On the last day of our trip, my friend and I decided to leave Camiguin at 10 a.m. My flight to Manila (via Butuan) was at 8pm, while my friend’s flight was at 10pm (via Cagayan de Oro). The travel time took at least 8 hours, so we knew we had enough time as both of us were already checked-in. Or that was what we thought.
By 9:30 a.m., we were about to check-out. We decided to try an Italian restaurant near the hotel as we needed to have a heavy breakfast. We arrived at the restaurant at past 10, and the waiter took our order eagerly. We didn’t know what happened, but it took more than 30 minutes before our order was served. Mind you, only two tables were occupied at that time. When our order was served, the pasta was half-cooked, so we had to ask them to cook our food again. It was almost 11:30, and I was starting to panic because I knew we had to wait a few more minutes, which would delay our travel.
By 12:30, we already paid our bill, and we were waiting for a motorella that would take us to the town center. At 1 p.m., we arrived at Mambajao terminal, wherein a jeep would take us to the port. We were the first to board the jeep, and I already decided that if it would not leave in 20 minutes, I would take a habal-habal (another term for motorcycle) to go to the port. I was thinking I could board the 2 p.m. ferry back to Balingoan Port.
The jeepney left at exactly 1:15 and arrived at Benoni Port at quarter to 2. My friend and I were already rushing to the counter to buy tickets for the 2 p.m. ferry. However, by 2:30, we were still in the port, and there was no ferry in sight. We learned from the locals that even though a ferry was scheduled to leave every hour, the management did not follow the timetable.
We started boarding at 3 p.m., in which I already accepted the fact that I would have to buy a new plane ticket to Manila. In fact, I was already checking for the fare and availability. I also started to prepare myself mentally (and financially) that I would lose about Php 6,000 (approx 127 USD) for a one-way ticket.
We left Benoni Port at 3:15. Due to high waves caused by Typhoon Koppu, our supposedly 1 hour ferry trip took a loooot longer. We arrived at Balingoan Port at 4:45, walked for 5 minutes to the bus terminal, said goodbye to my friend, and boarded the Butuan-bound bus. At that time, some of my travel buddies and my friends informed me that flights to/from Manila were already delayed because of the typhoon. My first thought upon hearing this: Hallelujah!
The bus ride from Balingoan Port to Butuan took 3 hours, which I spent bugging my friends to check if the aircraft bound for Butuan had already left Manila. For the record, most of the areas we passed through did not have a stable mobile network so I could not connect to the Internet properly.
By 7:30, my friend sent me a message that the flight had already departed, and it would arrive in Bancasi Airport at 10 p.m. At that time, I still had an hour left before I reached Butuan, so I thought I would arrive in the airport by 9 p.m.
When we reached Butuan city proper, I asked the bus driver and the attendant where I could be dropped off to ride the airport shuttle. The bus driver then told me that I should have asked sooner (I’m sorry!) as all Cagayan de Oro-bound and Butuan-bound buses are passing in front of the airport gate. Because we were almost near the town center, he said that I could ride a bus (again) that is bound for CDO or take a taxi. He also said that it would be safer and cheaper if I take the bus, instead of the taxi.
By 9:15, I was still 15 minutes away from the airport. I was already thinking of other options if the ground attendant informed me that I would not be able to board the flight.
By 9:40, I finally entered the airport and saw that the counter was already closed. Luckily, an airline security guard went out of the door behind the counter. I asked him if I could still check-in, he didn’t answer but went inside again. After 2 minutes, he came back with an airline personnel. After apologizing profusely, my printed ticket was taken, and I got my boarding pass. She probably saw my panicky and haggard look and decided to let me off the hook.
The plane arrived at 10:10 p.m., we boarded at 10:30, and left Butuan at past 11 due to air traffic. But heck, at that time, I was just happy to be inside the aircraft.
Travel tips (aka lesson learned):
– Expect at least a total of 9 hours travel time including the flight.
– Most people use Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro when going to Camiguin. Based on my research and my friend, Laguindingan Airport is located outside the city proper. My friend also said that it would take her a total of 5 transfers if she commuted, against my 4. However, she decided to try the airport shuttle offered in Balingoan Port, but she had to wait for a long time for the other passengers. In the end, we arrived at our designated airports at the same time.
– While doing the Butuan route, I noticed that bus drivers are picking up passengers along the way. I haven’t tried this one yet, but we could have just walked outside the airport gate into the main road and get on the Cagayan de Oro-bound bus. We would save Php 20.00 and about 1 hour travel time.
– If going back to Bancasi Airport from Balingoan, inform your bus driver or conductor to drop you off in Bancasi Airport. All you have to do is cross the street, and voila! You’re already at the airport gate. You would save Php 10.00 and about 50 minutes travel time.