Camiguin stole my heart and roused my entrepreneurial spirit

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

CAMIGUIN is a heavenly place to live in, enjoy a romantic honeymoon, family and friends bonding, escape from the frenzied city lifestyle, among others. There is a danger, though, that you might want to stay forever more.

Here in Manila my cousins, niece and nephews just had, for snacks, kipping (crepe made from cassava) which I brought home from Camiguin. Rey Gramatica ate it with guava marmalade. Baby, Bryle and Robelle made tacos out of it. Aro ate it just fried. Even my Aunt Ofelia loved eating them. Baby has asked me to buy more through my friends via courier. They intend to serve it for Shasha’s birthday party.

Since this morning Aro and I have been eating them. That’s how good these kippings are. The ones made in Lucban, Quezon, are made with rice. This kipping is unique to Camiguin.

Aside from kipping, Camiguin also boasts of being the origin of pastel—those yummy buns with fillings. Some enterprising visitors brought them to Cagayan de Oro where it has gained believers who buy them wholesale as pasalubong.

Their tablea is not like other tableas in other places. It is pure cacao, painstakingly cooked and shaped into round tablets. It is best with condensed milk.

When I told my friends I was going to Camiguin, everybody, without missing a beat, chorused, “Lansones! Mango!” I was lucky to chance upon a seller of very sweet and luscious lansones along a baranggay road in Catarman. Unfortunately, they were selling only about 5 kilos because it is still off season. October is the season for lansones and that is when they have the Lansones Festival.

Also, they have a big supply of native chickens. So tinola is a common main dish from breakfast to dinner. I love the home-cooked tinola—with green papaya, ginger, onion and tanglad—at a stall right beside Sto. Nino Cold Spring. The tinola served at Bahay Bakasyunan had chicken with very tough meat and somehow lacking in vital taste—fusion! Worse was the food served at La Isla Cocina. They were all pre-cooked, heated, tasteless and served after two long hours of waiting—and there were just eight of us in our group of diners.

Restaurant serving good old Camiguin recipes would be a good business idea in Camiguin. No fusion, no fancy recipes, just the simple recipes handed down from generation to generation. Unless they have a steady supply of necessary ingredients, this restaurant should not attempt to serve Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese and other foreign-sounding foods.

Camiguin is green. Everywhere you look there are trees, shrubs and bushes of different native plants, including trees for fruits and lumber. But I didn’t see a vegetable farm around Catarman and Mambajao. No wonder we didn’t have much vegetables while I was there. <sad>
Governor JJ Romualdo is the biggest advocate for Camiguin, especially as a tourist destination. Indeed, Camiguin is endowed with lots of natural resources and attractions—seven volcanoes, seven falls, two distinct islands, a sunken cemetery, among many others. There are a lot of benefits Camiguin could reap from an active tourism industry. Tourism is labor-intensive—tour guides, tour drivers, dive instructors, tourism service givers like restaurant wait personnel, cooks, bartenders, baristas and others. They also breed entrepreneurs and spawn big and small businesses providing goods and services to tourists—variety stores, supermarkets, wet markets, vegetable farms, hogs and chicken farmers, and many many more. In other words, everybody in Camiguin could profit from the province becoming a preferred tourist destination. Nobody will be idle or jobless.

There are many things, though, that Camiguin needs to do or have to become a major tourist destination here. That will be for our next column.

BTW, there is now a flight from Cebu direct to Mambajao, Camiguin Province. You don’t need to take the circuitous route via Cagayan de Oro. I wish PAL will also fly there and in the mid-morning.

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