Just like White Island, which I blogged last year, Camiguin’s Sunken Cemetery is one of most popular tourist attractions in this island province. The sight of a concrete cross rising from the sea is one to behold and this view has provided plenty of photographers with amazing shots. And because this cross is located off the western coast of Camiguin, the best time to take a picture is during sunset, when the silhouette of the cross is framed by the setting sun. To see what I mean, just look at the shots by travel blogger Ferdz over at Flickr: photo one, two, three. Beautiful!
The cross (that white boat-like shape in the thumbnail above) is the only visible reminder that there was once a cemetery in this place. Camiguin’s capital used to be the town of Catarman and the poblacion was located in this area, in what is now Barrio (Barangay) Bonbon.
In 1871, a volcanic fissure opened up and erupted along the western flank of Mt. Hibok-Hibok and the catastrophic ground movement sank part of the town into the sea and took the cemetery along with it. Because of the eruption, the town center of Catarman was relocated south into its current place. The erupting fissure became a dome now called Mt. Vulcan. A subsequent eruption starting in 1948 further submerged the cemetery such that it now lies 20 feet below the sea’s surface (before, times of low tide would make the cemetery visible from the shore). The locals then erected a cross in 1982 to mark the cemetery’s location, first on a floating platform before being attached to a concrete base.
Tourists can visit to the cross platform by hiring bancas along the pier facing the cross. What many people don’t know is that the cross is hollow, as can be seen on a photo on this article). The bancas can also be hired if you want to go diving to see the cemetery itself (that is if you’re not scared, hehe). The old tombstones have become a base for coral growth and there are plenty of fishes in the sea here.