Pana-ad sa Loboc in Bohol

The Season of Lent is regarded as a very important and serious religious event in the Philippines. The occasion is even more fervently observed in the provinces than in the cities. A case in point is Loboc in Bohol. Here, the Pana-ad sa Loboc is a religious occasion the people can never do without.

Pana-ad sa Loboc has been an annual practice among the natives of the locality. Swarms of local and foreign tourists join the Lobocanos in observing it each summer, sometimes in the month of March sometimes in April—depending on the Vatican’s announcement of the Lenten Season. Pana-ad sa Loboc is the most intense observance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Bohol.

Pana-ad sa Loboc, actually “Holy Thursday and Good Friday in Loboc,” is a most awaited celebration of the Holy Week. Communities are organized into something like prayer cells where the reading of the passion of Christ, or “Pasyon” is solemnly done in front of family altars. The entire neighborhood takes part in this, including in the preparation of food for the participants and the shifts in reading.

Pana-ad sa Loboc, though solemn, is also a happy get-together occasion for families of the community. Migrant family members take the time to go back to the Loboc, along with guests, to observe Pana-ad sa Loboc. Folks do a mini-pilgrimage called “The Way of the Cross” or “Station of the Cross” where prayers are said each station. The stations are placed far apart. The pilgrimage culminates at what folks call as “Cruz Daku,” or the Giant Cross.

The 80-foot cross is propped up on a high hill overlooking the panoramic view of the whole of Loboc, the adjoining towns, and even Tagbilaran City. And talking of Tagbilaran, the airport there is only about 40 minutes from Loboc. We pass by Baclayon and Loay, Santa Beach, and the site of the historical Blood Compact, going to Loboc from the airport—all of which ardently observe Pana-ad sa Loboc.

Loboc, as well as the whole of Bohol, was a site of Spanish domination in the 17th century. Loboc was selected as among points in Bohol where Catholicism was to be established. Hence, the prevalence of numerous religious celebrations. Bohol was the site of the famous Blood Compact between Legaspi and Sikatuna. After this blood covenant Catholicism freely reigned and spread in Bohol, specifically in Loboc.

Pana-ad sa Loboc makes everything in the community measured and sober. It is the best time for a contemplative vacation.