I have been going to Camiguin for as long as I could remember.
The very first visit was in 1981, I think. I was 7 years old. Back then, there was only one barge company in operation, bringing passengers to and from Balingoan Port to Benoni Port twice a day – one in the early morning (5:30 am) and one in the early afternoon (2:00 pm). So if you didn’t catch the last trip back in the afternoon, you had to look for extra lodging for the night.
We were booked in Mychelin Beach Resort (now Islet Resort), which was (from what I heard at that young age) the only resort with electricity. What a laugh, because each room had only one incandescent light bulb and if you wanted to watch TV, you had to go to the lobby. Not that we needed to, because immediately after check-in, we were loaded onto motorized bancas headed for that island across the way – Mantigue Island. There we had lunch and the kids were allowed to play and swim all we wanted. Needless to say, we returned to the resort just in time for dinner and sleep.
The next day, we all got into our jeepneys (the ones that met us the day before) and the next thing I knew we were at this place with a huge waterfalls and a tiny pool. I now know that was Katibawasan Falls. The falls took up most of the pool and so the bigger kids struggled to get to the back and sit there. Being one of the smaller kids, I tried to follow, but ended up stubbing my toe on one of the rocks. (Sigh.) After that, we were told to dry ourselves but not to change because we were headed to another pool. Yay!
Turned out to be a (super) hot spring pool. Bummer! My parents loved it though. Come to think of it, all the parents loved it. I think I decided sit at the water’s edge and enjoy the scenery – made up of bushes and grass and watching leaves and twigs rush by with the current. Where were we? You guessed it. Ardent Hot Springs in it’s first stages of development.
If I remember correctly, we went back to the resort even though the day wasn’t through. I think it rained, because we spent the afternoon playing games in the lobby. And in the late afternoon, my brother, his friend and I decided to go boating out in the man-made reef of the resort. Though I was supposed to be wearing glasses at the time, I decided not to bring them (a decision I still regret to this day), fearing they would get wet. With the boys rowing, I was looking around in the fading light and spotted something that looked like a shark’s fin. I pointed it out to them and they got excited, even started arguing about whether to go near it or to run away. Well, with so little light, it was decided that we run, because if it was really a shark, then we’d really be in trouble. Downside was, nobody at the resort believed us, not even the resort staff.
On the third day, we went somewhere again. This time, to the coldest pool I’d ever swum in. Called the Sto. Nino Cold Springs. Man, was it cold! Like putting water in a jug and sticking the jug in the chiller overnight, then taking it out the next morning and pouring it over your body. Brrr! And you know what? It’s still that cold today!
We returned to the resort after that. Oh! We dropped by this place called Catarman, where there was this pipe that was spewing “soda water”. It was right smack in the middle of the barrio with no faucet in sight, just free flowing water. From the mountains, they said. Could cure ailments, they said. We could take the water home with us, they said. I tasted it and it was good, sweet. Today, it’s been made into a resort, the Soda Spring Resort. You can swim in it, but don’t drink the water in the pool. There is a separate outlet for that.
So that ended my first encounter with Camiguin. Early the next morning, we rode the barge back to Balingoan and went home.
Since that trip, I’ve joined many other trips to the island – with my dad’s company, then with my family and now, with guests/tourists. As I grew older, I’ve watched the improvements and the developments tourism had made to attract more people to visit.
Today, Camiguin is the Number One tourist destination of Region 10 (Northern Mindanao). Gone are the days when Camiguin sleeps without a tourist on the island.