In Search of Ancient Camiguin

Camiguin Island Underwater Paradise

Before my page would gather cobwebs, I am writing this account as we had finally explored the depths of main island Camiguin.   We had our original schedule in May but chose over the  transplantation works in the Linamon Project, catching the last Saturday of the month when my dive buddy came over.  Now, I just thought it was an important moment, not only because we finally explored these coveted sites, it was the birthday trip of my favorite dive buddy!

We did the usual routines on our weekend trips  – Friday dinner, packing-up gears, four hours sleep, early bus drive and sleepy ride to the site.  I was grateful our DM suggested for lodgings near the sites to save time and costs, it was comfortable enough and not costly.  We took the jeepney from Benoni port to Mambajao as suggested again by our DM, than taking the costly motorbike ride, then finally took the tricycle to Barangay Agoho.  We were bidding our time just like in our previous travels, just allowing things fell its place as it was still early.

Lava rocks in Old Vulcan

In our first descent, from Brgy. Yumbing, our boat brought us to Old Volcano site – the spot where the fierce eruption of the Vulcan transforming the island what it is now today. Navigating through blue waters against the green mountain ranges for about 30 minutes – it was an exclusive dive for us. The rustic Camiguin always fascinated me – it was pretty sunny and just perfect for the much needed dives, it’s been twelve weeks since our last dive!

Back rolling for our first descent, the cold waters refreshed me from the “summer” heat.  Agreeing to limit our depths to 35 meters, we didn’t waste time going down.  Boulders and lava rocks were visible though covered now with colorful corals and crinoids. We passed by in crevices, as if some kind of large cracks now covered with soft and hard corals plus variety of fish species claiming as their abode. There were sea fans in yellow, green and violet scattered in the area, one was so wide it obscured my way.  Enjoying the rich diversity and making sure my buddy in sight, I inspected closely some crevices, then in complete surprise I saw the manta ray passing quickly away, but without missing its graceful flapping as in flying!  Rare and wonderful.  Angel and our DM was making signs and noticed it so late.

Violet seafan – so wide!

We agreed earlier to make the first two dives and take late lunch so we could spend more time at the Sunken Cemetery, I never had a close encounter of the big Cross and so the idea was just perfect.  We took those small boats for rent to the marker – funny because at first the friendly bangkero was asking if we will swim to the spot! We spent the whole stretch of our surface interval at the marker dismissing hunger – for Angel’s climb on the big cross and for the endless photos. Our boat man served as our photographer, and honestly he took good shots!  🙂

Cross marker now tangled with corals

Our next descent was intriguing, I always enjoy unknown sites because there is much to explore and there is much to tell after the discovery. Sunken Cemetery has been a dream site – so near, yet so far. It was a sandy slope with more or less stable depth, never a drop-off, I guess cemeteries are normally plain. There were variety of corals in different shapes and colors, sponges, worms, crinoids and fishes – anthias, shrimpfish, lions, angels, bannerfish, snappers and more.  Indeed, we found the cross markers now tangled with corals, not only two but three – the last one was when we were about to have our safety stop! All of them almost buried with the corals on them.  I was hoping to find skulls and bones, but it is impossible after two centuries of the eruption. Either the remains were deeply buried in the depths, or blown into pieces or swept away with tides and currents. The spot now has now turned into a marine paradise.  Finally, the discovery after five years – of the ancient part of this island! I have to hold on with Angel to keep me steady during our safety stop perhaps I was already too famished to control my ascent. My favorite buddy always knew my need with just one look!

A stonefish resting between corals

Our late lunch at Terrasi served as our surface interval for our last dive. We quickly sailed for fifteen minutes to Black Forest, a sanctuary off the coast of White Island.  The sand bar still with people, enjoying the mild afternoon sun. My first sighting as we got the depths was a handful of garden eels almost half up but as soon as I got near them, they quickly disappear.  There was moray eel whose mouth and eyes closed, which I found unusual perhaps it was sleepy already. There were crinoids, worms, perennial lionfish, clownfish & anthias. We caught site too of few miniature nudis, cleaner shrimp lurking in the anemones and clams.  There was stonefish too, and the friendly lowly turtle swam coyly before us – well, Angel chased it again for photos!  We surfaced after 54 minutes with my air still at 1200 psi.

An afterglow after our third dive!

Lacking sleep the dives sapped my energy but the three wonderful dives made me smile as I drift off to sleep.  The Island Born of Fire is truly magical and I will always love this paradise. I have more than hundred reasons to come here again and again and again.