From Mactan-Cebu International Airport, it only takes a couple of hours to reach Caohagan by car and pump boat. And yet, the 500m-long island – best known for its coral reef sanctuary and its thriving population of sea turtles and giant clams – feels very remote.
The privately owned island also has another claim to fame: a quilt-making community whose products have been exhibited in fairs abroad and are sold in the United States, France and Japan.
A man from Tokyo
The story of Caohagan Quilts began in 1987, when Katsuhiko Sakiyama left his job in Tokyo and traveled the world in search of a place to retire.
Sakiyama ended up on Caohagan, where he fell in love with the rustic lifestyle and the people.
“There were about 300 residents back then. They lived without electricity and relied on growing their food and foraging,” he recalls.
In 1991, Sakiyama and his wife, Junko, moved to the island permanently.