Camiguin all set for ‘Panaad,’ influx of 40k tourists to island
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Camiguin Island is all set and ready for the annual “Panaad,” a weeklong Holy Week observance where more than 40,000 tourists flock to the island province.
Panaad is the equivalent of the Catholic “Panata” in the Tagalog region. Tourists who participate in the rite would have to walk the island’s 64-kilometer circumferential road and climb the walkway leading to Mount Hibok-Hibok, where Stations of the Cross are located.
Devotees usually start their walk around the island at 5 p.m., completing it within 24 hours before climbing the Walkway in Catarman town.
Police Supt. Wilbur Salaguste, Camiguin Provincial Police Deputy Director said they have already recalled all police officers assigned to the island and have canceled all leaves. “All our police have been accounted for, and we are all ready for the influx of tourists,” he said.
Police will be deploying Explosives and Ordnance Division operatives at the Benoni port as well, he added.
Salaguste also added the provincial government has prohibited drinking and smoking in religious sites.
Data from the Camiguin Tourism Office shows the island’s room occupancy during Holy Week grows 100 percent, while other tourists would camp out in beaches, along the road, and other tourist destinations.
Mambajao Mayor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo, the former governor, said they are all ready for the Holy Week influx.
Speaking on behalf of Gov. Maria Luisa Romualdo – his wife -- Mayor Romualdo said they have readied the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, including the five towns’ disaster offices.
Between Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, the long line of vehicles and passengers queuing at the Balingoan port in Misamis Oriental and Benoni in Mahinog town in Camiguin could reach around 5 kilometers, with waiting time between 7 to 12 hours, residents say.
To solve this problem, the mayor said they have asked for additional RORO ferries to augment the number of trips and extend their service hours.
Romualdo also said they have improved the ticketing system for the next two weeks into the island.
“We will be requiring all passengers and vehicles to purchase returns tickets before they can board the ferry for Camiguin. That way, lines at the Benoni ports won’t be as long because they won’t have to purchase the ticket anymore in Benoni,” Romualdo said.
Camiguin will also be imposing environmental fees for all vehicles entering the island, the mayor said.
Flor Colinas, Provincial Tourism Officer, said they also prepared the island’s 774 rooms for the influx of tourists, and well as the hundreds of restaurants to cater to the needs of the tourist.
“We are all ready for the accommodations and the 104 member establishments of Camiguin Tourism Association are all geared up for the Panaad 2017,” Colinas said.