Virac / Catanduanes


Catanduanes (opposite the Bicol Region) is bounded by the Maqueda Channel on the west, the Pacific Ocean on the north and east, and the Lagonoy Gulf and Cabugao Bay on the south. The province, formerly known as "Catanduan", "Catandognan", and finally, "Catanduanes" derived its name from the tando trees which then abound in the island.


The scions of the ten Bornean Datus who had moved on the island of Panay and then, spread out throughout the archipelago were the first settlers to have set foot in Catanduanes. Meanwhile, the Spaniards came on the island province in 1573. Capt. Juan de Salcedo and his other conquistadores, together with some friars who were to Christianize the island later, landed on the island in search for local pirates who were plying their nefarious trade between Camarines Sur, Sorsogon and Western Catanduanes. As they moved along, the friars also conquered the inhabitants through the gospel.

Catanduanes was not spared from the adventurous raids of the Moros who came from the island of Mindanao. Because of these destructive raids, many records of the past were destroyed and lost. Thus, the complete details of the history of the island was cut short. The only record made to proclaim about the past was in 1755. During the American regime, the local insurgents refused to recognize the sovereignty of the United States. Most of them fled to the mountains. The American occupation did not last long. In 1934, the Americans had ceased control of the island.

During the Japanese war, Catanduanes was not spared by their invasion. Garrisons were erected in different parts of the island. The guerilla movement was intensely active during this time of crisis. On February 8, 1945, the liberation of the island province was proclaimed. In its place, a municipal building at Virac was constructed and also the town’s Parish church. The free atmosphere has calmed the people. The guerilla forces controlled the barracks vacated by the Japanese forces.

On October 26, 1946, three months after the Philippine Independence from the Americans, the island was finally recognized as a separate and independent province. Commonwealth Act No. 687 was enacted to create the island of Catanduanes as one of the six provinces of the Bicol Region.

Bicol is the major dialect spoken although some words and accents greatly differ the Bicol Mainland. The unique tongue twisting similar to that of Capiz can be found only in the capital town of Virac and neighboring municipalities of San Miguel, Bato and Baras. Far up north, a completely different kind of Bicol dialect is widely spoken. English however, is widely understood and spoken among the population. People in the north, however, can better understand and speak English than the national Tagalog language.

The important industries of the Catanduanes province are logging, fishing and cattle-raising. In Pandan, buri hats, mats, roof shingles and alcohol are manufactured for local consumption.

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  Information provided by Department of Tourism. Government of Philippines.


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