MAMBAJAO, Camiguin – This ‘island born of fire’, hasn’t changed its laid-back landscape literally. Save for some resorts rising, the ambience of this tiny island province has remained unperturbed through the years.
The island’s rustic scenery still enjoys that magnetic come-on to the tired and weary in search of temporary escape from urban living. That
alluring charm is still there – alive and kicking.
Truth of the matter is, this pear-shaped island, gifted by nature has simply ignored the convergence of modern living.
Except perhaps of the entry of social media, Camiguin has remained an ‘island of pure imagination’, where the furtherance of simplicity in living is most prevalent in its five municipalities where fishing and a little farming are the main source of livelihood.
Though Camiguin enjoys being called ‘a home away from home’, it has its share of downsides and the mess starts from the port of entry in Balingoan where fixers abound, asking for “facilitation fee” for their services rendered on securing port entry tickets.
For the first-time tourist, this comes as bad first impression. Port facilities are not that impressive either. Toilets stink, waiting sheds too low-
class, and its upkeep, never world-class.
On board a cranky, ageing ferry, the short one hour voyage is one hell of a ride. The vessel had maneuvered over strong waves, yes, but not without aching its way to Benoni, the island’s only commercial seaport.
One thing is noticeable though, and this is all about the resilience of people wanting to experience what Camiguin has to offer sans the
inconvenience of a boat ride like inadequate safety measure while on board.
This comes as no surprise because most often than not, safety precautions in this country are strictly imposed on sea travel only after a
disaster or worse, a tragedy happened, where people are killed and properties damaged. And worst, national pride dampened.
Rustic as it were, the island’s natural beauty is eclipsed scanty infrastructure facilities. A manifestation of this observation came after a quick
look at the forest-capped Katibawan Falls.
While the falls may have an awesome sight to behold, getting there is not as pleasant as imagined. The road leading to this tourist spot is a scene not pleasing to the eye, definitely a bane to the tourism industry of the island.
Up there at the falls entrance, one is greeted by stores and ambulant vendors -- an unwanted sight for a spot frequented by tourists. Take those out and place them at a far distance, that falls will shine to its highest grandeur!
With no speed limit on sight, Camiguin’s circumferential road, though unevenly paved, is practically dominated by noisy fish peddlers on board their motor vehicles. The sight and sounds are too much to bear. Too crude for a tourist destination.
The popular Ardent Spring, reportedly run by the local government is poorly managed so with other spots like Guiob church ruins.
That said, this volcanic island, as others love to call it, is still a natural beauty to behold.
Take it as it were. Camiguin has still its laid-back charm like no other.
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