All In A Day: Circling Mayon Volcano in Albay

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March 1st 2011
Published: March 12th 2011
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Dedicate a whole day for this. And do it leisurely, as we did. You may take jeepney rides to get around or you may want to hire a car and local guide for the entire day. Route is simply all around Mayon Volcano (all along a lone, long circumferential street!) starting from Legazpi City, and back to the same city. The guide doubles up as your photographer and food guide too. Forget those fancy restaurants, get "dirty" with the more "famous-with-the-locals" eateries and roadside stalls. My best meal was in a roadside eatery called "Let's Pinangat" in Camalig, Albay -- thanks to our Tour Guide Edwin Ala.

Padang Memorial

From Legazpi City, we drove towards Barangay Biga-a, just 8 kilometers from Mayon Volcano. This place is a PERMANENT DANGER ZONE. And for good reason. Back in 2006, Typhoon Reming hit the area and as many as 15,000 perished . The Padang Memorial stands here as a grim reminder of that tragedy, with the majestic volcano as backdrop. From Padang, we passed a few 17th-18th century churches. We took the time to stop by 2 churches , both named Santo Domingo Church. The second one had a
Padang Memorial: Glory to GodPadang Memorial: Glory to GodPadang Memorial: Glory to God

You can take a jeepney like this from Legazpi City to Padang where you would find this Memorial to victims of Typhoon Reming in 2006. Place is only 8 kms from the volcano.
separate bell tower as well as lovely stained glass windows. Unfortunately, the churches were closed and we failed to gain entry.

Mayon Skyline and Kawa Kawa Natural Park

Further on, we drove through a road lined with Pili trees and abaca hemp hanging out to dry. Then we took an uphill road and climbed towards an area tagged as Mayon Skyline where the Mayon Planetarium and a solitary cafe stand across stone huts hugging the cliff from where one takes in a view of the crater lake on a clear, sunny day. It was a pleasant surprise to find this cool, breezy place this foggy morning just an hour's drive from the city. Too foggy to allow a clear view of the lake, we instead chose to spend the next few minutes sipping a cup of hot coffee or slurping some hot noodle soup. A nice brew would have added some charm, though, instead of the instant coffee served. 😞

Mayon Skyline is in Barangay Bu-Ang in Tabaco, Albay. The entire area belongs to the PERMANENT DANGER ZONE too. There was no chance to check out the blacksmiths from Tabaco, Albay --- famous for
Rural SceneRural SceneRural Scene

Young boy plowing the field with the beast of burden: the Philippine carabao. Btw, this water buffalo is also responsible for the "kesong puti" (literally "white cheese"), our local equivalent to mozzarella.
its quality scissors and knives. ( Tabak literally means knife or machete , after which the place got its name. ) Rather, we drove on towards Ligao City where Kawa Kawa Hill is. Many Catholic pilgrims visit this natural park especially during the Lenten Season to do their Stations of the Cross. Moving on, we passed Guinobatan, Albay where the tree-lined road blends with the popular mode of transportation in the area --- tricycles and jeepneys --- and some old houses and more 17th-18th century churches. One such old church is in Camalig, Albay whose patron saint is St. John the Baptist. The belfry is touched by this old tree with creepers along its branches and twigs, which stands witness to many Sunday masses and passing parishioners. Unlike their counterparts in many parts of the country, these churches are situated in wide plazas and must have served as community centers in the olden days.

Hoyop Hoyopan Cave, Cagsawa Ruins and Lignon Hills

Still in Camalig, Albay, we took a detour to visit Hoyop Hoyopan Cave. Hoyop means "to blow". We spent the next half hour or so inside the cave, amazed to "shoot the breeze" inside while checking out the stalactites and stalagmites. We can imagine how the local rebels were made comfortable while hiding from the Japanese then as the cave has water sources and a pretty good ventilation even during summers. Outside, we found local boys playing a game of volleyball while a cow parked itself in an area meant for motor vehicles. 😊

Most postcards in Albay show Mayon Volcano in all its majesty framed by boulders and what remains of the Cagsawa Church. Over a thousand parishioners sought refuge in this Church in Mayon's February 1814 eruption and all perished from the tragedy. The stone pillars were constructed using eggwhites to glue the stones together. Imagine how many eggs those parishioners brought to Sunday masses, and what baked goodies they concocted with the egg yolks too! We were soooo looking forward to visiting this place as we have always visualized Mayon Volcano with this scenery, with all its tragic history. Sadly, the majestic volcano with its near-perfect cone was too shy to make an appearance. Hiding behind the clouds, one can hardly recognize even its silhouette on this cloudy day. Oh well, you can't win them all. For the
Above the Barbed WiresAbove the Barbed WiresAbove the Barbed Wires

We made this instantaneous stopover as the sky cleared and the peak of Mt. Mayon appeared.
moment, the postcard will do.

Finally, we drove up to nearby Daraga Church. It is said that the parish transferred to this 18th century church after the 1814 eruption. This old church was obviously undergoing some repairs and repainting. We were disappointed with the fresh coat of white paint, and would have preferred that they left the stone structure in its "natural" state. There is charm in the "old and natural", and a paint job does not serve to enhance the beauty of this ancient church.

Nearly back in Legazpi City, we passed by Lignon Hills for another unobstructed view of Mayon Volcano. It would have been an hour's trek to get to the View Deck, but it was our last stopover and we all felt the day is almost over. In short, we had no energy left to do the trek! Perhaps another day. For sure, I'd make a return trip and by then, I should also be ready to go trekking, ziplining and even the lava trail using the All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) available for rent. Now, that's a good reason to go back. 😊

Additional photos below
Photos: 33, Displayed: 25


This time, he is watching us!This time, he is watching us!
This time, he is watching us!

Took a photo of this cow grazing near the Padang Memorial.
Santo Domingo ChurchSanto Domingo Church
Santo Domingo Church

Old churches strewn all over the Bicol area, where many Filipino Catholic priests hail from.
Abaca Out To DryAbaca Out To Dry
Abaca Out To Dry

Hemp from abaca, used to make the Manila Rope.
View the Crater Lake From HereView the Crater Lake From Here
View the Crater Lake From Here

On a sunny, clear day, of course. No luck on this foggy morning.
Too cold to check out the Mayon SkylineToo cold to check out the Mayon Skyline
Too cold to check out the Mayon Skyline

No, you can't make me go down those stairs. Not this friggin' cold mawning!
Typical Rural SceneTypical Rural Scene
Typical Rural Scene

Men chatting by the roadside in some improvised tent. They can easily while away the entire afternoon here.
Kawa Kawa Natural ParkKawa Kawa Natural Park
Kawa Kawa Natural Park

Many Christian pilgrims come here especially during Lent, to do the Stations of the Cross.
Last Supper @KawaKawa ParkLast Supper @KawaKawa Park
Last Supper @KawaKawa Park

Is that dog praying or just too lazy?
Pili NutsPili Nuts
Pili Nuts

The famous Pili Nuts from Bicol come from this tree.
Still Inside St. John the Baptist ChurchStill Inside St. John the Baptist Church
Still Inside St. John the Baptist Church

There was an ongoing funeral mass when I took this shot.
Guess What This Is ForGuess What This Is For
Guess What This Is For

Easter Sunday. "Salubong" - literally means welcome, encounter, meeting. A religious ritual depicting an angel descending to announce the resurrection of Jesus. The "angel" is hoisted from here to "descend"..... as Catholics gather to celebrate Easter Sunday.
Stalactites for sale, anyone?Stalactites for sale, anyone?
Stalactites for sale, anyone?

This is a typical "sari-sari store" --- literally means mix-mix or variety store. Sells anything from prepaid SIM/phone load to stalactites!
Simple Sign Pointing to the CaveSimple Sign Pointing to the Cave
Simple Sign Pointing to the Cave

The cave is in Camalig, Albay. One can take a jeepney to get to Camalig from Legazpi City. Easy ride.

28th August 2011
Stalactites for sale, anyone?

Hello mam! i am kimberlie from gma 7 from the show brigada, i would just like to ask something very important. is it possible that you email me your contact details at :) Thank you very much
3rd September 2011

Hi Kimberlie
Did u get my FB message? Sent u a message.

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