Faith is not something we always see in tropical island destinations. The island of Camiguin, however, is different. After all, in a land where seven volcanoes lie, faith goes a long way. The faith and devotion of the people of Camiguin is apparent in many of its most popular attractions such as those in Catarman — the Walkway to the Old Volcano and the Sunken Cemetery.
Seated comfortably in the multi-cab that we hired for the day, I moved closer to the window to let the wind blow my hair dry. Coming from Ardent Hot Springs and Katibawasan Falls in the capital Mambajao, we were now headed for Catarman. But the wind was not the only thing pleasant about this trip. The road to Catarman provided spectacular view of Camiguin’s coastline.
From the road we could see the island’s rocky shores where coconut trees lined up and swayed like giant arms waving to us. Although at times I felt the drive was a little dangerous as we drove on the edges of the cliffs, none of it mattered the moment we caught a glimpse of the scenic landscape.
The Walkway to the Old Volcano (Mt. Vulcan)
The slope of Mount Vulcan gets filled with prayers especially during Holy Week when the Panaad Festival happens. Devotees and tourists alike climb a series of steps which eventually becomes a mildly difficult hike. Along the way are statues depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross. These figures are about life-size and painted white, very easy to spot. Although the start of the trail was under the canopy of trees skirting the walk way, there were parts where they disappeared and we had to face the heat of the sun. It got tiring as we went on but the view from the top was simply breathtaking and was worth every step.
The Sunken Cemetery
Mount Vulcan has erupted so many times before. Also known as the Old Volcano, Mt. Vulcan erupted in 1827 and 1862, which claimed hundreds of lives. In 1871, it had another eruption, this time causing the island’s old capital (during the Spanish era) sink underwater. One of the places that got soaked was the old community cemetery, which still emerged when the tide was low in the years following the disaster.
But the story doesn’t end there yet.
In 1948 and 1953, the old volcano demonstrated its immense power again, sinking the cemetery deeper under the sea. Today, it lies 20 feet below the surface. Corals has grown on and around tombstones and marine life has flourished, making it a unique and extraordinary diving destination. Marking the spot is a giant cross built on hardened lava in 1982.