Virac, the capital of the island province of Catanduanes, started its primitive annals in pre-Spanish times when tribal chieftain Lumibao, scion of Datu Dumaguil who came to the Philippines with the 13 Malay dauts, andd his wife Milbigan settled near Vidak spring and founded the first civilized settlement with a score of servant followers and their wives. Some say Virac is a derivation of the word “Vidac” while others claim it is a contraction of the Spanish version of the word burac, meaning flower.
The growth of Virac in terms of governance peaked in 1972. From the original 34 barangays in 1960, Virac was able to establish 29 new communities to upgrade the present composition of 63 barangays.
The municipality of Virac is situated at about 13.3 degrees north latitude and 124.2 degrees east longitude. It is bounded on the east by the municipality of Bato and Cabugao Bay and by the Lagonoy Gulf on its southern geographical fringes. On its northern tips lies the municipality of Caramoran. The northeastern section is shared with the Municipality of San Miguel, while the western boundary abuonds the municipality of San Andres.
It has a total land area of 18,778.40 hectares or 12% of the total land area of the province, ranking third in area among the eleven towns of the province of Catanduanes.
Virac has a rugged topography, with mountain ranges, hills and small plain. Coastward, Virac’s landface is primarily characterized by rolling hills and fractured plains over which the Poblacion and the majority of the built up areas are located. The montainos terrain on its interior limits are parts of the mountain chain dominating the central portion of the island province.
The highest round elevation in Virac is 742 meters while the lowest is 28 meters above sea level. Steep hills and mountains with 30-50% slope range acconts for the 42% of the total land area covering approximately 7,888.80 hectares predominating the Buyo district and Dugui areas and Magnesia, Igangg, and Talisoy at the south side. Rolling to hilly lands with 18-30% slope range represent 24% of the total. Nineteen percent with a total area of 3,527 hectares falls under level to very gently sloping 0-3% slope range, where most of the built up areas are found. The rest are between 3-18% slope range.
The climate in Virac is classified as Type II, that is, there is no distinct wet and dry season. From 1961 to 1995, Synap has recorded a mean annual rainfall of 2.776 mm with heavy rainfall occurring on October to December characterized with high incidence of typhoons. In the same period, the mean temperature was 27.0 degree Centigrade and the mean relative humidity was 81%.
Five types of soil exist in Virac consisting of Mountain soil, alimodian clay loam, Calatagan clay loam, Virac sandy clay and beach sand. Alimodian clay loam found in the lower northern to eastern highland comprises 38% of the total land area. Calatagan clay loam typified by gently undulating to rolling land occupies 30% which predominates the Calatagan district and southwestern part of Virac. Almost 23% is consist of mountain soil at the uppermost portion of Virac vegetated by second growth commercial and non-commercial forests. At the lowland, beach sand and sandy clay comprising 3% and 6% of the total land area are found along the coasts and coastal plains respectively.
The drainage pattern in Virac follows a dendritic pattern wherein the basin and its tributraries primarily drain at the mouth of the Pajo River. The downstream area is very much susceptible to flood occurrences during heavy rain downpour. On the other hand, the upstreams have a considerable drainage density to catch runoff during wet season.
The minor rivers of Cawayan, Ile and Sibanhan meander generally on an easterly direction before discharging at Cabugao Bay. Coastal waters are found in twenty –two (22) barangays.
Mineral deposits found in Virac are manganese and copper, which are available in a limited scale, while traces of gold have been found by the gold panning activities in Dugui area. It has also limited quantities of non-metallic deposits like guano, coal and phosphates. However, the limestone deposits are believed to be viable enough to supply a cement industry for a considerable number of years.