Northern Mindanao: To travel is to learn how to let go

I am in the middle of life changeover as I write this blogpost because the day before my flight was my last day at Starbucks Reserve. And before I move back into our home in Quezon City and transfer back to my original district, I found myself lonely in a lot of ways… I never thought leaving the people I always get to see every day for 3 or almost 4 months would be this heartbreaking. Swear. Everybody knows I wasn’t the sweetest and most clingy person in the room but to tell you the truth, sepanx is getting so much real. And to pre-fame you about this, this post might be about letting go and moving forward.

This is a blogpost about my quick adventures in Cagayan de Oro City, Bukidnon, and Camiguin. So first, to situate you, known as the City of Golden Friendship, my friends and I booked a plane ticket going to Cagayan de Oro City! All the way in Mindanao. They say, when you’re not excited about it, it’s probably not the right path. And I’m not quite sure why the heck and when did we made our bookings from last year, but one thing is for sure, CDO is another city to make adventures with. Are we excited? Well, the rush that pumped our hearts started raising the adrenaline when we arrived at the airport. So the answer is yes, sir

Upon arriving at Laguindingan Airport, we went straight to do the ever famous when you’re in CDO: white water rafting!

Our jeepney drove for around 45 minutes to get to the starting point of the water adventure. I learned that the whole course is a 4-hour long feat with a total of 17.9 kilometers. Imagine that! It was ducky when we were in the middle of the raging river waters because I was legit in two places at once; with Cagayan de Oro when I look to my left, and Bukidnon to my right. That was one row to remember.

White water rafting is probably one of the craziest water sports I ever involved myself in. On a blow-up water boat, rowing my life with the thrilling river, avoiding whirlpools, and hitting rocks every freaking time and falling waterfalls was extreme to me. But it was amusing. My most favorite part besides the electrifying thrill? Jumping into the waters and just being there while the currents pushing me forward. What a fantastic moment to consider myself a lazy ass.

Our day 2 consists of Dahilayan Adventure Park and Seven Seas Waterpark.

Dahilayan Adventure Park is another extreme adventure located in Bukidnon. Going there from CDO at 6 in the morning with my sleepy head, I can’t blame the view outside of the van if I had to be sleepy the rest of that day. I was planning to nap because that was a 2-hour ride. But the place is ‘something’ if I chose to look outside the window of a vehicle that I’m in than to sleep and save energy. So can I just say, that Bukidnon is majestically scenic?! Hell yes. I know I only have seen like 8% of this province, but I am infatuated already. Really! It is a mountainous area, filled with corn, banana and pineapple fields, and august sunny skies. Lovely place, semi-lonely day.

As a Filipino barista with so much passion for coffee patriotism, I’ve always longed to visit a coffee farm from my homeland. To tell you the truth, I talked about it during my presentation when I joined the Barista Championship, picking the only blend that has beans from the Philippines. I remember it so well because it speaks so much of my passion and pride.

Well but since I am with a group, and the plans have already laid out, I wasn’t able to pursue one of my dreams. Which made me fall in love with solo traveling a little more. Hahaha! I am not saying that this adventure with my friends isn’t worthy, it was just that, I was thinking about what kind of adventures will I get if ever I went there alone. Who am I going to meet, what am I going to discover inside myself?

So moving forward, Mindanao’s favorite extreme playground consists of zip lines, base jumps, free-fall ride, and rope courses. My favorite experience there is braving Asia’s longest dual zipline from a launch point at 4,700 ft above sea level. Having to do that felt like a superman that speeds up to 90kph flying through the lush greenery and breathtaking high views of Bukidnon.

From there, we drove back to CDO for another fun and thrilling water adventure, pirate-themed Seven Seas Waterpark. It was fun, I must say. They feature thrilling slides like Cyclone and Pira-Chute. Of course, I tried all of it! Hella tired that day but I’ll be a total bummer if I’ll just sit at one side of the pool, correct?

We slept super early because we have to leave the inn at CDO as early as 2 in the morning because the next stop is where again? Oh yeah, Camiguin! I heard this province a lot of times before but I never really paid so much attention to it. I’m extra excited because I have completely no idea what Camiguin is all about. I’m such a deadbeat sometimes.

Our van drove for around 2 hours just to get to Balingonan Port and a 40-minute ferry ride to the island.

Camiguin is an island province located in Bohol sea. I found out that it is the second smallest province in the country in both population and the land area next to my #1 dream destination: Batanes.  Damn, this island reminds me so much of the movie Moana. Such a tropically fine place. And maybe the reason why Camiguin is called  “The Island Born Off Fire” is that it has 7 volcanoes. Can you believe it?!

Arriving at our inn, my friends and I decided to sleep and take an hour off before going out. A little love for ourselves wouldn’t hurt, anyone else? We were damn exhausted but there are still a lot of places to see and we only have so little time. Soooooo little time…

Where we went? White Island! More likely naked island. For there are no houses, no huts, and no trees. Just plain powdery white sand. When you’re on White Island, the view when you look to the island of Camiguin is hella panoramic. Mt. Hibok Hibok is darnly scenic. The waters around the tiny island were also as blue as the sky. The fun thing when we went there was there were only 3-5 groups of people!

And do I hear skinny dipping at 11 in the morning? Sure you can do it when you’re in Camiguin. Goodness, that was the first time from mine!

Later that afternoon before sunset we went to see Katibawasan Falls. And it was great to see another towering waterfall. As much as I wanted to swim to the freezing waters, I hate my self for being a cold-blooded animal. So I just took photos everywhere and walked around while my friends were having a good time dip.

The day at Camiguin was lively. I was having a great time! I almost forgot the ache inside my chest. And I just realized that the heart has this nasty habit of changing feelings in just a snap of a finger. And I haven’t told anyone on this trip that I have been trying my hardest not to cry or at least be sad because, well, I don’t want to ruin the vibe. But somewhere between the salty air and tropical sun, I found myself falling from time to time. But good job self for revamping as soon as possible, though. So what a perfect time to reward my poor self with a cold beer before bed.

I woke up the next day next to the sunny skies of the island. My hair became a bit softer, my skin tanner, and my heart, better. I have an hour to pack my things and get cleaned up and it’s just sometimes, with so sudden moments, you’ll find yourself getting positive on the insides, right? I felt that God is redirecting my life somewhere better and is preventing me from going into places that are not meant for me. So that morning I thanked God for all the endings and all the goodbyes. And for giving me strength and courage to carry on. After all, I still don’t know where I’m going. But I am enjoying the journey and I have 101% trust in Him.

Before going back to CDO, we decided to explore a little bit more of the island.

Next thing we knew, we were admiring the giant cross rising out of the water. Oh yes, the sunken cemetery. Interestingly, the cemetery sunk below sea level during the 1870s because of the eruption of a nearby volcano. They say that a feeling of loneliness will hit you once you see the structure. I wasn’t really sure about this because I was a sad person while I was there alright! But I’ll tell you what, it was divine and serene.

Next stop was Tuasan Falls. The falls are located roughly 2 kilometers away from the main Camiguin main road and for me it was more of a hidden gem if it wasn’t for the new roadblocks that they’re currently making. Imagine the beautiful trek we could have had!

Just like what I’ve told you, I’m a cold-blooded human. But with all the hidden courage that I have from my head to toe, I forced myself to go into the waters.

And I’m shivering to death as more and more parts of my skin are taking by the very cold waters. Ohhhhh why am I doing this? Probably because I wanna beat my fears. And people tell you if you can’t beat it, do it scared. So there I was, being completely fearful and doing it anyway. I was crying and screaming inside and laughing on the outside but I thought it was still a funny thing to do: doing it. For the sake of experience, ladies and gentlemen. You might think I’m overreacting but honestly, though, I just can’t! Hahahahaha my bad.

And after having a good time there, the drive going back to the port of Camiguin was quiet and charming. Everyone on that jeepney was silently watching the scenery outside. The lunch air on our faces was like a lullaby… I didn’t want to leave the island yet because I still haven’t “felt” it yet. You know what I mean? But just like any trip, it was time to go.

We rode back on a ferry and took a bus going back CDO and wasn’t that one of the saddest bus rides that I had? I’d say yup because I manage to create a “play this when you’re sad” playlist on Spotify. All of my friends were sleeping and I found myself looking miles away like it was one of those “Maid in Manhattan” moments on a train. But I was on a bus in Misamis Oriental, which is weird!

But seriously, though. To be vulnerably honest, I think there is really something about being somewhere far. Like the universe and the distance are collaborating with each other to make you feel better, to make your soul healthier, to make everything greater.

It’s been 14 or so days since the aircraft landed back in Manila.

Hahahaha I know, it took me sooooo much time to write everything out of this trip. But I want you to know, you sneaky little soul that is reading this, that I’m back home now. My soul is still recovering, getting better and better one day at a time and my perspective towards my own happiness improved a lot.

Right now that I’m back, I’m hydrated and eating veggies and getting enough sleep. I’m having connections with people that are good for my soul. We are not faking positivity. I’m letting go. I’m grateful for everyday. And I will keep on looking! For my passion, my goal, my purpose, for the good souls around, and to more adventures.

I will confess I did bleed in silence starting this trip. But quietly and in calm spirit, I grew up a little bit. And nobody applauded for it because nobody knew, so nobody watched my healing process. But still, and I will, always: bloom in silence.

So all throughout all the closed doors, I’m ready for some serious blessing this year.

sending you positive vibes,


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