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 & 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.


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.

Catanduanes is subdivided into 11 municipalities.

Bagamanoc, Baras, Bato, Caramoran, Gigmoto, Pandan, Panganiban(Payo) San Andres(Calolbon), San Miguel, Viga and Virac



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 Osme?a, Sr. on October 24, 1945, and took effect on October 16, 1945.


Geography & Demography


Located in the Pacific coast, southeast of the main island of Luzon.  It lies between 13.5 and 14.1 degrees north latitudes and extends from 124.0 to 124.5 degrees east longitudes.  It is bounded on  the west by Maqueda Channel, on the south by Lagonoy Gulf, and on the north and east by the Philippine Sea.

Land Area

Catanduanes as the 12th largest island in the Philippine Archipelago occupies an area 1,511.5 sq. km. or 151,148 hectares.  It is 8.6% of the total area of the region.

Land Use

As of 1999, 26,832 has. forestland composed of dipterocarp (23,062 has.), mossy (972 has.) and mangroves (2,798 has.); 4,633 has. plantations composed of protection forest (3,324 has.) and production forest (1,309 has.); 82,688 has. extensive land use composed of grasslands (47,836 has.) and brushlands (34,852 has.); 15,443 has. mixed crops and 21,552 has. other land use.


As of May 2000, its total population*  is 215,356 with an annual growth rate of 1.3% from 1995-2000 and a population density of 142 per sq. kilometer.

Number of Households

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



Economic Activities

Agriculture-related (farming, fishing, hunting and forestry); Industry-related (mining, quarrying, manufacturing, construction) and services-related (wholesale and retail trade, hotel and restaurants; transportation, communication and storage, final intermediation, real estate, education, health, social work and other community, social and personal services)

Major Commodities

Abaca, banana, palay, corn, coconut, papaya, pineapple, calamansi, coffee, mango, cacao, mandarin, fish and meat products.


In 1998, cargo loaded was  26,443,245 kgs. and cargo unloaded was 70,677,613 kgs. in Virac and other municipal ports.


There were 14 hotel/accommodation establishments with 130 rooms in year 2000.


Social Services

Basic Education

Out of 315  barangays in Catanduanes, 95 do not have  elementary schools. The government provided 219 elementary and 34 high schools and the private catered to 1 high school in SY 2000-2001.

Higher Education

There is one state college and 2 private colleges/institutions.


In 2000, there were 7 government hospitals with bed capacity of 235 and 2 private hospitals with 35 bed capacity.  The bed-to-population ratio is 1:826.

Other Health Facilities

There were 11 Rural Health Units (RHUs) and 58 Barangay Health Stations (BHSs) as of year 2000.



In 1990, there were 30,069 houses owned/being amortized, 898 rented, 2,844 being occupied for free with consent of owner and 18 being occupied for free without the consent of owner.

Sports and Recreation

Public parks, entertainment centers, sports facilities, specialty restaurants, white beaches, waterfalls, coral formations, blue seas and lush forest, spelunking sites, shrines, and religious and historical landmarks.


Infrastructure and Utilities


The province is accessible by sea and air transport and land transport is also possible within the island.  In 2000, Virac had a total of 441 aircraft movement - 422 commercial, 13 general aviation and 6 military planes.  It recorded a total passenger traffic of 31,418, outgoing cargoes of 41,619 and incoming cargoes of 124,442.  Catanduanes has a total of 12 ports categorized as 7 fishing, 2 feeder and 3 commercial ports.

Communication and Media

In 2000, the province had a telephone density of 0.901 per 100. It has 1 telephone exchange with 1,678 connections.  There are 11 telegraph stations operating in 11 municipalities, 12 post offices and 31 mail carriers.

Energy and Electrification

As of December 31, 2000, 100% of the covered municipalities are already energized serving  275  barangays or 27,642 households.

Water Supply

It has abundant ground and surface water sources, i.e., rivers and creeks. At the household level it has the following access to safe water: Level I, 10,550 hhs; Level II, 11,201 hhs; and Level  III, 7,884 hhs. as of year 2000.

Waste Disposal

Domestic and commercial liquid wastes are disposed in open channels, roads, ditches, open pits in backyard and deposited in private septic tanks.  Solid wastes are burned or collected by the LGU and dumped in open areas.  There are 23,997 HHs with sanitary toilets, 11,252 HHs with complete garbage disposal and 18,237 HHs with complete basic sanitation facilities in year 2000.

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