For years I’ve been fascinated by stories and the idea of people from different parts of Mindanao going to Camiguin Island to fulfill what some may call as panaador a religious promise. For some, it is a way a of penance or repenting from one’s sin by means of trekking the entire island, walking along it’s coastline while praying and reciting the Way of the Cross.
Others make the journey more fulfilling by ending the trek with a climb from the foot of Mount Vulcan—one of the seven volcanic edifices on the island—towards the walkway where people pray and recite the Stations of the Cross along the lifesize statue’s depiction of the Passion of Christ.
Back in 2010, when I first visited the island, I didn’t pay that much attention to the hikers when I walked past them. This time it was different, I witnessed hundreds of people walking the entire stretch of the island for more than nine to as long as 16 hours covering five municipalities.
According to most of the islanders and devoted Catholics who had 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.
Some don’t even bother to stop at the prepared Way of the Cross, which stretches along the 64-kilometer coastal road of the island. While other people skip the long island walk and just directly go to the volcanic walkway in a hurry to spend more time on sight seeing and on the beach.
But for those who are really in the island to fulfilling their vows, it was a sacrifice worth taking. At each station, people lit candles and said their prayers as they conquered the intense heat of the sun or otherwise the sudden outpour of rain. Majority of the high school and college students chose to walk at night when it’s cooler. Meanwhile, water stations and small mid-shift stores prepared by residents kept their doors open for 24 hours to provide nourishment and to serve as pit stop to hikers.
Most may have walked the entire length while a few, especially the elderly, preferred to ride while still hoping to take part in the religious event. Bicycle groups, motorcycle clubs, and those who brought vehicles from the mainland took their share of Panaad, the same way I did while riding on the back seat of a motorcycle the entire time.
Well, who said riding is not allowed? After all, each devotee journeyed through different means to fulfill his sacrifice and promise to God, a promise to come back again for the Panaad.