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This article is about the Philippine province. For other uses, see Catanduanes (disambiguation).
Flag of Catanduanes
Official seal of Catanduanes
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 13°50′N 124°15′E / 13.833°N 124.250°E / 13.833; 124.250Coordinates: 13°50′N 124°15′E / 13.833°N 124.250°E / 13.833; 124.250
Country Philippines
Region Bicol (Region V)
Founded September 26, 1945
Capital Virac
 • Governor Araceli Wong (Independent)
 • Vice Governor Jose Teves, Jr. (Lakas–CMD)
 • Total 1,492.16 km2 (576.13 sq mi)
Area rank 70th out of 81
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 246,300
 • Rank 67th out of 81
 • Density 170/km2 (430/sq mi)
 • Density rank 48th out of 81
 • Independent cities 0
 • Component cities 0
 • Municipalities 11
 • Barangays 315
 • Districts Lone district of Catanduanes
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
ZIP codes 4800 to 4810
Dialing code 52
ISO 3166 code PH-CAT
Spoken languages Bikolano, Filipino, English

Catanduanes is an island province in the Philippines located in the Bicol Region of Luzon. It is the 12th largest Island in the Philippines. Its capital is Virac and the province lies to the east of Camarines Sur across Maqueda Channel. As of the 2010 census, the population of the province is 246,300 people.[2] The island province was among the 42 provinces in the country listed as “Peaceful and Ready for Development” last year 2014.

The province consists of the Catanduanes Island (also called Virac Island), the Panay Island, Palumbanes group of Islands (Porongpong, Tignob, and Calabagio) and a few other minor surrounding islets and rocks.

Catanduanes was a former sub-province of Ambos Camarines in the early 1900s and later of Albay. It gained provincial autonomy when Congressman Francisco Perfecto filled House Bill No. 301 which separated the province from Albay. It was approved on September 26, 1945 and subsequently signed into law by President Sergio Osmeña on October 24, 1945. Remigio Socito, the last Lieutenant Governor, was appointed as the first Provincial Governor. When elections were held in 1947, Alfonso V. Usero became the first elected Governor.


Isla de Cobos was Catanduanes' first name, given by Spanish conquistadores during the early part of 1573 when came upon several tribes living in the thatched huts called cobos.

Catanduanes, is a hispanized term derived from the word tandu, a native beetle and the samdong tree, which were both found in abundance throughout the island. Common reference to katanduan or kasamdongan, meaning a place where the tandu or the samdong tree thrives in abundance, led to the coining of the word Catanduanes.[3]


Pre-Spanish period[edit]

Bornean Datus settled on the island of Panay. Their scions then, spread out throughout the archipelago were the first settlers to have set foot in Catanduanes. The island was not spared from raids of the Moros coming from the island of Mindanao. Because of these destructive raids, many records of the past were destroyed and lost.

The beautiful Palumbanes Islands
Lolong Point Lighthouse, Panay Island, Bagamanoc, Catanduanes
Capitol building of Catanduanes
Virac skyline - Capital of Catanduanes

Spanish period[edit]

Juan de Salcedo arrived in this island in 1573, hunting for pirates, and conquered the natives. Three years later, a galleon expedition from Acapulco was shipwrecked near the island and the survivors were either killed or made servants. The Batalay Church in Bato, just several kilometers from the capital town of Virac, marks that historical event.

The Christianization of the island started some twenty years later. The conquistadores, after subjugating the Bicol mainland, returned to the island with Franciscan missionaries. From 1600 to 1857, the colonizers were able to put up nine centers of local governments through the establishment of parishes.


The actual evangelization of the island started some twenty years later, when the soldiers of Spain, after subjugating the Bicol mainland, came back with Franciscan missionaries. The missionaries armed with the cross and backed by the sword of the conquistadors evangelized the entire population without much resistance, after initially converting the southern tribes.


From 1600 to 1857, the colonizers were able to put up nine centers of local governments through the establishment of parishes: Caramoran (1601); Pandan (1650); Viga (1661); Panganiban (1663); Virac (1775); Bato (1830); and San Andres (1853). During the early fifties, Baras was created. Bagamanoc, a thriving municipality during the Spanish period was reduced to a mere barrio of Viga and later of Panganiban, during the American regime. It formally became a municipality in 1950 followed by Gigmoto in 1951, and San Miguel in 1952. It was during this period that the island saw its own development growth. Interlinking roads built and trading centers created.

American period[edit]

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.

World War II[edit]

During World War II, Catanduanes was not spared from Japanese invasion. The Japanese erected garrisons in different parts of the island and committed many atrocities.

Major Salvador Rodolfo (a.k.a. Phantom) organized the Catanduanes Liberation Forces and the back bone of the resistance movement. It performed numerous ambuscades against the Japanese Imperial Army and conducted intelligence gathering, which was necessary in paving the way for the eventual liberation of the province by the combined American and Filipino troops. During his exploits as a guerrilla leader, Rodolfo was rumored several times to have been killed in battle but time and again he keeps on coming back to destroy every vestige of enemy control in the province of Catanduanes, hence he was called "Phantom" or the Man who never dies.

On February 8, 1945, when Rodolfo was about to declare the independence of the province, one of his men approached him and said that there were Japanese reinforcements on board 2 vessels approaching the island. He then talked to his men, most of whom were wounded and exhausted, he said:

Japanese reinforcements are coming. I have two options for you, we can go to the hills and save ourselves and wait there until the joint American and Filipino troops arrive, but I assure you that all civilians left behind will be massacred by the incoming Japanese, or we can repeat what happened in the Battle of Thermopylae and stand our ground. Most of us will die, but we will live forever in the pages of history as the men who fought for the liberation of Catanduanes.

With that, everybody decided to stand their ground and fight the incoming Japanese. They went to their posts to wait for the enemy’s arrival but then, as if by providence, American planes arrived and bombed the Japanese vessels. Rodolfo declared independence of the entire province on February 8, 1945.

When the local Filipino soldiers and officers of the 5th, 52nd, 53rd, 55th, 56th and 57th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army landed on the beaches, they captured the Japanese, liberated the island province of Catanduanes, assisted the local guerrilla fighters and American liberating troops and defeated and fought against the Japanese Imperial armed forces during the Battle of Catanduanes in the ending World War II.

Independence Day[edit]

Three months after the Philippine independence from the Americans, Catanduanes was finally recognized as a separate and independent province from Albay by the Commonwealth Act No. 687 authored by then Representative Francisco Perfecto. The independence was approved by Congress on September 26, 1945, signed into law by President Sergio Osmena, Sr. on October 24, 1945, and took effect on October 26, 1945.[4]

Catanduanes became the sixth province of the Bicol Region with the signing of the Act. Remigio Socito, the last Lieutenant Governor of Catanduanes was appointed as the first Provincial Governor. When elections held in 1947, Alfonso V. Usero became the first elected Governor.

People Power Revolution[edit]

The People Power Revolution in February 1986 ushered in new leadership. Former Ambassador Leandro I. Verceles Sr. was appointed Governor of the province. In 1988, Governor Leandro I. Verceles Sr. ran for Governor and won the election. His term ended in 1992 when lost to Governor Rosalie A. Estacio. After Governor Estacio, Governor Severo C. Alcantara became the governor of the province in 1995. Gov. Alcantara did not run for re-election due to failing health. In 1998 Governor Hector S. Sanchez won the election. Governor Sanchez run for re-election but lost to Governor Leandro B. Verceles Jr who became governor for two successive terms.

In 2007 synchronized elections, Gov. Verceles run again for his third and last term for governor but lost to Governor Joseph C. Cua, who became governor from 2007-2013 for two successive terms but lost to Gov. Araceli B. Wong last May 2013 election. Gov. Wong is now the incumbent governor.


Mountainous view of Viga
Cargo Cable Car used to transport goods and cargoes

Catanduanes is situated in the easternmost fringe of Luzon: 13.3 to 14.1 degrees north latitudes and between 124.1 to 124.3 degrees east longitudes. The island bounded on the west by the Maqueda Channel, on the south by Lagonoy Gulf, and on the north and east by the Philippine Sea. Several islands compose the province, but beside the main island, they are all too small to be of relative significance. Its aggregate land area totals approximately 1,511.5 square kilometers or 151,150 hectares. The coastlines, that stretch to almost 400 km (249 mi), are jagged with many bays.[5]

The topography of Catanduanes Island is rugged and mountainous, becoming more pronounced towards the central portion of the island. Less than 10 percent of the land area has a slope gradient under 8 percent, mostly fractured and narrow strips of plains located along the coastal areas where most of the inhabitants are settled. The highest mountain peak is in Boctot, located between the municipalities of Virac and San Miguel with an elevation of 803 metres (2,635 ft) above sea level. It is the premier mountain range with broadly spread old growth forests and watershed which exerts widespread influence over its immediate environs that include the municipalities of Virac, Bato, and San Miguel. Other prominent mountain forms with important significance include the ranges: Obi in Caramoran, Cagmasoso in San Andres, and the Summit and Magsumoso ranges within the Viga and Gigmoto areas.

The lowlands include the Virac Plain, Viga Plain, San Andres Plain and the Bato River Flood Plain. The coastal municipalities with limited lowland agricultural areas are Pandan and Caramoran. The more extensive lowlands are found in the southern parts of the province. The largest coastal plain is the contiguous wetlands of Viga, Panganiban and Bagamanoc over which lies the widest area of rice paddies and nipa mangroves.

The province is mostly rugged and mountainous terrain. Its slope characteristics are 13% gently sloping to undulating, 1% classified rolling to hilly, 2% very hills and mountains, 47% level to very gently sloping, 32% steep hills and mountainous, and 5% undulating to rolling. Ten of the eleven municipalities of the province are situated along the coastal fringes, over which locate its mostly fractured plains. The only landlocked municipality is San Miguel with its poblacion (town center) sitting in a location entirely devoid of flat lands. The majority of the built-up areas occupy zones that are classified as flat to rolling.

Weather and climate[edit]

Without a pronounced dry season, precipitation is distributed fairly well throughout the year becoming wetter in the last quarter into the early months of the first quarter, when tropical disturbances and monsoon winds especially the Northeast Monsoon (Amihan) bring in heavy rains. Other months are characterized by short periods of dryer days and fine weather except in July and August, when the dry and gusty northwest monsoon winds intensify.

Catanduanes' geographical position has it lying completely exposed to the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, it is known as "Land of the Howling Winds" because it is frequently visited by tropical storms.

Flora and fauna[edit]

The island is a biodiversity hotspot. Its lush rainforest is home to Philippine brown deer, flying foxes, and other endemic bat species, warty pigs, civets, cobras, giant pythons, monitor lizards, sailfin lizards and other endemic animals. Exotic bird species such as Philippine hornbill, rail, parrot, bittern, egret, pheasant, coot, lapwing, plover, Philippine duck, quail, owl, oriole, kingfisher, swiftlets and many more are also found. In fact, a record of "Philippines Birding Trip Reports" has found out massive bird species in several portion of the island such as the watershed and timberland forests reserve in Gigmoto where scattered deer populations are also usually reported.

Unfortunately, one bird subspecies, the Catanduanes bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba luzonica rubiventris) had experienced over-exploitation in the late 20th century. Although most forests are still intact, this species has suffered over-hunting. It is very rare and believed to be near extinction or already extinct as its last reported specimen was collected in 1971.

The southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat (budkon/bugkon) which is found only in Catanduanes and the southern half of Luzon Island, is still widely reported. It is critically endangered as humans hunt them for food and for some extent, as pets. In mainland Luzon, sightings of this wonderful creature is already rare while in Marinduque, it is generally considered extinct.

Inventory of the entomological fauna in the island has been conducted by various scientific institutions. A survey which was submitted in the national museum has revealed interesting species in forest reserve of Gigmoto and Pandan. A total of 2,000 entomological specimens and its allies were collected compromising 323 species under 45 genera and 50 families.

The Catanduanes narrow-mouthed frog (Kaloula kokacii), an arboreal amphibian which is found only in Catanduanes and some parts of Bicol, enjoys its diversity but being carefully monitored. Clearing of some forests may possess threat to amphibian species. The one stored in Philippine National Museum is taken from the Gigmoto Forest Reserve near Buadan River. Another amphibian Hylarana similis is found only in Catanduanes and Luzon islands. The published research by Brown and Siler in Journal of Biogeography (2013) actually reported this species in the forests of Gigmoto.

One of the very recent species found in Catanduanes and portions of Bicol region is the new loam-swimming skink, a legless reptile with its assigned scientific name Brachymeles makusog.

The rich dipterocarp forest also harbor numerous tropical plant species including the threatened species of pitcher plants and rafflesia as well as endemic banana varieties. Many highly economical hardwood tress such as yakal, apitong, palosapis, and molave are still found in the central forests though local reports indicate that these species are already threatened. Mangrove forests exist in several coastal areas but the largest locations are in Banquerohan (Viga-Panganiban), Agoho in San Andres and Batalay in Bato.

The marine environment of the island is also ecologically rich as its terrestrial zones. Some of its potential marine reserves and diving spots are Mamunglo Island reef in Bato, Macalanhog Island reef in Gigmoto, and several reef spots along the Bato-Baras-Gigmoto-Viga coastlines. Catanduanes reefs harbor many endangered and threatened types of mollusks such as giant Triton, cowries, abalone, cone snails, conches, octopuses, squids, and nautiluses. Marine mammals are also reported to frequent on its eastern coasts such as species of dolphins and whales which appear in March–June. Many edible marine algae such as caulerpa, valonia, and turbellaria also grow abundantly on its rough coasts.

The island is nestled in the very beginning of the Kuroshio Current; a sea current that runs through Eastern Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. This current performs an array of physical and biological functions in countless marine life like migration and breeding. This explains why migratory fish tracks are usually encountered in its waters. Tuna migration can be seen in Maqueda channel which is on its peak in the months of April and May. Dugongs were once known to swim on Catanduanes coasts but this event is already becoming extremely rare.

Catanduanes coast is one of the best spots for flying fish population; a flying fish can attain its fullest size in Catanduanes which may weigh 300 grams (11 oz). Rabbitfish Siganus sp., a kind of reef fish is one of the most heavily exploited marine tropical fish in Catanduanes. Its fry that comes out in shallow coasts during the breeding season (March–May) are fished in large volumes. Approximately 10 million rabbitfish fries are caught annually. That natural event supplies food for many people but its ecological impact can be devastating. Nature advocates started to strengthen their campaign for an eco-dialogue for this matter. Sea cucumbers are also known to be abundant in many islets of the eastern coasts facing the Pacific Ocean.

Palumbanes (province satellite group of islands) has one of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines known for its fine yellowish-white sand. It is also one of the most biodiversed marine zone of the island; however, coral reef exploitation has severely inflicted for the last 10 years on its waters. The local government and some sectors are already undergoing efforts to revive Palumbanes Island through building artificial reefs and employing fishing regulations.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Catanduanes is subdivided into 11 municipalities.

Municipality Area
(per km²)
No. of
Founded Income

Bagamanoc, Catanduanes Official Seal.png Bagamanoc 80.74 11,370 140.8 18 4807 Year 1950 5th 13°56′25″N 124°17′11″E / 13.9402°N 124.2865°E / 13.9402; 124.2865 (Bagamanoc)
Baras, Catanduanes Official Seal.png Baras 109.5 12,243 111.8 29 4803 Year 1897 5th 13°39′33″N 124°22′13″E / 13.6591°N 124.3704°E / 13.6591; 124.3704 (Baras)
Bato, Catanduanes Official Seal.png Bato 48.62 19,984 411 27 4801 Year 1799 5th 13°36′28″N 124°17′49″E / 13.6079°N 124.2970°E / 13.6079; 124.2970 (Bato)
Caramoran, Catanduanes Official Seal.png Caramoran 263.74 28,063 106.4 27 4808 Year 1948 3rd 13°59′02″N 124°08′01″E / 13.9839°N 124.1337°E / 13.9839; 124.1337 (Caramoran)
Gigmoto, Catanduanes Official Seal.png Gigmoto 181.82 8,003 44 9 4804 Year 1951 5th 13°46′44″N 124°23′32″E / 13.7789°N 124.3921°E / 13.7789; 124.3921 (Gigmoto)
Pandan, Catanduanes Official Seal.png Pandan 119.9 19,393 161.7 26 4809 Year 1650 4th 14°02′57″N 124°10′13″E / 14.0492°N 124.1702°E / 14.0492; 124.1702 (Pandan)
Panganiban (Payo), Catanduanes Official Seal.png Panganiban (Payo) 79.96 9,738 121.8 23 4806 Year 1921 5th 13°54′29″N 124°18′04″E / 13.9081°N 124.3010°E / 13.9081; 124.3010 (Panganiban)
San Andres, Catanduanes Official Seal.png San Andres (Calolbon) 167.31 35,779 213.8 38 4810 Year 1853 3rd 13°35′52″N 124°05′48″E / 13.5979°N 124.0968°E / 13.5979; 124.0968 (San Andres)
San Miguel, Catanduanes Official Seal.png San Miguel 129.94 14,107 108.6 24 4802 Year 1952 5th 13°38′32″N 124°18′11″E / 13.6421°N 124.3031°E / 13.6421; 124.3031 (San Miguel)
Ph seal Viga Catanduanes.png Viga 158.23 20,669 130.6 31 4805 Year 1661 4th 13°52′21″N 124°18′33″E / 13.8726°N 124.3093°E / 13.8726; 124.3093 (Viga)
Ph seal Virac Catanduanes.png Virac 152.4 66,951 439.3 63 4800 Year 1775 1st 13°34′51″N 124°13′52″E / 13.5808°N 124.2310°E / 13.5808; 124.2310 (Virac)
 †  Provincial capital
  • Coordinates mark the town center vicinity, and are sorted according to latitude.
  • Names in italics indicate former names.


Population census of
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1903 39,410 —    
1918 63,530 +3.23%
1939 98,545 +2.11%
1948 112,121 +1.44%
1960 156,329 +2.81%
1970 162,302 +0.38%
1975 172,780 +1.26%
1980 175,247 +0.28%
1990 187,000 +0.65%
1995 202,464 +1.50%
2000 215,356 +1.33%
2007 232,757 +1.08%
2010 246,300 +2.08%
Source: National Statistics Office[2][1]

In May 2000, its total population was 215,356 with an annual growth rate of 1.42% from 1990 to 2000, and a population density of 142 per sq. kilometer. Over the following 10 years the average annual growth rate was 1.35%, increasing the population to 246,300 persons in the May 2010 census.[2] Almost all of the people of the province are natural born citizens. Naturalized citizens mostly Chinese and some other nationalities is only about one per cent of the population.

The number of households totaled 41,019 with an average household size of 5.25.[4]


Roman Catholicism is the religion of the vast majority, comprising 97% of Catanduanes population. The remaining faith of Catandunganon people are divided with the various Religious, Evangelical, Protestant groups such as Aglipayan Church, Baptists, Methodists, other Evangelical Christians, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Iglesia ni Cristo, Seventh-day Adventist as well as Moslems.


Two dialects of the Bicol language are being spoken locally: Northern Catanduanes Bicol and Southern Catanduanes Bicol. The northern accent has a very pronounced letter R that becomes a diphthong of non-vowel letters L and R in the southern towns. In written form, the conventional mainland Bicol language like Central Bicol is used. Tagalog, by virtue of being officially taught in schools and the affinity of most Bicolanos to it, is the second most common language and easily the most understood by people of all walks of life. English is the normal medium used in primary communications. The use of the Spanish as a local language seems to have vanished after the turn of the 21st century.


When the Spaniards came to the Philippines, Catanduanes, being on the Pacific Ocean side and on the very route of the galleon ships, was one of the first places they penetrated to propagate Christianity. The Spanish priests founded churches in every town. People from mainland Bicol also traveled to Catanduanes, specifically Caramoran which is directly across from Albay.

The research of McFarland on the year 1974, the dialects of Bicol area, stated that until the advent of the twentieth century and the development brought about by modernization, Northern Catanduanes was quite isolated from mainland Bicol and Southern Catanduanes, resulting in less opportunity for contact between different groups. One probable reason why the Northern Catanduanes language variety is distinct from the Southern Catanduanes variety is that the mountainous terrain separating the north from the south acts as a barrier to community interaction. The lack of good roads and transportation arising from the terrain contributed to the present situation. Since the seaport is in Virac, it seemed that Northern Catanduanes remained in isolation from other subgroups for quite some time. Furthermore, the inhabitants of Northern Catanduanes were the first occupants of the island to have been pushed northwards when immigrants from the mainland occupied the southern part of the island. This supports the closeness of the Southern Catanduanes variety to other Bicol subgroups while the Northern Catanduanes has more distinct features.

Ethnic groups[edit]

The predominant ethnic group is Bicolano people. Migrants from Visayas and Mindanao regions far outnumber other ethnic groups. A good number of people of Chinese, American and Spanish descent are also living in the province.


Catanduanes was once a part of the Province of Albay. On October 26, 1945, it was emancipated from Albay and was declared an island-province by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 687.

Based on records, gubernatorial elections for Catanduanes started in 1948. According to Prof. Alex De Guzman, when the island was still in transition to becoming a full-pledge province, it was headed by Lt. Governor Felipe Olesco Usero.

Former member
House of Representatives
1st Congress - Hon. Francisco A. Perfecto, 1946–1949
2nd Congress - Hon. Severiano P. De Leon, 1949–1953
3rd Congress - Hon. Francisco A. Perfecto, 1953–1957
4th Congress - Hon. Jose M. Alberto, 1957–1961
5th Congress - Hon. Jose M. Alberto, 1961–1965
6th Congress - Hon. Jose M. Alberto, 1965–1969
7th Congress - Hon. Jose M. Alberto, 1969–1972
Reg Batasang Pambansa - Hon. Jose M. Alberto, 1984–1986
8th Congress - Hon. Moises M. Tapia, 1987–1992
9th Congress - Hon. Leandro B. Verceles, Jr., 1992–1995
10th Congress - Hon. Leandro B. Verceles, Jr., 1995–1998
11th Congress - Hon. Leandro B. Verceles, Jr., 1998–2001
12th Congress - Hon. Joseph A. Santiago, 2001–2004
13th Congress - Hon. Joseph A. Santiago, 2004–2007
14th Congress - Hon. Joseph A. Santiago, 2007–2010
15th Congress - Hon. Cesar V. Sarmiento, 2010–2013
16th Congress - Hon. Cesar V. Sarmiento, 2013–2016

List of former Governors[edit]

  • Alfonso Vera Usero (1948-1951)
  • Juan Molina Alberto (1952-1959)
  • Jorge Vera Almojuela (1960-1967)
  • Vicente Molina Alberto (1968-1986)
  • Leandro I. Verceles Sr. (1987-1992)
  • Rosalie Alberto-Estacio (1992-1995)
  • Severo Alcantara (1995-1998)
  • Hector Sanchez (1998-2001)
  • Leandro B. Verceles Jr. (2001-2004), (2004-2007)
  • Joseph Chua Cua (2007-2010)

Provincial Board Members[edit]

East District[edit]

West District[edit]

Congressional district(s)[edit]

The lone Legislative District of Catanduanes is the representation of the Province of Catanduanes in the Philippine House of Representatives. Catanduanes was represented as part of Albay's second district from 1907 to 1931, and fully comprised that province's fourth district from 1931 to 1946. It started electing its own representative in 1946, after becoming a full-fledged province in 1945. From 1978 to 1984 it was part of the representation of Region V.


Nipa palm Plantation

The Island is the most progressive province in the Bicol Region although it placed just a little -0.3 in the HDI National Average. The 2009 report of HDN (Human Development Network) which is a link of United nations HDI (Human Development Index) listed the province ranked 1st in the region or rank 20th at 0.630 HDI value (excluding Metro Manila) among Philippine Provinces HDI's. For reference, the province of Albay ranked 2nd in the region or ranked 41st among Philippine Provinces HDI's (excluding Metro Manila) at 0.518 HDI value.

Agriculture, fishing and tourism is the other source of living in this beautiful island. Several handicrafts, jewelry manufacturing, other small-scale industries and manufacturing enterprises also one of the contributors to the province's economy. The province is rich in natural resources, forests, waterfalls, rivers, mineral deposits and productive soil made fertile by volcanic ashes of distant Mayon Volcano. Rattancraft, fishing, buri hat and mat making and abaca fiber craft are its most and among the important industries of the island.

Virac, the capital town of the island was among the top in terms of infrastructure in 2012 Most Competitive Municipality category according to the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).


Manila hemp

The five major income sources of Catanduanes are: Services, Agriculture and Fishing, Tourism, Cottage Industry and Manufacturing.

Cottage industry and manufacturing[edit]

The Abaca Capital. From 2001 through 2010, the Philippines production of abaca fiber (Manila hemp) averaged 65,701 mt per year and had been decreasing at a minimal rate of 0.8% per annum caused by the devastating typhoons in 2006 coupled with abaca viral diseases that continued to affect the plantations as well as the dampened foreign demand brought about by the global economic recession beginning in the latter part of 2008, considered as the most severe downturn since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Production reached its peak in 2008 at 77,387 mt as outputs of all producing regions, particularly Bicol, Davao Region and Caraga, substantially increased during the period. This was primarily the effect of the incremental production from the abaca plantations established in 2005 and 2006 under FIDA’s program Goal I “Development of New Agri-Business Lands” and the continued strong demand and attractive prices offered for the fiber by local traders, processors/manufacturers and exporters. The abaca industry, however, suffered a setback in 2009 when fiber yield slumped to its lowest level of 54,584 mt due to the weakened market demand and falling prices as a consequence of the worldwide financial crisis. Catanduanes Island is the native habitat of the endemic abaca plant (a banana relative) which is globally renowned for its strong fiber. In fact, the Philippines FIDA (Fiber Industry Development Authority) declared the island as the highest abaca producing province in 2010.

In 2009-2013, The Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) and the Department of Agriculture, Bicol Region had 39% share of Philippine Abaca production, emerged as the biggest produce while overwhelming 92% comes from Catanduanes the biggest abaca producing province in the country. The home of the finest grade of abaca fiber. Lately, the indigenous abaca fiber, commonly called “pinukpok,” produced and woven by the locals of Baras, Catanduanes, has now found its niche in the local and international fashion industry. This indigenous fabric has shown its versatility in the globally appealing designs and creations of famous fashion designer Dita Sandico-Ong. Until now wild type of abaca can still be found in the interior forests of the province which is often not cultivated.

Agriculture and fishing[edit]

Catanduanes is also reclaiming the title of “Crab Capital” of the Philippines, which it lost to Negros province about three decades ago. But still the province still the region's "Crab Capital". Catanduanes mud crab industry is enjoying the support of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of labor and Employment and Catanduanes State University.

The provincial government, for its part, is maintaining the Catanduanes Crab Center (CCC) which serves as a source of crablets for grow-out and fattening by fishpond operators. It carries out a special program for “queen” or “gravid” crabs designed to ensure the sustainability of the industry in the province, which originally owned the “crab capital of the Philippines” title. The province’s mud crab industry is focusing on the production of female crabs that play an important role in marketing, particularly in Asian countries such as Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.


Soboc Cove
Puraran Beach

Tourism Industry in the province is relatively growing despite of almost year round typhoon, naming the province as a "Typhoon Capital of the Philippines" with a tagline "The Land of the Howling Winds". Catanduanes is famous for its unspoiled beaches, pre-historic caves, exotic places, quaint stone chapels and massive churches. Despite the typhoons, safe anchorage are provided by its many bays and coves notably Kalapalan, Gigmoto, Soboc and Cabugao. Its Pacific coastlines are havens for surfers. The home to the “Majestic Waves”, with its long magnificent barrels, it is a surfer’s paradise in idyllic Baras. It also boasts idyllic beaches with powdery sands and coral formations. Mysterious caves with historical significance to compliments its beauty and mystic would surely enchant the travelers, most notably the Luyang Cave. Nature trails and panoramic views such as the one viewed from the grounds of the PAGASA Weather Radar Station is a photo enthusiast dream-come-true. A religious pilgrim will be well satisfied with a tour of the churches and religious shrines in the Island. The Museo De Catanduanes with its fine collection of artifacts is a must for the history buff.

Catanduanes is “An Eco-Adventure Paradise,” it is for those who love nature at its best. The whole strip of this pearly island of the Pacific is virtually untouched, unspoiled, and unexplored. It has a long string of palm-fringed beaches backed by jungle-covered mountains and crowned with jewel-like islets. It offers a totally laid-back rural charm, a beautiful natural environment and plenty of easy action at a pace that is always relaxed. The local folks have always preferred a relaxed rural village life. They seem to be disinterested in accelerated development or any head-long rush into the modern world. As a result, the tourism industry is still in its early stages.

The best time of the year to visit Catanduanes is from the months of March to August when the weather turns dry. It is coolest and rainiest from October to the early part of January, hottest from March to May.

The tourism industry in Catanduanes continues to receive a positive response from foreign and domestic travellers, with the Provincial Tourism Office recording an increase in tourist arrivals by 15.89% in 2014 compared to the previous year.

Based on the comparative data of travellers, 151,550 foreign and domestic tourists visited the island last year, or about 21,000 greater than the 2013 arrivals of only 130,766 visitors.

Places to Visit[edit]
  • Puraran Surfing Site - Puraran, Baras - From September to October of every year, the Puraran Surf Camp in Puraran, Baras, Catanduanes becomes a host to advanced surfers and serious seekers of stoke. Many come to see and surf the Majestics, the powerful barreling wave whose beauty is renowned worldwide.
  • St. John the Baptist Catholic Church - Poblacion, Bato - The magnificently situated edifice stands proudly by the scenic Bato River and greets everyone upon entrance to the town of Bato. It is the only remaining structure of its kind in the entire island. The church is of interest not only as a mid-colonization Filipino-Spanish architecture, but as a historical landmark. It was built under the polo system of forced labor for a total of 53 years under six different parish administrators. Started in 1830 and finished in 1883, Bato Church has withstood wars, calamities and ravages of time. This massive structure of mortar and coral stones was able to retain its old glory.
  • Holy Cross of Batalay Shrine - Batalay, Bato - The shrine is the site where the first Catholic Cross was planted in Catanduanes and was built over the burial place of Augustinian priest Fray Diego de Herrera in 1576 who died in Batalay, Bato. Legend says that a spring water sprouted near the cross, believed to have healing powers. It is a common belief that the cross presently enshrined in the Batalay Chapel is still the original cross planted more than 420 years ago. Batalay has been the center of annual religious pilgrimages from people of different places. The Holy Cross of Batalay is a Diocesan shrine with the right to hold a liturgical celebration on the last Friday of April every year.
  • Our Lady of Sorrows Shrine Batong Paloway, San Andres - The thumbnail sized river stone bearing the mystical face of the Virgin Mary found in a river bank is believed to have grown in size over the years. At present, one can view the image with the bare eyes unlike before, when one had to use a magnifying lens. The image has drawn many devotees throughout the years and a mass is being heard every Friday afternoon as devotees flock the chapel regularly to pray the rosary and novenas. Every Lenten week celebration people on Holy Thursday walk from Virac and as far as Batalay, Bato ona penitentiary pilgrimage to visit and pray to the Lady of Sorrows.
  • Museo de Catanduanes - Santa Elena, Virac
  • Luyang Cave Park - Lictin, San Andres
  • PAG-ASA Weather Radar Station - Buenavista, Bato
  • Amenia Beach Resort - Palawig, San Andres
  • Twin Rock Beach Resort - Igang, Virac
  • Balite Beach Resort - Balite, Virac
  • Loran Ruins - Panay Island, Bagamanoc
  • Maribina Falls - Marinawa-Binanuahan, Bato
  • Nahulugan Falls - San Pedro, Gigmoto
  • Soboc Cove - Soboc, Viga
  • Cathy's Spring Resort - Sagrada, Viga
  • Palumbanes Group of Islands - Palumbanes, Caramoran
  • Hiyop Point - Hiyop, Pandan



Traditions and inherited lifestyles are being slowly supplanted brought about by a high degree of exposure to the western culture. Significant shift in values, beliefs, morals and customs and outlook in life of younger and future generation will likely take place with the advent of digital information age. State-of-the-art technologies in Communication and Information unheard of in the last decade bring a wide range of information to an increasing number of island residents. Television sets link to satellite cable television system are now common in households notably in areas where local television broadcasts are not accessible, computers linked to the internet, satellite phone and cellular phone services are some of these technologies.

Festivals and celebrations[edit]

Catandungan Festival[edit]

Catandungan Festival is an annual prime celebration of the island province. It is the anniversary celebration and tribute to its founders, to continuously remind the people of Catanduanes of the provinces' independence from the province of Albay. The main features of the festival are: Street Dancing - Pantomina Dance, Beauty Pageant, Agro-Trade Fair, Sports Fest, Guided Tour, Surfing Cup, Art/Photo Exhibits, Etc. It happens every 24th-26 October.

Abaca Festival[edit]

Abaca Festival is an annual cultural celebration of the province. It cognizance of the importance of abaca in the local economy and the need to showcase its versatility as a major source of livelihood and craft material which has brought Catanduanes fame and fortune. The festival will showcase the life and resilient spirit of the Catandunganon and its culture, as well as the uniqueness and exoticness of the island and its people. The main features of the festival are: Padadyaw Ginamlangan or Padadyaw kan Abaka, Pinukpok Fashion Show, Urag Catandungan sports competitions, Kantang Catandungan or Musika kan Isla, Festival Dance Competition, Binibini and Ginoong Bikol, Hagyan sa Kabitoonan and Jobs Fair. It happens every 4th week of May.

Folk festivals[edit]

The folk festivals celebrated as part of the local religious rituals are with unique traces of the Spanish colonization. Among these festivals are:

  • Dinahit Festival is a prime festival in the municipality of Pandan celebrated every April. The word Dinahit is a native sailing vessel used by the Austronesians to travel across the ocean to reach Pandan, the northernmost municipality of the province.[8] The activities of the festival include street dancing, beauty pageant, trade fair, and different contests such as carabao race and boat race.
  • Kalbaryo or Calvary which is commonly staged during the Holy Week is a reenactment of the passion of Christ’s way of the cross can be best seen in the Municipality of San Andres during Holy Wednesday and Good Friday of every year.
  • Kagharong is a native depiction of the nativity scene is held every year during the yuletide season.
  • Pantomina is purely a native dance, popular on occasions of importance. It is a dance interpretation (pantomime) of a rooster courting a hen. Pantomina dance is mostly practiced in rural areas.
  • Padadyao sa Tinampo is purely native cultural presentation of street dancing held every 24 October to commemorate the province‘s founding anniversary.
  • Sugbo Festival is a very recent addition to these traditional festivals. The notable contemporary event is celebrated by the seven barangays of Hitoma in Caramoran that produces sugbo or tiger grass - a bamboo like perennial grass used to make brooms.[9] Celebrated every month of May coinciding with the Hitoma barangay fiesta, it is being institutionalized with the support of the provincial government, LGU of Caramoran and national line agencies to promote the commercial development of the local lasa or tiger grass industry and to create signature products from tiger grass.

Fishermen from Catanduanes have always been linked to Benham Rise (a newly declared Philippine Territory in the Pacific Ocean). Catandunganon people have been calling it Kalipung-awan (loneliness in an isolated place). Benham Rise is an integral part of Catandunganon culture. Rich marine resources are usually given by this marine biodiversed zone to Catandunganons. In fact, Catandunganons have long been celebrating this place even in their ancient folksongs, stories and poetry.


Catanduanes State University (CSU) Main Building


The Philippine elementary school begins from Kindergarten to Grade school from Grade 1 to Grade 6.


The High School program takes six years to finish, 4 years for Junior High School and 2 years for Senior High School.

Virac, the capital town, is the main educational institute in the province. It has several colleges, institutes and a state university with a university branch in the northern town of the province and a number schools specializing in various courses such as Nursing, Engineering, Nautical courses, Business and Accounting, Education, Computer and IT and other professions. The most prominent are the Catanduanes State University (CSU) with campus in Panganiban, a northern municipality of the province, Catanduanes Colleges (CC), Catanduanes Institute of Technology Foundation (CITFI), and Christian Polytechnic Institute of Catanduanes (CPIC).

Higher education[edit]

The Catanduanes State University located in Calatagan Virac, the capital town of Catanduanes. It was elevated to university status in October 2012. The Catanduanes State University (CSU) is an institution of higher learning in the province of Catanduanes in the Philippines. It was established on June 19, 1971 by virtue of Republic Act 6341,authored by the Catanduanes Congressman Jose M. Alberto, which converted the Virac National Agricultural and Trade School into the Catanduanes State Colleges. On July 8, 1972, Republic Act 6590 provided for opening of additional courses at CSC.


By comparison, the prevailing peace and order situation in the province is much better than that of the other provinces in the region. This is attributed to the inherent affable character of the Catandunganons, the all-out government support and a vigilant religious hierarchy. To arrest attempts of criminal elements to make the province a market for illegal drugs, the police force with the support of LGUs launched a massive information campaign for a better-informed citizenry.

Police services[edit]

The Philippine National Police in the province is composed of the local police force and the fire brigade’s services. Among its objectives, the PNP organizes missions to protect lives and property, enforce laws and maintain peace and order; to prevent crimes and to investigate the commission of all crimes and offenses and to bring the offender to justice; And finally, to take the necessary measures to prevent and control fires and to maintain public safety. The prevailing peace and order remains the best argument for promoting the province. The province crime rate is 6.39 in 2006. Crime volume over the same period was 191.


Cellular phone services allow access to national and international calls. Internet access through Wi-Fi and Broadband connections are available.


Local Cable companies operate in most towns. TV repeaters allow access to Manila broadcast stations. Satellite dish is a common site in rooftops of houses in remote areas.

Power supply[edit]

Electrical Power is supplied by power plants, a mix of diesel powered generators and hydroelectric turbines. Electricity is served on 24-hour basis to all the eleven (11) municipalities. Catanduanes has a 220-volt electrical system.


Virac Port Passenger Terminal


By air, Mon-Wed-Fri-Sun flights are available from Manila to Virac Airport which takes less than an hour flight by commercial jet.


From the seaport of Tabaco, hop on either MV Calixta 2, 4 and 5 which would bring you to the port of San Andres or MV Eugene Elson and newest fast-craft service MV Silangan that can travel in just one hour and a half which docks in the port of Virac.


Over land, a 12-hour bus ride from Manila to Tabaco in Albay province, is needed to cover the 580 km (360 mi) distance. Several ferry services in Port of Tabaco offers connection to San Andres which takes about 2½ hours or go Virac Seaport, at 3½ hours and at least 1½ hours for fast-craft service.[10] Numerous bus lines operate air-conditioned and Ordinary buses and coaches from Manila to Tabaco City, Albay. Some of these buses are loaded to the Ferry for its final stop in the town of Virac.

Transportation around the Island is provided by jeepneys, vans and bus for inter-town travel, while tricycles and pedicabs will take you around the towns. Private vehicles are also available for hire, which can take you to any point of the Island.

Notable people from Catanduanes[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities" (PDF). 2010 Census and Housing Population. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  3. ^ "Brief Historical Background". About Catanduanes. Retrieved on 2012-04-17.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c "Province: Catanduanes". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority - National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay: as of May 1, 2010 (Bicol Region)" (PDF). 2010 Census of Population and Housing. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Dinahit Festival". About Catanduanes. Retrieved on 2012-04-17.
  9. ^ Tiger Grass. Flowers of India. Retrieved on 2010-06-12.
  10. ^ Reaching Catanduanes. Catanduanes Island Promotion. Retrieved on 2010-06-11.
  11. ^ John Arcilla Filmography
  12. ^ John Arcilla Awards
  13. ^ John Arcilla, actor, environmentalist attends Peoples’ Mining Conference


External links[edit]