Sunken Cemetery.  in Philippines, Asia

Sunken Cemetery

in Philippines, Asia

---- (Catarman, Camiguin) Photo © Shubert Ciencia

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Sunken Cemetery

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Sea
	Cucumber - Sunken Cemetery
Sea Cucumber - Sunken Cemetery. Photo by Carlo Garcia
The Sunken Cemetery is one of the historical landmarks of Camiguin Island. The cemetery sank due to previous volcanic eruptions and is now found about 6 meters underwater, depending on the tide. The area is situated around 30 meters from the coast of Barangay Bonbon, Catarman. It is indicated by a huge cross above the water which was created in 1982 by the local government.

This historical landmark can be admired from above the ground and below the water surface. From a distance, you can see a huge cross protruding in the middle of the sea while witnessing a stunning view of a glorious golden sunset. The sea wherein the Sunken Cemetery lies is also ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and is one of the most unique and interesting diving spots in the world.

Not only is the cemetery one of the most photographed and most visited tourist destination on the island, but it also holds a significant role in Camiguin’s rich history. The ruins underneath the cross reveals a glimpse in time and the Spanish influence over the island.

History

The volcanic eruptions of Mt. Vulcan lasted from 1871 to 1875. It took hundreds of lives and destroyed the entire capital city of the Spanish colony in Camiguin. Lava flowed down the slopes of the volcano and eventually hardened. The continuous spewing of lava caused some areas of Catarman to rise and other land areas to submerge, including the community cemetery.

During low tides, the gravestones on the cemetery could still be seen. In 1948, Mt. Vulcan once again erupted, sinking the area even deeper by 6 meter. After a few decades, the townspeople decided to erect a huge memorial cross over the submerged cemetery to properly mark the area.

 - Sunken Cemetery
Sunken Cemetary. . Photo by Vincent Sanga

What to See

You would expect to find seaweeds and rocks beneath its water surfaces, but surrounding the cross is a marine protected area called the ‘Pasil Reef Sanctuary’, which is teeming with marine life. It has been a long time since the last eruption of Mt. Vulcan, thus allowing nature to bless the area with a variety of corals and diverse aquatic wildlife.

Because of nature’s work over the area, the Sunken Cemetery has become one of the best spots for snorkeling and diving on the island. Different objects can also be found in the underwater cemetery such as tombstones, ruins, a statue of Virgin Mary, and a large cross. Most of these remnants are now covered with big blocks of corals. Aside from the wonders below the sea, tourists can also witness one of the most beautiful and dramatic sunsets in all of the Philippines by visiting the terrace on the cross.

Every month of November, a fluvial parade coordinated by the Barangay officials is held to honor the graves of the local’s ancestors. People from different parts of the island offer candles and flowers to those buried there.

How to Get There

Upon arriving in Camiguin Island, there are different forms of transportation available like habal-habal (single motorcycle), multicab, jeepneys, and air-conditioned vans. Motorcycles and multicabs are the most common options. A day tour around the island (including all landmarks) can be arranged by visiting a local travel agency. Most hotels also offer accommodation packages that include day tours to the Sunken Cemetery and to other landmarks.

On the shore of Barangay Bonbon, boatmen with outrigger boats offer rides at very affordable rates. This is the only transportation option for tourists going to the base of the white cross at the Sunken Cemetery. Along the boat ride, tourists can get a good view of the island with a backdrop scenery of Mt. Vulcan and Mount Hibok-Hibok (Wikipedia Article) (one of the remaining active volcanoes on the island).

Travel Tips

      When visiting the Sunken Cemetery, it is always advised to schedule your visit. For safety purposes, people are prohibited from entering the base of the cross after 4 PM.
    • The most preferred time to visit the Sunken Cemetery is during high noon, when the cross and the surrounding waters are emphasized by the sunlight, and the water level is ideal for snorkeling and diving.
    • Swimming gears such as snorkels, fins, masks, and life jackets are available for rent to tourists who come unprepared.
    • For those looking for souvenirs and handicrafts, gift shops are located at the entrance area of the Sunken Cemetery. Snacks, refreshments, printed t-shirts, and a variety of personalized handmade souvenirs are available at very reasonable prices.


    During the visit, the boatmen will serve as your tour guides. They are so friendly and accommodating that they will share experiences and facts about the history of their homeland. If you get lucky, some boatmen will probably tell you some creepy folktales about the Sunken Cemetery. They are also more than happy to take your pictures for you, make sure to tip them well.

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    Author: radiantan. Last updated: Oct 22, 2014

    Pictures of Sunken Cemetery

    Sunken Cemetery - Sunken Cemetery
    Sunken Cemetery - Photo by Allan Ascaño

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