Tuesday, November 6, 2012

All Saints' Holiday

On November 1st and 2nd, Foundation U was closed for All Saints' Day.  Traditionally, this Catholic holiday is celebrated in the Philippines, like other Spanish colonized countries (Mexico etc.), families honor deceased relatives by decorating graves with flowers and burning candles.  This gives a whole new meaning to "All Hallows' Day" (Halloween). Taking advantage of having a four-day weekend, we decided to vacation at Camiguin Island.

It took us a full day to travel between Dumaguete and Camiguin.  We took two ferries, a van shuttle between the ferries, and multiple pedicabs/jeepneys.  It was well worth the day of travel to spend two full days on an island known for the sweetest lanzones fruit, White Island, seven volcanoes, and some of the largest clams found on the earth!

Above: Flowers take over the streets of Tagbilaran City, Bohol Island during All Saints' Day.  We had to pick up a van shuttle in this city to take us to the second ferry about an hour ride away.

Camiguin is only 64km around.  So it was easy to see most of the sites when we rented motorbikes the first full day on the island.  Our first tourist destination was to snorkel at the Giant Clam Sanctuary (located bottom right on the map).

The guide points out seven species of Giant Clams in this tank display before we head out to see them in their natural context.  The clams can get as old as 100 years.  The largest clam in this tank is only a teenager.
 Above: Unused Giant Clam shells collected and displayed.  My head could fit in that one to the left.

Above: While I was snorkeling, I accidentally brushed up against coral and it wasn't until after I was out of the water, that I noticed several scrapes on my left thigh.  The guide immediately took me aside, grabbed a few fruit pods from the ground, and crushed them onto the fresh wounds.  A few other sanctuary workers helped to apply this tropical/herbal remedy they called "NuNu".  It stung when it was applied, but they assured me it was a medicinal treatment for my ailment.

Above: Hazy clouds roll in while the sun is setting to the west.  The clouds foreshadow a rainy "monsoon" tone experienced the following day.  Our last day on Camiguin we took a ten minute boat ride out to White Island, which is essentially a sand bar north of the mainland.  White Island is constantly changing due to currents and human intervention.  The colors are brilliant here, set against the ashen, volcanic backdrop.

Picking up lanzones for the ride back to Dumaguete.
 Taking a lunch break on Bohol Island.  The food was fantastic at Nuts Huts resort.
After lunch, we took a river boat taxi to the town of Loboc on Bohol Island.  The civil engineers and planners of this bridge miscalculated its location.  The construction abruptly stopped to avoid a collision with the second oldest church in the Philippines. The church's facade dates back to 1596. The bridge is now an over sized pedestrian and viewing platform.
We took this green jeepney to the port to grab our last ferry home to Dumaguete.  While we were bumping along the dusty roads, two men came running up to get a ride.  In their hands, each were holding a cherished fighting cock, oiled and groomed for that evening's bout.

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