James: Miss. give me a favor please. Let me go to Mantigue island. I want to spend a night there. I’m just a backpacker trying to write a book about my travels in the Philippines.
Staff: Sir, I’m really sorry. We don’t allow tourists to stay overnight in the island.
(Meanwhile, James looks for an alternative- befriends a local who live in Mantigue and ask her if she could bring him to the island without paying for entrance and by just hitchhiking a boat going there. The local cooperates.)
Staff: Sir, I’m so sorry we really don’t allow people to sleep there.
James: Miss, please (with matching puffy eyes). I’m just a backpacker. I don’t have enough money to stay in a hotel. I brought my hammock so I can save on my expenses. I’m a traveler trying to see most of the Philippines on a limited budget. Please. The local already gave her okay that she would bring me to Mantigue for free.
Staff: Sir, you need to ask for permission to our Mayor. etc… etc… (red tapes and all)
To make the story short, I WASN’T ABLE TO VISIT MANTIGUE ISLAND. This conversation happened 2 years ago.
FINALLY, MANTIGUE ISLAND
Two days ago, I was back in Mahinog- the jump-off point to Mantigue Island. This time it was an all-expense paid trip courtesy of Cebu Pacific as they are promoting their flights to Camiguin from Cebu City.
When I saw that our itinerary states that we are heading to Mantigue Island, I was celebrating deep inside. But I tried to contain myself for I was with well-traveled bloggers. Also, I don’t want to be a jinx. I just went with the flow and tried to relax. After getting our snorkeling gears, we rode a small boat good for 6 persons on a 15-minute ride to the island.
We started with a forest tour wherein we saw lots of trees- haha. Sorry, that was so obvious. Anyway, our gracious and fantastic guide, Mang Ikoy, showed us Pandan, Kolis, Itum-Itum, Ipil-Ipil, Alagaw and Ipil trees. I have heard lots of bird calls in the area too and sighted some munias. Lois Yasay, idol travel blogger at We Are SoleSisters was kinda surprise to see a forest in an island. Ferdz Decena, another idol travel blogger at Ironwulf.net praised the government for making a forest trail as there is none such as this five years ago.
Okay, so the boring stories are done. Let’s go to the highlight-
SWIMMING WITH A TURTLE
OOOHHHHH YEAH! I SWAM WITH A HAWKSBILL TURTLE!
Mang Ikoy led us towards the marine sanctuary passed green seagrass bed filled with small fishes. Then a patch of coarse white sands replete with anemones and clown fish would treat snorkelers. It’s a porn of tropical fishes. The highlight would be the huge coral formations- table, branching, flower corals. Among the fishes I saw were surgeon, parrot, sweet lips, moorish idols, butterfly, angel, sergeant major fishes. I know there are more but I can’t ID them.
And as I said, there is a resident pawikan, a hawksbill turtle, about a meter-long. When Mang Ikoy told us to look down ‘coz the turtle was there. I panicked a little but tried to gain composure. I asked him if I could go deeper. He said, its okay so I equalized and dove deeper. I think I reached about 3 meters before I can’t take the water pressure anymore. But I was a meter close to the pawikan and was rejoicing the moment I reached the surface of the water. It was a stoked feeling. And I was satisfied. The pawikan continued to swim. Lois and Hudson are also happy with the discovery. After some time, Ferdz went near us and wasted no time clicking her camera to document this awesome experience.
I tried to dive again and asked Ferdz if he can take a photo of me swimming with the turtle. I just want to have a tangible proof of this moment in my life. I have seen lots of pawikan in my life but everytime its a different experience. I’m sure my sister who loves turtle would be jealous and might book a flight to Camiguin when she gets back to the Philippines. So, Kit, here’s a photo of me swimming with your friend turtlee:
Mantigue island declared a Nature Park and is being protected by the LGU and Provincial Govt of Camiguin. I was told that it was a haven of turtles years years back. But because of illegal turtle trading done by the locals, turtles stated to leave the island. It was glad to see that turtles are beginning to go back and take their old habitat. I hope that the locals and LGU would continue to take care of this beautiful island.
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Going to Camiguin via Cebu?
Cebu Pacific flies every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, for as low as P588, to Camiguin from Cebu. For bookings and inquiries, go to www.cebupacificair.com or call (02)7020-888. The latest seat sales and promos can be found on Cebu Pacific Air’s official Twitter (@CebuPacificAir) and Facebook pages (/cebupacificair).
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I was invited by Cebu Pacific for a familiarization trip to Camiguin and also try a little bit of their Juan For Fun Challenge.
What is Juan For Fun Challenge?
Cebu Pacific Air is looking for five teams of three university students each, who are raring to go on the 2013 Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge. Video entries may be sent from June 14 to July 29, 2013, and the top five teams will get to go on a week-long all expenses paid trip to six Philippine destinations. Visit www.juanforfun.com or Cebu Pacific Air’s official Facebook and Twitter pages for more challenge details.
The Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge is co-presented by the Department of Tourism, and supported by Canon and Wenger.