Jagna – Camiguin Route

By Joe Espiritu

So a fast craft now serves the Jagna – Camiguin route. They ply that route three times a week. We sincerely hope it will last.  We are sure it will last. Statistics are favorable. Even when the population was scarce, this route had been once maintained and there s no reason why it will not only be constant these days. It may yet grow. The route not only serves the province of Camiguin but places in northern Mindanao near that island.

 Boholanos were a seafaring people. They were merchant traders selling everything, from tobacco to kitchen ceramics to nipa shingles – every Boholano product saleable. Sloops or single sailed, outriggered bancas locally called bilos and ketches, the double sailed version called dos bilas carried merchandise from Bohol to northern Mindanao from as far southeast as Surigao to as far southwest as Misamis Occidental.

 Those traders may have brought information about productive lands they had seen prompting adventurous Boholanos to settle there. Settlers in those places bear Boholano surnames. Then their customers are mostly expatriated Boholanos. The Sanos as expats are called never lost touch with their home province either by mail or periodic visits. During American times, steam boasts, real smoke belchers since they are powered by coal like the Bolinao and J. Paul Jones served the Jagna Camiguin route and beyond.

 During the Japanese period, the dos bilas sailboats took up the slack and after the war converted freight ships or FS from the US Pacific fleet served the route. For a while Jagna was a port of call of FS ships running the Manila – Masbate – Gingoog route. Some of them had Cebu – Maasin – Jagna – Butuan trips. Other ships called on the ports of Jagna – Mambajao or Binone – Butuan or Cagayan de Oro. However, after the fall of Ferdinand Marcos, most of those routes were abandoned except during the months of April, May and June.

 Jagna was an educational and cultural Mecca of the descendants of Boholano expats then. As the connection slackened, passenger and vacationer traffic slowed down. However, with the resuming of the Jagna – Camiguin connection, Jagna may regain her old prestige. The descendants of Boholano expats may trace their roots once more since the Sanos are really clannish.

 The popularity of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may be falling in most part of the country but not in Jagna. She personally opened the Food Highway, which passes this port. Her government supported the Jagna – Camiguin RORO missionary connection until it became viable. This may have paved the way for the opening of the fast craft route.

 Trade and passenger traffic may be light at first but this may grow. When Philippine population was 40 million and the Jagna - northern Mindanao connection was strong, trade and passenger volume made business profitable. Now when Filipinos are pushing 80 million and the Jagna – northern Mindanao route is improved there will be more business opportunities for the enterprising. This may reawaken the entrepreneurial spirit of the Sanos.