Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Rugged and Rustic Charm of Catanduanes




The placid Bato River

An island facing the mighty Pacific Ocean. A destination oft heard but seldom visited. A place where the resilience of the people is mixed with warmth and smiles. A gem beautifully molded by the harsh and wailing winds fronting east of the Philippines. A place I call my home.

Welcome to our province – Catanduanes!

This island province is one of the six provinces in the Bicol Region. Its capital town, Virac, is the center of commerce and the jump-off point to the other 10 municipalities in the island. The other municipalities are: Bato, Baras, Gigmoto, San Miguel, Panganiban (Payo), Bagamanoc, Caramoran, Viga, Pandan and San Andres.

If you want an off-the-beaten track type of vacation, Catanduanes is definitely a great choice. One of the things to consider when planning a trip there is the weather. With its geographic location in the Pacific, the weather in the island can be unforgiving especially from October to early January (which may cause delays or cancellation of flights or ferry boats). February until June is the best time to visit as the season becomes dry and there is a huge chance of a clear blue sky. If you're up to surfing, the most ideal time to chase the waves of Puraran is starting the fourth quarter of the year.

Okay, so before heading to our province, here are some words/phrases that will be useful while going around or talking to the locals.

Magayon – Beautiful
Para tabi- Pull over please
Dios mabalos - Thank you
Tigpila tabi ini? –How much is this?
Dios mayad na aldaw – Good day

Cruising along Bato River


There are a lot of activities that could be done on your visit to Catanduanes. Here are some:

Visita Iglesia – Catandunganons are predominantly Catholic, and it's no surprise that in almost every corner in almost every village, there is a small chapel. It is a province where patron saints' days or fiestas are celebrated big time – a time for “balikbayans” from Manila and abroad go home to attend the festivities. We really love fiestas. 

If you're planning a trip, church-hopping is something not to be missed. Foremost in the list is the historical and beautiful church in the town of Bato (St. John the Baptist Church). Close to Bato Church, you can also visit the Batalay Church (also known as Batalay Shrine) – said to be the place where the first cross in Catanduanes was planted. History has it that this is where Agustinian priest Fray Diego de Herrera died. On the same spot, a spring sprouted which is believed by the locals to have healing powers.

Bato Church

At Barangay Batong Paloway, a few kilometers from the town proper of San Andres, is where the image of Our Lady of Sorrows, beautifully etched on a stone, is displayed. The miraculous image on the stone is believed to have increased as time passed by and as of today, one can see it with bare eyes unlike before where devotees have had to use magnifying glass when viewing it. 


The miraculous image of Our Lady of Sorrows in Batong Paloway, San Andres

Other churches that can be visited in island are: Virac Cathedral, Our Lady of Assumption, Saint Andrew Church in San Andres, and Saint James the Great Parish.

Virac Cathedral


Surf – The town of Baras, about 26 kilometers away from Virac, is fast becoming the face of tourism in Catanduanes. It is the location of the “majestic waves,” a surfing spot known locally as Puraran Beach. To get there, take one and a half hours jeep or bus ride going to Baras (P45 fare). From the town proper, you may opt to hire a tricycle going to Puraran beach (P150/tricycle). Once in Puraran, head up to the beach and pay P10 for entrance. Cottages are available for a day and overnight rent near the beach. For a certain fee, there are also surfing lessons available for beginners.

Brgy. Puraran, Baras, Catanduanes
(+63) 919-678-5895, info@puraransurf.com

Puraran's Majectic Waves
Photo Credit: Puraran Surf Beach Resort

Waterfalls – Catanduanes is home to three vibrant cascades. Take a refreshing dip and enjoy a weekend picnic at Maribina Falls in Bato, and Dororian Falls and Nahulugan Falls in Gigmoto.

Maribina Falls, Bato

Beaches- A great Catanduanes experience will never be complete without spending a day lounging in its golden and cream sand beaches. For those wanting to catch a good sunset with a nice view of Mayon Volcano (on a clear day), visit the beaches in Marilima, Balite, Mamangal, Kosta Alcantara, Amenia. These beaches are about one hour tricycle ride from Virac town proper. The other popular beaches are Twin Rock Beach Resort in Igang, Virac and Puraran Surf Beach Resort in Puraran, Baras.
Mayon Volcano as seen from Mamangal Beach in Virac

Mamangal Beach, Virac

Marilima Beach, Virac

Puraran Beach, Baras
Photo Credit: Puraran Surf Beach Resort

If you decide to go north, you can hire a motorized boat going to Palumbanes Island, 45-minutes boat ride from Caramoran. You can ask the boatman to drop you off at Bitaog Beach, a pristine white sand beach hidden in that island.

Bitaog Beach, Palumbanes Island, Caramoran

And there's another beautiful beach off the coast of Barangay Bote in Bato. This place is achingly beautiful and serene. :)

  
Bote Beach, Bato
Photo Credit: Catanduanes Serbihan

Bote, Bato
Photo Credit: Catanduanes Serbihan

Bote Beach, Bato
Photo Credit: Catanduanes Serbihan

How to get there:

The fastest way to get there is by taking a commercial flight via Cebu Pacific. The flight from Manila to Virac takes only about 55 minutes. Cebu Pacific is flying to Virac four times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday)

Another option, though an arduous one, is by taking a 12-hr bus ride from Manila to Tabaco, Albay. From Tabaco City Port, you can take a ferry boat going to either Virac (4 hours travel time) and San Andres (3 hours travel time). 

San Andres Port


RORO Schedule from Tabaco, Albay to Virac or San Andres, Catanduanes (vice versa)

Point of Origin to Destination
ETD
ETA
Fare
Tabaco Port to Virac Port
6:30 am
10:30 am
Aircon - P320.00
Non-Aircon - P240.00
Virac Port to Tabaco Port
1:00 pm
5:00 pm
Aircon - P320.00
Non-Aircon - P240.00
Tabaco Port to San Andres Port
7:00 am
10:00 am
Aircon - P290.00
Discounted-Student/Senior Citizen P176.00
Non-Aircon - P220.00
1:00 pm
4:00 pm
Aircon - P290.00
Discounted-Student/Senior Citizen P176.00
Non-Aircon - P220.00
San Andres Port to Tabaco Port
8:00 am
11:00 am
Aircon - P290.00
Discounted-Student/Senior Citizen P176.00
Non-Aircon - P220.00
1:00 pm
4:00 pm
Aircon - P290.00
Discounted-Student/Senior Citizen P176.00
Non-Aircon - P220.00
Where to stay:

Catanduanes Midtown Inn
Address: San Jose, Virac, Catanduanes
Contact No.: (052) 811-06-33/811-15-27
Website:www.catmidinn.com
Email: info@catmidinn.com

Marem Pension House
Address: Sta. Cruz, Virac, Catanduanes
Contact No.: (052) 811-18-21
Email: snlandig.eudoramail.com

Kemji Resort and Restaurant
Address: San Isidro Village, Virac, Catanduanes
Contact No.: None
Email: kemjiresortandresto@yahoo.com

Rakdell Inn
Address: San Pedro, Virac, Catanduanes
Contact No.: (052) 811-08-81
Twin Rock Beach Resort                         
Address: Igang, Virac, Catanduanes
Contact No.: 639-19-473-78-22/639-21-664-02-45

Majestic Beach Resort
Address: Puraran Baras
Contact No.: 639-15-741-62-77

Puraran Surf Beach Resort
Address: Puraran, Baras
Contact No.: 0915 721 8262



Where to eat

Sea Breeze- Enjoy a smorgasbord of seafood and Filipino dishes on a relaxing set up near the sea. This place is ideal for those wanting a sumptuous dinner.
Address: Salvacion, Virac, Catanduanes
Contact No.: Landline (+6352) 811 06-64
Blossoms Restaurant - A quaint restaurant ideal both for small talks and group meetings.
Address: Rizal Avenue, Virac, Catanduanes
Virac Food Hauz
Address: Rizal Avenue, Virac, Catanduanes
Di's Diner
Address: San Roque, Virac, Catanduanes
Contact No.: (052) 811-06-33/811-15-27

Kemji Resort and Restaurant
Address: San Isidro Village, Virac, Catanduanes
Contact No.: None
Email: kemjiresortandresto@yahoo.com


28 comments:

  1. WOW! This is what I'm waiting for so long... :D

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    Replies
    1. ano kamo Cha?! for soooooo loooong?! hehehe! =D

      ang ganda naman dyan! =D

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    2. parang may kulang sa where to stay. hindi ba kasama ang Gurrobat's residence?! *wink*wink* =D

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    3. Maj, pwede ang Gurrobat's residence basta ikaw. :) Taralets!

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    4. Kahit sa garden lang ako. :-)

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    5. Ay sus! Siyempre ikaw din Momo, welcome sa bahay! :)

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    6. ang arteh mo momo!hahaha! =)))))

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    7. Hahaha! Paawa effect lang. :-)

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  2. Wow! I will be there someday. :-) Fiesta!

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    Replies
    1. Yey! lezgow na, Ja and Anchi! Welcome kayo sa aming munting tahanan. :D

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    2. Anchi, pwede mo nang mapractice yung mga tinuro ko sayong words with rolling L. :)

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    3. Perfect ko na yung salo, duwa, tulo and lukso. :-)

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  3. Nice..thanks for this!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Rachel! Thanks for dropping by! :)

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  4. Your hometown is so charming! sana makabisita din dyan this summer......:)lapit na rin pala yan sa Caramoan islands.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brian! I'm sure you'll enjoy Catanduanes! And yes, malapit lang kami sa Caramoan. In fact the fastest way to get there is by taking a boat from Codon, San Andres, Catanduanes to Caramoan. Have fun! :)

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  5. Hello, Che. This is Led from Manila. I'll be visiting Catanduanes on the 15th to 18th of November 2013 and your post is a very helpful reference. I have queries though which I emailed to the tourism office but have not responded yet so I guess you could help provide me info instead. May I know your email?

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  6. Hi Led, pls email me at cgurrobat@gmail.com. :)

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  7. Wow..ang ganda! Excited nko sa May.. ate che at ate cha, tour nyo kmi ha..hehe...

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  8. Wow..ang ganda! Excited nko sa May.. ate che at ate cha, tour nyo kmi ha..hehe...

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  9. I shall return.... to my mother homeland..para mamasyal sa mga lugar na yan..

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    Replies
    1. I came back after 40 years of absence in Catanduanes,I stayed 2 nights in friends house.Two days was short but was able to go visit my high school friends,relatives,cemetery and church ,Naki fiesta pa ako .Happy days.Dai ko na halos mamidbid ang mga calle.Parang sumikip ang banwa..Babalik rin ako somedays sana n medyo mahaba ang bakasyon ko.

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  10. Anong beach yung pinuntahan natin dati che? -je

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  11. The roots of our family is from this beautiful Island of Catanduanes.My Mom was born and raise in Viga Catanduanes and My Dad was also born and raise in Baras Catanduanes

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