Published: February 27th 2012February 14th 2011
The taxi driver was driving like a mad man; I guess he took it too seriously when I told him he really really had to hurry because I am very much running late – yea, cramming again – but made it on time once again (thanks to the crazy driving) to meet up with Martin, Lori, and Ren at the Airport. Our plane took off at around four in the morning and by half past five I was already eating pancakes at Jollibee
Cagayan De Oro, Mindanao at last!
The city is nice and clean, it somehow reminds me of Sabah. Most people, especially the cab/taxi drivers would speak to us in the local dialect, Bisaya, even if we talk to them in Tagalog; we didn’t mind much since our dialect (Martin & I) is somewhat similar to Bisaya, and with a little struggle we were able to practice our Bisaya skills.
We were off to the ferry port after the meal for the two hours sail to the country’s second smallest province, Camiguin. It was fare haggling since arriving at the Cagayan De Oro Airport and now at the Camiguin Port. Ren was able to hire an open
multi-cab for PHP1,500 eight hours tour around the island. The first stop was the towering Katibawasan Falls which was a pretty sight, though I wish there wasn’t much un-natural constructions’ around it; I thought it would have been more interesting if they left the whole surroundings ruggedly untouched. Since it was almost noon, we decided to have our lunch next at Pedro’s
located at Parola Mambajao – the food was inexpensive and good. Then afterwards we checked in at the Paras Beach Resort
which would be our home for the night. The staff welcomed us with refreshments and sea shells necklaces before escorting us to our room; ours was the family loft with two queen size bed, and one sofa bed, all for PHP3,000.
After checking in, our driver for the day Kuya PatPat continued showing us around - the next stop was the huge Soda Swimming Pool
. They say that the water from a natural spring flowing to the pool supposedly tastes like soda (tasted like common water to me), hence the name. I could only sit and watch as my three travel companions enjoyed swimming as I was enduring painful cramps and was feeling sick. We then
Hiding from the sun
White Island, Camiguin
moved on to the Sto. Niño Cold Spring
, and to the old town’s 16th Century Guiob Church Ruins
destroyed by (now extinct) Mt. Volcan’s eruption. The Sunken Cemetery
came next – it is an old burial ground consequently buried under the sea during the 1871 eruption, now a dive site. And finally the last stop - the walkway to the old Volcano & Station of the Cross
Back at the resort by dinnertime, although they provided us very slow service, we did enjoy the food when it finally arrived and were surely filled with their sizzling bulalo
(beef bone marrow), pancit
canton (canton noodles), fish fillet with mayo, eggplant omelet, and halo-halo
+ leche flan
(crème caramel) for dessert. The three guys were on their swimming clothes again after the meal while I sat and watch trying to get busy writing by the poolside, sick the entire day.
I woke up with ringing in my ears the next morning, assuming it was because of the medication I’ve been taking – it was resolutely ignored. It was pancakes again for breakfast, then off to the nearby ‘White Island’ on a boat arranged by the resort. It was about fifteen
minutes to the bare white sand bar, we needed to rent beach umbrellas to help shelter us from the stinging sun rays. With the sun shining brightly and its reflection on the white island floor, forgetting about sunglasses was a pain; I had to squint the whole time. There were lots of small fishes during snorkel, but there were also those rows of dead corals, yet again.
After about an hour of swimming at the island, we were back at the resort enjoying their tiny yet lovely swimming pool beautifully situated near the bar, with the beautiful view of the blue sky, coconut trees, and the sea. I also like how the resort is set up, it looks neat. They also allowed a late check out; I guess there weren’t many visitors that time.
Back at the jetty for a very slow RORO
ride back to Misamis Oriental for the journey back to its capital Cagayan De Oro. If only I am able to jog on the water I would have been faster than it, however, at least it provided us some time to rest and to have a quick nap. It took more than an hour then
we headed straight to the bus station, just a few minutes walk from the receiving port and hopped on a bus bound for CDO. The coach ride took us another two hours mainly because it was taking too many stops picking up and dropping off every single possible passenger that it passes by! We were dropped off near a market where motorela
drivers instantly greeted alighting passengers; we hopped on one and headed to our hotel, Casa Crystalla
. Our rooms (Deluxe for two) were nice and spacious, it looked a bit fancy for 1,200/night actually. After sorting everything out, we had to feed our rumbling tummies and went to the mall for a very late lunch/early dinner, and met up with a colleague’s friends who were CDO residents. There was a little drinking session with Kaki and Kane at Kyla's bistro at Rosario's Arcade located at LimKetKai Center before going back to the hotel by midnight.
We were excitedly getting ready for white water rafting by 07:00 the next morning. Our Red Rafts
guides, Kuya Rick and Kuya George picked us up from the hotel. We started with breakfast, then bought bottled water, snacks, and made a short stop
at Makahambus Cave
on the way.
It was about an hour drive to the jump-off point; the rubber boat, the rafting gears, helmet, and life jackets were all set up when we arrived, and then by the Cagayan De Oro River the briefing started and the basics were taught. It was my second white water rafting trip and still feeling nervous and at the same thrilled to have a different experience to compare to Sabah’s version. The excitement began shortly – our group did the advance course and finished a total of 27 rapids. I fell off many times! I was sinking because of my wrong choice of lifejacket so instead of lying on my back to float amidst the violent currents, I had to swim - painfully filling my nose with water that it felt like it was being pumped straight to my brain. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the exciting activity anyway. There was lots of screaming, laughing, falling off, and singing the entire time. We did body rafting, boat ‘surfing’, and a personal cliff jumping request on the way down the river. The river current in Sabah seemed to have been more intense but perhaps it
only felt like it because it was my first time and the river was somewhat flooded, and I only fell once! The Cagayan De Oro rapids was certainly thrilling – in their own ways, both have provided the adrenaline-rush-inducing adventure that I have looked for.
It was a nice sunny morning; we also got to enjoy the view of the nearby mountains, the greenery by the river bank, and the trees lining the whole stretch of the river. We were also lucky to have Kuya Rick and Kuya George as our guides, such fun and cool people, very entertaining. It was another late lunch for us by the end of the advance course, yet another set of good food - grilled chicken, prawns, blue marlin, rice, and banana.
It started raining later in the afternoon that we worried about not being able to do zip-lining at Dahilaya Adventure Park
but we went anyway. It was rough road on the way but I surely didn’t miss noticing their beautiful countryside. It was a restful scene, the green cornfields, acres and acres of pineapple plantation, and those modern log cabins make the environment look peaceful. The park is located at
the mountains of Dahilaya in the nearby province of Bukidnon, claiming to have the longest zip line in Asia. It was still drizzling when we arrived, the cold air readily embracing us as soon as we got out of the van. Kuya Rick sorted everything out for us and we eventually were able to ride the zip line, the longest I’ve ever crossed. From 4.7k feet, it was a fine view of the misty mountains and its green foliage.
The two hours ride back to Cagayan De Oro was spent dozing off and/or listening and singing along to (our driver) Kuya Ting’s lovely selection of 90s boy bands songs. On the way, we dropped by a random pineapple field and at Camp Phillips where Kuya Ting treated us with the sweetest pineapple I’ve ever tasted.
Kuya Ting dropped us off at Limketkai Center. We then went straight to dinner at Kagay-Anon Restaurant
where we had our very first pricey ostrich meat (Ostrich Salpicao)
which tasted like adobo
, and we also tried their pork sinigang
, and mixed seafood. The night ended with Bailey Mocha Afreeze and Banana Chocolate Crepe dessert at the nearby Candy’s Café and Restaurant.
Three Mindanao provinces in three days - it was one of those travels that I truly enjoyed. Though I ended up partially deaf for a week after the trip, the whole experience certainly left a lasting good impression.
Cagayan De Oro has suffered a recent tragedy when it was hit by typhoon Sendong late last year(2011) killing more than a thousand and sweeping off entire properties. CDO is a beautiful city and I truly hope our friends and our lovely guides are all safe, and with everyone's help and prayers the city and its people will be able to get back to their feet in no time."
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