Posted by: bridex | June 14, 2007

Handsome, Winsome Canibad

Snaking up the mountains and highlands of Samal Island on a rough and dusty dirt road seemed endless, and in the agony of a hurting butt, and the endless fear of a bursting tire, I told myself, “this better be good.”  Indeed, the uphill route from Penaplata was long and bumpy, and ten people in a small multicab, plus the driver and one crew, can easily bring one city boy’s mind to think up terrifying possibilities.  It was pitch dark where the headlights left off, and it was almost eleven in the evening.  “Man, this better be good,” went my prayer-chant while the squeaking engine drowned the chatter and the laughter of the passengers.0610200717176_canibad03

 A sudden halt in the middle of a hill shot a thousand question marks on the dark and bleak space surrounding my head, while the smell of burning rubber penetrated the thick booger deposits made almost entirely of limestone dust.  “Where the f*ck is it?” I screamed silently while I looked around for some semblance of a hammock hanging between two palm trees on a sandy white beach, or a gleaming flute of pine-orange juice or four seasons cocktail on a dainty rattan table. Realizing something, three dozen more question marks shot up from my head while two tiny fireflies flickered in front of me.  I almost asked one firefly, “is the sea up here on Shenyang balls?”

Then things got worse, the driver turned off the engine, got off the multicab, and instructed all of us to unload our things. “This is perfect, you expect us to find a beach on a hill???” I almost asked. 

A companion of ours, whom we call “Sir Jun,” perhaps sensing that we urban heads seemed at a loss where to find a beach on a limestone hill, told us very assuringly:  “the beach is nearby, we just have to trail down that cliff over there,” pointing his fingers to a black space at one edge of the road.  I was almost in shambles,  “CLIFF!? I didn’t go here for cliffhanging!  I haven’t even filled out an insurance policy on my Havaianas!”

So we followed Sir Jun and a guide, while their flashlight beams showed limestone, tree roots, grass, and tree trunks, then more limestone and a sudden dive downward hinting that we have reached the edge of the cliff and that darned downhill trek will start anytime soon.  I tightened my backpack and almost made a sign of the cross when we started our descent.  The trek was, to say the least, perilously freaky, and I could hear the sound of complaint from my other companions which I had to ignore, lest I miss a step and cartwheel down to the beach ahead of everyone.  Sir Jun was quick to make things easier by telling us, in vernacular, “Go slowly, watch your steps carefully,” which meant, of course, that we will be safe as long as we are careful! I grabbed on to tree roots and twigs to keep my thighs and knees from quivering wildly.  A few dozen steps down and I could see bonfires below us, and hear muffled sounds of laughter and loud talking, which got me a little excited. Then… WHOA!… I stepped on pebbles on the track and slid down a few feet.  Luckily for me, Sir Jun, who was just behind me at that point, grabbed on to my backpack and saved me from possible doom.  Man, the adrenaline rush was quite euphoric, but was I scared stiff, my Havaianas could have snapped!  0610200717208_canibad07

The downhill trek took about fifteen minutes, and as soon as we reached sea level, I let out an audible sigh while my thighs and knees seemed ready to disintegrate.  Gasping, I told Sir Jun, in vernacular, “maybe they could put railings along that track” to which he retorted “that will take away the fun from the experience.” I could have gone on to suggest a cable-car system or an escalator instead, but I desisted.  Sir Jun is a seasoned mountaineer, diver and discus thrower (okay, frisbee player) as opposed to a plain slob that is me.

 Anyway, it was eleven PM and Sir Jun led us to a hut of bamboo and nipa walls and roof, which was the only sari-sari store in the area, serving anything from Fortune cigarettes to Beer na Beer, although there were other good stuff in store, like ice-cold Pepsi, thanks to an ice-box the store maintains, which made me feel a hell much better.  I could hear the waves nearby cracking against rocks and the shore, and it was a soothing sound. 

We pitched our tents a few steps from the hut and a stone’s throw from the waves, singing and swinging to the mp3 tunes played on a cellphone.  The others readied the table for the “kamayan” potluck which we were to partake on our private spot on Canibad.

There was no electricity on Canibad, and the only light-giving contraption there was a gas lamp, with a little help from a myriad of fireflies that hover by the trees lining the beach. Visitors also pitched bonfires of dead branches and leaves and so did we. After scurrying through the piles of dead wood, fallen leaves, and huge driftwood blocks that would have cost a fortune when sold in furniture shops in the city, we created our own singe a safe distance from our tents, with a bit of Zippo fluid every now and then to keep it burning.0610200717170_canibad02

 The sky was especially clear that night and when I gazed up I could see constellations which only Ernie Baron and the Greek Astronomers before him might be able to name.  Stars have always been a source of great marvel to me and that night I took the rare opportunity to view the evening sky without the usual interference of sodium streetlights in the city.

The people on Canibad seemed joyous that Saturday night, as they gathered around their bonfires, drinking, eating, cajoling, and doing other forms of merrymaking by the beach or in their tents. After all, in that paradise that has escaped the usual crowd at the more accessible beaches on the other side of Samal Island, one couldn’t help but feel free and far away, in a place that affords everyone more private space.

We feasted on Lechon Manok, Liempo and Pancit by midnight, and soon after we found ourselves sharing bottles of red and white wine, pepsi, and yes, Beer na Beer.  It wasn’t too long before everyone became jocose, playing cards and wagering coins, the activity often disrupted by a bit of banter and mischief. I busied myself keeping the bonfire ablaze, sometimes sharing a laugh with my colleagues, or just gazing at the luminous expanse above the sea. Cigarettes, among other things, were liberally shared that night, that soon after we were all a tad more lightheaded than necessary, in a celebration that only the moon and the stars can tolerate. 0610200717186_canibad04

I remembered my prayer-chant en-route to Canibad: “this better be good.”  And, even without yet seeing the beach, only the silhouette of waves and the sometimes ghostly glow of the pale sand figuring before me whenever the blaze from our bonfire permitted, I knew that it has been answered.

 Then it was daybreak and the ultramarine glow of the sky promised a good view of the beach and the mountains beyond.  I didn’t permit myself to laze about in the tent, and so I emerged from my little nest to take a first hand view of the majesty of which I have only heard from the mouths of visitors who came to Canibad before me.  And the scene was picture perfect.

The beach is never more wonderful than just after sunrise, when rays of bronze and amber emerge from the horizon or mountain crests, and before you lies a pristine expanse of sand and waves, bidding you to bask in its calmness, where the entire seascape seems to have been hewn for you and you alone.

The sun, still ensconced by the sea and mountains beyond, afforded a truly marvellous sight :  Canibad’s crescent bay lined by a coral beach, a majestic cliff silhouetted by the rays of sunrise, rock islands jutting from the sea, a view of the mountains of Davao Oriental beyond, limestone cliffs crowned by rain forests and coconut groves, hints of the famous Aundanao coral reef twenty breast strokes away, and a beautiful sea with intermarried hues of emerald, turquoise and navy blue.

For a moment I felt alone, like Tom Hanks stranded in that little island, except that I was not in any form of distress.  For a moment, Canibad was mine alone.  I took so much of it as I can, breathing in the fresh sea air while taking in the pulchritudinous panorama. I took my mobile phone and took as many pictures as I can, taking advantage of the beautiful sunrise vistas on the tranquil beach.  0610200717208_canibad06

Later, I found other Tom Hankses, taking over the island as I did ahead of them.  Throughout that day, I indulgently swam in its clean and crystal-clear waters for hours, mindless of the risks of sunburn and UV exposure.  I also had the chance to snorkel around Canibad’s coral formations and see fantastic sea creatures, sharing the underwater spectacle with foreign and local scuba divers who have come to visit the reef.  In the afternoon, I shared an adventure with my colleagues as we walked the entire breadth of the beach outward to the cliffs and rocks beyond and saw a freshwater pond where we washed off some of the salt from our bodies.  Canibad was one exhilarating adventure to me, and I immensely enjoyed every second of my stay.

“This is good. This is so effing good!” I told myself.  Pictures can never quite capture the sheer beauty of Canibad.  Words from visitors who have been there will never quite measure up to the real score that must be experienced rather than recounted.  True, we stayed on until Four PM on Sunday, and, although the trek back up the cliff was doubly difficult from the descent, I left with a promise that I shall return to reclaim this handsome paradise.



  1. gosh!!i went to canibad last jan 2008,,,,very nice views!!!!etc,,,i love 8 so much!!!!
    promise!!!babalik ako doon with my friends!!!see you there

  2. Great! Nice info… 🙂

  3. Thanks, Pedroiho! Glad you liked my post. 🙂

  4. @ferlyn torres : i’ve been planning to return there but I couldn’t find the right company to come with me! 😦

  5. ive search the web about canibad, i stumble and end up here in your blog. It was nice and very detailed …more power and thanks for the info..

    …best place for dating ehhehehehee

  6. Hahaha! I agree on that last bit, @ice! *wink*

  7. […] or go a different route sailing past Samal’s northern tip to the Ligid islands or up to Canibad on the other (eastern) side of Samal, and then back.  Make ready reference to the time of day you […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: