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.
It took me 12 years before I stepped my foot on back to the island of province of Catanduanes. And what better time than in the midst of their festivities. The 2018 Abaca Festival is on their 3rd year. The month long celebration aims to showcase their native abaca fiber or Manila hemp which is one of the main products of the province and source of livelihood. The month-long festival have pockets of activity culminating towards the 4th week of May. One of the much awaited is the Bicol Festival of Festivals Showdown where contingents from Bicol region participate in a dance showdown. A colorful revelry with heart pounding beats and awe-inspiring performance. An exciting return to what is now known as the Happy Island!
It was great that our first day in Puraran, Catanduanes was blessed with good weather. As we traveled back to Virac, the sky grew gloomier. The ride on the big jeep was eventful as than usual. Aside from having an interesting conversation from the lone Japanese Jun about traveling around the Philippines and some tips on the road, we were joined by this man in formal polo wear about his 50s. He was a tourism officer and shared in some ideas.
Aside from Batanes, the other island usually battered by the storms is Catanduanes. Found in the south-eastern part of Luzon, it is usually the first path typhoons go through during the Philippines’ wet seasons. For that reason, the island earned the moniker as the “Land of the Howling Winds.” While it seemed illogical to visit the island during the typhoon season, it didn’t stop me from discovering the island shaped by the storms.