Often battered and in the front-line of incoming storms, Catanduanes has often been out of the radar for most travelers in the Philippines. But this island province, unbeknownst to many, holds a lot of natural wonders and activities that would keep adventure travelers and nature explorers occupied. One would lead to discover pristine beaches, enchanting lagoon, stunning rock formations, sweeping cliffs, alluring waterfalls and age old churches. There’s something here for everyone.
How does it feel to be at the northern tip of an island often first to be battered by storms when they enter the country? It feels strangely fascinating and fantastic at the same time. Pandan is the northernmost municipality of Catanduanes. And judging by the numerous photos of attractions posted on the billboard during our municipal visit, there are a lot to see here. From historical churches, gorgeous beaches, caves and jaw-dropping vistas. Since we had limited time, we visited what could be considered as the highlights – Carangyan Beach, Tuwad-Tuwadan Blue Lagoon and Cagnipa Hills.
It all stared with a hungry Spanish explorer landing on the shores of Pandan Antique. Meeting an Ati local for the first time, he asked if they have food. The Ati pointed to a basket full of Kamote (Sweet potatoes) and said “Dan” which for them meant “that”. In excitement, the Spaniard exclaimed “Pan” which means bread, mistaking the potatoes as bread. It was an amusing play of words between two different culture that gave birth to the name of this place in Antique. Whether this event really is the etymology of its name, one thing is for sure, Pandan is rich in natural attractions and culture.
“Duck!” I heard our boatman up front yell, as our raft headed under a cluster of low-lying bamboo stalks leaning close to the waters of Bugang River. Another boatman was in chest-deep water behind the raft, tugging the rope at the back and fighting the current to somehow steer our fragile bamboo raft to a safer direction. Could this raft hold? I heard they just assemble it when they need it. We cleared the bamboo trees unscathed and found ourselves in tamer waters opening to a surreal landscape of age-old trees standing tall amidst the turquoise waters, strong and defiant of the currents.