Ask about Catanduanes and chances are the words that will come out would be: abaca, beaches, churches, miracles, storms, surfing. A place that is frequently battered by typhoons and bedevilling billows from the Pacific, the people of Catanduanes would have a good reason to be deeply faithful with God, especially if your town is constantly smothered by wind, water and waves – you’d definitely wait for miracles.
No denying though that it is a land consistently blessed – its rich terrains are planted with crops, Manila hemp, pili trees if not thickly forested. Even as its surfing scene is getting the attention now, Catanduanes has so much to offer – unspoiled beaches, rolling valleys, pristine waterfalls, abundant food – that would make it the envy of its neighbors.
Here are 10 ways to discover the some of Catanduanes’ destinations, given that we only had a day to do them. But if you had the luxury of time, hop on top of a van or jeep and take that trip, and let the winds of Catanduanes embrace you!
1. Climb Binurong Point in Baras
(Photo by Angelica Manalo)
2. Have your worries cured at the Holy Cross of Batalay Shrine in Bato
It was said to be the site of the first cross planted in Catanduanes (which exists to this day) and witness to the murder of a Spanish priest named Fr. Diego de Herrera and his fellow Augustinian missionaries by pagans in 1576. The lone survivor planted the cross on Fr. de Herrera’s grave, from which miraculous waters sprung and flows to this day.
3. See the face of God at Talisoy Beach etched on a limestone cliff by Mother Nature herself
Or at least something that closely resembles it. Located in Virac, it is a secluded cove with an area of only 150 to 300 meters only. It is the perfect getaway for those who like the place all to themselves, probably like groups on a retreat or reunion.
4. Get kissed by the sun at Mamangal Beach
A favorite haunt among Catandunganons, its coastline is lapped by calmer waves as compared to Puraran’s, and made cooler by the line of trees. Families, barkadas and large groups on excursions frequent the place.
5. Discover the mystery and marvel of Luyang Cave
This winding stretch of caverns and rock formations in Bgy. Lictin, San Andres was also the setting of a gruesome mass death of locals in the 18th century, where a bonfire built to ward off Moro pirates was blown inward by strong winds, suffocating all those inside to death. An altar is found at the mouth of the cave, where masses are held in memory of the victims.
6. Ask for miracles at Batong Paloway at the Our Lady of Sorrows Shrine in San Andres
First discovered in the late 1800s by a farmer, the stone (Batong Palow was said to bear an image of the Virgin Mary that “grows” at the passage of time. Now the size of a thumb, the stone and its church draws pilgrims to come especially during Lenten, to kiss, pray and ask for wishes to be granted.
7. Enjoy the good life at the Twin Rock Beach Resort
This one of the best places at Virac. Stretch on a beach chair, with your smart phone on a playlist and a tall glass of your favorite drink at hand, and relish the experience!
8. Have a refreshing soak at the Maribina Falls in Bato
A 5-minute travel from the national road, the 5-meter high falls (named after the villages of Marinawa and Binawahan) is one of the most accessible. One can enjoy the gushing, cascading waters for a very small fee.
9. Sit, pray and meditate at Catanduanes’ oldest church
In other words, at he Saint John the Baptist Church in the town of Bato. Made of coral stones and completed after 5 decades in 1830, it has withstood the countless number of storms and typhoons. Shaped like a cross when viewed from a high place, it bears the strong scent of guano, as its ceilings had been the home of bats for the longest time.
10. Learn about the history of the province at the Museo de Catanduanes
Situated a floor above the provincial tourism office in the Old Provincial Capitol building, it is a repository of the province’s history and culture, with many of the exhibit items on loan or donated by Catandunganon families and personalities.