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Cantiasay | Bridges to Life ( Nonoc Island, Surigao City)




Bridging Life, San Pedro & Cantiasay



It was just another sleepless night of travel as I hit the road  to Northeastern part of Mindanao with an invitation of a blogger friend Jeffrey of Traveling Morion . To energize from my non-stop jaunt, I snap a little break in Butuan City  and had a relaxing thermal massage to ease my aching feet and back. When the clock hit midnight, I ran towards the central bus terminal and waited for a bus bound for Surigao City.

Sea weed "lato", freshy harvested for lunch among dwellers of Cantiasay
I reached Surigao City at almost the same time the sun was beautifully arising in this part of Mindanao. While having our breakfast , we  immediately planned out our escapade to the most unvisited place in Surigao City, the remote community of Cantiasay and its long wooden foot bridge. The San Pedro-Cantiasay Wooden Bridge stretches up to 471 meters connecting the two cove tips of Nonoc Island.

Cantiasay is a barangay situated in one of the coastal area of Nonoc Island, off coast of Surigao City. There's only a single  scheduled ferry trip everyday towards the secluded barangay. The Ferry boat MGJ travels every 12noon from Surigao boulevard  to Nonoc Island and returns the next day at 8am.

Since our plan was to have a day tour activity, we haggled to rent a pump boat with the boatmen in a private port  at  Punta Bilang Bilang. It took us a while before we  actually succeeded a deal of Php1200.00 for a back and forth trip to Cantiasay.

Marine fish for aquarium trade in San Pedro, Nonoc Is.

Bridging Lives

Docking at Brgy. San Pedro or formerly known as Brgy.Hanigad, our eyes feasted on the great seascape of Surigao before we were surprised to see  the 471 wooden footbridge and considered as the longest in the Philippines that connects Barangays San Pedro and Cantiasay.

Constructed in 1970's and with its current deteriorating  condition, everybody will agree that it would take a little courage for some to cross the bridge. As we gave it a thought whether to cross or not, we took a short break at San Pedro by taking an excursion along the pier where hundreds or even thousands of cultured  beautiful marine creatures are protected.

Aling Lilia, a lady bystander at the shed of the wharf , noticed that we are just wanderers of their place , so she warmly greeted  and invited us  to their place to have a view of the main business they have in their locality- cultured colorful marine fishes for aquarium trade . I was alarmed to see the brothers and sisters of “Nemo” in sealed oxygenized plastic bag ,ready for transport to Manila. The price ranges from Php 20-100 each depending on the rarity of the fish species. According to Aling Lilia, the operator has permit for such  activity fro the DENR and most of the catch came from the artificial ponds on the island's bank. Permitted or not ,the idea is still being rejected by my head, as I feel that the ocean needs not to  sacrifice such beauty for the survival of  the island inhabitants.

San Pedro-Cantiasay Bridge, Philippines' Longest Wooded Bridge
At almost high noon, Jeff and I decided to cross the long wooden bridge to have a firsthand experience on how it really feels walking in almost deteriorating floating pathways. It was somehow a scene in a movie where piece by piece, each plank are about to give up the moment we put a little of our body weight on it. But it was a revealing event that the bridge served us fairly and stand strong despite  the multiple pedestrians crossing at the same time. It seems that the bridge has been tested by time and has  been long standing to serve the people of Cantiasay and San Pedro.

This bridge serves all the walks of life in the island
Walking through, multiple fish cages of grouper fishes (lapu-lapu) are set along the side of the bridge. Culturing fish  is one of the  main livelihood of the people, aside from the mining operation set somewhere in the middle of Nonoc Island.

Reaching the end of the bridge we were greeted by hunger and took a short break in one of the "sari sari" stores. It was only then we discovered that electricity in the island doesn't run on a 24 hour operation  and is  scheduled from 6-9 in the evening only. (Gosh, am going to miss a lot of soaps and dramas on television if I decided to live here). Tired and hungry, we have no choice but to enjoy the non refrigerated soda and some crackers to ease our growling guts.

We walked towards the house of the barangay captain, but it was an unfortunate day the head of the community was suffering from a high blood pressure and can’t accommodate our invitation for an interview. He just referred us to his Kagawad (council) Elena Congayo that turned out to be very accommodating and hospitable. We were even surprised that she even prepared a bountiful island typed of lunch for us.


Priceless smiles from the locals of Cantiasay, sign of life's simplicity and contentment.





Tell Me More Tia Asay!

Interested with the tourism opportunity in the island, we asked Ate Elena about the other attractions of the place. She mentioned that there are waterfalls named Busay located just a few minutes walk from their barangay. Since we were not in good condition for another 30 minute walk, we took a rain check on the invitation and scheduled it on our next visit.

Advantage of having no electricity, children have lots of time to  play
Ate Elena revealed that the name of the barangay came from their grandmother whose name was Asay, a household name in the island in the field of traditional medicine/midwifery or locally known as manghihilot/ kumadrona . So whenever people are asking for a healer, people would finger point to the location of Aling Asay saying “Kang Tia Asay” meaning at “At Asay’s Place” hence in time , it became Cantiasay.




While enjoying our fried chicken and a plateful of newly cooked rice, we stumbled knowing that the bridge was constructed in the late ‘70s. We also had the chance to know that the barangay hall is open for visitors who wish to have an overnight stay. But we told Ms. Elena that they could arrange and offer a home stay program in the barangay for tourists since no hotels/lodging facilities are standing in the nearby vicinity. This could add up to their local earnings while entertaining foreign and local guests. We told them that tourist better appreciate houses made out of indigenous materials as it is a breather for them to experience  the province type of living compared to the usual concrete environment where guests came from. We left the humble home of Ms. Elena with a promise that we will return to visit  Busay Waterfalls.

Getting there

Coming from Manila and Cebu, daily flights are available bound for Surigao City . The Ferry MGJ at the boulevard/port of Surigao City leaves every 12nn to Nonoc Island, San Pedro Hanigad Wharf and returns the next day to Surigao Port at 8am. In case you wish to have a private pump boat we can recommend Kuya Eddie Bual @09302667895.

Accommodation

There are no hostel or lodging houses in the area, so you might end up sleeping in barangay hall , so we suggest to bring a sleeping mat for an overnight stay or you may communicate with Kagawad Elena Congayo @ 09127445635. Though most of the people show great hospitality, you may leave a simple “token” of appreciation as sign of support to the people of Cantiasay.

For more information call the Surigao Tourism Office@ (086) 826-8064 along Borromeo St., Luneta Park, Surigao City or email them at tourism_surigaocity@yahoo.com.

17 comments :

  1. Fresh Lato, suka na lng og lamas solve na :)

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  2. ayaw ng butangan ng suka ... deretcho na ... lol

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  3. WendellGlennDrWendsCagapeNovember 13, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    this is an awesome experience Love :) I wished you will bring me here too :)

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  4. Very honored to accompany you here docwends ... surely I will return for the Busay falls. let's coordinate together with other travelers and interested party :)

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  5. Ganda ng mga shots Dennis!:) Sayang yung hiningi natin na Lato db? hehehe

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  6. it's a shame that I am a SurigueƱa but never knew that this place is existing in our province and never get the chance to pay a visit. I will see this place next time I come home.

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  7. We sometimes overlooked the wonder of our own backyard, but it's not too late to spend a little time to visit our own place....

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  8. We missed that free Lato . Next time I will bring an extra container !

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  9. when will you go back to Cantiasay? hehehe...(wish makakuyog ko next time you go there)

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  10. I am open for companion to our trips... it's just that i still dont have plan as of to this date .. maybe before the end of November I shall go back there ... :)

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  11. Oh! that's too soon. I'll be in Benguet by end of November :)

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  12. my heart beats fast as i look at the bridge..how i imagine if i were to walk on that, i,m afraid if someday the posts will give way wala ka pang hawakan...try to see funding agencies to help build a new one,report that to the president....

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  13. The place seems unexplored that way I see it for I am very particular with this place. I am interested to know how long is this bridge for it is the longest you said?

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  14. wow the place looks like avillage somehwere near the james bond island in thailand! your photos looks stunning! xx

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  15. The wooden bridge is really picturesque and of course serves as main road for the people here.

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  16. The smiles really captures the heart. :)

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