Monday, October 22, 2012

Matalom, Leyte ~ Canigao Island


The BACKPACKERS visited Eastern Visayas on October 11 - 15, 2012. Their first stop was in the quaint town of Matalom in Leyte. They were divided into two groups, the first group consisted of BPs April, Marion, Percy and Ivan who reached Tacloban via Zestair at 5:40AM. They toured the town of Tacloban before heading to their first group destination: Matalom, Leyte. After enduring four hours of travelling passing through the towns of Dulag, Rizal, Mayorca, Mac Arthur, Abuyog, Baybay, Inopacan, Hindang, Hilongos and Bato, they finally reached the quiet shores of Matalom, Leyte. The four reached the island at around 5PM, pitched tent and waited for the afternoon group who arrived in Leyte at 1PM. The afternoon group consisted of BPs Chons, Weng, Heinz, Ralph and our lone guest Sheryl. Here is what we experienced in this small but beautiful island of Canigao:


Wow Canigao
by: Weng Topasi



Author BP Weng
After three hours of tedious van ride from Tacloban, hunger, biography exchange with Chons, rain, and endless zigzag roads, the second batch (I, Ralph, Heinz, Chons and Sheryl)  reached Matalom, Leyte at around 6:30 pm.   The van dropped us in Brgy. Sta. Fe in front of Super Ball, the name of the boat operator which the morning group chartered to Canigao Island.  The last trip of the boat is 5PM, and the boat rental fee is P500 back and forth. But since it was already late, we were impelled to charter for a special ride which cost P1, 500. The first batch Ivan, April, Marion, and Percy were already there. So the options left for us were to cancel the trip and head to my auntie’s house in Maasin which is thirty minutes away from Matalom, sleep on the boat station and wait until morning or continue the trip despite the owner’s discouragement because of the high tide. I have no idea what to expect from this island. The first time I saw Canigao was when I was on top of Hanginan Mountain two years ago.  It was just a thumb-size green islet floating in the sea, nothing comparable to the bigger mass of land like Cebu and Bohol that you can also see when you’re on top. I can't even see the island from our location because of the darkness; there were no stars in the sky. But when lightning struck the other side of Leyte, I caught a glimpse of it which gave me a creepy feeling; one I felt whenever I watch horror movies. We were all undecided at first, we were all hungry and wanted to rest but then again the spirit of friendship prevailed. We needed to be with the first batch and travel together no matter what. I guess the owner saw our determination and allowed us to travel and gave the boat fee for a lower price.  While we were waiting on the bamboo dock, we were surprised to see how big the boat was. There were also life vests in case of emergency.  It took us only 10 minutes to reach the island but according to the operator it could have been lesser if the waves were cooperative.

The boat station
Percy and Marion (part of morning group) on the way to Canigao Island
During the morning group's arrival at Canigao Island
Chons, Weng and Heinz (part of afternoon group) after arriving at Canigao Island
Ivan waited for us on the shore. The island had temporary lights because of the generator. I saw some men fishing, I guess they were the caretakers because aside from our group, the other campers were composed only of two girls. I can feel the fine white sand on my feet; I also saw some crabs playing when the light hit the sand. Ralph and Marion pitched their own tents while the rest stayed on the tarpaulin in the open air.  After the island employee reminded us the P20 entrance fee and P100 pitching fee per tent, he left us. I felt everyone was really exhausted. After eating supper and having our light socials, we decided to rest early. When I checked the time it was not even 12AM yet. Everyone quickly stumbled to sleep except me.  I could not recall the time they turned off the generator and left us in total darkness, that was when we also turned off our camp light.  We camped under a tree, I can not see the starless sky but who needed it when there were a lot of fireflies flaunting their light. I felt like they were singing me to sleep and the waves seemed to remind me not to worry about anything. I can also hear some bats doing their nocturnal hunting. This was my first time to sleep in an island outside the tent…it was so serene, maybe that was the reason why I could not sleep. My body was tired for traveling half of the day but my mind still wanted to capture the serenity of the night. Hours passed, when I opened my eyes it was already dawn but the fireflies were still there as if guarding us from harm.  When the first light of the sun touched the sky, the BP girls took a morning stroll before swimming.  When I was a kid I was told that it was good for one's health if you take an early swim in the sea before sunrise for the sea is a good healer. I guess they were right because I felt better after dipping my feet on the warm morning water.  Unable to resist the beauty of the calm morning we called for the remaining sleeping members to wake up so we could tour the island together.

Early morning dip
BP Chons at Canigao Island
Morning at the beach
BP Weng at Canigao Island
Ready to tour the island!
Good morning Canigao Island!
April and Heinz sitting by the log washed ashore
Beach bumming in Matalom, Leyte
BP Percy at Canigao Island
The tree, the sand, the mountains and the sea
BP Marion at Canigao Island
Posing at the lifeguard station

It will only take you 10-15 minutes to tour the whole island by foot but since we took our time to have our photo ops it took us longer than that.  At the back part of the island was a sandbar.  The waist-deep water was crystal clear, you could see the sea grasses and some corals on the right side but the current was strong.     Ivan, Sheryl and Heinz were able to stroll far while the remaining members stayed near the shore. I also noticed some big shells which meant that the ecosystem is flourishing in this area. Unfortunately I also saw some trash usually composed of plastic bottles, facial cleansers, bottle caps and some missing pairs of slippers and shoes.  I’m not sure if it was owned by previous campers or carried by the waves from the nearby towns.  The shore at the back of the island was not wide as compared to the front part but there's definitely some space for camping too. There was also a little forest area where you can see some wild plants and hear some birds.

Cool and refreshing morning!
BP Ralph at Canigao Island
Sitting by the waves
BP April at Canigao Island
Canigao Island definitely has a Survivor vibe!
Enjoying the sandbar
BP Ivan at Canigao Island
Sandbar fun!
Lovers Lane
Ralph and Sheryl at Canigao Island
Batchmates Percy and Chons sitting atop a tree trunk
After the stroll we prepared to leave because we have to visit other places in Maasin.  The wash area was big enough but some doors were locked, the floors were tiled but thankfully there was enough water. While everyone washed up, I stayed in the sea to swim. I spent my remaining minutes floating and watching the sky.  I pondered on how lucky I was enjoying moments of peace and thanked God for the beauty of this small island. Moments like these were priceless…how can one appreciate the beauty of nature without appreciating the hands that designed all these?  I know this may sound strange for some but I can feel God's presence better when I commune with nature than in visiting churches.

Heinz loving island living
BP Heinz at Canigao Island
A beautiful morning!
Here's our campsite
The BACKPACKERS before bidding goodbye to Canigao Island

We left before 10am and as we travelled farther away from the island I remembered one of the quotes I read from a magazine by Pam Shaw …”After a visit to the beach, it’s hard to believe we live in a material world”.
CANIGAO ISLAND CONQUERED!
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