Quantcast
Latest Stories

Wind-swept, captivating Catanduanes

All around are greenery, cloud-draped mountains, a long coastline, rock formations, beach resorts, historical churches and caves

By

The tall tale is that the men of Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo were pursuing pirates operating in the Bicol Peninsula in 1573, whereupon they came to the dwelling place of a Datu and his family living in a place filled with flowers.

The flowers were called “burac,” subsequently changed to “birac.” And that is how the area became Virac, the capital town of Catanduanes.

Wind-swept, captivating Catanduanes, a big island province known for its frequent storms emanating from the Pacific Ocean and Puraran Beach, a byword among Filipino and foreign surfers, is easily among the most scenic provinces in Bicolandia, a region known for its natural beauty.

The province is a three-hour ride via Ro-Ro vessel from the Bicol mainland, entry point being the Port of Tabaco City, Albay.

All around are greenery, cloud-draped mountains, a long coastline, rock formations, beach resorts (check out TwinRock), two historical churches (the Virac Cathedral and the enchanting St. John the Baptizer Church in Báto, near Virac, circa 1883); and caves, including Luyang Cave in San Andres, “where natives were choked to death by Moro pirates in the 17th century.”

Places to stay in Virac include Rakdell Inn, Marem Pension House, Midtown Inn and Rhaj Inn Apartelle.

The provincial Governor is Joseph C. Cua, and Vice-Governor is Jose Teves Jr.

Representing the lone district of Catanduanes is Rep. Cesar Sarmiento.

ROCK formations

Catanduanes recently put its best foot forward with the month-long Catandungan Festival 2012, its 67th Foundation Anniversary. The slogan was “Sulong Catandungan sa Matanos ng Dalan,” a takeoff on President Aquino’s “daang tuwid” (Forward Catandungan on the Straight Path).

Highlights were a Kundiman Fiesta, streetdancing by schoolteachers and students capped by a “Festival of Festivals/Showdown.”

To the strains of a traditional Bicolano song, the men and women teachers from the different towns of the province danced the Pantomina, a traditional marriage and courtship dance. There was graceful movement of the hands, the women demure, and the men forceful when the choreography demanded it. There were chants, elaborate bows and mock chases.

In a real wedding reception, the guests were expected to shower money on the happy, dancing couple.

The street dancing of the students was understandably more energetic- frenzied at times—and served as an appetizer for the “showdown.”

With giant props, full costume regalia, drums and bugles, and icons of Mother Mary and the patron saints, the seven contingents showcased their dancing skills as well as the produce of their town (as in abaca, rice or crabs).

They performed key and lively segments from their respective town festivals.

Two contingents—from Viga, the defending champion, and Gigmoto—were nothing short of spectacular. As a judge, I gave slightly more points to the contingent from Gigmoto, if only because of the skill of their dancers and gymnasts.

The other jurors, however, gave the nod to the team from Viga.

My first-ever trip to the off-the-beaten track province of Catanduanes was arranged by the Provincial Tourism Office headed by Carmel Bonifacio-Garcia (0929-3998437). Email tourism_catanduanes@yahoo.com. Bicol Isarog (call Robert, 0917-5939811) has daily trips from Metro Manila (Cubao and Alabang) direct to Virac. Cebu Pacific flies three times a week to Virac.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Catanduanes , Travel

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DFNNJUSQGKWBIUVBKT2EARXV2Q manuel moran

    If everyone could have read ur memories, we would surely have an idea how beautiful indeed the Philippines is. Have read ur book!

  • http://twitter.com/Eraser_92 John

     ayos! featured na naman ang Catanduanes! mabuhay mga Catadunganons!

    –johnfernandez



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  8. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  1. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  4. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  7. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  8. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  9. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  10. This is not just a farm
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • ‘Dry spell’ delayed, thanks to busted valve
  • At 77, Erap has Easter treat for Manila cops but keeps City Hall folk in agony
  • Joy Belmonte defends council, waste-to-energy tech
  • House bill seeks special body to manage, protect Manila Bay
  • No Lenten break for QC thieves
  • Sports

  • Tottenham beats Fulham 3-1 in Premier League
  • Martino defends Messi, takes blame for Barca fail
  • Vettel hoping for resurgence at Chinese GP
  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Awarded TV couple brings Jesus’ life to the big screen
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
    Marketplace