After my short trip back to Manila a few weeks back, I was able to get some old pictures of my previous trips. I’ve brought these pictures back to Singapore and scan them to write up for those trips from way back. I was able to get old pictures from albums of my Hanoi and Ha Long Bay trip to update my old posts for both trips. I’m happy the digital era made me stop expensive photo printing and making those heavy albums. I also got another set of pictures from my trip in Leyte which I’ll write about later.
Anyway, this blog is about the trip I made back in 2002 with my colleagues to Bicolandia in the Bicol Peninsula on the southern end of the island of Luzon.
Bicol Peninsula is composed of four different provinces composed of the people called the Bicolanos. Bicol is best known in the Philippine for being the site of one of the most majestic natural wonders in the country, the Mayon Volcano in Legazpi City. Also since a few years ago for a place to swim with the whalesharks in Donsol and a place for the extreme sport of wakeboarding in Camarines Sur (CamSur).
Well back in 2002 whaleshark diving and the wakeboard facilities were not yet around but Bicol was still an interesting place to see, specially the Mayon. And so on December of 2002, with a few colleagues, we took a 10 hour bus ride south of Manila to the city of Naga in Camarines Sur province. We stayed in a hotel there which I already forgot where which was pre-booked by one of our colleague. Well this trip is actually a side-trip to our colleague’s wedding that we are attending in Naga.
Naga is the capital of Camarines Sur and it is specially busy in the month of September when the city celebrates of the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia where a fluvial procession is the height of the festival. That was my first visit to Naga and we were able to go see some of the places in the city and check out the two basilicas built of the Peñafrancia.
Prior to the wedding day, we rented a van and a tour guide. So from Naga City, we drove further south to see the majestic Mount Mayon. Mount Mayon is considered to have the most perfect conical shape and is very awesome to see. Mayon is also the most active of volcanoes in the country where there are nights when lava can be seen to light up the nights.
I think it was a year before we visited, Mayon had a major eruption where one side of the tip collapsed and it was quite visible as we near the volcano. And with it’s imposing size it is very noticeable as we drive south. From Naga, only Mount Isarog, another active volcano tries to outshine Mayon.
Aside from Mayon itself, another notable location in Bicol is the ruins of Cagsawa in Daraga, Albay. The ruins of Cagsawa is famously part in many shots and pictures of Mayon. Back in 1814, Mayon had a major eruption and lava and lahar buried the town of Cagsawa including a number of residents finding refuge inside the Cagsawa Church. Now only the bell tower of the church is left as a reminder of that eruption.
Next we drove past the city of Legazpi, the capital city of Albay province and is the tourism center in Bicol. We drove up near Mayon to one of the camping sites at the foot of the Mayon. This was the closest ever that I had been back then to a volcano before I got into the mouth of Mount Pinatubo. Too bad as we near Mayon, the tip was covered with clouds as it was most of the time.
Then we start our drive back to Naga but we took another route to get us to drive around Mayon going past the port city of Tabaco and back to Naga.
And so over that weekend, we attended our colleague’s wedding in Naga to meet up with our other colleagues who just came to attend the event. And the day after we all took one bus back to Manila.
It was a fun visit but it was quite short and I look forward to go back to Bicol again to see more of its other and new attractions.