Cagayan de Oro Camiguin

En Route to Camiguin : CDO To Balingoan - The Tale of an Unmindful Driver

Sunday, March 11, 2012Ryan Mach

[Balingoan Port, on a balmy morning]

The previous night's weather report on TV was kind of depressing so we braced ourselves for the worst. Surprisingly, the sun was out and there was barely any cloud in the sky. Whoever said that this part of the country (Southern Mindanao) usually gets spared from typhoons was partly right. While most areas in Luzon and the middle parts of Visayas took the beating, the sun happily shone on Cagayan de Oro and its neighboring island Camiguin during the entire duration of our stay.

We were in a giddy spirit that morning, winding our way to Agora Terminal where there are buses and vans to take us to Balingoan Port. With only one bun of sweet Pastel to fill our stomach, we walked a few blocks from the hotel where we spent the night. There are taxi cabs in Cagayan de Oro but riding one of these wasn't an option for us because we were trying to be cheapskates. Motorellas (local tricycles that can fit up to 8 people) were budget-friendly (Php8.00 minimum fare). However, finding one proved to be a little challenging. They litter around the streets but they're rather picky. If you tell them your destination and it's out of the way, they shake their head and speed fast.
[CDO's version of tricycle. They look like mini jeepneys and can accommodate up to 8 people]

After a few unsuccessful attempts, we finally found a Motorella that was willing to take us to Agora Terminal. We didn't understand why some Motorellas had to refuse us, I mean Agora isn't that even far. It's not hard to miss either. A busy spot in the city.

We initially planned on taking a bus but we found none when we reached the terminal. There was however a van waiting for passengers who were going to Balingoan Port. Without any second thoughts, we hopped in. The fare was reasonable (Php100) which we heard was the same amount the buses normally charged. The catch was, we had to wait until all the seats were occupied. And that cost us some time. An hour wasted!
[Market near Agora Terminal]

It was a bright day, and we kept our complaints to ourselves. Mariah Carrey's 'One Sweet Day' booming over the radio definitely helped us maintain our good mood. And that one bun of sweet Pastel must have done wonders to keep our spirit on a high note. But the driver of the van seemed intent to test our patience. Barely 10 minutes after hitting the road, he stopped at a gasoline station to, well, fill up gas. This irked us up obviously because any sensible driver should have filled up his gas before the trip. We wouldn't have minded this if he didn't stay long enough at the terminal.

Midway through the trip, he pulled over near a bridge to check his wheels which were producing some weird sound. We could only shake our heads in frustration. The last straw was when he turned around and went a few kilometers back to drop off a couple of passengers at some spot he missed! He could have given those passengers a few bucks so they could hop a ride instead which could save him on gas, and us time.
[Travel time was approximately 2 hours, made slower by an inattentive driver.]

Despite all the hassle, the trip was smooth and enjoyable. We got to see a glimpse of Misamis Oriental. After about two hours, we reached the port, unscratched but less giddy. Riding a van was perhaps a better option compared to taking a bus, as it made its stop near the port so we didn't have to rent a tricycle to go to the port.
[Ticket booths outside the port]

Ferries are scheduled to leave every hour from Balingoan to Camiguin. Tickets cost 170 per person, discounts apply to students and senior citizens. The next boat was leaving at 10:54am and since we got there at around 10, we decided to pay attention to our grumbling stomach. There are a number of eatery outside the port. They serve rice and meals for a reasonable price, although food choices aren't that great. Still we wolfed down a good serving of chicken, vegetable and fish. One last gulped of Coke Sakto and we were back to our old giddy selves. We marched towards the terminal (entrance fee of 7.00) and waited excitedly along with other passengers. We were an hour closer to Camiguin.
[Brunch - chopsuey and cola]


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