I envy the Provincial Tourism Officer of Catanduanes for his/her work of promoting their adventure island. I think it’s both easy and challenging- branding the island and promoting it like, “Catanduanes: Your [Complete] Adventure Island.” Off-the-tourist-path (except for the occasional surfers from Japan and Australia) Catanduanes has a lot of potential (I’m speaking as a tour operator/organizer and backpacker).
When I try to promote a destination, I always point people to the ONE highlight (yes ONLY ONE). Everyone who has been to this rugged island province would agree with me that the highlight destination is Majestic Puraran in the municipality of Baras. Why? Because of the iconic barreling wave about 300 meters from the sesame seeds-like beach. Whether you are a surfer or not you would say “whoa” when you see those waves create a hollow beauty. Double the “whoa” when someone is actually inside it. John Shimooka from SURFER Magazine back in the late 90′s said, “the ultimate surfing destination.” Now that coming from a surfer who has been to almost all beautiful spots is something worth our ears, right?
Why I’m branding this as “Your Complete Adventure Island”? Here are notable sites worth your time and visit:
Majestic Puraran, beach and waves
The two photos below is enough. No need to say more.
Bato Church which is perched on an elevated mass of earth overlooking the river- a classic example of how Spaniards planned their fortress churches to be prepared for incoming raids by the Moros during the 8th century. I hope they try to preserve this church and not use cement inside because it stocks water in the coral stones creating more damage (and please clean the belfry, saw lots of bat shit last time I was there).
This is Catanduanes’ version of Bohol’s chocolate hills. Although not as vast as those in Carmen, Bohol, you have green kisses that are worth promoting. I guess you have to find a place where tourists can have a view of these apart from the Cebu Pacific Plane. And can I add, don’t mess with nature, I mean don;t add beauty to nature by building structures that will mar the place. Follow nature’s architecture and consult experts- use local materials and as much as possible, avoid using cement.
Abaca and Pili products.
When you go on a countryside tour you would see abaca fibers being dried on the road sides. I also see lots of Abaca products that can help promote businesses among locals- duyan, bags, slippers, mats and many more. On pill nuts, I checked the pill candies being sold at the airport and found out that they are made from Tabaco City. I hope DTI would help finance local entrepreneurs that they start making their own pill candies or whatever products they can make out of pili- brittles, pilibutter (like peanut butter), key chains, etc. And if you will make one, give a high standard on the packaging so that it will can be imported.
I have spoken something about this when I was still at my early stages of blogging and I have to admit I was rough at that time. But since its already there, maybe it would be better if we maintain nature or not build structures that would mar the natural beauty of the place. I also have to add that Twin Rocks is much more accessible from Virac if you want to surf, yes its a surfing spot.
Unexplored Caves, Falls and Mountains.
I have to admit that I became lazy exploring after i have stepped on all the provinces of the Philippines. Add to that the magnet of the waves, going to caves, falls and mountains rarely excites me. But I have met outdoor people who raves about Catanduanes mountaineering potential and I think these would draw more tourists than Majestic as there are more mountaineers compared to surfers in the Philippines.
I believe the provincial coastal road is already finished and so it would be easier to roam around with a rented motorbike. Or if you really want to rough it all out, take your mountain bike with you.
How about the locals?
Locals are so friendly and I haven’t met anyone who tried to trick me or charge me higher. Keep on encouraging them to be honest and warm on visitors- they are your best assets.
If I would be an investor, I would start creating an outdoor shop that rents motorbikes and mountain bikes and kayak. Spearhead at least once a month mountain climbing weekend or kayak explore for beginners (the island has lots of rivers and the ocean is around).
Please stop promoting your province as a gateway to Caramoan, CAMSUR is already successful to that. Promote it as “YOUR OWN ADVENTURE ISLAND” and maybe ask the question- “CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE!” Then place oversized photos of various outdoor activities available for every tourist. And please take note that I didn’t say anything with zipline.
___ ___ ___
Where is Catanduanes in the Philippines map and how to get there?
Catanduanes is on the far east of Bicol Region and the fastest way to get there is via Cebu Pacific plane.
Cebu Pacific have direct flights to Virac, Catanduanes 4x a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday).
For bookings and inquiries, go to www.cebupacificair.com or call (02)7020-888. The latest seat sales and promos can be found on Cebu Pacific Air’s official Twitter (@CebuPacificAir) and Facebook pages (/cebupacificair).
Alternatively, you can take the bus from Manila to Tabaco City, Albay (9-10 hours by bus) then take the ferry from Tabaco to Virac, Catanduanes. There are two trips to Virac from Tabaco City, 6:30am and 1:00pm. BE there at least an hour before the scheduled trip.