In 1572, Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo visited Camarines Norte on his way to reduce Bicol and found thriving settlements around gold mines in Paracale and Mambulao (Jose Panganiban) as well as in Daet and Indan. The existence of gold mines in the region encouraged the Spaniards to colonize and Christianize the inhabitants. The region was placed under the jurisdiction of a province of Camarines in 1573.
In 1829, the province of Camarines was divided in the first of a series of attempts to separate Camarines Norte from Camarines Sur. The province of Camarines Norte covered the towns of Daet, Talisay, Indan, Labo, Paracale, Mambulao, Capalonga, Ragay, Lupi and Sipocot. In 1846, the towns of Sipocot, Lupi and Ragay were returned to Camarines Sur. In 1854 the two provinces were formed into the province of Ambos Camarines and were once more separated three years later. In 1893, the two provinces were again united into Ambos Camarines and they remained united until March 1919 when the American Governor General approved an act dividing Ambos Camarines into Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.
People, Culture and the Arts
Although Camarines Norte is part of Bicol, a slight majority of the people are Tagalogs. The Bicolanos comprise the rest of the population and are concentrated in the east. They speak a form of Bicol that is different in tone and vocabulary from standard Bicol. Proximity to the Tagalog province of Quezon has allowed the mixing of the two languages in Camarines Norte.
Agriculture and fishing are the main preoccupation of the people of Camarines Norte. The main products of farms in the provinces are coconuts, banana, corn, rice abaca and root crops. Fishing is a major industry along the coast. The town of Mercedes is a major fishing center that exports fish and shrimp to Manila. It is also noted for an assortment of dried fish.
Paracale is ‘gold country’ in Camarines Norte. Since the pre-Spanish period, local residents have worked the mines and goldsmiths have turned the metal into finely crafted pieces. The town is a center of the jewelry-making industry and although the art has declined in importance, the town is still regarded as a good place to get fine gold jewelry. Antique styles, like the agrimon (also known as the alakdan) or the flat necklace chain of the 19th century, continue to be made in Paracale. Camarines Norte residents are also involved in small-scale industries such as handicrafts, furniture-making, metal craft, ceramics manufacture and food processing.
The province attracts pilgrims and tourists to the shrine of the Black Nazarene in Capalonga. A festival celebrating the feast day of the Black Nazarene on My 11 and 12 draws people of Chinese descent to this small town to seek favors for a propitious business climate. A series of processions are held around the main streets of the town during the day.
Trade and Investments
The bounty of nature is facilitating the economic development of Camarines Norte. Located at the northernmost end of the Bicol peninsula facing the Pacific Ocean, it is positioned to connect with the growth areas in Bicol and in Southern Luzon, as well as channel its resources into the Pacific Rim economies. Its fertile, volcanic soil is suited for coconut, palay, root crops, pineapple, abaca and vegetables, while much of the interior is still heavily forested. The province is blessed with a great quantity and diversity of metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits such as gold, silver, iron, lead, zinc, white clay, diatomite and limestone. Off the Camarines coast are some of the richest commercial fishing grounds in the region that supply fish and marine products to local markets, as well as to Manila. The population of the province is highly educated and hardworking and supplies the manpower needs of its many industries.
Excellent infrastructure facilities bring these raw materials closer to their respective markets. The Maharlika Highway passes through the province and a network of secondary and gravel roads connects all towns of Camarines Norte. Regular commuter bus service allows residents of Camarines Norte to travel to Manila and nearby provinces. A secondary airport in Daet brings passengers and cargo to and from the capital, while the port of Mercedes and several other ports and wharves in different municipalities, make travel to nearby islands and towns possible. Adequate telecommunication, water and power services are available throughout the province.
Daet is envisioned to form a pole of the LIND (Legaspi, Iriga, Naga, Daet) Growth Corridor. This corridor will focus development in areas with developed support facilities to spur growth in adjacent areas. Each pole will focus on its own economic strengths to achieve this goal. Camarines Norte's economy is strongly agriculture and fishing based, and the local government is encouraging investments in improving production like deep-sea fishing fleets, and establishing value added industries such as food processing and oleo chemicals. The province is also eyed as a major source of metals. An industrial center has grown around the PHIVIDEC in Jose Panganiban that will facilitate the establishment of extractive industries such as gold and iron mining and limestone quarrying. It will also encourage the building of light and medium industries like foundries, construction materials manufacture and jewelry making, to process these minerals into finished products.
Camarines Norte is also fast becoming a tourist haven. The tour destinations in the province are relatively unknown to most Filipinos but Daet is one of the most popular surfing sites in the country and draws mostly foreign enthusiasts to its shores. Apart form surfing, the province promises a number of unspoilt beaches and isolated off shore islands, national parks and unique religious observances. To support tourism, investments in projects such as accommodations, restaurants, resorts and tourist transport facilities are eagerly welcomed.
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