Choose Catanduanes: PAGASA and Batalay Shrine
Choose Philippines | Mar 02, 2015
(Text and photos from Christa I. De La Cruz, video by Enco Co Lacap)
Located at the southeastern portion of the island-province of Catanduanes is the municipality of Bato — a town straddling both a rich history in its structures and one of the most advanced tech in the world.
In the video above, featured are the PAGASA Weather Radio Station and Holy Cross of Batalay Shrine.
PAGASA Weather Radio Station
Catanduanes' weather station uses the new Solid-State Meteorological Radar System technology developed in Japan. Inaugurated in 2012, the radar system was one of the three facilities funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) through a PhP 1.7 billion grant in 2009.
The other two radars are stationed in Aparri, Cagayan (2013) and Guiuan, Samar. The latter, however, was destroyed when Yolanda struck the region and is expected to be functional by September 2015.
Geekery aside, the station provides front row seats to a breaktaking 360º view of Baras, Bato, Virac, and the Pacific Ocean — making it a photographer's dream location.
Holy Cross of Batalay Shrine
Declared a Diocesan Shrine on April 1, 1973, the Holy Cross of Batalay is the site where the first cross in Catandaunes was planted and where a miraculous spring can be found. Posted inside the shrine is a short account written by one Mariono Goyena del Prado as claimed by references "Labor Evangelican" by Colin Francisco and "Estadismo" by Martinez de Zuñega:
"When the passengers of the galleon Espiritu Santo set sail on November 8, 1579 from Acapulco to Manila, amidst wild cheers and canon bombs, little did they think that they would never reach their destination. But in the midnight of April 23, 1576, the galleon struck the reefs of Nagngangang Buaya (Catanduanes) and was wrecked.
Among the survivors were Fr. Diego de Herrera with the Augustinian missionaries Lesmes de Santiago, Francisco Villa, Francisco Martines, a native Visayan, Geronimo Galves and several members of the crew including some military personnel.
The survivors were stranded in Batalay, a native "balangay" located in the southern tip of Bato, Catanduanes, where they were given shelter and provisions by the ruling datu. The friars started to preach the Gospel and to introduce new methods of agriculture and better ways of community living.
The "indios" took them to the neighboring forest. In no time, the Spaniard found themselves on the verge of starvation. This prompted them to set out in search of the natives to bring them back to Batalay. Sporadic encounters then ensued between the Spaniards and the natives with advatange to the latter for their familiarity with the terrain.
No sooner, on one rainy night, the "indios" swooped down to Batalay, killing the Spaniards, except Galves who buried the dead and placed a wooden cross on the grave of Fr. Herrera. Tradition has it that a crystalline spring sprouted at the foot of this cross which the native regarded as a miracle and rumours that the spring waters had curative properties for all kinds of sickness spread throughout.
Bishop Manuel Grijalvo of Nueva Caceres (Naga City, 1849-1861) ordered the construction of a stone monument over the grave of Fr. Herrera on top of which the original cross was placed.
It is a common belief that the cross presently enshrined in the Batalay Chapel is the original cross planted by Galves more than 438 years ago."
How to Get There
Cebu Pacific flies from Manila to Virac every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday morning (travel time: 1h 10m).
Numerous bus lines operate air-conditioned coaches from Manila to Tabaco, Albay (travel time: 9-10h). From the seaport of Tabaco, hop on either at MV Calixta 2, 4 and 5 or MV Eugene Elson to reach the island of Catanduanes via Virac seaport (ETD: 0630; travel time: 4h; aircon: Php 310; non-aircon: Php 240). Jeepneys and tryicycles ply from Virac to Bato (travel time: 20-30 mins, Php 20).
More from our Choose Catanduanes Series:
Episode 1: How to Cook Catanduanes Cuisine
Episode 2: Hicming Falls & Twin Rock Beach
Episode 3: A Miraculous Marian Image & Luyang Cave
Special: Skimboarding 101 in Catanduanes
Where to Stay: 3 Beach Resorts in Puraran, Baras
Where to Stay: Twin Rock Beach Resort (Virac)
Choose Philippines Map: Make Catanduanes your jump-off point in exploring the rest of Bicol:
Follow: Catanduanes Tourism Promotion
Many thanks to the Provincial Tourism Office of Catanduanes (Tourism Officer Carmel Bonifacio Garcia; Armie Villanueva, Maria Glenda Borja Tablate, and Kuya Buboy).