To pay it forward to the blogosphere and forums which helped us intricately plan this CDO-Camiguin vacation, I am posting with complete travel details like time duration, supplier name and cost of various stuff. I hope this'll help future travellers seeking adventure in CDO/Camiguin :-)
* Read about our DAY 2 here. Detailed account of DAY 3 starts hereupon...
JUNE 30, 2007
Upon the recommendation of the Paras Hotel staff, we decided to go snorkling in Mantigue Island (more underwater attractions here than White Island accdg. to the hotel staff) in the morning and proceed to White Island after lunch. We rented snorkeling gear from Johnny's Dive which has a little office inside Paras. The snorkeling mask and the mouthpiece thingie rental costed Php 200. Lifevests were also for rent for Php25.
10:00 AM - We hired a multicab for Php 300 from Paras to the wharf (near the vicinity of Benoni Wharf) where a boat to Mantigue was waiting for us.
10:50 AM - We rode the pump boat for Php 500 (roundtrip, inclusive of snorkeling) to bring us to Mantigue Island. The boat ride took about 20 mins. The ride was a bit shaky but after that wild white water rafting in CDO, I was not fazed at all by the waves. As long as I had my lifevest, I was quite ok (but still a bit nervous coz we were navigating open sea and I can't swim for dear life!).
11:07 AM - Upon docking on the island, we looked for Roger the Guru (as we were told by the guy who arranged the multicab for us). Roger and the rest of the islanders welcomed us with a smile. It turns out that one of the teenage boatmen was actually Roger's younger brother. We told Roger that we wanted to have our lunch in the island so he gave us a menu. We got the Barkadahan meal package which was good for the four of us (but I think it can feed 5 or 6 average eaters). The Barkadahan meal consisted of grilled fish (huge fish which Roger calls the mantigue fish [yeah, 'could use a little more creativity on the name hehe]... it was just half a fish -- the head part and then some -- and we still did not finish it), rice, seaweed and coke litro. We also ordered shells (halaan) on ginger-flavored soup reminiscent of tinola.
While waiting for our lunch to be cooked, Roger offered to tour us around the island. He told us about his little project on rebuilding their humble school which was ruined and virtually swept away by the stormy waves last year. On his welcoming cottage, he had this small wooden donation box marked as Mantigue Elementary School (or something to that effect). It came with a log book wherein donating island guests are to write their names and corresponding email addresses. Roger promises to email everyone a picture of the new elementary school once it is completed. He had been collecting donations for the school project since October 2006. Oh by the way, there is no internet access in the island. Roger sails to the Camiguin main island for internet access and the villagers also sail to town for supplies like ice, ginger, and other food ingredients. I'm not quite sure if there is electricity in the island coz Roger says there is no refrigerator anywhere there. We heard some guys singing on the videoke though so I'm not so sure. There is a strong cellphone signal in the island (mine is Globe) and there is a solar-powered telephone somewhere there.
We circled the entire island in about 45 mins., inclusive of numerous stops for photo ops here and there. Roger is not only the island's sole spokesperson and resident teacher but he is also a photographer :) He handles digicams with ease, perhaps used to it after numerous tourists visited Mantigue. He pointed good photo spots for us along the way. He also showed us the ruins of their old school and the site of their half-done new school. In the entire duration of our Mantigue tour, two local dogs have accompanied us as if they were Roger's assistant tourist guides. So cute! They never barked at us, they just walk alongside us and frolick here and there as we took pictures.
We came to a complete circle and ended in a small cottage (see photos above) which Roger offers to tourists for an overnight rate of Php 1,000. He says you can squeeze in as much as 10 persons in the hut for sleeping. There are bamboo fences around the cottage and on the outside is a small lounge area. Inside is a wide open space (where one could probably lay sleeping mats) and a small room with two bamboo beds. For adventure-seekers who are so charmed by the place and want to stay overnight, this is the only place to stay in. The hut is situated near the sea shore and a little walk away from the tourist CR which surprisingly has tidy tiles and ample water on the pail for flushing. You just need somebody to watch the door as you use it coz the door doesn't snugly stay shut as it should. The villagers just get water from the sea and into a pail to serve as one's flushing water. I even realized I asked a funny/stupid question when I wondered: "Saan po kukuha ng tubig para sa CR?" But of course, the sea shore is just a few steps away! *doink!*
Mang Roger (Rogelio Saturos) can be reached thru mobile no. 0920-230-6407 or thru email addy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mang Roger joined us for lunch as he told us about his frustration regarding not receiving enough support from the local government to promote tourism in Mantigue Island. He thinks that this is due to the fact that the government wanted to declare the island as a sanctuary. Thus, they who have lived in the island for so many years were supposed to leave it and find a home somewhere else. He laments that the local government promotes White Island more than Mantigue Island. When in fact, Mantigue has a much richer underwater life best for snorkling and diving than White Island. No one is helping them rebuild their school. So Roger, with his innate spirit to help his fellow villagers, has taken it to himself to do something about it. He tells the tourists the island's story and hopes for whatever kind donation that they will drop in his small wooden box. Well we just saw a Loren Legarda election poster right beside our hut... so Sen. Legarda, what say you?
Roger is the only island local who has confidence to talk to the tourists. He said that his fellow villagers are too timid to converse with the tourists because most of them did not get proper education. Roger, on the other hand, had finished college (an Education course), worked for some time in Goto King somewhere in Cebu and then went back to his home island to teach the children (all subjects!). He endeavors to teach the children of Mantigue in hopes that he could give them enough knowledge and confidence to entertain the tourists who come to Mantigue and also find alternative sources of living.
He told us stories of kind tourists coming back to Mantigue with school supplies, school chairs and food donations. The Mantigue children's favorite is chocolate. It so happened that She brought a bar of chocolate as snack so we just gave it away to the shy children who were just around our cottage :-)
1:20 PM - We were brought by the boatmen a few meters away from the shore for snorkeling. I'm not good with estimating distances but from where we snorkeled, we could still see about 2 inches of Mang Roger waving at us.
It was my first time ever to snorkel so I asked She (who has snorkeling & scuba diving experience) to teach me how to use the snorkeling gear and breathe underwater. At first, I was gasping for air coz I was not used to breathing through my mouth. My legs were too flappy as per She that's why I got tired easily and used up more air. In a few minutes, I managed to regulate my breathing and calmed myself down with less leg/arm movements. The underwater life we saw was totally breathtaking! Just like in a salt water aquarium as Mang Roger described. I could only name the clownfish and starfish but there were other schools of fishes down there. Hand-size fishes and tiny ones, royal blue, yellow, aquamarine, orange and gray schools of fishes abound. They were all swimming leisurely about a huge coral about the size of 2 cars. Oh and I just learned that starfishes are not colored fleshy pink but a deep violet-blue underwater. The starfish I saw was about the size of an adult's hand. I could only see a blackened abyss on one edge of the coral and that made me panic a bit coz I couldn't surmise how deep it was. In my nervousness and my desire to still venture in that direction, I asked one of the boatmen to dangle a rope which I could hold onto like a security blanket.
We floated pieces of crackers near the surface and in seconds, small fishes swam up near us to partake of the goodies. Didn't experience a fish nibble though like what happened to me back in Camayan Beach (Subic).
I think we took an hour or so just snorkeling. Somewhere in between, two boatloads of incoming tourists passed near us. The boatmen were actually clapping with joy at the thought of new tourists visiting their little island.
SNORKELING TIP: Bring along a toothpaste sachet when you snorkel. Before snorkeling, wash the eyemask with toothpaste to prevent fogging. Also wash the mouthpiece with toothpaste for that fresh minty feeling when you put it in your mouth for breathing.
If you want the fishes to come near you, stash some bread or unflavored cracker with you. Feed the fishes with bits and pieces of these.
After snorkeling, the boatmen took us straight to the Camiguin mainland shores (a much nearer drop-off than where we were previously dropped going to Mantigue). We walked into a seaside village and out onto a main road where we waited for a tuktuk to Mambajao for Php 20. The tuktuk dropped us off on the market area of Mambajao (near the vicinity of the town's church). From the market, we rode another tuktuk back to Paras resort for Php 10. The entire travel from Mantigue to Paras was probably about an hour and a half.
4:18 PM - From Paras resort, we rented a roundtrip pump boat for Php 400. It took us about 10 minutes to reach White Island which you can actually see from Paras' al fresco dining area. It was low tide in the late afternoon so the island was much larger than it was in the morning.
In White Island, there are makeshift cottages with tables & chairs for rent at Php 50. There are also some townsfolk who offer freshly cooked food. The sandbar facing Paras had a very fine powdery texture which was a delight to walk on barefooted. The other side of the island which faces the open sea had a much coarser white sand. It had a view of the sunset on one side and a view of the picturesque Mt. Hibok-Hibok on the other. The island "closes" at 6pm so our 1 hour and 15 minutes were busily spent on doing lots of group shots (thanks to digicam self-timers!). We took a lot of time perfecting our group shot wherein we froze a mid-air jump, with the sun setting behind us, thus resulting to fun-jumping silhouettes. A group of onlookers on the other side of the island were watching us jump endlessly and then some were actually mimicking our pose for their own cameras (I presume).
I dumped a lot of sunblock on me for the day's island-hopping so I was not sunburned at all. Not even a visible bikini mark on my shoulders. I really just got sunburned on our CDO white water rafting adventure.
5:58 PM - We got back to Paras resort and ate our dinner in their gazebo. It rained hard so we had to forego the plan to dip in the resort's pool. Besides, there were lots of children swimming in it and we concluded that the pool would have been child-pee by then :p Before dinner was served, Rose had arranged for a reflexology massage with the front desk. They recommended a (third party) lady who offered massages for Php 300/hour. We did 30 minute sessions so we only paid Php 150 each. I think I was already watching PBB's big night by the time it was my turn to be massaged.