The Town of Bato
Located next to the provincial capital town of Virac, Bato is easily accessible via the national road. You're in for a scenic ride if you go to this town as you pass by long stretches of beach on one side of the road and densely forested hills on the other. The place is decidedly rural, with no hordes of people cramming into public spaces nor large buildings obstructing your view of the countryside. With none of the usual modern comforts, all that's left for you to do in Bato is to mingle with the natives, immerse in the local culture, and bond with nature.
But what really is there to see in Catanduanes' smallest town? Let not Bato's limited expanse fool you, for what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm. Here's a rundown of some of the spots which, in one way or another, could captivate your heart. Most of these places are only a ride away from Virac. The best way to visit all these is to rent a tricycle, if you don't have your own vehicle that is.
Being the nearest to Virac, Maribina Falls is the first spot in Bato travelers usually lay their eyes on. Clearly, it's the town's welcome attraction. It straddles the border between the villages of Marinawa and Binanwahan – the reason why this multi-tiered waterfalls is named Maribina. It's highly popular among locals who regularly come for a refreshing dip, especially on weekends. But they don't mind lending some space to out-of-towners for they know too well how to share a beautiful blessing like Maribina.
Tucked away amid lush evergreens, Maribina Falls is an oasis of calm for the weary traveler. One can loosen up by simply listening to the soothing sound of its waters rushing down the sheer rock wall. But the best way to energize your restless body is by submerging yourself in any of the falls' natural pools. The one below the first and tallest cascade is deep enough for you to take a plunge into. If you're no swimmer, the lower pools can very well become your temporary playground. The pool above the falls also guarantees the same cool waters but offers more peace and privacy.
The waterfalls looks remote but in fact it's only less than a mile away from the highway. It can be reached easily via a concrete road bordered by houses and trees. An entrance fee of Php 20 is required for every visiting guest.
Standing along the east bank of Bato River is an important landmark in the island province of Catanduanes. It is situated within the town proper, just a few kilometers from Maribina Falls. Completed in 1883, after more than five decades of forced labor, the Church of St. John the Baptist is not only the most picturesque of all Catanduanes' churches, it is also the oldest. Due to its age, its walls have visibly weathered, with some plants growing in its crevices.
The cross-shaped church bore witness to the province's history, notably the colonial period under the Spanish conquest. As is common in churches built in the olden days, bricks made up of coral stones form what is now Bato Church's wall. But unlike most colonial-era churches, Bato Church has no separate belfry. Instead, the bell was installed in its facade above its main door. Low-rise stairways lead to both the main entrance and the side door.
Only the original form of the church's exterior has been retained. The interiors, especially the altar, have undergone significant renovations already.
PAG-ASA Doppler Radar
Sitting on top of a hill in Buenavista Village is an unexpected tourist stop – a modern Doppler radar by PAGASA, the Philippines' weather bureau. The radar is just one of at least 13 units built across the country used for weather monitoring and forecasting, a fitting structure for a province that is threatened by typhoons each year.
You don't need to be a science buff to fully appreciate the place. Climb up the viewing deck for a sweeping view of the Pacific and the islets off the coast of Bato and Baras towns.
PAG-ASA Doppler Radar
Entrance to the PAGASA compound is free but you need to provide some identification to be permitted entry. A road branching off from the national road going to Baras leads up to this place. Getting here without your own vehicle or a rented one could be a challenge.
Where to next?
Aside from the above mainstream attractions, you may want to go a little bit off the beaten track by visiting Bote village to see its lighthouse and the secluded Sakahon Beach. Getting there means enduring a rough ride through dirt roads and hilly terrain, but locals guarantee that the views there are worth the trip. Once you've seen all that Bato has to offer, head north to the neighboring town of Baras for some adrenaline-pumping adventure. Once back at the provincial capital, make sure not to miss Virac's best beaches. Read my Catanduanes Travel Guide with Estimated Budget and Suggested Itinerary for more information. For other related places and/or content, jump to the Related section below.
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