Things to see in Camiguin island, Philippines (Part 1)

Camiguin Day 1

Camiguin island is such a small island that one full day is enough to see it all. But of course if you have the luxury of time, it’s always good to take it slow and bask in the island’s natural beauty in a slower pace. I would have loved to stay longer (we were there for only 2 nights) but had other things to do so only limited our stay. Because of that we missed some places to go but oh well, that only meant we need to go back.

I am sure there will be another trip to Camiguin in store for us.

The small island of Camiguin is known for its natural wonders, beautiful rural spots, historical events, festivals and unique delicacies, Camiguin is an island bursting with adventure.

This is the list of the places we visited in Camiguin that’s pretty much what you can see when you search Google. However, our taste of the wonderful island life didn’t really start at number 1 on this list, it started with the drives from Benoni port to our accommodation in Mambajao.

roadside camiguin

The (only) main road circles around the island so it’s sea view all throughout. I highly recommend you open the door of your car and let the wind kiss your face. There is very little pollution in the island unlike in the big city where there are plenty of cars.

Here are two places we went to on our first day in Camiguin.


katibawasan 1

A friend who was kind enough to spare his time to pick us up at the port was only about to take us to our hotel in Mambajao from the port but when we reached, he asked “so what’s the plan?”. We looked at each other with blank expressions on our faces (I told you in my travel guide to Camiguin, this was an impromptu trip although we know the staple must-see places to go…). My brothers and I planned to hire a van to take us to some of the tourist spots of the island but Chris, my friend who is from the island said, I’m off for the whole afternoon, I will take you to two places, at least!

on the way to Katibawasan

We couldn’t pass up on that opportunity. Our local guide was very enthusiastic to show us around and mighty proud of it – I would be too if I am from here. The island is beautiful. First up was Katibawasan falls located at the foot of Mt. Timpoong, Barangay Upper Pandan, approximately five kilometers southeast of the Municipality of Mambajao.Katibawasan Falls can be easily reached from Mambajao towards the southern portion, passing through a 600m- concrete road after which you start to negotiate gravel- and- mud road.

katibawasan 2

Katibawasan falls as seen by a local, my friend Chris and by tourists, my two children! Chris might have seen this a thousand times already.

katibawasan 3

We were ready for swimming but surprisingly (for us, not for the locals I am sure), the water was freezing. There’s a part of the waterfall, just directly where it drops that’s prohibited for swimming. There’s a rope (or net?) separating that deeper part of the pool, follow the rules and don’t go there. We’ve heard from our guide that many people have drowned there.

katibawasan testing the waters

Nevertheless, my trip companions braved the freezing waters and dived in. “Come on, it’s only tough during the first few seconds!” Don’t wonder if I am not in the pics – I do not do well with ice cold waters! But better that way because if I had been swimming, no one wold take pictures, right? By the way, we had the place all to ourselves since we were there on a weekday. That made the swim more enjoyable.

katibawasan exclusive for us

Not bad for the first leg of our tour of Camiguin, huh? It’s not everyday you get the have the waterfall all to yourself!

Outside Katibawasan falls, going back to the main road, there are vendors selling different foodstuffs. It’s a small village and the sight reminded me of the 1980’s. The whole scenery has that vintage feel to it.

katibawasan vendors

TIP: While there, don’t miss to try out the local delicacy called “kiping” – made from dried cassava (tapioca) , grounded, mixed with water then fried. This thin, crispy, cheap street food can be a desert or a snack during your tour around the island. It is big as a medium-size plate drizzled with with “latik”, a sweet caramelized coconut sauce.


Photo credit Traveling Morion

katibawasan kiping

Photo credit Lonely Travelogue

Additional information: (As of this writing, Sept 2015) There’s a PHP30 per person to enter Katibawasan falls.


hibok2 observatory

We were ready to call it a day when Chris said, “I want to take you up there where you can have one of the best vantage points to see the island and the sea beyond!” We had no idea where it was but we happily said, yes please!

Camiguin is home to seven volcanoes, and the most popular in the list is the Hibok-Hibok. For sure, you have encountered this in many travel websites or books. Hibok Hibok last erupted in 1951 and is still considered an active volcano. Chris’ trusty and burly 4 wheel drive car climbed up the mountain and we pulled over to a small building just beside the hill.

hibok2 view 3

This view was what greeted us. The Observatory is not one of the staple tourist spots in the guidebooks and among people who has been to Camiguin but don’t you think this is worth visiting?

hibok2 view 1

hibok2 view 2

hibok2 view 4

We arrived in Camiguin island just past noon time, traveled from the port to our accommodation, had lunch and when we got out for our first island adventure, it was already past 2 pm so we only ventured out to these two attractions and called it a day.

hibok2 observatory going down

It was monsoon season in the Philippines the time we were there and it would rain almost every afternoon in Cagayan de Oro City, where we were based. We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to see these beautiful blue skies in Camiguin. The rain clouds did start to gather when we descended down Mt. Hibok Hibok. We rested (took a long nap) as soon as we reached our accommodation in Mambajao and went out to the town center to find a place to eat dinner. Villa Paraiso was ok but there were no pedicabs going to the uphill location so we had to walk up to the main road. I can’t help but think of the energy we need to reserve to be able to walk up after dinner. We brought an umbrella just in case it rains and it did rain after we had our dinner!

Public transport in Camiguin island is very limited. There are pedicabs, multicabs (more like open type vans) but we did not see any taxis for hire. And…the operating hours could throw you off. It becomes difficult to catch any form of public transport from the only main road after 8pm…and earlier when it is raining!

So it’s either you have your own car when you tour the island or hire any form of transport to follow you around. Otherwise, don’t venture out after 8pm!

An unplanned trip to Davao


Last month, I made an unplanned trip to visit my relatives from my father’s side. All my father’s family and our extended relatives live in Davao, in the south eastern part of Mindanao. We rarely see them, in fact, the last time I was there was during the wedding of an aunt in September 1996, right before I left to study in Japan.


Philippine map

Because it’s a long travel to Davao. Cagayan de Oro City is located on the northern tip of Mindanao island and the mountainous road to Davao takes a butt aching 8 hours of travel provided there is no unfortunate flat tire incidents along the way. There were no planes flying from Cagayan de Oro to Davao way back then. And even if there was, we could never afford it. Travel tend to be expensive when the family is big (we are six siblings!).

I’ve spent a memorable summer there in 1993 when my grandparents visited us in Cagayan de Oro (because they missed their son – my father) and I tagged along with them when they went back to Davao so travel was free! The scenic 8 hour bus trip was unforgettable. I wish I had a camera that time. I loved the vibe of the place when we arrived and the people who are there. Sometimes it feels awkward to visit because people would gather around and ask, is this so and so’s daughter? Oh she’s really grown, etc etc…they are always curious because they rarely see me (us).

My relatives in Davao are very nice people. To them it does not matter whether we visited yesterday or several years ago, we are always welcomed with warm hugs and tears (of joy). What’s best is that my aunts, uncles, cousins, they never bother that I came from ‘abroad’ – there’s this Filipino culture where the relative from abroad spends for everything and obliged (almost) to give “pasalubong” or gifts but my relatives from Davao never ask or imply they want gifts. They’re amazing people who loves us unconditionally and seems to be happy with just our mere presence.

I feel we’ve won the “pick your relative” lottery with our relatives from my father’s side!

So, back to my trip.

The plane was scheduled to leave Laguindingan International Airport at 6:30 am. By the way, I cringe as I type the word “international” because there are no international flights there, as of now! I wish there would be soon because I really don’t want to have to spend time in Manila every home coming.

This is the plane. Would you be not scared to ride on this one?

plane to Davao

Honestly, I was a bit terrified because, holy cow, why are the propellers out? It looks like a toy!

* This type of plane from Cebu Pacific is for short distance travel within the Philippines and requires passengers to be weighed in! Yes, I’m not kidding. They just don’t weigh your baggage but you as well to balance the load so…it could crush your self-confidence, just saying.

cloud bed

The flight to Davao City from Cagayan de Oro City is something so different from what I usually experience. I am used to Manila – Cagayan de Oro flights where you could see the sea and the islands below. This time because the plane is traveling within Mindanao island so the scene below is different.

mountains below

Different and stunning.

shining rivers

The flight time was only less than an hour, maybe around 50 minutes and the mountains below provided entertainment. Mindanao is so lush, so green.

near landing

The mountain ranges ended and the sea appeared as the plane approached Davao airport. I’m finally stepping into Davao again after 19 years. It’s been too long!

I did not ask anyone to pick me up at the airport though I did not know what to do or where to go. LOL. Armed with info from the internet and Google maps, I asked around how to go to the bus terminal to take me to my destination. I managed to arrive at the Ecoland Bus terminal in one piece from the airport and chose a bus to Digos city where a cousin was waiting. 

The bus ride from Davao City to Digos City was nearly 2 hours but I didn’t mind. I had internet connection and a camera. Most of the passengers were either sleeping or watching the movie played inside the bus. Now, who would want to do that when it’s this beautiful outside?

rural 1

Perhaps the people were frequent travelers in the area. They have gotten tired of the view.

rural 2

My cousin and I had to take another bus for 30 minutes (?) to Sulop, the final destination. It was a bus without any aircon. But the issue isn’t the heat – it’s the crazy wind going through the windows. My hair was all over the place.

That day, there was a wedding.

I arrived and met my relatives at the church on the wedding day of one of my cousins. There were many cousins who I’ve met for the first time. Some were only babies when I last visited. My trip was short, I only stayed for a couple of nights but it was so memorable…I hope it won’t take me another 19 years to come back!

By the way, I don’t know about you but since it has been seven years since I’ve been to the Philippines, I was planning on eating the fruits that I missed and Davao, man, is very bountiful. The Philippines is known to be agriculturally rich and diverse with bountiful flora and fauna recognized by the world but Davao definitely stands out, especially in Mindanao.God must have blessed that land so much that it’s so rich with so many fruits that are so sweet and perfect.

I was craving for marang fruit so my relatives brought me nearby where fruits are sold at the road side.


There was an array of Durian, the king of fruits; the most popular fruit that comes from Davao. I mean, you could tell from a few meters away that there’s durian. I have not had durian before nor planned to eat it for the first time that day so we skipped this.

durian in the road

There! Marang fruit. Have you seen or had one before? So many of my non-Filipino friends do not know marang and even there are some Filipinos, especially those who live in the north do not know this.


“The marang (Artocarpus odoratissimus) is a fruit tree native to Mindanao and some parts of Palawan and Borneo. Like the durian, it has this weird smell but less pungent. A cousin of the jackfruit, its soft and sweet flesh is wrapped in a thick and thorny exterior. Fruit stands along the roads in South Mindanao are usually packed with marang together with durian, pineapples, and bananas.”

road side shopping

You have no idea how I wanted to go home as quick as possible in the above photo!

FINALLY. I was smiling in the picture but I was almost in tears. That dramatic I had to take a marang selfie.

marang collage

If there is one fruit that I truly, truly miss and have a longing for like a long lost love, it is marang. Mangoes, durian, pineapples and other tropical fruits can be imported and I have had it abroad but this? Marang could not withstand long travel because it ripens and spoils very quickly. 

I’m too far carried away when talking about food…

My short trip to Davao was epic. I had other commitments back in Cagayan de Oro so I had to leave. I was there for only 2 nights and 3 days but was so busy I don’t even want to sleep: there was a wedding, a christening, reunion, meeting up with extended family and visiting my grandparents’ final resting place. I wasn’t able to bid them goodbye because I was in Japan when they passed away. It’s tough losing a loved one while living abroad. I also visited my Tiyo Miguel, my father’s brother who died recently.


I promised to be back soon, with the kids but then my plane struggled with turbulence on my way back to Cagayan de Oro. That small plane shaking so badly, I almost ran out of prayers to say. July-August is bad time to travel, especially during late afternoon/night. I wasn’t able to go back with the kids, maybe next time, with an early morning flight.

I can show the kids beautiful Davao, have them meet my wonderful relatives and then I can have my precious marang again!