March 21, 2015

Canigao Island: Beautiful in its Own Way

It has been weeks of not so normal scenarios of firefighting activities at work and all I needed was a stress-relieving activity. I have tried sleeping too much on weekends just to cope up, movie marathon, treated myself with a massage and had a few bottles of beer with friends but none of them seemed to have an effect on my system. My last resort was an out of town getaway - a sweet escape from reality even just for a day or two. It was just in time that my previous manager in a company where I used to work, invited me to join with my ex-colleagues in their early summer outing. 

The destination is Canigao Island in the municipality of Matalom, Leyte. There are many ways to get there (check out the internet for details) but for convenience on our side, we boarded on a ferry boat bound for Hilongos - our manager's hometown in Leyte. It's a five-hour trip from Cebu.  We arrived in Hilongos port at around 5:00pm and waited for a few minutes for our manager to pick-up his family and their vehicle which would take us to Matalom in less than an hour. We dropped by the wet market of Bato, a municipality between Hilongos and Matalom, to buy some food for dinner. It was my first time to set foot in Leyte and my observation in Bato is that it has a very organized market and Leytehanons, though Bisaya, are soft-spoken. 

Due to spending too much time in the market, we arrived in Matalom at 7:45pm. For those who are planning to go to Canigao, it is recommended that arrival at the jump off point is before 6:00pm, as the coastguards won't allow boat rides to and from the island beyond that time. Luckily, we were allowed after some considerations that we were from Cebu and the other boat passengers waiting were also from a faraway place. It's a ten-minute boat ride from the jump off point to the island at P60 per head (already 2-way). Entrance fee is P40 per head.

It was known earlier that the only source of electricity in the island is the generator set and it would be turned off starting 10:00pm. We immediately divided the group into two - one setting up the tents and the other preparing for dinner. After some grilling activity with only flashlights as our source of light, dinner was finally served at 10:30pm. It was so nice to be with old friends. It seems nothing has changed since I left the group 3 years ago, except that there are new ones who are also easy to get along with, and I guess another ex-colleague, who was also invited to join, felt the same way. 

People who stay in the island overnight usually bring tents instead of renting cottages and rooms. Aside from the fact that it's cheaper (space fee is only P100 per tent) than the other options, lying on the sand is so relaxing. The 4 tents could not accommodate us all fifteen, so some including me just lay down on the mat with our jackets and blankets on. Tagay session started right after dinner. It's one of my favorite part of a beach activity but I only took a few shots of mojitos. As much as I wanted to join them till the last drop, the starry night along with the crescent moon was just so inviting to look at. Feeling the cool breeze, I kept on gazing at the night sky, with my friends' laughter as my background music, until everything I saw and heard slowly faded way, and finally I reached dreamland.

We woke up at the break of dawn and the whole morning was spent exploring the whole island.

Chasing with sunrise:

An early morning stroll at the beach:

I never thought rocky shores could offer serenity until I came here - right on this spot of the island.

The seclusion of the island has made me feel it's mine for the moment.

Who wouldn't love to eat these fresh seafoods? My all-time favorite!

The whole island can be explored by foot in just 30 minutes. It isn't as perfect as the other islands with very fine white sand beaches and crystal clear water but it is beautiful in its own way.

The water is so clear!!!

The Lighthouse

Information Board

"We've been here"

Later part of the morning was spent swimming before we went back to the main land to catch up with the 11:00am ferry boat trip back to Cebu.

Canigao is an uninhabited island and is being managed by the local government unit. The island has its own charm. It has a very laid-back life. It's a nice place to spend time with nature. Its gentle sea breeze has indeed blown my stress away.