It’s raining. The ferry from Balingoan slowly pierces the veil-like fog that partially covers the view of Mt. Hibok-Hibok from a distance. A teary-eyed, seasick boy of about seven is constantly directing his little mouth to a plastic bag while his mother is gently stroking his back; another 30 minutes and we will already dock at Benoni port. I transfer to the viewing deck to escape the stuffy air of the closed room.
“Is this your first time in Camiguin?”
“I was here in 2009. But I’m sure a lot have changed already. You’re from here?”
“Yes, I work for DSWD. Well, there are new things – like that Zipline near JT’s Fishpen.”
“I like it here. The place reminds me of home”
“Very laid-back, right? You wouldn’t think that our small province has seven volcanoes”
The conversation drifted from one topic to another: the number of casualties during one of the eruptions (thousands, he said), how the sea swallowed portions of the old town, the peak tourist months, and the May local elections. In my mind, I was telling myself: Here’s a man who is proud of his province.
“I hope you’ll have a great time here in Camiguin”
I smiled and said thank you before getting my bag to have the requisite arrival photo with the group.
First on our itinerary was Mantigue Island (30-minute boat ride away). Here, our tour guide entertained us with his knowledge of various ‘adjectives’ to describe photos of the group.Starting early. A father shows his child the beauty of Katibawasan Falls.
Nipa roof of the restaurant. White Island – a sand bar about 20 minutes away from Paras Beach resort.Sun worshippers. These two women moved farther away from the crowd to enjoy the sun.First among equals. Rocky area near the Sunken CemeteryPilgrim Church. A boatman rows towards the cross.The reward of patience.
Thinking of Camiguin, my mind conjures an image of a mysteriously veiled woman – one who, even behind the white lace, prefigures a remarkable beauty: plump lips, alabaster skin, and barely visible coffee brown eyes. Her calm, graceful demeanor belies a painful, violent past.