Crumbling Houses and Hot Springs
Staying at Enigmata has been such a great experience. In particular for putting me in touch with Ros, who is a wealth of information on Philippines art and culture, particularly of the south.
"Ma'am Ros" (as her students call her)
While I am finding out, like, a week late that Bohol is FAMOUS for it's heritage okkil houses (DOH!) that you can visit and look at (DOUBLE DOH!), Ros took me around the many okkil houses of Camiguin around Mambajao yesterday. There are more on other parts of the island, but that's all we had time for. I will need to save further exploration for another trip.
I even got to go inside a couple by asking the owners politely if I could and explaining my interest (with a little proactive push from Ros).
Okkil is essentially the art of wood carving. These houses that are typically about 100 years old have a common look to them. Squarish structures with windows that have wood and capiz shell shutters that slide open. The typical okkil patterns cut into the wood trim or along the tops of walls on the interiors are both decorative and functional -- they vent the air.
Almost none that I saw have been kept up, and many are about to fall apart, which is sad. At least one is being renovated by a man who is interested in preserving it.
The nicest one I saw has been kept up functionally by one family, who was so gracious and happy to show me their house. It's funny, they look like not that much from the outside necessarily, but when you go in you really get the sense of the structure because the ceiling are REALLY HIGH, and they are designed to be very big open spaces inside, it is an unusual structure and design.
The interior of the family's house and a detail of the wood carving trim at the top -- note how high the ceilings are compared to the lola.
In the bottom of one of the nicest okkil houses here the Paradiso. It's an Italian restaurant owned by an Italian, so the food is pretty good.
To top off a great day, we did a spontaneous trip to the Arden Hot Springs after dinner. Visiting a hot springs at night, then riding back home in the dark on a scooter is exhilirating. Admittance was P30/US 60 cents, I had to buy a tiedyed wrap thing there because I didn't have any extra clothes with me -- in recent years a market has sprung up around the hot springs that was open with lots of tourist items, all stamped with "I went to Camiguin Island, Philippines!", so finding something wasn't a problem. Wouldn't you know we drove past more than a couple karaoke places going full steam near the natural hot springs.... There were a lot of people at the springs at night, surprisingly, including families.
I have really really enjoyed my time on Camiguin, even though I barely got to see any "sights" due to scuba diving lessons and just trying to have some down time. I've had such a comfortable feeling of safety, and although Filipinos are already known for being warm, the Camiguin people are about the friendliest people I've ever seen. Sometimes this means a very long and personal list of questions will be asked as you are walking past. Still, it's been a great few days. I highly recommend a visit for people looking for some natural beauty and peaceful island life.