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Happy in Catanduanes and Caramoan Islands

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(The St. John the Baptist Church in Bato, Catanduanes.)

CATANDUANES is an island-province in the Bicol region. It used to be a part of Albay province until it was separated from it in 1945.

Catanduanes may not be on the list of places you want to visit. It’s not too popular compared to Boracay.

But you may want to reconsider. Dubbed the Happy Island, Catanduanes is a virtual paradise and gateway to other destinations in Bicol.

It is very much accessible nowadays for people living in Pampanga and other parts of North and Central Luzon.

Thanks to Philippine Airlines (PAL). It offers three-times-a-week flights to Virac, the capital of Catanduanes, via the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

Last July 2 to 4, the Department of Tourism in Regions 3 and 5 and PAL organized a familiarization tour to Catanduanes and Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur province, Bicol.

The trip was joined by journalists, bloggers, travel agency officials, DOT and PAL personnel and other tourism stakeholders.

You will defi nitely enjoy the many beaches and falls in Catanduanes.

It is dubbed as the province with sleepy shores and breathtaking capes that seem straight out of a movie set, according to the Provincial Tourism Office.

The popular beaches are Mamangal Beach, Talisoy Beach, Twin Rock Beach Resort and Puraran Beach Resort. Puraran is popular for surfing. Maribina Falls is widely known in Catanduanes.

It’s well visited because it’s only about 15 minutes away from Virac.

A trip to Catanduanes also offers a spiritual journey – most notably to members of the Roman Catolic Church. The St. John the Baptist Church in Bato, Catanduanes is one of the most popular sites for tourists and local residents.

It was created in 1830 and finished in 1883. It also known as Bato Church.

The church was built on the site of the first cross planted in Catanduanes to mark the grave of an Augustinian friar – Diego de Herrera — who died in 1576.

Another must-see church is the Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Batong Paluway, San Andres town.

The church’s holy image of Mama Mary miraculously grows slowly over the past 100 years, according to local folk.

You have shades of Batanes at the Binurong Point in Baras town.

A 30 minutes of trekking will allow you to see awesome sights of the Pacific Ocean and rock formations.

It’s advisable to marvel at the sunrise in Guinsaanan, Baras just before you trek.

The regional DOT described Catanduanes as an “emerging and blossoming tourism destination.

In 2017, It was visited by 222, 623 tourists and 7,407 of whom were foreigners.

“Tourism is one of our booming industry here in the province. It promotes economic growth, creating jobs and attracting foreign and local investors,” said Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua.

The Tinago Island in Caramoan, Camarines Sur. Photos Courtesy of Ric Gonzales

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