When we speak of an island, most people would probably picture out a beach full of gorgeous women in skimpy bikinis lying under the sun, bed in powdery white sands admiring the azure waters. More often than not, the sight of a beach tends to make us oversee the beauty that lies beneath which sometimes requires a bit of curiosity and bolder spirit. Camiguin is that kind of island. One wouldn’t be able to appreciate its mysterious allure without embarking in a journey that would take you to places tattling a wonderful story.
DAY: 1 “The Journey to Paradise Begins”
Have you ever had that dream that is so illusive you almost gave it up? It’s as if playing tag in a spinning wheel trapped in a rat race that renders the best of efforts futile. That was Camiguin for me. Camiguin Island is one of the places which has mystified me for so long. I first heard of it when I was 15 from a mentor who went there to spend the entire summer and although it was just a backbreaking 15-hour travel from my sweet little town, I didn’t get to see it even once which made it all the more frustrating.
Years went by while school and my 9-by-5 job pretty much kept my hands full, I still feel the itch to see this mysterious island. The longing didn’t stop and it went to bug me night after night that on the 20th of November 2014, I finally got the chance I had hopelessly waited for.
As I was boarded in a ferry bound to Benoni port in Camiguin, I was deep in thoughts. It was early Thursday morning and the sun just started to rise up the blue sky emanating its warmth and spreading light across the vast ocean. It was glorious and the sight of Camiguin Island from afar with the clouds hovered over its mountains made it all the more ethereal. I couldn’t help but think of what delight awaits me on the island and of how much this tiny piece of land formed out of fire has changed over the course of 12 years which I wouldn’t even have a clue as it was my first time to see it and the only comparison I have is how it was described to me 12 years ago. “It was simply a paradise”, I recalled my mentor said it and there I was ready to witness its mystery unfold in front my very eye. I had a list of places I intend to go to and I wondered how similar these places are to what I had imagined them to be.
Upon reaching the island, I immediately began my tour ridden on a motorcycle. Gazed at the waters surrounding the island, I didn’t see anything extraordinary except Mantigue Island from afar. I have seen several coastlines and Camiguin’s doesn’t even come close to that of Ilocos and Davao Oriental. I began to worry about how different it was from what I had perceived it in the past. “Is this the paradise I was told about? Ain’t nothing like it”, I remarked. My first impression was “Camiguin was so overrated.” Gladly, I didn’t let my negativity get the best of me as it was too soon to come up with any conclusion.
Our tour headed first to the “Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross.” From the moment I started climbing the stairs to the 1st station up to the last felt like a beginning of something good. The entire place covered in luscious greens of the rainforest sent me dancing with the fairies and when I finally reached the end of the journey, I was already singing my heart out with the sirens of the air as the beauty my eyes beheld was the most beautiful that morning.
We went next to the “Soda Water Pool”. When I was 15, I thought this was a spring with waters flowing down from the mountains of Camiguin, just like a mini waterfall. It wasn’t like that. It was a man-made pool filled with water that taste like soda but I wasn’t at all disappointed. I just thought, “Where else in the Philippines can a soda water pool be found?” Unless I am mistaken then let me know. Please. 🙂
Our tour continued to Tuasan Falls which although at that time was under construction was truly a brilliant piece of nature. Afterwards we dipped ourselves in the cold spring water of Sto. Niño. Shortly after relaxing in the comfort of a freezing spring water, we stopped by The Old Spanish Church and the Sunken Cemetery where we enjoyed getting our photo taken while we play the giants and dwarves. Finally to cap off the day, near dusk, we went for a swim in Mt. Hibok Hibok Ardent Hot Spring.
I couldn’t help but feel a sense of fulfillment while bathed in the lukewarm water of Ardent Hotspring. I am excited to find out what other surprise this little island still has in store for us. The night was still young and stars were painted across the sky. It was a perfect time for coffee and hearty conversations but I was too eager to see the morning sun so after having enough pampering in the hotspring, we quickly headed to our hotel to get a good night sleep.