Catbalogan City is the provincial capital city of Samar, in Eastern Visayas, Philippines. It is also the commercial, trading, educational, political and financial center of Samar. It lies along the Pan-Philippine (Maharlika) Highway and is the gateway to the region's three Samar provinces. It has been long known as the "Gateway to Samar Province".
The Waray-Waray language is the primarily spoken language in the city. Catbaloganons also recognize Filipino (Tagalog) and English languages as a medium of instruction in schools and offices.
The word Catbalogan is said to be derived from the shrub Katbalaugan that thrived along the banks of the Antiao River.
Catbalogan people or the Catbaloganons are peace loving people, and innately jolly and easy to get along with. Immersing with the people will likewise give one an idea how Catbaloganons make up their daily grinds.
The city has long been known as a center for fishery and aquatic resources and prides itself on being a fishing community. Thus, the city's Patron Saint is Saint Bartholomew, the Patron Saint of Fishermen, from whom the concept of Manaragat Festival came from. Manaragat Festival is celebrated every year, during the whole month of August. Catbaloganons are religious people, and always make sure that for once in every year, they dedicate a day for their Patron Saint as a form of giving thanks.
For longer stays, especially during month of May, expect to go village hopping since it's a party every day. It is considered a mortal sin to decline an invitation during Fiesta Fete.
From Manila or Metro Cebu, one may take any flight to Tacloban City, the regional capital of Eastern Visayas. Upon arrival at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport, one has an option to get a Jeep to Abucay Terminal if you intend to get a bus to Catbalogan City or to different shuttle van terminals (Grandtours, Duptours and Van-Van). From Tacloban City, it is a 2-hour land trip to Catbalogan City. -From Manila, take a flight to Calbayog City, then take a 2-hour drive to Catbalogan City.
- From Cebu, take a ship or fast craft to Ormoc City (departures hourly), then separate land trips to Tacloban City and Catbalogan City.
- From Cebu, a passenger ship by Roble Shipping departs directly to Catbalogan City on Tuesdays and Thursdays every week, but it is suggested to check on the shipping company's schedule because sometimes they get erratic, especially when weather is not favorable.
- From Cebu, a passenger ship by Cokaliong departs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to Calbayog City's Maguinoo Port, there are free shuttle rides from Maguinoo Port to Calbayog City, and from Calbayog City, you can take a Grandtours van to Catbalogan City in only 1 1/2 hours.
By bus or van
- From Manila, take a 1-day trip by bus bound for Samar. - From Davao City, take a 1-day trip by bus bound for Samar. - From Ormoc City, take a van or bus to Tacloban City (for Tacloban to Catbalogan route, refer to directions below) - From Tacloban City: for trips via van, go to downtown (possible options: Grand Tours, Duptours, Vanvan's); for trips via bus, go to the Public Terminal in Abucay
Catbalogan Bus Terminal
The Catbalogan Bus Terminal offers several regular bus trips from nearby towns and cities in the region. Jeepney transport is also a common mode of land transportation in the city. The Catbalogan City Bus Terminal is situated in between Pier I and Pier II, Brgy 6, dowtown area of Catbalogan City. Bus companies that ply the 24-hour Manila-Catbalogan City route including the 2-hour ferry from Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen, Northern Samar are the following:
- CUL Transport
- Eagle Star Transit Corp.
- Goldline Tours
- Inland Trailways
- Silver Star
- Ultra Bus
- Villegas Transit
- VS Pintados Inc.
Catbalogan City is the arrival point from the following nearby island municipalities:
Motored tricycles and pedicabs are the preferred mode of transportation within the "poblacion" or downtown area at 6 pesos and 5 pesos per ride respectively. At the city's Public Terminal located at Allen Avenue Extension, one will find multicabs for trips to the northern and southern barangays. This is where jeepneys bound for neighboring municipalities of Jiabong, Motiong and Paranas can be found. For trips to the island barangays and other nearby island municipalities, one may go to the City Port for the boats plying these routes.
- 1 Church of St. Bartholomew the Apostle. Originally built in 1616, the church did not assume its present form until 1814, when Father Felix Carreon, OFM, set out to repair the church following its initial burning in 1760. Father Martin de Yepes constructed the altars and also had a colonnade of wooden posts raised, thus dividing the nave into three sections. The facade used Ionic columns for its articulation. In 1835, the church burnt a second time but was rebuilt by the Franciscans. The old meter-high image of the patron saint, St. Bartholomew, is presently kept in the rectory. Behind the church are remains of the quadrilateral fort traced to Jesuit times.
- 2 Rizal Monument. located in front of the Catbalogan City Hall, there’s a small park with a unique bust of the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, with his two novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo serving as the base. Holding up the books with the bust are three muscular men who are all naked except for a leaf that covers their genital areas. The three naked men, representing the Philippine archipelago's three major group of islands - Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, carry the books and the bust. The sculpture means to convey that "ours is a continuing burden to reform the social system, to pave the way for a better life for Filipinos." The naked men are interpreted as "naked in the sense that we are all equal." This one-of-a-kind Rizal monument in Catbalogan City is a tourist attraction and has been featured in news articles. The sculptor is Miguel Alcazar, a native of Catbalogan City. He studied at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, and he made the Rizal monument in 1959, before his family migrated to the United States. He died in New York in October 1980.
- 3 Samar Provincial Capitol. built in 1930 during the American occupation.
- 4 Obelisk. located in the heart of Catbalogan City's Samar Provincial Capitol Park, it depicts four major events in Samar's history - the 1901 Balangiga Encounter that saw local revolutionaries inflicting the "worst single defeat" of the Americans during the Philippine-American War (1899–1902); the 1649 Agustin Sumoroy Rebellion in Palapag against the Spaniards; the October 15, 1596 arrival of the first Jesuit missionaries to Samar; and Queen Isabella II of Spain carrying a Royal Decree of August 11, 1841 declaring Samar as an independent province.
- 5 Imelda Park. located across the Samar Provincial Capitol. It is a great place to unwind and relax in the city. Many food stalls are located in the park that serves local delicacies and street foods that can satisfy your palate.
- 6 Pieta Park. located adjacent to St. Bartholomew Church and St. Mary's College of Catbalogan, it has a memorial honoring Catbaloganons and four thousand-plus others who perished in the tragic collision of the passenger ship MV Doña Paz and the oil tanker MT Vector on December 20, 1987. With an estimated death toll of 4,386 people, historians describe the Doña Paz tragedy not only as the world's deadliest ferry disaster but also the worst peace-time maritime disaster in history.
- 7 Samar National School. known as the oldest school in the whole Samar Island, was established by the Americans in 1912. It is also known to hold the biggest and grandest annual gathering of Alumni in the whole island.
- Witness the nationally-acclaimed Manaragat Festival Showdown highlighted by Tribu Katbalaugan and Samar Day festivities celebrated every month of August.
- See the stunning sunset in Maqueda Bay, specifically at the Catbalogan Port
- Savor the unique tamalos and other delactable cuisines and fresh seafoods
- Bike around the Capitol Grounds and around downtown area
- Join the daily zumba at the City Plaza
- Party all night at Pier One Disco Bar
- Bask in the sun, swim in clear waters, and bond with family and friends in different pristine beaches and picturesque resorts found only in Catbalogan City, such as
- Buri Baras Beach Resort
- Cal-apog Beach Resort
- Igot Cove
- M Grand Royale Resort
- Rosario Hills Mountain View Park Resort
- Jardin de Elena
- Juvies Beach Resort
- Igot Cove
The Centro Department Store, located adjacent to the Public Market, is where many ready-to-wear fashionable items, toys, appliances, kitchenware and school supplies are available. Other Boutiques and clothing stores include 2 Friends, Fashion World, Lucky 99 and Novo Jeans and Shirts. In addition to the locally established drugstores and grocery stores, major pharmacies and stores such as Mercury Drugs, Rose Pharmacy, South Star and Monterey Meat Shop have also set-up shop here.
For original Catbalogan City delights for "pasalubong", visit Charito's Delights located along San Roque Street and one will feast from an array of food delicacies from simple snacks and sweets to choices of side dishes. Various dry goods can be found in the Public Market too. Since Catbalogan City is a Fishing community, dried marine-based products abound, and simply ask a pedicab or a motorcab driver to bring you to Ubanon and get home with packs of assorted dried fish and squid of different sizes. A morning walk at the port area will also lead one to fresh marine catch from crabs, shrimps, fish, squid and even assortment of seas shells. This is recommended for those who are staying longer in the city and who wanted to taste fresh seafood according to their cooking.
A lot of homegrown and locally established restaurants are located within Downtown Catbalogan, such as
- Ernie's Pizza
- Pizza Factory
- Cafe Maria Rosario
- Charito's Delights
- Floriffic Food Haus
- City Grill
- Taby's Place
- Tina's Garden
- Maria's Bar and Restaurant
- JC Foodspot
- Green Hub Diner
- Esther's Food Lane
- 103 Bar and Grill
- Koko's Coffee
- Hyukie's Foodhaus
- Christian's Burger Planet
National fastfood chains have also branched out in the city. Among these are:
- Dunkin Donuts
- Mister Donut
- Julie's Bakeshop
- Chooks to Go
Several bars and KTVs are located in Catbalogan City, offering different liquor and other beverages that will quench your thirst.
Along Del Rosario Street (the City's main street), Maria's Restobar and City Grill are located, and both offers soothing acoustic music for night goers coupled with assorted choices of cold beer and beverages, wines and other spirits are available, just approach the front counter.
At the port area (Pier 1), Twin Restobar and Pier One Disco is located, both are fastly becoming a good hang-out for a night of visit.
A large number of hotels, lodging houses and pension houses can be found in Catbalogan, including
- Hotel San Francisco
- Hotel Maqueda Bay
- Rolet Hotel
- First Choice Hotel
- Casa Cristina Hotel
- Asia Novotel
- Fame Hotel
- Rosescent Pensionne
- LCD Hotel
- Sweetsell Suites
- GV Hotel
- Fortune Hotel
Nearby towns and cities such as Calbayog City, Paranas and Calbiga offer beautiful tourist destinations such as old houses, falls, caves and swimming sites. They also offer many different and unique Waray cuisines and local delicacies.