By ERWIN MASCARIÑAS
FOR adventure-seekers, mountaineers and tourists, the small island province of Camiguin has become one of the top places to visit in Mindanao during the summer months as it offers world-renowned beaches, and volcanoes and other majestic sceneries as well.
But during the annual commemoration of the Holy Week, the island province swells with thousands of pilgrims, devotees and curious tourists who are eager to experience the renowned “Panaad sa Camiguin” which means a religious promise.
For some, it is a way of penance or repenting from one’s sin by means of trekking the entire island, a walk along it’s coastline while praying and reciting the Way of the Cross or stations located at different sites in all the five towns of the island.
Candice Naomi Dael, provincial tourism officer of Camiguin, said the pledge of walk or Panaad around the island is a 64-kilometer long. Most people start early dawn on Friday or for others a day earlier.
Dael said that while the tradition has been to walk the circumferential road of the island, some prefer to climb the station of the cross at old Mount Vulcan.
Also known as the Camiguin Walkway located in Barangay Bonbon, town of Catarman, the area is a series of steps. Fourteen life-size statues depicting the Stations of the Cross or the Passion of Christ can be seen along its eight-kilometer pathway.
According to most of the islanders and devoted Catholics who walked the island several times over the last few years, the experience has become less religious and more recreational. Most of the young hikers are just doing the walk for fun and to claim bragging rights that they had conquered the trail.
Data from the provincial tourism office showed that about 37,000 people visited the island province during the holy week commemoration of 2018.
“We expect around 45,000 to 50,000 guests,” said Dael.
Uniquely the tradition of Panaad has changed throughout the years as people don’t only visit the island for pilgrimage but also to enjoy the different fun filled tourist destinations.
After traveling for about 118 kilometers from Butuan City or about 88.8 kilometers from Cagayan de Oro City to the town of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental, a ferryboat will take you to the port of Benoni, Camiguin where a jeepney, van or even a motorcycle will take you to the town of Mambajao where most of the resorts, hotels, and inns are located.
From Mambajao, you can then pick any tourist destination you want to visit and explore. And since the island is small, you can tour its different sites in just one day or more if you choose to stay longer at each destination.
Camiguin is known as an “island carved out of fire” since it has seven volcanoes, namely: Mt. Old Vulcan, Mt. Hibok-hibok, Mt. Tres Marias, Mt. Mambajao, Mt. Timpoong, Mt. Uhay and Mt. Ilihan. These will give you a breath-taking view of its landscape and seascape.
The island’s main course would the countless of ways how you would enjoy the different water activities from its beaches, nature springs and waterfalls.
Thousands of tourists visit the white island in Agoho, Mambajao where the magnificent view of the island’s crystal clear blue green waters is coupled with the backdrop of the majestic Mount Hibok-Hibok and the inactive Mount Old Vulcan.
The hot springs of Ardent in Mambajao is where you can have a full relaxation through its natural hot springs that sprung from the volcanic activity of Mount Hibok-Hibok. The place already has cottages and dormitory facilities to cater to everyone’s needs. The Sto. Niño cold springs in Catarman town, on the other hand, takes you on a different relaxing water experience.
The island is also best known for its Spanish era ruins and buildings, and the best would be the 16th century Guiob Church Ruins and the famous Sunken Cemetery. Both are in Barangay Bonbon, in the town of Catarman about 15 minutes from Mambajao. Both sites were once thriving communities that were destroyed when Mount Old Vulcan erupted in 1871.
Katibawasan Falls and the Tuawasan Falls are just two of the most popular waterfalls in the island that will surely be worth a visit for a different type of green adventure that will surely take you breathless.
Wither your journey in Camiguin Island is a pursuit of faith and penance or to enjoy the sights and discover the wonders of the island province. Have your fill of its wonders and promise to return for the next Panaad.