“Isla de Cobos” was Catanduanes’ first name, given by Spanish conquistadores during the early part of 1573 when came upon several tribes living in the thatched huts called cobos.
Catanduanes, is a hispanized term derived from the word tandu, a native beetle and the samdong tree, which were both found in abundance throughout the island. Common reference to “katanduan” or “kasamdongan”, meaning a place where the tandu or the samdong tree thrives in abundance, led to the coining of the word Catanduanes
The scions of the then Bornean Datus who had moved on the island of Panay and then, spread out throughout the archipelago were the first settlers to have set foot in Catanduanes. The island was not spared from the adventurous raids of the Moros who came from the island of Mindanao. Because of these destructive raids, many records of the past were destroyed and lost.
Juan de Salcedo arrived in this island in 1573, hunting for pirates, and conquered the natives. Three years later, a galleon expedition from Acapulco was shipwrecked near the island and the survivors were either killed or made servants. The Batalay Church in Bato, just several kilometers from the capital town of Virac, marks that historical event.
The Christianization of the island started some twenty years later. The conquistadores, after subjugating the Bicol mainland, came back to the island with Franciscan missionaries. From 1600 to 1857, the colonizers were able to put up nine centers of local governments through the establishment of parishes.
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