Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mount Hibok-Hibok, a Natural Monument in Camiguin

Mt. Hibok-Hibok

Mt. Hibok-Hibok is in the volcanic island of Camiguin off the northern coast of Mindanao in the Philippines. It is listed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines as one of its protected areas, and together with Mt. Timpoong also in Camiguin is included in the list of natural monuments of the country.   A natural monument is a relatively small area which is protected by the government because of its naturally significant features that are of interest to the people living in the area and also to the people at large.                                                                                                   

Mt. Hibok-Hibok
Mt. Vulcan
The only active volcano of Camiguin, Mt. Hibok-Hibok is a composite or stratovolcano and a dome complex that has a height of 1,332 meters and a base diameter of 10 kilometers. It has three craters that are sites of eruption: Kanangkaan-1948, Itum – 1949 and Ilihan- 1950. The inactive or dormant volcanoes include Vulcan, Mambajao, Guinsiliban, Butay, Uhay, Campana, Carling, Guinsiliban,  Minokol and Tres Marias. Active volcanoes are those with historical eruption while inactive or dormant volcanoes may start eruption with little warning, such as Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.                                                                                                                 

Mt. Tres Marias
Early eruptions occurred in 1827 and 1862. And these were followed almost a decade later. In February 16, 1871 there were rumblings in the earth accompanied with earthquakes. The lava of Mt. Hibok-Hibok instead of issuing from a central vent poured along a vertical fissure that extended for several distances across the land surface. The thick viscous lava solidified and accumulated and gradually formed into a mountain reaching a height of 590 meters.   

On May 13, 1871, Mt. Vulcan, the new mountain, exploded.  The explosion was accompanied by shower of rock, dust and ashes. Destruction was complete within a radius of 3 kilometers from the explosion of the new volcano mountain and buried to the ground houses, churches and other structures and submerged in sea water a portion of a ground area.                                                                                        

In 1897, Mt. Hibok-Hibok emitted white sulfuric vapors and damaged farms on the island. In 1902, the volcanic activity was only solfataric. In 1948, there was very little damage to the eruption. But in 1949, there were 79 deaths due to landslide. The most violent eruption was On December 4, 1951. There were avalanches of lava at 800 degrees Celsius. Gasses of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide were spewed into the air and there was formation of glowing cloud of dust. The pouring boiling lava fell down tree and charred houses, animals and people along its path. Mudflow of lava destroyed 19 square kilometers of land particularly in Mambajao and about 3,000 were killed.    

The volcanic eruptions terrified the people of the island so that a great number of them migrated to neighboring places of Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental and Bohol.  Before eruption the population of the island was 69,000. After eruption it was reduced to 34,000.         



Today one can see the trace of the devastation caused by the 1871 eruption. There are the ruins of the old church at Guiob, the new name of the place of the destroyed village. Just several distances away from it was the cemetery that was consumed by the sea as a result of that catastrophic event. In 1983 a cross marker was built right in the location of the old sunken cemetery. That structure along with the ruins serves also as monuments to the catastrophic event that destroyed an old colonial town.          

A view of Mt. Vulcan in White Island
The locals call Mt Vulcan as “Daan Vulcan” or “old Volcano” which is a misnomer because the fact is that it is the youngest volcano of Camiguin which was born with the explosion of Mt Hibok-Hibok. Mt Vulcan is a parasitic dome of Hibok-Hibok and is still considered a part of it.                     

Beyond the destructive power of Mt. Hibok-Hibok, there arise from its volcanic activity beauties and wonders of nature. There are six hot springs that issue from the volcano. Hot spring occurs when magma heats up water stored in cracks in rock. The water returns to the surface as hot spring. In addition to the hot springs there are also cold springs and soda water springs. These enjoyable natural spots provide rest and relaxation not only to the people in Camiguin but also to people in other parts of the Philippines and the world.                                                                                                                                                             

Mt Hibok-Hibok is an ideal destination for hiking and mountain climbing to reach the summit of the volcano with Ardent Hot Spring as the starting point. Along the way, the hikers or climbers navigate the different terrains and see the flora and fauna that are indigenous to the island. Reaching the summit, they can see the White Island, the eastern coast of Misamis Oriental, and the islands of Siquijor and Negros that lay amidst the backdrop of the breathtaking view of the sea.                                                                                                                                                      

One can reach the summit of Mt Vulcan through the Way of the Cross. Catholic faithful usually climb the steps of the 14 Stations of the Cross to commemorate the passion of Christ’s crucifixion during the Holy Week. Reaching the last station will bring the devotee to the summit of Mt Vulcan.   

Mt. Hibok-Hibok (left) and Mt. Vulcan (right)
Camiguin Island is one of the major tourist destinations of Northern Mindanao.  From Manila, the capital of the Philippines, one can reach Camiguin by plane through Cagayan de Oro and from there he takes a ride on a Bus or van going to Balingoan. At the port there, he can board a ferry that will take him to the port of Benoni in Camiguin.    

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