I don’t usually travel when I am not clear-headed. In as much as I want to go to different places, I always want to remember them. Which is why I almost always see to it that I have no baggage whatsoever. This Camiguin tour is different. I went on this trip with bottled anger and frustrations; some are even decade-old, in hopes to flush all these negativities down the “island born of fire”.

The worst thing about the past is that it has this unique way of creeping in your life no matter how much you convince yourself that you have buried the hatchet. Days leading to the Camiguin tour, I was overwhelmed with what was happening to me personally. I sometimes randomly woke in the middle of the night and felt the rush of negative emotions of years ago which I didn’t even know where it came from. So, I decided to dig deep within me and realize what truly is going on. More than anything else, it is the time to face facts and deal with unresolved issues head-on. The only reason I come up with why I am sometimes bothered by the past is that I think I chose to take the easy way out or was passive-aggressive in dealing with them.

Camiguin, being such a unique island is more than perfect to dump emotional baggage in. The trickier part in all of these, however, is to not be a buzzkill in the whole duration of the tour just because I am dealing with personal issues. I have been in similar situations where I don’t want to deal with other people’s drama; therefore, I don’t want to create this dark cloud of negativity while I deal with mine.

Camiguin’s Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross

Camiguin Tour Stations of the Cross i
Camiguin Tour Stations of the Cross ii

It is fairly well-known that the small island of Camiguin has a lot of volcanoes – seven in particular. And they built the Stations of the Cross to one! Each station is situated on steps going up the mountain.

The Stations of the Cross reminds me that each of us has our own crosses to bear. We carry them everyday and everywhere. But what separates us from one another is the size of the crosses we’re carrying and our attitudes in carrying them. We oftentimes minimize what others are going through because we consider them as smaller crosses than what we bear. It’s just wrong. Why not just help others overcome what they’re going through instead without putting into perspective that, you believe, their reaction to their situation is inversely proportional? It may seem logical to you but it can be downright dismissive to people who have mustered the courage to open themselves up.

The Stations have also made me appreciate the notion of having a very definite goal. With a certain number in mind which is 14, I know that when I’m at 7th, I’m halfway; and that when I’m at 12th, I’m a couple of Stations away from finishing. It helps build my psyche into thinking that I am near my goal and that I should get going. It encourages me more to continue and not give my progress up.

Old Catarman Church Ruins and Sunken Cemetery

Camiguin Tour Old Catarman Church Ruins

Camiguin Tour Sunken Cemetery

Both of these attractions have something in common. They are the products of fallouts! However, we may deduce that the ruins and the sunken cemetery are what they are because nature intends them to be.  It strikes right through my heart because there are fallouts which are actually not worth saving.

We are seeing right through destructions; sometimes unminding what caused them and rather appreciating them of what they are now. In life, we experience fallouts. We have fallouts with careers, friendships, relationships, and alike. Our initial and normal response, of course, is to salvage what we can. It is the smartest thing to do. But in some cases, I think, nature herself is teaching us to just step back and let the things crumble like a castle of cards. Afterwards, appreciate what remains of the destruction. We cannot control everything, but that doesn’t give us the go-signal to let things around us keep happening without our control. It is more admirable to have done something then failed than to just sit around and watch green bananas turn yellow.

With the destruction, our choices include building them up again or just let them be and find the best possible angle to navigate through the rubble.

Sto. Nino Cold Spring and Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring Resort

Camiguin Tour Sto Niño Spring

The Sto. Niño Cold Spring is true to its name.  It’s cold and wide and fun and something you can rely on. You go to this place in hopes of finding the coldness of nature and you are truly given such. It is as simple as that.

I’ve always believed that life is simple. But in the diversity of how our minds work, we sometimes create unnecessary chaos. We have held on too tight to our beliefs that we have become very close minded to the notion that there are other beliefs dissimilar to ours. But with the cold spring, we have come into this parley of wanting something similar from the spring and actually getting it!

Sometimes, it is all we actually need: a parley – a discussion of terms to define the things that need definition. But before putting everything in the jar though, we need to determine what we really want. And it is not as easy as wanting coldness from a cold spring.

The Ardent Spring is supposed to be renowned for its hot spring. “Supposed”, because it is something that is definitely not. That spring is not even close to lukewarm!

It makes you wary sometimes of the things that people label themselves but is disappointingly not. The lesson here, however, is on how to react to situations like this. You can take the dip to the disappointing water of the spring and accept it as it is at the moment, or you can find other things in the vicinity that will not disappoint you like eating chorizo and puso. It is one of those classic examples of what defines us is on how we react to things that are happening to us. It is perfectly normal to be disappointed, but what we do with that negative emotion is our own undoing.

These two springs are supposed to be the yin and yang. You can count on the yin, but definitely not on the yang!

Tuasan Falls and Katibawasan Falls

Camiguin Tour Tuasan Falls

Camiguin Tour Katibawasan Falls

Waterfalls are the prime examples that things going down cannot always be construed to be negative. These waterfalls are beautiful. Their cascading cold waters are gracefully coming down from the lush uphill to the shallow puddle allowing mere mortals to bask themselves in the glory of nature. That’s some poetic shit I have pulled off, I guess. Hahaha.

We live in the world today where beauty is so diverse its definition has become vague but very inclusive. I love that. I myself have learned how to discern beauty which also speaks to what I am willing to embrace. It is very important that we learn how to see the positive in people. In the society fueled by negativities and insecurities, it has become a rarity to appreciate beauty without a tiny tinge of any malice whatsoever.

With the beauty of nature, we should be also able to celebrate the beauty in people. There are truly beautiful people beyond the physical appearances. I am lucky enough to have met such people and am actually friends with them. What I love being around them is that my world is so much better with them in it. And I believe it is important that they know that! Consequently, I am also pushing myself to exhume the beauty in me that I can share with others. Believe that there is beauty in you, and with that, you will be able to share with others the purity of self that this world actually needs.

I am more of a listener than I am a talker. And always, I listen to how people talk about the positive traits of others if ever they do because, with that, I tend to base the character and my impressions of the one talking.

Camiguin White Island

Camiguin Tour White Island

The White Island is a bare island. It is an island of fine sands surrounded by different shades of blue of the sea.

I associated the island with simplicity and freedom.

It is what it is. Take it or leave it. I used to live my life always being mindful of what people might say. What I heard them say about me always got into me and with those, I based my perception of my self. It was not only dangerous but it was self-incriminating. There were actually people who didn’t wish me well. And shame on me for only realizing that after I had been in the bottom of the well. I did that to my self.

Saying that you are this kind of person, and actually be that kind of person is liberating. Not many know your struggles of breaking out of the shell of self-pity, self-loathing, self-destruction, and depression. When people actually blame you for the bad things they are doing to you and you actually believe that you are at fault for their behavior, you are not doing yourself any favors! It took me years to realize that.

Many have criticized and bullied me a lot. People around me were telling me to change the way I walk, to make my voice fuller, to not dress too tight, to change the color of my hair, to stop traveling a lot, to change my postures in my pictures, to not be too skinny etc. I do not see any offense in what I’m doing and yet I feel terrible for not getting any parcel of support from people whom I expect to support who I am. Sometimes, I wish I could flip the middle finger in their faces but I just can’t.

I am being bare. But some people want me to put on a mask whichever will satisfy them. Here we are again with ‘Why can’t you be more like that?’ and ‘What will the people say?’. There is a thin line between ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ and being reductive. I can’t live my life like that again. This is me – take it or leave it! I can’t live by the standards that people around me are posting to my faces. I now refuse to be solely defined by the papers I have worked hard before. My phase of living in a pretense is long over; but right now, I am being pushed back to that phase by the same people who I care deeply. I wish life could just give me a break. It has been exhausting…

Mantigue Island / Magsaysay Island

Camiguin Tour Mantigue Island

In the whole duration of the Camiguin tour, I must say that it is on this island that I had so much fun. It is a typical island but it is the people I have been with that made the difference.

In life, you cannot isolate yourself and shutdown from the world. You are at loss it that happens. In Mantigue Island, I have said to my self that life is really not about numbers. You may be surrounded by a lot of people, but if they are the wrong ones, then you will be miserable. You can be in a company of one or two and that can be perfect!

Despite the setbacks and disappointments from other people, you need to find in yourself the courage to be able to trust and open yourself again. And if you cannot find that yet, learn to be able to enjoy the company of yourself.

Always be open-minded and give people chances. Especially those who have chosen to enter your life. Life is basically trial and error. You may find the wrong people but you definitely will land with the right ones. In relation, strive to be the right person!

Final Thought

As I continue not getting any younger, I come to realize that life is so formulaic. The older generation tends to impose their formulae on you because it worked before. You may settle to want to borrow their formula; but what if you don’t? You are a variable, but you can create a formula of your own. You can extract it from other formulae, but at least you can have the audacity to create something new and call it your own! Being open-minded goes both ways. You need to be welcoming to other’s input; but at the end of the day, they also need to be able to realize that we don’t live in a dictatorship.

The Camiguin tour has been very redemptive to me. It is the soul-searching trip I truly need. It has imparted to me one of the most vital realizations yet. That is, you don’t have to compromise your dream to help people realize theirs. You can follow your dream and they can follow theirs and you can mutually support each other; like best friends traveling to the same destination but with different paths. And if in the process they decide that the only way to realize their dream is that you become not part of it, learn to accept that.

However, you must also not falter on your dream just because somebody gave up on you. Gradually and painfully, either pick up the pieces of the broken years or watch them rot in disdain – your choice. Always remember that it is highly important that you made the choice for yourself. At the end of the day, you must keep going in life; containing yourself to not look back, to just keep going – even when you are lost sometimes.

Remembering is very important. I always remember who truly helps me up and who puts my self-worth down. I don’t forget a face that crushes my spirit. One thing about me is that I forgive, but I never forget! Next chapter…

Author: Mark Atong

If he is not taking advantage of his skills on full-time IT employment, he is going different places and hopefully making his mother proud. He believes writing is his passion; but it has yet to prove to pay his bills. He is a fun-loving individual who would rather stay at home reading books and catch-up on episodes of TV shows.

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