are somehow mixed with normal water. There were shower rooms too. As the rain started pouring again, we packed up (sad cause the shops were already close when we got out) and called it a day, and another 45 mins to 1 hour of travel back to the old house.

The rain did not stop, it was hard to sleep with the raindrops noises on the roof or the wind bashing the trees or the worry of the weather but I eventually have fallen asleep praying that the sun will shine tomorrow. Only to my dismay, it was still raining when I woke up around 6 in the morning. This started to create a little more worry in me. The plan was for us to get back to CDO that day as some of us inlcuding me has flight back to Manila early Wednesday morning (10/12/2011) but by the looks of the weather it was unclear.

The worst thing is that my phone has no signal in there and I recieved a text from Mama when we were in Ardent that there is a typhoon and she was worried. I used Dor's phone since she has little signal in her network and replied to Mama. We continued our plan of packing our things already and proceed with our adventure which was to visit the White Island and some cold springs where after we would go to Benoni port to Balingoan.

The rain was unstoppable, it was Ramon and he went with us on our trip.

the house

along the road, the foot of the walkway to the old volcano

our night swimming

and oh pastel!
There's one more post on this - the last part.


island Born of Fire|CAMIGUIN

1st part

It was twilight Monday on 10th of October 2011, when I set foot to the island Born of Fire - Camiguin. There were 17 of us most of whom are excited first timers in that land.

So just a little background information about the province, it is a pear-shaped volcanic island in the northern tip of Mindanao which is more or less 90 kilometers north of Cagayan de Oro City. It is the smallest province in Northern Mindanao and is composed of five towns, namely, Mambajao – the capital town, Mahinog, Guinsiliban, Sagay and Catarman. The culture and tradition is a mixture of Boholano and Cebuano. Cebuano is the major dialect in the Province (so I really felt like I was a native :D). The island has seven volcanoes, including the active Mount Hibok-Hibok.

Aside from volcanoes, the island is home to many waterfalls and springs both cold and hot. Well of course, if you are a fruit lover like me you would know that Camiguin has the sweetest lanzones fruits. I would recall when buying lanzones that the vendor would really advertise that it's Mambajao - meaning the ones they are selling are from Mambajao, Camiguin. And guess what, October is the month when we can find this fruit in abundance. They actually have their Lanzones festival the following week when we're there. Sad we were not on timing.

Going to the island is adventure itself. From Manila, one will have to take a plane to Cagayan de Oro City or Butuan City. Then it will be a 2-hour (by car/van) to 2.5-hour (by bus) travel to the port of Balingoan, where ferries are waiting to take passengers to Camiguin Island. Our trip was just a sidetrip for our Cagayan de Oro trip (for a friend's wedding). I was with few of my housemates and batchmates in work and some friends of the bride. We reached Balingoan port a little late but we managed to take the last trip to Benoni port in Mahinog, Camiguin. I remember how fast our van driver went on our way to Balingoan where I kept on taking long deep breaths of fear.

Our ferry trip via Yuhum ship from Balingoan to Benoni took more or less an hour. In the middle of the sea, I was able to see very closely some dolphins. Their body very clear in the sea and some were playing not so far. They were so cute. While on the ferry, we of course did not forget our favorite - picture taking. In our company was the mother of our newly wed friend and she asked us if we noticed how the island's shape look-alike in our perspective. By research, it was pear-shaped but according to her which somehow we agreed, the island is like woman with long hair (represented by the steep mountain on the other end of the island) who is pregnant (as the center has a little hunch). The myth goes like, in that land a princess fell in love with a commoner and their love is forbidden. So to cut the story, the princess carrying in her womb her forbidden love's fruit killed herself. :D remember what I told you about myths? Hehe. Then we reached Benoni port.
Welcome to the port of Benoni! Welcome to CAMIGUIN!
Photos below (just ordinary camera used)
pose before leaving Balingoan

Camiguin island at view

the rainbow, clouds and mountains of Camiguin
on board pose
Benoni port

The 2nd part will follow right after this.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Northern roots


The name of the town is Borbon. There had been a myth as to why the place was named such but I really quite did not believed that. It is what people commonly will tell about how places got their names – that long ago foreigner came to this land and ask the natives what is the name of the place and the natives will give their names instead as they didn’t understand and so the place was named by the foreigner by the natives’ names. A typical myth that is, so I really wanted to know the truth as to why our town was named Borbon. Hopefully, I’ll found that out soon.

Geographically, the town is about more than 60 kilometres North from Cebu City. Specifically, it is near the tip Northeast of Cebu Province. It is comprised by a total of 19 (upland and coastal) barangays. The town fiesta is held every 20th of January in honour of our patron saint San Sebastian Martyr, which by the way the town’s parish church is actually celebrating its 150th year this 2012. Recently, the town had just established its own festival name. This was the Local government answer to the challenged of the Provincial government to participate in its campaign for tourism. Not too long ago the Silmugi festival was conceived and was embraced by the Borbonanons.
What used to be just some playground demonstration per school during my primary and secondary education years that we have to join as students for extracurricular points has now been an elegant festival we could be proud of. The name Silmugi is derived not far away. In fact, it is named after a river in the town between barangays Poblacion and Cadaruhan. Although when I was still a student this river was just somehow neglected but I learned that during the old times, the river played a very important role in the livelihood of the town’s people. The river used to be a barter place for farmers and fishermen. Yes, the main livelihood of this town is fishing and farming. Now, Silmugi River is being developed and refreshed as part of the attractions this town could offer.

So you might be wondering what else this town could offer. Honestly, I used to describe our town before as unnoticed if I compare it with other towns. It may be a late-bloomer but I’m pretty sure, slowly the town is rising its’ way from economic to aesthetic aspects. Let me share some of the reasons why you might be interested to try and visit our town.

In terms delicacies, try visiting one of the upland barangays Lugo and you will find some yummy “budbod kabog”. You got to taste it. Lugo is along the National road popularly known in dialect as “Simangan” because it has the detours if you are going Northernmost (Bogo City) or to the Nortwest town Tuburan down to Balamban. Other barangays like ours (Tagnucan) have actually cultured “Takyong” (it’s like a snail in the forest) and cook takyong in different recipes. I haven’t tasted any yet but soon I will. There are vast of crops from the farms too ranging from banana, rootcrops to coconuts.

The town also has lots of beach resorts that are very affordable. You can choose between Silveria in brgy. Campusong, Borbon Beach that has the enticing One Casita place or the old but still beautiful Ma Benita Beach Lagoon both situated in brgy. Tabunan. Or if you just want some sight-seeing, I’m sure you’ll find one of the best sunrises or sunsets in Borbon or stargazing perhaps during starry night (this is what I used to do when I was a child) or if you just want the touch of nature and some fresh air. Plus and most importantly, the people here are beautiful inside out. You could see for yourself. <winks>


Kids at play

San Sebastian Martyr Paris church (with beautiful people :P)

The green and the blue and the long stretch view of the horizon

Note: More photos will be added soon. The journey continues...