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.

6 thoughts on “Camiguin: Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge and Art Camp

  1. Tina Blackledge

    Hello there!
    I was just becoming concerned that you had not posted a new adventure yet. I am relieved to see that you were enjoying yourself and not running into a mishap. This place is fantastic! I am so grateful you are so adventurous or I would never have seen these wonders. It’s respect for nature is wonderful and reminds me somewhat of Frank Lloyd Wrights architecture, not in style but in spirit. I absolutely adored all the artwork and the food sounds intriguingly delicious.

    You mentioned lizards, spiders and ants but was there any other wildlife present? This seems like it was more interior than by a coastline due to the lack of beach photos. Is that correct? This blog entry was well worth the wait. It is absolutely wonderful and I am exceedingly grateful that you are so gifted and willing to share your experiences! Thanks!
    Blessings upon you dear.

    Tina

    Reply
    1. milai Post author

      Hi Tina,

      Thanks for always taking the time to read my posts and leave comments.

      We had 2 holidays this week so I went home to enjoy the long weekend with my family. My hometown is kind of far-flung so when there, I cannot blog as we do not have Wi-Fi at home.

      You are correct that Enigmata is not by or even near the beach. It’s quite secluded and very much like my hometown, but that’s part of its charm.

      Like you, I loved how extra care was given to create a treehouse that complements the rustic feel of the place.

      I just posted an entry about the flora and fauna in and around Enigmata. Nothing wild there, though I must say the sheep were an interesting find since they are not common here in the Philippines.

      Blessings to you too! 🙂

      Milai

      Reply
      1. Tina Blackledge

        Milai,

        No thanks necessary! I look forward to your entries as they take me places I will never see in person. Likewise, your spirit is so gentle and wonderful that I find my own soul gravitates toward it. You see nature as a precious jewel that should be protected and cherished, as do I. You are both generous and accurate in your reviews of the places you visit, which provides potential travelers the ability to make wise decisions. I look forward to your posts! Keep up the great work and many blessings upon you!

  2. Pingback: Camiguin: Flora and Fauna In and Around Enigmata Treehouse | Thoughts, Tales, and Whatnot

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