For Catandunganons who have been experiencing perfect storms since time immemorial, these typhoons are no Hollywood movie spectacles, and there is no fun in highlighting this age-old scourge.
But beyond the howling winds, Catanduanes today is a tourism frontier which beckons the eternal wanderer. Many true-blue adventurers consider it a diamond in the rough with its crude edges, but will glitter once it's polished and becomes a girl’s (and wanderlust’s) best friend.
Situated east of the mainland Bicol peninsula, this gem of an island by the Pacific Ocean evokes an air of isolation, making it a best-kept secret for decades. And while typhoons still pass through their corridor, folks claim that the more destructive ones are now as rare as a blue moon.
But those who braved its fearsome reputation have found out for themselves that Catanduanes is a proverbial “paradise regained,” which they would like to keep to themselves.
It was the Europeans who helped put this rugged island in the world tourist map when they stumbled on the “Majestic Waves” in Puraran Beach in Baras town. Considered as the province’s main draw, it is called as such because of its long magnificent barrel, which simply lives up to its name—majestic.
During the habagat season, the beach is a picture of calm and serenity where families can frolic in its powdery sand and clear waters.
Those who want to get their feet wet in surfing can go to Tilod, a few coves away from Puraran, for their initiation to the sport.
Its long coastline has gifted the province with fines beaches and breath-taking capes just like straight out of a movie set.
In the capital town of Virac, there are the beaches of Igang and Batag, a coral-strewn coast whose charm is enhanced by a rock archway.
Meanwhile, Igang is home to the Twin Rocks Beach Resort which takes pride with its adventure facilities—a zipline, outdoor wall and hanging bridge, as well as amenities which are arguably the best locally.
Situated in a cove, the resort is called as such because of its two awesome rock formations. It's also ideal for kayaking because of its tranquil and shallow waters. Guests can even walk up to the twin rocks at low tide to see them up close.
A short boat ride away from Bagamanoc town is Loran Beach in Panay Island which has unspoiled white sands and tranquil environs. Deriving its name from "Long Range Aid to Navigation," it was a former American outpost in the 1950s to guide ships in the Pacific. Palumbanes Island, situated off Caramoran town, is an emerging diving site because of its rich marine life.
Due to its rugged terrain, Catanduanes abounds with forests and waterfalls, whose enchanting cascades and refreshing waters always cast a spell on nature lovers. Maribina Falls, located between the villages of Marinawa and Binanuahan in Bato, is the most accessible and most frequented because of its shallow multi-layered basins.
Up north in Gigmoto, Nahulugan Falls boasts of a tall drop which also has three tiers of pools where bathers can soothe their tired muscles.
Just like the typical Bicolano, Catandunganons display their faith in their religious spots. Most notable of these is the postcard-pretty Spanish-era Bato Church, a bastion of faith and bulwark against destructive typhoons in the wind-swept island
Deep into Barangay Batalay is the Diocesan Shrine of the Holy Cross, the burial place of Augustinian Fr. Diego de Herrera who died there in the 1576. The priest, who journeyed with Spanish conquistadors Legazpi and Urdaneta, is the first Catholic missionary to visit the province.
Another frequented spot is the Batong Paluway Chapel in San Andres because of the thumbnail-sized river stone bearing the image of the Virgin Mary. This is believed to have grown over the years.
A must-see historic place is the Luyang Cave Park in San Andres where scores of natices where choked to death in the 17th century by Moro pirates by burning red pepper. The more intrepid souls can trek the cave which will lead to a clearing a few hundred meters away.
Before heading home, visit the new PAGASA weather observatory in Bato, which somehow gave it the unenviable reputation of being a reference point for typhoons.
Beyond the howling winds, Catanduanes is a rough gem, but glittering just the same. Wait till it gets polished so it will sparkle in all its splendor.
Unravel the hidden wealth of this idyllic island province in its coming out party at the Catandungan Festival this October 26 to mark its provincial founding day. For details, log on to http://www.catanduanes.gov.ph
Article written and used with permission from Mr. Bernard Supetran.
Photos provided by: Bernard Supetran