Virac, Philippines

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Virac, Philippines

Region: Catanduanes

Geographic Coordinates: 13.583300, 124.233000
Climate: Varies.
Population: 76520
Language: Filipino

Virac is a captivating town situated on the eastern coast of Catanduanes Island, In the Bicol Region of the Philippines. Known as the provincial capital, Virac is not only a bustling center of commerce and trade but also a place rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage. The town boasts stunning landscapes that attract nature enthusiasts from far and wide. With its pristine beaches, Lush mountains, And picturesque waterfalls, Virac offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Beach lovers can bask in the sun at Mamangal Beach or take a dip in Puraran Beach’s crystal-clear waters known for its excellent surfing conditions. For those seeking a more immersive experience with nature, Trekking through Binurong Point should be on top of their list. This breathtaking viewpoint provides panoramic vistas of rolling hills, Rugged cliffs, And turquoise waters below. The hike to reach this spot may be challenging but is undoubtedly worth it for the awe-inspiring scenery that awaits. Virac also takes pride in preserving its cultural heritage through various festivals celebrated throughout the year.

One such event is Abaca Festival held every May to honor Catanduanes’ primary agricultural product – abaca fiber. The festival showcases vibrant street dances, Parades featuring intricately designed floats made from abaca materials, And other cultural presentations that highlight local traditions. History buffs will find themselves intrigued by Virac’s historical sites such as Bato Church Ruins. These ruins are remnants of an old Spanish-era church destroyed by an earthquake in 1830 but still stand as a testament to the town’s colonial past.

Food enthusiasts will not be disappointed either as Virac offers an array of delectable dishes showcasing Bicolano cuisine’s distinct flavors. From spicy dishes like laing (taro leaves cooked with coconut milk) to savory specialties like pinangat (fish cooked with taro leaves), Visitors can indulge their taste buds while exploring local culinary delights. In addition to its natural and cultural attractions, Virac provides modern amenities to ensure a comfortable stay for visitors. Accommodations range from budget-friendly hotels to luxury resorts that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.

Overall, Virac is a hidden gem in the Philippines that combines natural beauty, Rich history, And warm hospitality. Whether you are seeking adventure, Relaxation, Or an immersion into local culture, This charming town has something for everyone.

Important Landmarks

  1. Maribina Falls – A beautiful waterfall located in Barangay Balongbong, known for its crystal-clear waters and lush green surroundings.
  2. Binurong Point – A scenic viewpoint that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and nearby islands. It is a great spot for hiking and photography.
  3. Bato Church – Also known as San Juan de Sahagun Parish Church, it is one of the oldest churches in Catanduanes province with its construction dating back to the Spanish colonial era.
  4. Mamangal Beach – A popular beach destination with fine white sand and clear turquoise waters suitable for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.
  5. Luyang Cave – A natural limestone cave located in Barangay Lictin, offering an adventurous experience to visitors who wish to explore its chambers filled with unique rock formations.
  6. Catanduanes Museum – Located within Virac town proper, this museum showcases artifacts, cultural displays, and historical items related to Catanduanes’ rich heritage.
  7. Balacay Point – A picturesque cliffside overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean offering stunning sunset views along with a cool sea breeze perfect for relaxation.
  8. Puraran Beach – Famous among surfers for its Majestic wave that attracts both local and international surf enthusiasts throughout the year.
  9. Twin Rock Beach Resort – Known for its unique twin rock formations rising from the sea which serves as a backdrop to a beautiful beach resort offering various water activities like kayaking and jet skiing.
  10. Virac Cathedral (Cathedral of Our Lady of Sorrows) – The main Catholic church in Virac town which features impressive architecture influenced by Spanish colonial design.

Primary Industries

  1. Agriculture: Catanduanes is known for its agricultural products such as abaca, coconut, rice, and root crops. Farming and fishing are important sources of income for the local population.
  2. Tourism: Virac is located on an island with beautiful beaches, waterfalls, caves, and scenic landscapes. Tourism has been growing in recent years, with visitors attracted to activities like beach hopping, surfing, island hopping tours, and exploring natural attractions.
  3. Manufacturing: There are small-scale manufacturing industries in Virac that produce processed food products like dried fish (tuyo), bagoong (fermented shrimp paste), and other local delicacies.
  4. Retail and Trade: As the capital town of Catanduanes province, Virac serves as a commercial center where retail businesses thrive. These include supermarkets, convenience stores, hardware stores, pharmacies/drugstores, as well as clothing boutiques.
  5. Education: Virac hosts several educational institutions ranging from elementary schools to colleges/universities offering various courses which contribute to employment opportunities within the education sector.
  6. Government Services: Being a provincial capital means that government offices are concentrated in Virac providing public services such as healthcare facilities (hospitals/clinics), administrative services including transportation offices for licensing requirements, etc.
  7. Transportation Services: Given its role as a hub within Catanduanes Province, there are transportation companies operating bus lines, jeepneys, tricycles serving both intra-provincial travel but also inter-provincial travel connecting to mainland Luzon via Roll On-Roll Off ferry service.

It’s worth noting that while these industries play a significant role in the economy of Virac today, it remains primarily an agricultural province with limited industrialization compared to more urbanized areas in the Philippines.

Noteable History

Virac, Philippines

Historical Events in Virac, Philippines

  1. Arrival of Spanish Colonizers

    The Spanish colonizers arrived in Virac in 1573. They established a garrison to protect their interests on the island.

  2. Moro Raids

    During the Spanish colonial period, Virac faced numerous attacks from Moro pirates who sought to plunder the town’s resources and enslave its inhabitants.

  3. Bicol Revolution

    In 1898, during the Philippine Revolution against Spain, Virac played a significant role as it became one of the strongholds for Filipino revolutionaries fighting for independence.

  4. Japanese Occupation

    During World War II, Virac was occupied by Japanese forces from 1942 to 1945. The town suffered greatly during this period due to bombings and other atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers.

  5. Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

    In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated Catanduanes Island and caused significant damage in Virac as well as loss of lives and displacement of residents.

Notable People from Virac, Philippines

  1. Francisco Perfecto

    A Katipunan member who fought against Spanish rule during the Philippine Revolution.

  2. Jose Alberto Lachica Vera

    A renowned Filipino poet born in Virac known for his contributions to literature in both English and Bicol languages.

  3. Leandro Verceles Sr.

    A prominent lawyer who served as Governor of Catanduanes from 1964-1967.

  4. Rodolfo Ganzon

    Served as Congressman representing Catanduanes’ Lone District from 1987-1998.

  5. Joseph Santiago Abundo Jr.

    An internationally recognized artist known for his paintings depicting life in rural areas including those inspired by his hometown Virac.

These are just a few notable historical events and people associated with Virac, Philippines. The town has a rich history and continues to thrive as the capital of Catanduanes province.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Virac Cathedral – The Virac Cathedral, also known as the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, is a beautiful church located in the heart of Virac. It is a significant religious landmark and an architectural marvel.
  2. Catanduanes Museum – This museum showcases the history, culture, and natural heritage of Catanduanes province. Visitors can explore exhibits on local artifacts, traditional crafts, and learn about the island’s rich biodiversity.
  3. Maribina Falls – Located in Brgy. Balongbongan, Maribina Falls offers a picturesque view of cascading waters surrounded by lush greenery. It’s an ideal spot for nature lovers and those seeking tranquility.
  4. Bato Church Ruins – Situated in Bato town near Virac, these ruins are remnants of a Spanish-era church destroyed during an earthquake in the 1830s. The ruins offer a glimpse into the region’s colonial past and make for great photo opportunities.
  5. Mamangal Beach Resort – For beach enthusiasts, Mamangal Beach Resort is worth visiting for its pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters. It provides various water activities like swimming or snorkeling amidst stunning coral reefs.
  6. Binurong Point – A popular tourist destination near Baras town in Catanduanes province with breathtaking views overlooking cliffsides meeting turquoise waters below.
  7. Caramoran Church (San Jose de Caramoran Parish) – Located in Caramoran town outside Virac proper; this centuries-old church showcases colonial architecture with beautiful interiors that reflect its historical significance.
  8. Puraran Beach – Known as one of the best surfing spots in Catanduanes province; Puraran Beach offers thrilling waves attracting surfers from around the world.
  9. Twin Rock Beach Resort – A scenic resort known for its twin rock formations jutting out from crystal-clear waters; it offers various recreational activities like swimming, kayaking, and island hopping.
  10. Balacay Point – A viewpoint that provides a panoramic view of Virac and its surrounding areas; it’s an excellent spot for photography enthusiasts.

These are just some of the must-visit places in Virac, Philippines. Exploring the town and interacting with locals will also give visitors a chance to discover hidden gems and experience the warm hospitality of the people.

Sports Teams

  1. Catanduanes State University (CSU) Athletics: CSU has a strong athletics program and participates in various regional and national competitions. Their athletes excel in events like track and field, basketball, volleyball, football (soccer), and more.
  2. Virac Tennis Club: Tennis is a popular sport in Virac, with the local tennis club organizing regular tournaments for both amateurs and professionals.
  3. Virac Basketball League (VBL): The VBL is a local basketball league that features teams from different barangays (neighborhoods) within Virac. It provides an avenue for aspiring basketball players to showcase their skills.
  4. Volleyball Clubs: Several volleyball clubs exist in Virac, participating in local leagues and competitions while promoting the sport among youth.
  5. Football Teams: Football is gaining popularity in the area with several youth clubs being established to promote the sport at grassroots levels.

It’s important to note that these teams may not have extensive historical records or achievements at national or international levels due to limited resources and infrastructure available for professional sports development on the island of Catanduanes as a whole.

Cultural Events

  1. Catandungan Festival – This is the biggest and most popular festival in Virac, held every October to celebrate the founding anniversary of the province of Catanduanes. The festival showcases various cultural performances, street dances, beauty pageants, trade fairs, and sports events.
  2. Pinyasan Festival – Celebrated every June, this festival highlights the abundance of pineapple plantations in Virac. It features colorful parades with participants wearing pineapple-inspired costumes and floats adorned with pineapples. There are also street dancing competitions and other activities promoting local products.
  3. Abaca Festival – This festival pays tribute to abaca (a type of fiber used for making ropes), which is one of the major agricultural products in Catanduanes. Held annually on May 1st, it includes a grand parade showcasing abaca-inspired floats and costumes.
  4. Biniray Festival – Biniray is a traditional thanksgiving celebration held on January 9th in honor of Sto. Niño (the Holy Child). Pilgrims from different towns gather at the Sto Niño Parish Church for religious processions and cultural presentations.
  5. Karangahan sa Brgy Balite – A barangay (village) fiesta celebrated every February 2nd in Balite village, Virac. It features street dancing competitions called Karangahan where participants wear vibrant costumes representing different barangays while performing traditional dances.
  6. Sinadugan Festival – Celebrated during Holy Week (usually March or April), this religious event focuses on reenacting significant moments from Christ’s passion through processions and dramatizations performed by locals dressed as biblical characters.
  7. Jota de Oro Dance Competition – This dance competition takes place during the town fiesta celebration in October where groups perform traditional Filipino folk dances like Jota de Oro to showcase their talent and preserve their cultural heritage.


Local Dishes and Restaurants in Virac

Local Dishes:

  1. Bicol Express: A spicy dish made with pork, coconut milk, and chili peppers.
  2. Laing: Taro leaves cooked in coconut milk and spices.
  3. Kinunot: Shark meat cooked in coconut milk with malunggay leaves.
  4. Biniribid: Fried rice cakes made from ground glutinous rice.
  5. Tinutungan na Kanin: Burnt rice mixed with coconut milk.

Restaurants in Virac:

  1. Palina Greenbelt Restaurant – Offers a variety of local dishes like Bicol Express and Laing.
  2. Mamitas Kitchenette – Known for their delicious Kinunot and other seafood specialties.
  3. Lolo Nonoy’s Food Station – Serves traditional Bicolano cuisine including Bicol Express and Tinutungan na Kanin.
  4. Balay Cena Una – Offers authentic Filipino dishes including Biniribid and other local delicacies.

These are just a few examples of the many restaurants available in Virac that serve delicious local cuisine.

Parks and Recreation

  1. Virac Town Plaza – This is a popular park located in the heart of Virac town. It features a large open space, benches, and a playground area for children.
  2. Batag Beach – A beautiful beach located just outside of Virac town. Visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking on the sandy shores.
  3. Puraran Beach – Known for its stunning rock formations and powerful waves, Puraran Beach is a favorite spot for surfers. It also offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
  4. Mamangal Beach Resort – This resort offers various recreational activities such as swimming pools with slides and diving boards, beach volleyball courts, and kayaking.
  5. Binurong Point – A scenic viewpoint overlooking the ocean and lush green hillsides. Hiking to Binurong Point allows visitors to enjoy panoramic views of Catanduanes Island’s natural beauty.
  6. Maribina Falls – Located in Bato town near Virac, Maribina Falls is a picturesque waterfall surrounded by verdant forests. Visitors can swim in its crystal-clear waters or have picnics nearby.
  7. Luyang Cave – An underground cave system situated in Bato town that features impressive stalactite formations and an underground river perfect for spelunking adventures.
  8. Catandungan Festival – Held annually every October in Virac Town Plaza; this festival showcases vibrant street dances, cultural performances, food fairs featuring local delicacies from Catanduanes province.


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