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Camiguin’s Panaad: A journey of faith and discovery

DUSK TOUR Tourists are ferried to the landmark Cross looming at Catarman town. —ERWIN MASCARINAS

For adventure seekers, the island province of Camiguin has become one of the top places to explore in Mindanao during summer.

But during the Holy Week, the island swells with pilgrims eager to experience firsthand  “Panaad sa Camiguin,” a religious ritual that used to send devotees of the old days to tour the island as an act of penance.

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The pilgrimage culminates in a climb up the steps of Mt. Old Vulcan where life-size images of Christ depict the Passion on the Stations of the Cross.

Candice Naomi Dael, Camiguin provincial tourism officer, said the “pledge of walk,” or Panaad, covers a 64-kilometer stretch around the island, usually started by pilgrims at early dawn on Good Friday.

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Camiguin Walkway

“There is no exact location where to begin as people just start the walk where they happen to be. Most people go by groups and start in the evening or early dawn to beat the heat of the sun. But we encourage them to start their walk in Benoni, Mahinog,” said Dael, referring to the port where passengers from the nearby Balingoan town arrive.

While the tradition has been to walk the circumferential road around the island, other pilgrims prefer to climb the Station of the Cross on old Mt. Vulcan.

Also known as the Camiguin Walkway, the ascending 8-km pathway of Mt. Vulcan at Barangay Bonbon in Catarman town features 14 life-size statues of Christ on each Station of the Cross.

This is one of the reasons the place gets crowded during the Holy Week, Dael said.

More recreational

Camiguin’s provincial tourism office said 37,000 people visited the island during the Holy Week in 2018. “We expect 45,000 to 50,000 guests to arrive here for the Holy Week this year,” she said.

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Although some devotees still have the “Panaad” in mind when they tour the island, most islanders observe the trek is becoming less religious and more recreational these days. Most young hikers do the walk for fun and for claiming their “bragging rights.”

Tourists can easily reach the island through a 118-km road trip from Butuan City. In the town of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental, a ferryboat brings tourists to the port of Benoni, where they can start the tour.

A jeepney, a van or even a motorcycle also offers rides to Mambajao town, where most of the resorts, hotels and inns offer accommodations to visitors.

From Mambajao, tourists can easily pick a destination to visit and explore. The tour around Camiguin Island can easily be done in a day.

Camiguin is also known as an “island carved out of fire” because of of its seven volcanoes: Mt. Old Vulcan, Mt. Hibok-Hibok, Mt. Tres Marias, Mt. Mambajao, Mt. Timpoong, Mt. Uhay and Mt. Ilihan.

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TAGS: Camiguin, Camiguin Walkway, Panaad sa Camiguin
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