"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Monday, May 21, 2012

babuyan memories, part 4a: losing sight of the mainland and finding the natural charms of camiguin norte

"One does not discover new lands without consenting
 to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."   
-- André Gide

during that early april morning when our group of eight -- kat, mati, bren, bryan, jb, sherelle, yanyan, and i -- boarded a motorized banca (locally called lampitaw) in sta. ana, cagayan to brave the big waves of the babuyan channel, we got what we hoped for: indications of good weather and favorable wave conditions.

the captain (kuya totoy), along with two assistants (jayjay and zombie), ably steered our boat towards our island destination in the babuyanes. the dual-engined boat effortlessly got us away from the northeastern edge of mainland luzon and across the channel.

after a good while of seeing only shades of blue (blue waves against blue sky) and some white (white clouds) around us, a breathtaking sight of camiguin norte, our island destination, welcomed us on the other side -- as if we entered another dimension.

as seen from my seat on the boat: camiguin norte island

as my eyes feasted on the vegetated mountain slopes and rugged edges of camiguin norte, i was reminded of other daunting boatrides survived in batanes, zambales, and palawan and i was thrilled to have reached another place, another paradise in MY country -- the philippines.

glimpses of camiguin norte island, 40km or so away from the mainland

destination: camiguin norte
camiguin norte is one of the five major islands comprising the babuyan islands, an archipelago of 24+ volcanic-coralline islands situated between the balintang channel and the babuyan channel of the luzon strait.

map of babuyan islands from http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/infopage/babuyanislands.htm

map of camiguin norte island
image source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/32556780/Varanid-Lizards
(i provided the labels in red)

camiguin norte of the babuyanes, not to be confused with camiguin island of mindanao, is a 22-km long volcanic island dominated by mount camiguin (also known as camiguin de babuyanes and locally referred to as dakkel nga balay, which means big house), a 712-meter high forest-covered stratovolcano located on the southern tip and considered by the philippine institute of volcanology and seismology (PHIVOLCS) as one of the 22 active volcanoes in the country. the island is part of the municipality of calayan which, despite the considerable isolation from the mainland, is under the political territory of cagayan province.

if camiguin norte's geological features are not enough to give away her volcanic nature, the undeniable strong smell of sulfur along the southwestern  shore and the smoke and heat emanating from a nearby semi-undersea hot spring are additional tell-tale signs.

notice that smoke? the smell of sulfur prevails in this area. this is one spot in camiguin norte island where you see a tell-tale sign of the presence of volcanoes

experiencing unpredictability in unfamiliar territory
i'd like to believe that all of us in our group of eight really knew what we said yes to in addition to taking the chance of seeing whales and dolphins in our country's northern seas. the trip is not for everyone, not just for anyone. it is only for the ones who are willing to yield to what's difficult to shake off -- the potent combo of the lure of the remote and the call of adventure.

we took the challenge of crossing the babuyan channel  and spending time in the babuyanes despite knowing that the area is a playground of the winds and that the possibility of being stranded is high due to the unpredictability of the weather and sea conditions even during philippine summer months, when the seas are expected to be calm.

the babuyan area's notoriety for unpredictability revealed itself to us soon after we reached the aquatic territory of camiguin norte. while the sky remained clear allowing the sun to shine on us and our boat as we traversed the babuyan channel, we suddenly found ourselves under a very cloudy zone and got welcomed by drizzle when we reached the island's southwestern side.

suddenly gloomy camiguin norte: experiencing unpredictability and still seeing beauty

under the gloomy sky, camiguin norte and the nearby islets on her western side still looked enthralling. towering above all, mount camiguin was imposing yet gave the impression of being coy, her peak hidden by a large mass of clouds. the caves, coves, cliffs, multi-colored rock formations, and the forest-covered slopes bore no signs of human abuse nor degradation and looked very pristine and inviting.

glimpses of camiguin norte's natural charms

when we cast our eyes away from these and looked to our left, pinon island easily commanded our attention. at first, pinon appeared as a mound of green rising just a little above the waves. when we got closer, it was easy to recognize her as an islet gifted with features that reminded us of batanes' valugan boulder beach because of the countless smooth rocks lining the shore where waves crashed angrily and zambales' capones island because of her vegetated elevated portions and the way the rocks were scattered on the lower portions. plus, she also has a good stretch of white sand. her beauty beckoned to us but the prevailing wind and wave conditions made further approaching her very daunting.

pinon island: an islet just off camiguin norte

beyond pinon and around 4 kilometers or so away is another island -- pamoctan (pamuktan in ilocano). our boatmen told us that she's really a beautiful island and we could stop over there. weary from the long boatride across the channel and badly wanting to walk again on land, we all agreed for our boat to dock in pamoctan so we could as well have our then soon-due lunch on her beach.

at first, since we were approaching her from the south, pamoctan looked like an island version of a misplaced and deformed chocolate hill. as we approached her on her southeastern side, her two-peaked terrain became obvious -- a charming tandem of a mama hill on the northern side and a baby hill on the southern side.  she's quite a picture of a lumpy pretty island and the babuyanes must have really wanted to show her off to us -- the clouds let up and allowed the sunshine in as our boat approached her shore.

approaching pamoctan island

according to online resources, pamoctan is actually a lava dome and is recognized  as one of the three volcanic centers in the southern part of camiguin norte. she is a landmark to navigators and is known as the island that lies in the middle of the entrance to the anchorage they refer to as port san pio quinto -- in ordinary speak, pamoctan is the island guarding the southwestern cove of camiguin norte.

personally, i consider pamoctan as my la isla bonita of the north -- the northern counterpart of tawi-tawi's sangasiapu island, my la isla bonita of the south.

the white coralline beach of pamoctan island, my la isla bonita of the north
very clear seawater and a glimpse of pamoctan island's underwater charm

more than her charming lumpy look and her white coralline beach, pamoctan really endeared herself to me when i saw the marine life she keeps around her -- corals and fishes -- so healthy, so colorful, so diverse, so attention-grabbing, and so close to the shore. even from the boat, the corals were visible because the seawater was so clear!  i was really more than thrilled. the natural underwater garden one could clearly see even from above the water surface is beyond awesome!!!

(to be continued)

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Grabe na jud imong mga travels ba! Suya na jud kay ko! Hehehe:)

    Keep blogging about the places para mura pud mi'g naka-uban. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...