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Romancing Camiguin
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Jaser A. Marasigan
Date: 2007-11-01
Camiguin is best experienced than described as one gets enchanted by her mystical charm.

Locked in the eternal embrace of the sea, the island continues its simple existence, sheltered and unfazed by today’s accelerated lifestyles. It is a virtual paradise that allows visitors to sample a taste of her untouched beauty in its entirety. Having seen one too many, I must say Camiguin is one of the Philippines’ most beautiful islands, if not the most beautiful. A goddess, indeed.

The name Camiguin might as well have originated from "come again." The locals in this small, pear-shaped island in Mindanao say that a person who has been here once, will definitely come again. With people who are always smiling and very welcoming, who wouldn’t want to go back?

The goddess awakens

The island is said to be "born of fire." Camiguin has more volcanoes per square kilometer than any other island on earth. Volcanic eruptions and land movements have created this spectacular island full of natural wonders and historical riches.

Its name originated from the word "kamagong," a tree of the ebony family. Manobos were the original settlers of the island coming from Surigao.

Isolated from the Mindanao peninsula and enclosed by Gingoong and Macajalar Bays on the south and Bohol Sea on the north. The place is especially known for its sweet lanzones, seven active volcanoes, springs and waterfalls.

As an island of diverse ecosystem, Camiguin’s uniqueness lies in its varied terrain, virgin jungle and rustic setting.

A combination of perfect beauty and old world charm. Its capital, Mambajao, boasts of a number of well-preserved ancestral houses, while the island’s beaches are lined with resorts. Secret Cove Beach Resort, Paras Beach Resort, Johnny’s Dive ‘N Fun, Catarman Coral Dive Resort and Bahay Bakasyunan, among others, offer to take divers to its breathtaking dive spots.

Camiguin has been identified by the Department of Tourism (DoT) as one of the top tourist destinations in the country.

Born of fire

Most famous of the island’s volcanoes is Mt. Hibok-Hibok whose last eruption in 1951 killed 500 people. Its 1,250-meter slope is a challenge to climbers as the trek entails skillful maneuvers in loose rocks and boulders.

An observatory of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) stands on the side of the mountain, which tourists can visit to get information concerning volcanoes and other geological-related activities.

A large white cross marks the Sunken Cemetery, which was swept into the sea by Old Vulcan Daan’s eruption in 1871. The Old Catarman Church Ruins, with its thick century-old walls, belfry and convent, stand reminiscent of the second Spanish settlement in 1697 and that devastating eruption. Life–sized statues depicting the 14 stations of the cross dot the trail of the Old Vulcan’s peak. The highest peak in the island is Mt. Timpoong which rises 1,580 meters above sea level.

Because of the island’s volcanic form, several hot sulfur springs and geothermal vents exist. Waterfalls thunder down into natural pools surrounded by wild ferns and orchids. The island also has pristine lagoons, refreshing cold springs, and soothing, sparkling soda springs.

White Island, an uninhabited white sand bar provides a front row view of Mt. HIbok-Hibok and the Old Vulcan. This picturesque island is an ideal spot to see Camiguin’s sunrise and sunset. Its clear waters are very inviting for swimming and snorkeling.

Pastel to go

A weekend is not enough to experience Camiguin to the fullest, not to mention the specialties that have made the province a buzzword among people with good taste.

For instance, be sure to take home some of its famed pastel, a bun made special with sweet "yema" filling. Vjandep Bakeshop on Plaridel Street in the central business district of Mambajao is where you’ll find this famous bun. VJ stands for Virgilio Jose, a retired Armed Forces officer, and EP for Eleanor Popera, his wife. Business has been good for the couple that they opened a branch in Cagayan de Oro. They have yet to put up one in Manila. The bakeshop’s "bibingka" is also one of the bestsellers.

How to get to Camiguin

From Manila, take a plane to Cagayan de Oro City, then ride a bus going to Balingoan, Misamis Oriental. Camiguin is one-and-a-half hours via ferry from Balingoan.

[ Sunken Cemetery Wiki | Mt. Hobok-Hibok Wiki | White Island Wiki ]

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