Saturday, July 7, 2007


Catanduanes is an island province of the Philippines located in the Bicol Region in Luzon. Its capital is Virac and the province lies to the east of Camarines Sur across Maqueda Channel.

People and culture

The people of Catanduanes are Bicolanos whose dialect indicates a strong Visayan influence. The early Spanish chroniclers noted that that the people on Catanduanes, not unlike the Visayans, also adorned their bodies with tattoos. Oral traditions also reveal folk legends that trace the earliest Catanduanons to the same group of settlers who allegedly peopled the Visayas.

As a result of geographical seclusion and vulnerability to storms, the Catanduanons have remained isolated from the rest of the Bicol region and the Philippines. This isolation in part accounts for the strength of religious institutions in the island. Nearly all the people belong to the Roman Catholic Church and religious fervor remains high. However, despite their isolation, the people of Catanduanes are also noted for their genial mien and hospitality.

Inhabitants speak the Bicol language with a distinctive accent.

[edit] Geography

Catanduanes is known to many as an island paradise. It lies east of the Bicol peninsula. The island province is bounded by the Maqueda Channel in the west, the Pacific Ocean on the north and east, and Lagonoy Gulf and Cabugao Bay on the south.

It has an aggregate total area of 1,511.50 km². These include the smaller islands of Panay, Palumbanes, Parongpong, Calabagio and 23 other islets.

The general landscape of the island is hilly to mountainous, becoming more pronounced towards the central portion. Less than 10 percent of the land area has slope gradient under 8 percent, mostly fractured and narrow strips of plains dispersed near the coastal areas where most of the inhabitants are settled. Its coastal plains are narrow and limited, and the only widely cultivated area is in northeastern section, which is considered as the rice granary of the province.

[edit] Political

Catanduanes is subdivided into 11 municipalities.

[edit] Municipalities

* Bagamanoc
* Baras
* Bato
* Caramoran
* Gigmoto
* Pandan

* Panganiban (Payo)
* San Andres (Calolbon)
* San Miguel
* Viga
* Virac

[edit] Physical

[edit] History

The province, formerly known as "Catanduan, "Catandongan", and finally "Catanduanes", derived its name from the "tando" trees.

The early settlers of this island were said to be scions of the Datus of Borneo. Juan de Salcedo arrived in this island in 1573, hunting for pirates, and conquered and Christianized 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 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. 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 World War II, 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.

Commonwealth Act No. 687 established Catanduanes as a province independent from Albay. It was approved by Congress on September 26, 1945, signed into law by President Sergio Osmeña, Sr. on October 24, 1945, and took effect on October 16, 1945.

Current govorner is Leandro B. Verceles, Hr. with Hon. Vincent Villanueva as vice-govorner. Villanueva is the youngest vice-govorner in the country and an alumni of Angelicum College.

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