BICOL EXPRESS: A travel diary

Wondering what southern Luzon has to offer? Well, pause for awhile and see what are the places in Bicol region that will surely leave you in awe.

Albay, Bicol is home to Mt. Mayon, an active volcano which is known to be “the perfect cone” because of its symmetric conic shape. It is the highest point of the province of Albay. According to Wikipedia, the volcano is geographically shared by eighth cities of Legazpi, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao, Tabaco, Malilipot and Santo Domingo. The most destructive eruption of Mayon happened on 1814. The volcano bombarded the town of Cagsawa causing its church to shrink leaving only its bell tower. Cagsawa Ruins is also now a tourist attraction in Albay.

Ever since my uncle married someone from Bicol, I always wanted to see the place and visit Mayon for I’ve heard that it is really beautiful so I thought that I have to see it myself to prove it because I believed that it was just like some other mountain but I was wrong. I’ve seen Mt. Fuji before Mt. Mayon and I concluded that they have something in similar — they are both majestic and will surely make you never want to blink and just cherish the moment you are in front of them. When I was in Bicol, I always capture a picture of Mayon whenever I see it and while we are leaving, I never looked at anything except the volcano until it has vanished from my sight same as when we were in Japan. That’s how I love seeing those mountains, it made me appreciate the nature that our God has created and I am very grateful that He had given me the chance to see it. Okay, I’ll stop with the drama and proceed with the blog.

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Mt. Mayon’s view from Lignon Hill in Legazpi

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Cagsawa Ruins

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Cagsawa Church before the eruption

We also went to Sorsogon where you can swim with whale sharks! This is one of my many experiences in Bicol that makes me want to come back. You can dive into the sea and see these humongous sea creatures yourself. The activity lasted for 3 hours and during those hours, we saw 3 whale sharks. Yep! That’s how hard to find one. When I first dived in, the whale shark’s mouth is open and is swimming towards me (or I think so) I was anxious for a moment because I thought I’m gonna be somebody’s lunch but the one who assisted me said that his (yes! It’s a boy!) mouth is open because he’s catching some plankton which is his food. If you want to experience this, please note that you shall not touch nor ride the whale sharks for they might get scared and swim away. Please do respect them as they do to us.

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Another thing that will leave you in awe is this 220 year old church located in Naga known as the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral. It does not have much history but I think it is a must-visit for it is one of the beautiful churches I have seen. Though I haven’t seen the insides of it, its facade and arch are enough to make me mesmerized by its beauty. Also, to think that it is already 220 years old. Wow! I know there are many churches there which are older but this one does not seem that it is that old for it is well maintained.

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There is also a church near Mt. Mayon in Daraga which captured my heart. At one moment, I wanted to get married there because it has an amazing view of Mt. Mayon. I imagined that it would be the perfect church to get married at and have the beautiful volcano as one of your witnesses. However, it is far from my home place. Bummer. But, who knows? Maybe my future husband is also interested in getting married there and the impossible might become possible.

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Daraga Church

The last place that we visited is the Hoyop-hoyopan cave located also in Albay. Its name means “the blowing of wind” It is called hoyop-hoyopan for it is windy and feels like it has an air-conditioned unit inside. In here, you’ll find different rock formation. You’ll also see what seems like a dance floor where people back in the early days must have used to it to celebrate or just to dance and enjoy their life.

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Me at the entrance of the cave

There are a lot more places to visit in the southern Luzon which I want to see like Caramoan. If you have been there, please leave a comment and help me figure out what I should expect and activities I should try while visiting the island because I’m hoping to visit there soon if we have time. Thank you!

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