Sunday, June 2, 2013

[MAMBAJAO] It's Mambajao with a Spanish J

So once again I find myself island hopping down south, where the lingua franca has always been Binisaya, which I find both annoying and amazing at the same time. Annoying? Yes, because in the school of thought to which I subscribe, which happens to highlight an intense narcissistic mantra, I'm supposed to be the center of the universe, and people should adjust accordingly. I know, I'm a jerk. Amazing? Yes, because once again this mantra clashes with a totally different reality where I find myself to be a foreigner in my own country, a proud one with many nations that speak a plethora of languages and vary in terms of culture. It never fails to hit you with the realization that Manila isn't the Philippines, something that you'll never really get to know unless you get out of the capital more often.

My inability to express myself in another Philippine language is one of my biggest frustrations, so huge that sometimes I want to go back in time around half a year before I was born so I could convince my parents to move out of Manila, and then I would grow up trilingual. Anyway, the first big language blunder of the day was pronouncing Mambajao like any other English speaker would, at least when it comes to the J. It appears that the locals pronounce it with a Spanish J, albeit less guttural; in short, a Tagalog H. So noob of me! I seem to have forgotten that the Visayas area is more hardcore Spanish-influenced than Manila could ever wish it were. Place names here are more likely to date back to the Spanish colonial era and, thus, pronounced appropriately.

If you are planning to go to Camiguin, then I suggest that you do so in tandem with Cagayan de Oro, and then throw in some Bukidnon in there for some Dahilayan zip line fun. Why am I suggesting this itinerary? Well, going to Camiguin feels like going to Europe, if we talk about travel time. I left Makati at 3 AM and arrived at GV Hotel Mambajao at around 2 PM. 11 hours, seriously? It was a combination of different types of transportation: taxi to airplane; plane to jeep; jeep to bus; bus to ferry; ferry to multicab. In any case, my longest plane ride experience to date, a seven-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo, would be my perennial favorite to win the most-excruciating-ride-ever award, with that 12-hour Paka to Singapore trip on a freezing bus in close second. Much has already been said online on how to reach Camiguin, and I will no longer elaborate on that. I recommend the Manila – Cebu – Camiguin alternative via Cebu Pacific, though, if you want to save time.

Camiguin is a small island which you can circumnavigate within three hours. Okay, that verb made it sound like a trip to outer space. No space ships involved here! A multicab should suffice. Of course, the length of time greatly varies if you do it by bike or on foot. In terms of tourist attractions, they say you can cover most of them in a day if you start very early, but then again, why pressure yourself? If you are looking for some laid back vacation, you can easily spend a week here by taking everything slow. Let me warn you, though, that Camiguin is not Boracay. It can compete in terms of beaches that are aesthetically pleasing to look at, but night life is close to non-existent. No fire dancers. No parties. Just dark alleys and bikers huddled in groups waiting for instant income in the form of a lost tourist in need of a ride. If you desperately need food, Rooftop is open 24 hours, and so is the bakery nearby.

Honestly, I just wanted to sleep as part of my new stress free to-hell-with-the-world program. With no full-time job and just a few shifts in the evening before midnight, I now have a lot of free time, and I intend to consume most of it by sleeping. However, I felt like it did not seem right. If I wanted to do just that, then why bother leaving at all? I had to see something, but first I had to eat something. This is one of my first few impressions about Camiguin: there seems to be a shortage of eateries and absolutely no fast food at all. I ended up at a pizza place where around half a dozen Caucasians were having a rather large pizza. Pizza, it is then, and an ice-cold bottle of Pepsi! The lunch dilemma is solved.

One of the many bikers there offered a ride when I started asking for directions on how to reach this and that. It was either a trip to White Island or Katibawasan Falls. The falls eventually won, along with a visit to some government-sponsored hot springs called Ardent. I am not sure about the government-sponsored part, but I did see somewhere that the local government unit is somehow involved. But first, let's talk about the waterfall, which is situated ten minutes by habal-habal from where GV Hotel is.

This one is quite high and a bit commercialized, or is that even the right term for it? The base has been furnished with some sort of asphalt corners, making it look less natural but evidently safer. The last thing you'd like to worry about is your kid getting dragged all the way downstream if not for those cement barriers. The waterfall itself and the surrounding greenery maintain Mother Nature’s vibe, and there is something hypnotic about it, which is more or less true for most waterfalls. As the jets of water shoot down from above, the resulting impact with the surface of the pool down below causes some sort of tranquil chaos, an ironic and endless cycle of water giving in to gravity and flowing downwards.

The verdant leaves dance to the tune of clashing water as they sway to the pressure derived from such natural phenomenon. Listening to it, you'd think that you're in some perpetual war with Mother Earth as your ears suffer from a barrage of noise pollution. Not to worry! This doesn't last long. That feeling of uncertainty is eventually replaced by serenity once your ears tune in to the beat of the water movement and your eyes catch the hypnotic dance of the surrounding flora. The Earth has its own rhythm, which can be soothing if you allow yourself to get to know it better. Hey, this is even better than sleeping!

The day ended at Ardent Hot Springs, where the hot springs are not so hot but rather just warm. I wanted something hot, like boiling hot, for some end-of-day relaxation, but this would do. Composed of several pools with water coming directly from Mount Hibok-Hibok, this place has tarpaulins explaining that the water is of varying pH degrees, which means that there is some sort of therapeutic effect for people suffering from various ailments ranging from skin disease to rheumatism. They also warn you that the sulfur content makes the place smell like rotten eggs. However, my nostrils never really sensed anything foul. Time flies so quickly when you are in a state of repose. I think I spent around two hours just lazing in the water.

0 creature(s) gave a damn:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Protected by Copyscape DMCA Copyright Detector

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review

Film Review