When we boarded the yellow Butuan-bound aircon bus in Cagayan de Oro's Agora Bus Terminal at around 4 PM, I already knew we are not going to catch the last ferry trip that will leave for Camiguin from the Port of Balingoan that afternoon. We still have to traverse about 86 kilometers and the last ferry trip from Balingoan Port to Benoni Port, Camiguin is scheduled to leave at 4 or 5 PM. Our only option was to stay overnight in Balingoan then leave for Camiguin early on the next day. Where to stay, however, is a question that will only be answered once we reach the coastal town of Balingoan, known for being the jump off point to the Island Born of Fire.
With the on-going highway road repairs, the bus ride took more than two hours before we reached the pitch-black Balingoan Bus Terminal. We found out that power outage lasting for 4-5 hours is a regular thing in this side of Misamis Oriental these days. The first thing we did upon disembarking from the bus was to look for a place to eat. Most of the carinderias facing the bus bays are already occupied by drunk patrons. Fortunately, a barbeque stall on the opposite side, illuminated by some rechargeable lamps, provided us a cheap and decent place to eat our dinner.
After making our order, I asked the man on the grill if there are any places nearby where we could stay for the night. He told me there are some lodging houses near the port and then specifically recommended Lola Lumen Pension House. While feasting on pork and chicken barbeque and the surprisingly tasty fish tinola, a "sikad" driver approached us and offered to take us to the lodging house. So after eating, we boarded his sikad and off we went to the port area.
Manong Driver first took us to another pension house which turned out to be owned by his relative. Rate is 200 pesos per fan room with common CR but we what we didn't like the fact that it has no windows. So we asked him to take us to Lola Lumen which is just a few steps walk on the opposite side of the street. The pension house is located in the second floor and upon taking a look of its room, we decided it was the better place to stay.
Lola Lumen's Pension House is conveniently situated near the perimeter fence of Balingoan Port. It is an old, 2-storey house wherein the second floor was converted into a lodging area. Outside its ground floor are the booths selling tickets for ferries bound for Camiguin.
Judging from its interiors, I could say that it is an old ancestral home with wooden floors, antique furnitures and old photos decorating one portion of its walls.
Overnight stay is only 150 pesos per head and with this rate, expect the accommodation to be less than basic. Our room has two beds (double and single sizes), the mattress and blankets are thin and the pillows are made of styrofoam. The plywood walls are peeled and the door knob is busted. With only thin walls separating each room, conversations from the other side are clearly audible. At least it has large windows where cool breeze passed through.
The shared bath and comfort rooms are located a good distance from our room. Since our room is also near the stairway, noise from arriving guests would disturb us every now and then. To topped it all, a "tuko" (tokay gecko) hiding somewhere in the ceiling (or was it between the walls?) sounded off three times throughout our brief stay (hahaha!). Definitely this is not a place for sweet dreams and deep slumber.
Despite these inconveniences, we managed to have a few hours of eyeshut though. Lola Lumen, indeed, offers a cheap and decent place to stay in Balingoan just in case you missed the last ferry trip for Camiguin. Our brief stay was good enough to energize us in exploring an amazing island (no, it's not the famous White Island sandbar) in Camiguin the following day.
Good morning Balingoan!
Lola Lumen Pension House
Balingoan Port, Balingoan, Misamis Oriental
Fan Room: 150 pesos/person
Aircon Room: 600 pesos