Monthly Archives: August 2014

Camiguin: Flora and Fauna In and Around Enigmata Treehouse

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The above is my favorite photo from this set.  I tried googling its name, but came up empty-handed.

And here’s the rest of the flowers I saw at Enigmata Treehouse.

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Of the above, I am only familiar with Heliconia (middle, left) and Hibiscus (upper right). The all-yellow flower (middle, top) is actually that of a bitter gourd.

I also took the time to check out the neighborhood and here’s how it looks like.

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It’s a nice, quiet neighborhood, with a good view of the mountains (or volcanoes?)

While walking around the neighborhood, I also chanced upon these interesting flowers.

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Isn’t the Cosmos beautiful? I used to see just its orange variety so I was amazed at seeing this pink specie. I don’t know what the yellow and lavender flowers are called, but I’ve seen them before. The orange flower is called Lantana. I find this flower deceiving since it looks beautiful, but smells anything but that in our dialect, it’s called baho baho, which means smelly.

These plants that are mostly weeds also caught my attention. I couldn’t individually identify them though, save for the Mimosa Pudica, or makahiya (upper right).

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These animals also caught my attention. There’s a farm in front of Enigmata and all these animals were from there save for the black cow and the pig.

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The turkeys were the most troublesome of the lot because they were so noisy that they and the crowing roosters were my daily alarm clock when I was in Enigmata.

I’ll end this post with my favorite shot of a grazing sheep.

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How cute.

Camiguin: Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge and Art Camp

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the 3-story high treehouse is built around a giant acacia tree

This was where I stayed on my first two nights in Camiguin.  I chose this because I fell in love with all the crafty knickknacks I saw on their website and read only rave reviews online about their food.

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paintings, okil art carved on wood, painted recycled glass, dreamcatchers, and sculptures

According to its website, Enigmata means “to open your eyes” and  “enter the journey inwards the creative circles of the mind.”  As a social enterprise, Enigmata maintains a low-impact eco-friendly treehouse ecolodge cum training venue for its artists and students.  It promotes homestay with the purpose of guests experiencing a meaningful visit in Camiguin while engaging in and interacting with the community to understand local life and the environment.

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views from the garden (upper and lower left) and from my room (upper right), and my Guest Book doodle/message

Accommodations
I booked the Eagle’s Nest Suite, which is at the topmost portion of their treehouse.  Its rate is Php 1,050 per night per 2 people, with Php 300 extra person charge for the 3rd person and another Php 300 for the 4th person.  As I was a solo traveler on this trip (traveling solo was part of my to-do list), I had the whole spacious accommodation to myself.

The sleeping area has two levels.  I opted to sleep on the lower level (upper left photo in the succeeding collage) because it’s more convenient, especially since on both nights, there was a blackout so it was quite a challenge to climb the narrow stairs.

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Enigmata is not the usual hotel or resort so they don’t have modern conveniences like TV or air-conditioning, but they do provide electric fans, which I did not even use since the fresh air was enough to keep me cool.

Enigmata’s Eagle’s Nest also has a very spacious living room, with a dining area, hammock, and wooden benches.  It even has its own fire exit.  Cool, huh.

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The hammock was my favorite corner here.  I was out on tours on 2 days, but on the days that I was home, I was mostly in this hammock taking a nap or reading a book (I was on digital detox then so I turned off my phones and for the first time since I worked, did not bother to bring my laptop).

Toilet and Bath
Only in Enigmata did I find a painted toilet and sink.  The mirror above the sink was also painted to match the toilet.

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Though there was a shower, I had to use the pail and dipper most of the time because when there is a blackout, water didn’t come out from the shower and even from the faucet.  Still it wasn’t a problem because there was enough water in the two water containers.

Like the rest of Enigmata, crafty knickknacks are all around Eagle’s Nest, from the rooms to the living room, and the sink.

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The area where the sink is (lower left photo) actually looks like a kitchenette, but that’s just it.  It has no cooking paraphernalia and dishes obviously as a safety precaution fire-wise.

Dining Experience
I dare say that Enigmata has the best food among the places I’ve dined in in Camiguin.  They’re not always well presented, but they are definitely yummy.

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My first meal was Pinoy Lutong Bahay, which is a choice of adobo with egg or tinolang manok.  I chose the former and was surprised at what a huge serving it was.  It was really good and just the kind of adobo that I like, which is salty and tangy.

Next I had Pasta Filipina for dinner, which is spaghetti pasta in red sweet sauce and parmesan cheese.  We Filipinos love our pasta sweet and Enigmata’s version is as Filipino as can be.  I loved it.

The following morning, I ordered their Morning Plate, which consisted of sunny side-up egg, bacon and ham with rice or toast and coffee.  This was my least favorite food in Enigmata.  The bacon was not crunchy and the ham was too sweet and oily.  And the coffee was obviously straight off a 3-in-1 sachet.

Lastly, I had their Mamarosa pizza.  Its toppings include black olives, vegetables, and mozzarella cheese.  I’m not really a veggie person and I always order all-meat for my pizza, but this was strongly recommended by the staff and they were right.  It was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.  And the healthiest too, no doubt.  For my drinks, I had mango shake, which was brownish yellow and this may be because they used brown sugar to sweeten it.

Balay Kalipay

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This library café is an open house theater with a nipa roof and bamboo floors.  This is where I take my meals, save for the dinner I had on my second night, which I took at my own dining table at the Eagle’s Nest.

Strewn here and there were art pieces like paintings, giant chess pieces made of wood, cloth draping, dreamcatchers, wind chimes, etc.  There were hammocks too, colorful mats, and throw pillows.

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Ganda Art Galeri
This is Enigmata’s souvenir shop.  Ganda, in the Filipino language means beautiful.  Here, they sell paintings, dreamcatchers, handmade pieces of jewelry, shirts, and whatnot.

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I bought a shirt for my souvenir for only Php 200.

There were wire art for sale too, which I found interesting.  The artist was able to create a motorcycle, a rose, and characters from Transformers (bottom photo) using just common wire.

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The paintings were beautiful and I marveled at knowing that the ones in shades of mostly brown and black (first four photos from the top) were painted using sand and mud.

I was actually lucky to have met one of their painters.  Christopher painted the one with children playing luksong tinik (middle photo below, which was still unfinished thus the blank face of the girl) and the one with the boy and the dog.  Isn’t he so talented?  Just look at the details and shadows in his creations!

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Christopher also cooks well.  I found out on my last day that he prepared most of my meals.  He also became my driver when I hired him to bring me to Camiguin Action Gecko, my next stop after Enigmata.  He was so nice and helpful and declined my tip even  when I insisted.

The gallery also stands as Enigmata’s front desk.  This is where I settled my bills and, where a staff was always visible.

Most of the time, the staff played guitar at one corner of the gallery (lower left photo).

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Isn’t the wall nice?  It looked like a spider’s web.  And just look at the floor with sunflowers on it and the ceiling with a canopy of paintings.

Kusina Aha!
This is Enigmata’s kitchen.  Cooking is not really my thing so the whole time that I was there, I ordered my food from them.

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I just find it interesting that even this turned out into a work of art.  Note that okil carved on wood on the doors and walls and the pugon (furnace) that’s carved into a face.

And yes, smoking is prohibited in Enigmata and they do charge corkage fees.

Swing Garden and Green Pool
I love this garden canopied with hanging vines with white flowers, though the green pool was empty.  It would have been nice if it has water and maybe lotus flowers.

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The hammock here became my crib whenever I waited for my food to be delivered at Balay Kalipay.  In both days that I was here, I saw turtles.

Art and crafty pieces everywhere
Anywhere I looked, there were interesting work of art around Enigmata like these painted umbrellas hanging from the ceiling.

And see, even the doors were painted!

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And just look at their wooden stairs (middle right photo) that were painstakingly carved with flowers, ferns, and whatnot.  These stairs were on the main treehouse and led to the second floor.

Right after the entrance, attached to the wall of the gallery were birdhouses.  There were wooden carvings, painted bottles, and painted stones too.  Anywhere else, there were painted canopies, colorful dreamcatchers, capiz art, etc.

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There were recycled pieces too like a wall art made of bottle caps (top photos), blinds  made of recycled magazines (middle photo, left) and colorful drinking straws (middle, right), and lanterns made of recycled CDs and lightbulbs (bottom photos).

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There were sculptures too, which were found mostly in the garden save for the Enigman (upper right photo in the following collage), which was found on the road leading to Enigmata.  Enigman is renowned sculptor Kublai Milan’s masterpiece created as an expression of the Filipino culture bearer rooted from the roots, carrying the culture of remembrance  that represents  heritage and traditions.

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The sculpture on the top-left photo is that of a dancer and a musician whose union is like that of the earth and sky – a duality that gives us back our wholeness and oneness.

The sculpture with a gecko on it is called taong tuko while the one on the bottom right is that of a taong bao.  In our dialect, a tuko is a gecko while a bao is a turtle.  These representations were chosen because the gecko is known for its reverence to the earth, which the artist likened to a tribal man rooted in his culture.  The turtle man, meanwhile, is the voice of the sea.

Lastly, here’s my favorite work of art among the many interesting pieces I saw in Enigmata:

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It’s a wall made of recycled bottles painted to look like stained glass.  It was so beautiful!  Natural sunlight was streaming in and all the colors are just so nice to look at.

A note to visitors/sightseers
Enigmata is open for guided tours, but only by appointment and only from 2 PM onwards (click on the following collage for more information about Enigmata, and what can be seen there).

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If you find yourself in Camiguin, do find the time to visit Enigmata, or better, make sure to try out their cuisine.

A note to those who want to stay here
As interesting as it is, Enigmata is not for everyone.  It’s not for someone who wants the comfort of an air-conditioned accommodation and hot shower, or the luxury of a really comfy bed, or goose down pillows.  And definitely, it is not for the fussy one, or the scaredy cat.  It’s not for someone who balks at trying to find your way through the dark during blackout, or at using a dipper to take a bath because there is no running water.

Enigmata is a treehouse and from time to time, you will see spiders, lizards or ants.  Once, a lizard climbed up my leg!  And expect to hear crowing roosters at dawn, and chirping birds the whole day.

By the way, I asked to check their backpackers’ dormitory, which was only at Php 300 per person per night, and this is how it looked like sans the bedding, which they set up only when the room/bed is occupied.

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Note that this particular room category has a shared bathroom and since it’s located on the ground floor, you’re not technically on a treehouse.

Also, Enigmata does not provide any toiletries or towels even for their “suite” of a room, which is Eagle’s Nest, so do bring your own.  And do bring a flashlight and insect repellant.

Despite the cons I listed, I truly enjoyed my stay at Enigmata.  It was a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience that brought me closer to nature and made me appreciate art more.

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For more information about Enigmata, visit their official website.

Camiguin: Sights and Sites from Day 2

Highlights of my day 2 in Camiguin were my visits to Mantigue Island, Giant Clam Sanctuary and Kibila White Beach, Tanguines Lagoon, Ostrich Breeding Farm, Katibawasan Falls, and Ardent Hot Springs, which I already blogged in detail in my previous posts.

Here are bits and pieces of more attractions that we visited, plus landscapes that caught my eye.

First off is this photo of a ricefield with the mountains (or volcanoes? or both) at its background.  I loved how rustic this looked.

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Though I don’t know the exact barangay where this shot was taken, I remember taking this on our way to Mantigue from Enigmata.

At Mahinog
These photos were taken in Mahinog, the jump-off point to Mantigue Island.

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These were taken right in front of the boat rental area.

Here’s my favorite among the set.

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It was a beautiful sunny day so the sky was a clear blue and since the water here was brackish, it lacked waves and just looked perfectly serene.

Mangrove Park
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I’ve been to many mangrove parks in the country, but this so far is the most interesting.  The mangroves are the biggest I’ve seen.

Note that there are no entrance fees to pay at this particular park.

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I loved the view of the sea to my right (lower left photo).

PHIVOLCS
Because Camiguin is home to an active volcano, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has a facility here to monitor Hibok Hibok.  Kuya Criz recommended going here because it offers a good vantage point in seeing the province and the volcano itself.

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We also went inside the facility where the staff gave me a quick history of Mt. Hibok Hibok and showed me photos of old Camiguin.  There were information and photos too about the volcano’s eruption from 1948 to 1953.

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A few meters from PHIVOLCS, I spotted a local riding a carabao so I asked Kuya Criz to stop and asked the old man if I can take his photo.  He said yes.

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He was actually with his son who was pulling the cart, but I opted to just take a photo of the father and the carabao.  Father and son said they were on their way to haul camote (sweet potatoes).

More random photos
The grazing goat photo (lower right) was taken near J & A Fishpen while the ricefield photo was taken on our way to Katibawasan Falls.

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I also included a photo of a tricycle, which I took at the market when we dropped by to buy some snacks and bottled water.  Tricycles are the main mode of transportation in the province.

And thus concludes day 2 of my Camiguin trip.

Camiguin: Ardent Hot Springs

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Ardent Hot Springs was our next and last stop after our visit to Katibawasan Falls.  The water here comes right out of the forest and cascades into four pools of varying temperature ranging from 33°C to 38°C.  I read in one of the signages that the water here contains sulfur, which is supposed to be therapeutic.

Entrance fee is at Php 30 while cottage or table rental fees range from Php 70 to Php 150 for the first three (3) hours.  Additional fees apply for every succeeding hour.

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From the guidelines, I found out that the place is open 24/7 (click on the above photo to read the full guidelines).

Before heading to the hot pools, we passed by this view.

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The local government offers lodging accommodations inside Ardent and I’m guessing their rooms are housed in the facility in the above photo.  If you wish to stay here, call +63 88 387 0948.

When I finally got to the pools, I was disappointed.  Like Katibawasan Falls, I found it over and wrongly developed mainly because they created pools made of cement.

Why couldn’t they just leave our natural wonders be?  I had been to a hot spring in Northern Cebu where the water just pooled naturally, with boulders and greenery surrounding it.

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The place was crowded during my visit so I canceled my original plan of getting a massage here, which would have been the perfect way to cap off my 2-day tour of the island.

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Instead, I quickly roamed around to take photos.

It was nice to hop from one pool to the next since the whole area was shaded by towering trees.  There were nets too to keep the leaves and any droppings from trees off the pools.

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Though the place was clean and well-maintained, I would have preferred an undeveloped spring over this.  And yes, I did try dipping into all 4 pools, but even the hottest one seemed lukewarm to me.

Camiguin: Katibawasan Falls

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This is Camiguin’s most popular falls.  It features a clear stream of water cascading 70 meters into a pool of green waters.

Entrance fee for adults is Php 20, Php 5 for children, and Php 10 for students.

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These photos were taken before we descended the stairs leading to the pool.  I thought the falls looked beautiful!  The stream of white against the lush greenery was quite a sight to behold.

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That is, until I reached the landing and saw how the provincial government “developed” the falls.  They built a man-made pool where the falls can drop into then cemented the entire area around it.  They also built tables and sitting areas in front of the pool.  There are restrooms and changing areas too.

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I would have preferred a more natural approach.  That is, they left the falls alone and just let it cascade over boulders and the greenery surrounding it.

Here are more photos taken at the landing area.  I was again happy that when we came here, there were no other tourists.

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Note that the area close to where the water drops is restricted undoubtedly because of the strong current.  It’s roped off and there’s a signage too (lower left photo on the above collage).

We were here quick, but I was thankful that we came at the right time because there was no one else except us.  I thus had a blast having my photos taken.

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Too bad Kuya Criz cannot take perfect jump shot photos so they were all blurry (the one I posted was most decent and even this is blurry!).  Sheepishly, he asked me he would try again but by then, I was too tired to jump I told him it’s fine.

I took the time to go beyond the cemented area and took in these views.

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Rugged and beautiful.  If only they left it this way.  *Sigh*

On our way back, I took this photo of the falls from the top-most parts of the stairs.

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By now, a group of tourists had arrived and from what I heard, they were keen on swimming here.  Good thing they arrived just as we were leaving.

While Kuya Criz went to the restroom, I looked around and chanced upon these interesting flora.

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All these flowers are familiar and the one on the upper left is actually my mother’s favorite flower to bring to the cemetery come November 1 (All Saint’s Day) as they don’t easily wither, but I can’t identify them save for the one on the upper right.  This cone-like flower is called  Zingiber spectabile or Beehive Ginger, which comes in different shades of yellow, brown, and red.  Pretty, isn’t it?

Outside Katibawasan Falls, I saw a stall selling Kiping and bought two (2) for me and Kuya Criz.

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Kiping is a local delicacy that according to Kuya Criz is made of cassava.  I find it yummy and definitely a must-try when in Camiguin.