A group of local artists has secured the support of provincial officials in their bid to land in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2024 for the longest rope made from abaca at 275 kilometers.
Last week, Jose “Nonong” Icaranom Jr., lead convenor of vocescatanduanes, disclosed the planfor the Catanduanes Abaca Circumferential Rope 360º in a press conference at the session hall of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
Together with fellow musician and singer John Tarrobal, Icaranom said that Governor Joseph Cua, Vice Governor Peter Cua and the provincial board are backing the project which the group plans to achieve within a year or by May 2024.
Using M1-class abaca fiber, the rope will stretch from Virac to San Miguel población and go back to Bato for the circumferential route passing through Baras, Gigmoto, Viga. Panganiban, Bagamanoc, Pandan, Caramoran and San Andres before completing the circuit in the capital town for a total distance of 253 kilometers.
The organizers said that making the rope would require 98 tons of the lowest class of abaca fiber or about 783 bales, which would cost more than P5 million if purchased from local abaca farmers.
It will be made under a service contract by local rope makers from barangays Buenavista and San Roque in Bato town as well as other villages where rope-making machines will be brought.
The project will be launched this May 23 with a dinner concert by the group during the Abaca Festival will kick off 12 months of fundraising activities from local concerts and promotional events such as music videos.
To be invited as guests are former Congressman Hector Sanchez and TGP Rep. Jose Teves Jr., who both filed bills that called for the declaration of Catanduanes as the Abaca Capital of the Philippines.
But it was Cong. Teves’ version that was adopted by the Lower House and subsequently enacted into law as Republic Act 11700.
Apart from another concert this July at the Virac Town Center, vocescatanduanes hopes to stage similar events in Manila in November 2023 as well as in Bicol cities such as Sorsogon, Tabaco, Naga and Legazpi.
As the abaca capital of the country, Catanduanes will globally seal its distinction as the number one abaca producing island through the world record attempt, Icaranom stated.
Not only would it leave a lasting legacy for Catandunganons, he added, the event will help boost tourism and thus generate more commerce and jobs.
The project is being spearheaded by a group of provincial musicians and artists advocating for the development and promotion of locally produced music as an avenue to promote the uniqueness of Catandungan and Bikolano culture which it said should be an essential part of the island’s tourism landscape.
Icaranom and Tarrobal recalled that they first concocted the plan sometime in 2017 when they thought of going for a spot in the Guinness record for the world’s largest “duyan” or hammock but were disappointed to learn that there was no more “duyan” maker in the island, so they decided to go for the longest abaca rope.
About four years later, they were surprised to learn that their idea was proposed during a meeting of the Provincial Tourism Council but the suggested cost of P80 million most likely discouraged further discussion.
They said that the 275-km rope would be made in 50- or 100-meter lengths that would be joined together along the 253-km route, with the excess length to account for the bends along the route.
A resident of Virac has already committed to donate a rope-making machine for use in the world-record attempt, Icaranom bared.
The group hopes to encourage individual donors to sponsor one 125-kilogram “pardo” or bale at US$150 each or P7,625.00, which would lighten their effort to solicit funds for the venture that would cost more than P8 million.
The special sponsors would join the local musicians and singers in a music video of “Catandungan Aming Bayan” that will formally launch the record attempt.
Other donors could be given a portion of the rope arranged as a framed piece of art.
On the other hand, the donated “pardo” or bales will be featured in the video as a customized acoustic wall sound proofing in a large studio set-up, most likely at the Catanduanes State University auditorium.
For posterity, cultural and tourism purposes, the organizers hope to have the record rope stored and displayed in a specially designed building.
On the other hand, the rope can also be monetized, as 275 kilometers of similar rope would cost P32 million if bought from a Manila manufacturer.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has already thrown its support behind the group’s effort, with the provincial board passing Resolution No. 833-2022 sponsored by PBM Edwin Tanael.
The measure encourages the provincial government and all local government units to give full backing to the initiative, including logistical and financial assistance.
Icaranom stated that they will discuss the project with all 11 mayors as the municipalities can help finance the project by procuring part of the fiber requirement from their own abaca farmers.
In return, the towns can keep part of the rope that traversed the circumferential road in their jurisdiction, he added.
The organizers have yet to contact the Philippine representatives of the Guinness Book of World Records but they said research has been made into how the venture would be conducted and groundwork has already been laid.
Icaranom said further that coordination with the Guinness people would be made before May 23, 2023 on the requirements.
“We will have to work for it,” he said. “It’s like climbing Mount Everest.”
“We want to make sure it gets the support of every Catandunganon,” he concluded. “We will explore all avenues to ensure the success of this project.”