The province, formerly known as “Catanduan,” “Catandognan,” and finally, “Catanduanes,” derived its name from the “tando” trees which then abound in the Island. In 1573, Juan de Saceldo explored Catanduanes. Later, on January 6, 1576, Fr. Diego de Herrera with nine Augustinians sailed from Acapulco to the Philippines aboard the galleon, “Espiritu Santo.”
Although it was reported that the galleon was shipwrecked near the coast of Catanduanes in April 1576, the others claimed that the disaster was caused by bad weather and all the crewmembers perished. Some said that the survivors were either killed by natives or made servants of a certain “Datu” of the island Catanduanes was once a part of Ibalon, now Albay. The ecclesiastical mission in the province was controlled by Nueva Caceres. However, in 1582, it was allotted to four “encomendoeros.
In 1663, Fr. Francisco Colin, SJ. described the inhabitants as noted shipbuilders, without using nails or futtock timbers
In 1755, the Muslims overran the island, defeated the “alcalde mayor,” and pillaged and burned the towns including important ecclesiastical and municipal records.
During the Philippine Revolution, the Spaniards left Catanduanes on a motorboat named Josefa on September 18, 1898, before the arrival of the first Philippine revolutionary troops under Major Estanislao Legazpi
When the Philippine-American war broke out, Brigadier General William A. Kobbe occupied Virac on January 24, 1900.
The island was governed by Japanese Imperial Forces after they occupied Legazpi in 1941. After the liberation of Bikol region in 1945, including Catanduanes, the United States Armed Forces maintained a military base in Panay island.
On September 26, 1945, Commonwealth Act. No. 687, Catanduanes (a subprovince of Albay) became a separate and independent province. Under Republic Act No. 159, dated June 26, 1947, the former municipality of Caramoan was recreated out of the Municipality of Pandan; under R.A. No. 491, dated June 12, 1950, the Municipality of Bagamanoc was also created.
In the town of Bato, Msgr. Teotimo Pacis, Bishop of Legazpi, declared the Holy Cross of Batalay as a Diocesan Shrine on April 1, 1973. The cross was said to be the place by Geronimo Galves at the burial site of Fr. Herrera in 1576.
Catanduanes is a kidney-shaped island at the easternmost seaboard of the Philippines. It is the first landmass of the Philippine archipelago to kiss the Pacific Ocean at 13.5o to 14o north latitude and 124o to 125.5o east longitude. A part of the Bikol Region, Catanduanes is the 12th largest island of the Philippines and is separated from the Bikol Peninsula by the Maqueda Bay and Lagonoy Gulf.
Catanduanes is a lush island of mountains and water. Forest cover about 46 percent of the total land area. Surfacing from the mountains are numerous springs, waterfalls and rivers trailing out into the ocean. The island is lined with more than 20 islets and rocks that give it an interesting shoreline. It also provides the choice of deep swells and surfs of the Pacific Ocean in the northeastern tip. On the southern tip, one can view the gentle lolling of the ebb and flow of the waters of Maqueda Channel over cream sand beaches.
Composed of 11 municipalities, namely: Virac, San Andres, Caramoran, Pandan, Bato, Gigmoto, Baras, Panganiban, Bagamanoc, Viga, and San Miguel, the province has 315 barangays and one Congressional district.
The population of the province as of May 1, 2000 was 215,356 reflecting a population density of 144.3 persons per square kilometer. The province has an average annual growth rate of 1.33 percent from 1995 to 2000.
Indistinct dry season. Precipitation is distributed throughout the year although monsoon weather brings in heavy rains from November to January. December to February are coldest months. The best time of the year to visit Catanduanes is from the months of March to August when the weather turns dry.
Bikol is the native tongue but with different nuances and variations, especially when one goes up to the northern towns like Pandan, Caramoran, and Panganiban. English and Tagalog are commonly spoken and understood.
Abaca and lasa abound in the whole province. Native products made of abaca fiber like bags, lamps, utility boxes, handmade paper, among others, adorn the local souvenir shops and serve as local â€œpasalubongâ€ and souvenirs. Lately, the indigenous abaca fiber, commonly called â€œpinukpok,â€ produced and woven by the locals of Baras, Catanduanes, has now found its niche in the local and international fashion industry. This indigenous fabric has shown its versatility in the globally appealing designs and creations of famous fashion designer Dita Sandico-Ong.
Catanduanes is served by Asian Spirit. This airline flies direct from Manila to and from Virac daily.
Air conditioned buses (Philtranco, ESL and Tawtrasco) travel direct from Manila to Virac daily. Other air-conditioned buses can take you from Manila to the Port of Tabaco where a ferry boat can take you across to Virac, Catanduanes.
For the more adventurous tourist and sightseeing travelers, Virac is best reached through the sea. Two shipping lines - San Pablo Shipping Lines and Star Ferry - set sail from the Port of Tabaco to Virac/San Andres daily.
The island’s network consists of wired and wireless communication, courier and postal services. All major cellular companies in the country service parts of the province. There is one Internet Service Provider as well as one landline phone company in operation. Several calling stations are in business.
Local cable networking is available and TV repeaters allow access to Manila broadcast stations.
A state-of-the-art fiber optics cable network is already in place that could serve as a â€œbackboneâ€ structure for dial-up networking and internet connection.
Electricity is served on 24-hour basis to all the eleven (11) municipalities. Installed capacity of its power plants - a mix of diesel powered generators and hydroelectric turbines- is 10.786 MW.