Thursday, April 16, 2009

Catanduanes: Around Virac and Bato

Catanduanes is most known for being a surfers' haunt. But I heard the island province also has a lot of beaches worth visiting. I took a morning flight and after sorting things out at the airport (I usually look for a place to stay only when I arrive, especially if I feel there won't be that many people), proceeded to my hotel and got settled shortly before lunch.

I decided to visit the old church in Bato for the afternoon and a nearby waterfall. The only thing I don't like about public transportation is that you are never assured of the time you actually leave, especially if you have to wait for other passengers to arrive. Bato, the next town, is just 8 kilometers away. And I felt the wait for the jeep to leave was longer than the actual trip. Little did I realize that tricycles also ply the route and cost just as much.

Anyway, Bato Church is said to be the oldest in Catanduanes. I was told there was another old church in Caramoran. But to get there, I had to take a four to five-hour bus and stay there for a night. So it was not an option. While the Virac Cathedral is mostly new, with the bell tower being the only remaining part of the original church.

Bato Church faces a river and you can see it from the oppostie side as you approach the town. The exterior is well-preserved. But the inside has some alterations. I was hoping to see an old altar but was disappointed.

After walking around the church (there's nothing much to see in the town proper itself), I took a tricycle to Barangay Cabugao, the jump-off point for Maribina Falls. The road to Maribina Falls is right in the middle of Virac and Bato proper at KM4.

The hike to the falls from the National Highway is just 10 minutes. And the road all the way is concrete. So if you have a vehicle, you can drive all the way there. I was expecting it to be emply since it was a weekday. But I realized it was already summer vacation. So the place was jampacked. But the clean water did look enticing for a swim. Maybe next time!

I was back in Virac by mid-afternoon. Since there was nothing much to do, I decided to hire a tricycle that would take me to the beach area of Virac which was 30 minutes away. Jeeps don't go there so you're left with no choice but to hire your own transportation. The scenery along the way is beautiful. I especially liked the view of the hills in Brgy. Sto Domingo (it reminded me of the limestone karst I saw in Guilin, albeit smaller in scale).

The beach I visited was in Brgy. Batag. And I got free entrance to the resort since the hotel I stayed in also owned it, and offers free entrance to its guests. On a clear day, you can see Mayon Volcano from this side of Catanduanes.

Anyway, I wanted to be back in town before dark. So we made our way back. At least I got to sleep early since there is really nothing much you can do in Virac. Tomorrow is exciting since I'll be going to Puraran Beach.

Catanduanes Midtown Inn & Cafe
(052) 8110527 / 8111526

Rakdell Hotel
(052) 8110881

Part 2: Puraran Beach is surfing capital of Catanduanes
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