Camiguin Philippines: the People and Culture

The people of Camiguin are called "Camiguingnons". They are fun-loving, deeply religious, friendly, hospitable and very hardworking people. Most of them trace their roots to Bohol and Cebu. In fact, the Camiguin culture is a mixture of both Boholano and Cebuano culture which is both colorful and creative.

photos by Michelle Lyles

Cebuano, otherwise known as “Visayan” and “Hiligaynon”, is the main language of the island though a few speak “Kinamiguin”, an ancient dialect which is a mixture of the language of the Manobos and Boholano. Almost everyone speaks English in the island.

Homes of the Camiguingnons are usually on stilts built over mangrove swamps decorated with flowering pots of bougainvilleas, orchids, and poinsettias. Richer folks have dwellings made of hardwood and stone. A few ancestral homes built as far back as the year 1800 are still standing on the island.

The inhabitants of Camiguin are mostly into farming and fishing with major products being coconut, cassava, banana, sweet potato (camote), rice, corn, fruits, coffee, vegetables and abaca. Camiguin’s volcanic soil has proved to be a fertile ground for planting these crops although arable land is quite limited.

photo by benny_yap

Copra, which is derived from the coconut, is a major source of income. This island province is also among the best abaca-fiber producers in the country. It is also well-known for the sweetest lanzones throughout the Philippine archipelago; and the Lanzones Festival which falls on October draws the most visitors to the island.

Small cottage industries are increasing in number to accommodate the influx of visitors. Quite a number of the inhabitants in Mambajao, the island’s capital, are engaged in wholesale and retail trade and services. The government is also eyeing an agricultural program that would increase the cultivation of fruit trees and vegetables in Camiguin.

photo by benny_yap

Aside from agricultural lands, Camiguin is also proud of its other natural resources, namely: sulphur deposits, geothermal energy, fishing grounds, hot and cold springs, rivers and waterfalls, as well as white sand beaches.

With the influx of tourists to the island, more and more people are now earning as tourist guides, drivers, hotel and inns operators. Aside from that, a number of restaurants sprouted giving employment to more and more Camiguingnons.


Although poverty is relatively high in the island, it doesn’t mean that the inhabitants are uneducated. With the Philippine government’s program of free education in the primary, intermediate and secondary levels, all inhabitants are educated and speak fairly good English.

photo by benny_yap

It is a fact that Camiguin was a center of secondary-level education in northern part of Mindanao especially before the eruption of Mt. Hibok-Hibok in 1951. Several prominent people in Misamis Oriental graduated in Camiguin Institute which is now known as the Fatima College of Camiguin.

The Fatima College of Camiguin in Mambajao and a satellite college at Tangaro, Catarman of theCentral Mindanao University in Musuan, Bukidnon offer college courses. The Camiguin Polytechnic State College offers vocational secondary education and two-year technical courses and is now considering offering classes in poverty studies and bio-diversity.

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