Catandungan Festival is a cultural and religious festival as well as a founding anniversary celebration that is held in the province of Catanduanes, Philippines every October 26. It is held in honor of Our Lady of La Naval. A province-wide observance, it is a remembrance of the historic creation of the province on October 26, 1945.
History of Catandungan Festival
Catandungan Festival comes from the word Katandungan, the name that the island was called. There are two possible explanations how the name came about. It either refers to an endemic beetle known as tandu or a tree that was called samdong. When the Spaniards arrived, the word was Hispanized and thus became Catanduanes.
The festival is conducted to honor the creation of the province. In the past, the island of Catanduanes was populated by migrants who engaged in trading with other neighboring islands and foreign lands like Borneo and China.
During the Spanish period, the first to set foot in the island was Juan Salcedo in 1573. Three years later, a group of shipwrecked Spaniards took refuge but were attacked by native inhabitants. Christianity began to take hold through proselytizing efforts of Spanish colonizers in later years that paved the way to the establishments of several parishes.
The island was part of Ambos Camarines, a province that was then composed of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur. During the American occupation, it became sub-province of Albay through Act No. 2657, otherwise known as Administrative Code, on December 31, 1916. Then in 1945, Commonwealth Act No. 687 was passed that established Catanduanes as an independent province.
Our Lady of La Naval
The festival also carves out a schedule for the procession of Our Lady of La Naval. The patron was instrumental in turning the tide of war in favor of the Spanish colonizers against Dutch invaders in 1646. The two foreign forces were drawn to what is now called the Battle of La Naval de Manila.
First Catandungan Festival
Catandungan Festival was established in 1995 in time for the anniversary of half a century of its existence as an island-province. It has become a gathering of cultural festivals from all over the province.
Catandungan Festival Schedule of Activities
Activities in Catandungan Festival mostly occur in Virac, the capital of the province, and other chosen spots of the island. They feature civic military parade, photo exhibit, arts presentations and contests, musical shows, sporting events, talents shows and competitions, water activities like surfing and boat racing, street dance and festival dance showdown, and trade fair. Here are some of the highlights.
Catandungan Sagwan Race
Catandungan Sagwan Race is a boat race. It is a competition of boats with outriggers manned by rower with an oar.
Binibining Catandungan translates to Miss Catandungan and it is a prestigious beauty pageant. Each candidate is a representative of the locality. They compete in various events such as production number, swimwear, long gown, and question and answer. Aside from the winner, other titles are given away such as Binibining Catandungan Tourism, two runners-up, minor awards of each competitive events, and people’s choice award.
Ginoong Catandungan translates to Mr. Catandungan. Established in 2001, it is a beauty pageant for males. Candidates are born in or have family relations in the province and must be a resident. Winner becomes the province’s ambassador of goodwill.
Majestic Puraran Surfing Cup
Majestic Puraran Surfing Cup, as the name suggests, is a yearly surfing competition. Catanduanes is an island that faces the Pacific Ocean. Thus, it is known for waves that are conducive to surfing and an attractive spot for enthusiasts and professionals of the sports. It is organized by the municipality of Baras in coordination with the provincial government and has become one of the mainstays of the festival.
Pantomina Catanduanes is the traditional dance performed during the street dance competition. Pantomina is a courtship dance. Its stylistic movements are patterned after the chase of a rooster for a hen. It is typified by a pursuing male suitor and a coy female partner who declines his advances. It concludes with the man winning over the woman. As one of the highlights, it is a cultural tradition that through its yearly staging ensures its preservation and its centrality to the identity of the people of Catanduanes.
Pauragan sa Cancion Y Baile
Pauragan sa Cancion Y Baile is a singing contest is a singing and dance competition. It is a presentation of the talents found in the province.
The religious process takes place on the last day of the festival. It is held in honor of Our Lady of La Naval. In some years, it also includes the patron saints of the different localities of the province.
How to reach Catanduanes
Flights are available from Manila to Virac Airport. People can also buy ferry or fastcraft ticket from Albay to San Andres port.
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