Governor’s challenge: How to raise Catanduanes’ low income


The island province of Catanduanes, three hours by ro-ro vessel from the Bicol mainland, is high in ecotourism potential but low in income because it confronts the winds and turbulent waters of the Pacific Ocean.

How to raise the province’s income? “We are 90 percent dependent on the IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment),” says Gov. Joseph C. Cua, a commerce graduate of the Philippine School of Business Administration in Manila, and now on his second term.

“I focused on health and income-generating projects for the government,” he adds.

At the beginning of his term, he availed of an electronics systems data donated by Legazpi City in Albay, focused on tax collection; and the provincial government was able to achieve 300 percent increase here.

Tourism is another challenge. “The only way we can develop tourism is through infrastructure,” Cua notes. “Mahal (expensive) ang infrastructure. We need millions to develop infrastructure, so we need DOT (Department of Tourism) National here.”

A glossy EZ MAP-travel brochure of Catanduanes represents a P300,000 investment of the provincial government. Here you have a detailed map of the capital of Virac, major roads and distances; hotels, resorts and restaurants; and tourist attractions.

Malls are a barometer of progress, the governor observes, and so a high-profile, flagship project is the Center Mall, which is in front of the fountain memorial to Catanduanes’ Unknown Soldier and near another mall, the Century Family Mall.

Sports complex

The property used to be a youth sports complex badly in need of repair, in short, an eyesore, so the provincial government took over and invested P100 million in its rehabilitation.

“The funds came from a loan and from development funds,” Cua says. Legal issues with the municipal government of Virac were eventually threshed out, stalls were rented out and now the project is nearing completion—and earning. Jollibee is in town, along with the recent Chic-Boy. What, no Chow King?

“That’s for phase two,” the governor says imperturbably. No sign of McDonalds yet.

“If you invest tataas ang halaga [the value will increase],” Cua points out. “May income ka pa [and you earn].”

Another venture of the provincial government was the Catanduanes Hospital, backed up by a P100 million program of the Department of Health. The facilities were strengthened, more patients came in, and the government-owned hospital was converted into a free enterprise. After two years, it began to earn P30 million a year.

“May income na siya,” the governor notes, “so the savings from the subsidy can go, say, to the barangay [villages].”

A Dialysis Center was also established under a joint venture with a private hospital.

The main product of the province is abaca and “we need to mechanize,” the governor asserts. “We need big-time mechanization. It took Davao 50 years to achieve this, and Leyte 15 years. I’m only in fourth year.

That is the only way to help the farmers, it will increase their income three-fold.”

It is hard to train farmers to strip abaca, however. Some are cautious because with one slip you may lose a finger or a hand. “But some are already learning,” Cua reports. “Tuwang-tuwa ako (I’m very happy) so we are still hoping.”

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  • islang_catandungan

    Do you know that cost of transporting goods, equipment or vehicle from Tabaco – Catanduanes v.v. is twice as expensive than Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen, Samar? MV Calixta/RSL costs P7,000 per truckload of 6-wheeler truck while Matnog costs only P3,000. Simpy put, MONOPOLY.

    Do you know that the cost of fuel (diesel, gasoline) is P6-P10/liter higher than mainland Albay? Simply put, MONOPOLY

    Do you know that the grades/classification of abaca by Manila Hemp Trading (owned by Gov. Cua) is one-point grade lower than FIDA standard? Lower grade means lower price for the farmers. (Di ba Mr. Peter?) Beware MHT, your clients in Manila and Laguna know your unfair strategy. One day, you might loose your abaca prowess, your clients are developing mistake-proof strategy being practiced by multinationals. 

    Even girls from the Island is being monopolized by this guy. I know Gov try to keep these young lass from Bato and Pandan a public secret.. hmmm

  • islang_catandungan

    This is one-sided story. Let me tell you his business ownership in Catanduanes and have time to read again this article.
    a) He owns three RORO ferry boats (MV Regina Calixta/RSL via San Andres, Catanduanes – Tabaco
    b) He owns one of the biggest construction/development company in Catanduanes. Most government infra projects are in concert with his company. Dig deeper to his dummies, ask his PBMs..
    c) He owns Twin Rock Beach Resort in Virac
    d) He owns Petron Gas stations all over the island. 
    e) He is the biggest abaca trader in Catanduanes under Manila Hemp Trading Corp. He wants to mechanize it to maintain his volume orders to his clients. Ching bee is only next to him. A lot of small traders aired their complaint on how he manipulate them. (One needs to ask small traders in the north)
    f) Jollibee and the mall, according to some Islanders, belongs to him.

    These businesses are the legal enterprise, how about the other side of it… I hope someone knows some of it..

    Now go back and read this article again.. 

  • pilosopo4

    How about the private sector of Catanduanes? Any new investments from those successful and prominent citizens of the Province?

  • PH2011

    I hope the new breed of Politicians in
    this remote province will seriously help to alleviate the flight of their own

    For decades, this remote small island
    had been neglected.  The province is the
    birthplace of a famous Filipino Cardinal in Rome, a famous Opus Dei senator and
    cabinet member for decades,   an El
    Shadai Leader. All sounds religious yet ….

     should be one of the main priority for
    development. Circumferential road should be built around the island. Despite of
    huge funding, I wonder if it has been completed now. The road access to  the main land via Caramoan, Camarines Sur which
    is less than 10km form the island should be improved by DPWH. Ditto to the
    other side, (San Andres), Catanduanes. Travelling by ships via Tabaco Port ,
    Albay took 3 hrs it’s generally a waste of time if you’re travelling from Metro

    The reason
    why everything won’t materialize, according to my professional friend in

    POLITICS and BUSINESS.  I’m sure the
    current and previous leaders are very much aware of this situation.

    For decades,
    both controlled by only several  powerful
    family in the island.

    A usual case
    that is happening not only in Catanduanes, 
    but in most all other islands of the country.


    POLITICS and
    BUSINESS always prevail.


  • batangpaslit

    Yes, Gov Cua is an effective provincial Governor. My kudos for being a decision maker.

  • karlo cases arellano

    Very capable administrator :D


    Crafty Administrator… 

    Be strong gov against corruption.

  • belairskycrapper

    …. no comments

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