The buzz is true. If before you spend a whole day to get to Camiguin off Mindanao, blessed with white sandy beaches and marvelous diving, now it’s a mere over-an-hour’s flight—made possible with SkyJet Airlines’ launch of direct Manila to Camiguin flights on May 6, 2019.
And so we’ve surmised we’ve found for you your new Tagaytay, where you can escape the urban jungle on a Saturday, and be back the next day in time for you to get your @$s ready for work on Monday. Not that you cannot stay for three or so days.
Here’s a guide to enjoying the “Island Borne Off Fire” in 24 hours.
Fly SkyJet Airlines from Manila to Camiguin. Take off from the Manila International Airport Terminal 4 at 9:40am. You’ll touch down at Camiguin Airport at about 11am. SkyJet flies directly from Manila to Camiguin five times daily except on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Grab lunch at the institution located right across the airport: La Dolce Vita, an authentic Italian restaurant, which has been around for over a decade. Its brick oven churns out delectable pizzas; and here you can have wonderful traditional carbonara. After lunch, linger for a cup of cappuccino.
Check-in at your hotel of choice. If you’re a group of friends or a small family with kids in tow looking for for-sharing villas or an apartment-style place for the night, you won’t go wrong with Paraiso Resort & Apartelle. It checks all the basics. Clean; with kitchen where you can shop and cook and dine in if you feel like staying in; has a waterpark for some night swimming; and features an open air restaurant-bar open until 11pm—handy to those who come looking for a night cap. Best of all, it’s centrally located—five minutes’ ride from the airport, and it’s jump off point to Camiguin’s many unique attractions.
Top tier option, fronting White Island: Paras Beach Resort.
Smother your skin with sunblock and get things rolling. First stop is White Island, a pristine permanently-exposed sandbar that’s as gorgeous in person as it is on anyone’s IG feed. It’s serpentine shape changes depending on the tide, but this is not why it’s amazing. Its claim to fame are its shallow waters that are so clear they glisten in the sunlight, and the picturesque Mt Hibok-Hibok as its backdrop. I say make this your first stop because once you wade into the water, you’d surely stay for a while.
Get there. A 10-minute habal-halab (local motorcycle) ride from the airport to Yumbing jetty where there are boats that will take you across to the sandbar in less than five minutes.
Eleven minutes’ ride and you’re at the view deck of the Old Volcano, officially, Mt. Vulcan. The massive land form’s nickname does not literally translate for it’s more like an offspring of Mt Hibok-Hibok, says our tour guide. There’s probably nothing significant in the stop—but I had my photo taken anyhow—until you actually hike up the steps of the walkway. As your heart pound, and your knees weaken, you get awestruck by white life-size figures depicting the Stations of the Cross.
After a few snaps, a short ride will lead you to the Old Spanish Church Ruins. What’s left of the church is nothing but walls enveloping the ground, and old trees creating a canopy. The Guiob Church was built in the 16th century and over a hundred years later a massive earthquake cueing Mt. Vulcan’s eruption shook the island and knocked the sanctuary down. It makes for a pleasant stop for Catholic devotees who can light a candle and say a prayer.
The Sunken Cemetery is another casualty of Mt. Vulcan’s eruption in the 1870s but it has ironically turned into a remarkable Camiguin landmark, luring travelers from all over the globe to catch sight of it. It’s best viewed at sunset—and while there’s that feeling of loneliness crossing over eeriness when you visit especially at this time of the day—it will be a shame to leave the island without having set foot at the place. Small boats can take you to the giant cross and hang out for a while at its deck. The more adventurous take the plunge to see the gravestones underwater up close.
Ardent Hot Springs’ warm waters are the perfect ender to a long day out in the sun what with its tiers of 35- and 40-degree Celcius waters. The four cascades filled with naturally heated waters are a balm to sore muscles, and a calming way to cap your active day.
Breakfasts are simple a la carte meals at Paraiso Resort. A must are local fruits for they’re typically sweet, and if the ber months have commenced, never miss out on the lanzones, cluster of small yellow fruits with juicy translucent meat on the inside. The best kind of lanzones grows in Camiguin. In October, the streets of the main highway get filled with peddlers selling the tropical fruit.
Once your bags are packed and you’re ready to go, stop by Vjandep Bakeshop on Plaridel Street en route to the airport to buy Camiguin’s coveted pasalubong: Vjandep’s Pastel, a brand of locally made buns filled with yema (sweet soft custard). Any which way you eat it—as a snack or dessert—will make you forget you have a plane to catch. If you miss the stopover, the airport has a stall selling these goodies. Only the bakery though sells different flavored Pastels.
Check-in at Camiguin Airport, in time for SkyJet’s 11am flight bound for Manila.
Book direct flights between Manila and Camiguin five times weekly with Skyjet Airlines (SkyJetAirlines.com).
Words & photos by Monica De Leon
With the Coconut Club’s tropical interiors and a bit of imagination, you can easily pretend that the ocean is right outside the door–even for just a few hours.
The bar serves up several fruity cocktails to go with the tropical theme. There are mai tais and piña coladas that are given a Coconut Club twist, but even better, there are liquor-laced slushies at just Php120 that are as refreshing as they are buzz-inducing. With fun drinks, a pop playlist, and tables that are set very close to each other, don’t be surprised if you end a night here with a few new friends. Head there from 2pm to 7pm to catch their Happy Hour, where the slushies are available for only Php95.
Average cost per person: Php300 for drinks; Facebook.com/raintreecoconutclubph
Words by Amelie Llaga
There’s a new place in the town of Daraga in Albay that’s pretty hard to beat: FarmPlate, an eco place that offers camping, activities like kite flying, carabao riding, biking, vegetable picking, and mere chilling on its cozy foliage-wrapped cottages. It’s a nursery rhyme book come to life—a red barn on a hill with expansive greens overlooking Mt. Mayon, an active volcano at the heart of Albay dubbed the Philippines’ perfect cone.
If you wish to stay for the night, rough it out at the camp site equipped with tents and a bonfire area so you can bond over smores and some singing under the starry night.
At day time, the hammocks will lure you to it to dose off to clear fresh air.
Seedlings—there are pine and other backyard plants—are for sale to those who’d like a bit of the farm into their homes.
FarmPlate is at its soft opening stages—it’s a privately owned land that soft opened to the public with minimal facilities in September 2018—and will slowly be building more eco attractions best for families and groups. It will have a pool and a restaurant serving farm-to-table meals.
FarmPlate Facebook: @FarmPlateAlbay
SkyJet Airlines has regular flights from Batanes, Coron, and Siargao to Manila. It will resume its Caticlan-Manila flights in March. From Manila, take any Legazpi-bound bus from Cubao bus terminal such as Cagsawa Bus or Penafrancia Bus. The trip is a scenic 12-hour ride, or you can take the night trip. Book SkyJetAirlines.
Words by Monica De Leon
We spent some time chatting with the man behind the only Philippine bar to make it in Asia’s 50 Best Bars by William Reed Business Media, and Edsa Beverage Design Studio, this year, on things like stories on his hip Makati music-bar, Manila restaurants and chefs he adores, and his go-to comfort food places.
We wanted a space where we could hang out and listen to good music thus the concept of Oto came up. It’s designed for a great listening experience, complete with turntables, speakers, vinyl records, amplifiers and a curated playlist.
Poblacion in Makati is a young neighborhood, thriving with small businesses, and we wanted to add to its diversity by serving proper coffee, good cocktails and music.
The food and beverage at Oto are intended to be experience-driven and conversation-driven. We try to adjust to what our guests want so they’ll get the best drink possible.
Oto’s menu is made of things that reminded me of my childhood or family. We have this drink called #ReligionBlack named after my sister Tina’s Isntagram handle @religionblack. Our Hey Brian, a Wild Turkey bourbon infused with grapefruit juice and tamarind syrup, is named after a regular customer.
My rule of thumb for cocktails is to make it complex yet simple and relatable enough once you taste it.
I am a very easy drinker although I have my preferences and am open to trying new things. When I drink, I’m open to what the bartenders would want to serve me. I still go for classic cocktails whether it’s an old fashioned, mojito, or a whisky sour. I don’t like eating while drinking.
Resto-bars in Manila that I like:
My go to restaurants in Manila:
Wild our Cafe + Bakery
On regular days, I eat at:
Bacolod Chicken Inasal
KFC for their chicken with a full cup of gravy, my comfort food
Hen Lin for siomai
Food Channel for shawarma
Chefs I admire are Jordy Navarra of Toyo Eatery and Bruce Ricketts of Mecha Uma. Chef Jordy whips Filipino-inspired cuisine at Toyo Eatery, where his staff of chefs and cooks are Filipino. Chef Bruce is ingredient-focused—I always leave his restaurant mindblown as he always does things out of the box.
I never really liked clubbing but if I’m in that kind of situation, I always end up being the guy with a bottle making people drink, observing everyone, and caring for those who can’t manage.
If I weren’t a barista or entrepreneur, I would probably be a banker or a hotelier.
Who is David Ong?
David Ong is the co-owner of music lounge-cum-bar Oto, e Curator Co ee and Cocktails, the only Philippine bar to make it in the Asia’s 50 Best Bars by William Reed Business Media, and Edsa Beverage Design Studio.
Interview by Jonalyn Fortuno