“Cadlagan”, its original name before it was separated from Danicop, referred to a wide plain that served as pasture land of the working animals of Danicop farmers after the day’s work. The place was rich in natural resources and with its vast plain and rice fields, people focused on farming for their livelihood, aside from the fruit trees which was in full abundance during those times.
The founders of this place are; Panti “Talucoy”, Vargas, Magdaraog, Romero, Marquez, Tabuzo, Valeza and Tablizo family. Juan Panti, as head of the most landed family, was the leader of this small community. His values of industriousness, perseverance and thriftiness handed down to the next generation caused them to acquire almost one half of the sitio’s land area. The first inhabitants enjoyed a convenient life, although there were no roads, no transportation except carts pulled by carabaos which were used in transporting goods to the market. There were only trails on which people laid coconut leaves during rainy days to avoid being muddied. Such was the situation for many decades.
During the incumbency of then Mayor Primo Panti, son of Geronima Valeza Panti, a native of Calatagan, a big project was started in 1948. He implemented the proper zoning of the barrio. Overwhelmed by the move of the mayor, the residents did not hesitate in donating their lots for the roads to be constructed. With full cooperation and unity of the residents, five long straight roads from the national road going inside the barrio and four across roads from the east to the western part of Calatagan were constructed. Minor roads were likewise built, dividing the barrio into several big blocks. Strangers, fish vendors and “balaw” vendors from Cabugao often found it difficult to look for the right road going to the national road. Mayor Panti’s 10 years of service as the chief executive of the Municipality of Virac and his dedicated service to his mother barrio, fast development of the barangay was realized. To complete the road and thus avoid mud during rainy days, pupils were given free time after classes to gather stones and rocks around the barangay. Pupils piled these stones into “camadas” for which they were paid ten centavos per pile. This was a great help to the school children and the people of Calatagan. Majority of the rock piled were gathered from the “cuadra” where now rises the Catanduanes State Colleges. He displayed honesty and integrity during his tenure and with all the contributions he made for the development of his mother barrio, he was considered the “Father of Calatagan”, a father that made all the dreams and aspirations of the people of Calatagan to come true.
But time came when the residents of Tibang, the northern portion of the barangay decided to push for their separation as some of their needs were not being met. The whole Calatagan show that it was too big for a one leader. The Barangay Captain then was Hon. Florentino B. Valeza, had his home by the national road and Tibang was at the far end, thus making it difficult for him to give immediate attention to Tibang residents when necessary. Thus, the residents submitted a signed petition to the municipal hall asking for their separation from Calatagan.
On June 15, 1972, the petition was granted by the virtue of Republic Act No. 3590, with the new barangay taking the official name of Calatagan Tibang. The name was due to the different elevations of the two areas, with the main barangay higher that Tibang. Calatagan was renamed as Calatagan Proper since the elementay school, plaza, barrio chapel, and most especially the Catanduanes State Colleges, the only tertiary learning institution were located within the barangay on land donated by prominent families of Calatagan.
With the petition granted, Calatagan Tibang became an independent local government unit, enjoying all the benefits from the national government, with an Internal Revenue Allotment of its own to finance various projects in the locality. To govern the new LGU, Hon. Simeon Matienzo was appointed barangay captain. The first regularly elected barangay captain was then Hon. Lope Tablizo Sr.
No formal educated existed in Calatagan in the old days since there was no school organized during its separation from Danicop except the cartilla or caton taught especially by parents who learned from the Spanish before. It was a double education, learning how to read and write and at the same time injecting the “Christianismo” being spread by the Spaniards during those times. It was only during the 1920’s when formal education was started in Calatagan. A lady from Albay, Mercedes Echeguyen who had just grduated from normal school, was the first Grade I teacher. She later married Cayetano Vargas, son of Juana Panti and Juan Vargas, one of the founders of Calatagan. The following year, Mr. Belgica from Albay was assigned as Grade II teacher until it became a primary school, wherein the head teachership was pioneered by the late Mr. Florentino Aldea, the grandfather of Congressman Joseph A. Santiago and the late Mr. Jose Vargas, son of one of the founders of Calatagan.
School went on during the 30’s until the outbreak of World War II in 1942. The outbreak of WWII forced the suspension of classes with the formal reopening in1949. The former school building was originally built in front of the chapel, but during its reopening in 1949, the building was transferred to the present site. The site with a total area of 2.7 hectares was donated by the Vargas, Panti, Borja, and Valeza’s families. Classes then consisted of one section per grade at the start.
It was during the reopening of the Virac National Agricultural and Trade School (VNATS) in Calatagan that graduates from the elementary school were able to enter to high school unlike before, when after graduation, they were forced to go to Manila as house helpers so they could assist their parents financially. The VNATS was a continuation of the Farm School organized in 1920’s but whose existence was likewise cut short by war. Finally, the creation of the Catanduanes State Colleges in 1971 through an act of Congress sponsored by Congressman Jose Alberto made Calatagan a fully-developed barangay in terms of education. Almost all children of Calatagan and nearby barangays were given the chance to study higher education. The barangay’s proximity to the CSC and the opening of the Calatagan National High School Annex were of great help to the Calatagueños. Not only their children were able to study, but also most families were given a chance to improve their economic condition. Boarding houses proved to be a good source of income, with the boom fueling sari-sari stores, eateries and other business establishments. People from the northern towns soon expressed their preference to settle in Calatagan and nearby barangays and purchased vacant lots which were abundant. The number of families residing here grew and in just a few years Calatagan metamorphosed into a commercial place. Many college graduates from Calatagan were able to lend good jobs here and abroad that concrete houses sprouted like mushrooms, including those of other graduates from the rest of the province who saw the tranquility and potential of Calatagan as their new residence. Thus the establishment of these public institutions became the source of the most progress of the entire Catandunganon with Calatagan as the melting pot of this island in the Pacific.
Religiosity is one of the values of Calatagueños can be proud of. Even before its separation from Danicop, natives were obliged to prepare food during the May fiesta of Danicop. Upon its separation, they borrowed from the Romero clan the family-owned Saint Nuestra Señora de Dolor. They erected a temporary chapel made of nipa shingles and held their religious activity every August 14-16 as their day of festivities. Since the residents were almost devotees of the Virgin Mary in Viga, they moved their fiesta to August 22 from the usual 15th. From then on, the residents decided to build a permanent chapel for their patron saint-the Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Roche. A childless couple in the name of Fructoso Taller, donated the biggest lot at the eastern part were the chapel was later built. At the western part, Candido Tabuzo gave his share while a lot in front of the chapel was donated by the Socito family.
A permanent chapel was erected through a ” Convenio system” of all males of the barangay and nearby barangays. Every Saturdays or any selected day, they worked on the chapel gathering rocks and stones from the mountains using carabao cart and mining lime stones at the seashore for cement. The women were the ones who pounded the lime stones into cement. It was their strong faith in God and their religiosity that made this project into reality.
In order to celebrate all the church activities systematically, they formed groups and chose their leaders who will run the church. For the officers they elected the Matanda as their main leader, Segundo Matanda, Secretario, who will take charge of all records and Tesorero, caretaker of the church funds. For the novenas during the May festivities and the August fiesta, they organized the “Cabohan System” who will take charge of the 9-day novenario. Cabohan leaders were led by the dominant families with the responsibility handed down to the present generation. The Cabohan consisted of the following.
Cabo I – Tabuzo family
Cabo II – Tablizo family
Cabo III – Marquez family
Cabo IV – Valeza family
Cabo V – Panti family (Talucoy)
Cabo VI – Romero family
Cabo VII – Santos family
Cabo VIII – Magdaraog family
Cabo IX – Socito family
This system still exists today with transient families volunteering to be members of the cabohan in their respective area. The church leadership is vested in the Centro Catolico Association, which permanently runs all church activities.
Ever since, Calatagueños never found life so difficult. The fact that the place is an agricultural land, full of fruit trees, rice fields and mountains on the north, which is the main source of their livelihood, their industriousness, hard work and strong determination to survive, was their key to achieve quality in life.
For decades people remained simple in their way of living, contented with the gifts of the natural resources around them.
The opening of the Virac National Agricultural School (VNATS) which in turn became the Catanduanes State Colleges, more professionals were produced. Since then, Calatagan transformed itself from a source of domestic help to an exporter of professionals, bringing more wealth and making Calatagan economically stable. It was not only Calatagan that was benefited, but the rest of all the municipalities of the province. Without the CSC by its side, Calatagueños would never enjoy the conveniences of easily available transportation, modern technology like TV, computers and mobile phones. Truly, it is the key to the progress of Calatagan and the whole of Catandungan.