Albay in A Day: ‘Coz there’s More than Just Mayon



When one is set to visit the lovely province of Albay in the Bicol Region, it seems that the foremost sight-seeing, must-see or must-do on their list is to to see the world famous Mt. Mayon. Who wouldn’t want to see that perfect cone shape beauty well-known for it’s destructive grace?  But what if she’s too shy to let you have a peek during your visit?

As one who grew up under Magayon’s magnificent nose, I’ve seen how playful she can be at times. But don’t worry, the less you are keen to see her, the less shy she will be. So while you play pretend that you are not “that” interested in her, what other things can you do or see around Albay?

February 1st, we took off with some Couchsurfer friends to explore Albay’s hidden gems. The experience is both a revelation of new spots and also kind of reconnected us with the places we’ve been to years before. We hopped on a rented van (Php 2500) which could have accommodated 15 but we were only 9 (with two kids) and started our tour at 0900H.

Cagsawa Ruins, Daraga

Been here so many times since my childhood but you can never have the same view twice! Cagsawa Ruins is one of the best places to see how destructive Mt Mayon can be. The kids here will gladly tell you about the historic eruption in 1819 that brought Cagsawa in ruins. There are also plenty of shops in Cagsawa that offer souvenirs and ornamental plants at very affordable prices. Alternatively, you may also try out the ATV ride offered here.

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Photo Credits: Bong and Gino

 

Hoyop Hoyopan Cave, Camalig Albay

According to the guide/storyteller (Php 300/group of 6), Hoyop hoyopan Cave was discovered in 1950’s but it was only in 1970’s during Marcos regime that it was opened. The cave was home to our ancestors, “cavemen” as he claim. The cave actually has three floors or major chambers and only the middle chamber is open to the public. It was cool and breezy like there is wind blowing in at all times and this is also how it got it’s name “Hoyop” means blow.

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Photo Credits: Bong and Gino

 

 

Kawa – Kawa Nature Park, Ligao City

A hill with a “caldera” of sorts for a crater. “Kawa” is a local term for a wok which is what the hill looks like from afar. It was developed and turned into a destination for pilgrims wanting to do a “Station of the Cross” during Holy Week. It also became famous because of the sunflowers that grow abundantly around it during summer months.

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Photo Credits: Bong and Gino

 

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Photo Credits: Bong and Gino

 

Tip: Try out Bergs Ice Cream while you climb. It is the best dirty ice cream I’ve tasted in my life and having it as company while you struggle with the steep climb will make it a more enjoyable experience. If you are visiting close to meal time, there is a restaurant where you can place your orders before your trip to the cavalry err hill so that they will be ready once you come down.

Mayon Rest House / Mayon Science Center and Planetarium, Tabaco City

Many years ago, Mayon Rest House is a hotel seated four kilometers beneath Mt Mayon’s summit. A major eruption called for it’s closing for several years until the area was left to deteriorate. During our high school years and sometimes after college, I was able to visit Mayon Rest House and reveled in the wonderful view it offered.

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This year however, sightseeing at this are was moved indoors because of the rain. The Mayon Science Center and Planetarium has been revived and provided lots of additional information for visitors. The kids we have with us enjoyed looking at the huge photos of the heavenly elements. Teloyskie learned a lot from the posters and photos of different types of volcanoes. Additionally, a film showing inside a small amphitheater showed interesting facts and stories about the beautiful volcano called Mayon.

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Vera Falls, Malinao, Albay

We were to set to visit two different falls during this road trip but because it was fast getting dark, we decided to make our last stop at Vera Falls. I’ve written about Vera Falls before and you can read about it here. Upon exiting the road that leads to Mayon Rest House, we traversed Sabluyon Roads towards Malinao, the municipality were Vera Falls is located. When we reached our destination, we all could hear the loud roar of the water. It is more forceful than when we visited last summer- prolly because it just rained hard right before we get there. Teloyskie played around with Choco while our companions took their time taking pictures. And just before the clock strikes 5, we unanimously called it a day and headed back to Legazpi for our dinner.
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Vera Falls Malinao Albay: Refreshing Summer Destination

A few days before the Holy Week of 2014, our family decided to spend a weekend in Tiwi, Albay. We have a trip coming up so might as well visit the grans while we can. Teloyskie enjoy being in the midst of Lolo Jun’s yard. They have pigs, chickens and dogs running around so even if he’s on his own he never gets bored.

It was early Sunday morning when we thought of exploring Vera Falls in Malinao. We’ve always heard about hiking and trekking to this falls as early as when we were high school. Baba said he’s been here once or twice for a drinking session during his high school or college years but this is going to be the first for me and our little tot.

We gas-up or motorcycle and brought chips right after breakfast and traversed the mountainous road to Brgy Soa, Malinao. The view was astounding as we slowly climb up the sides of Mt. Malinao. The sun is blazing hot but the wind is cool. We passed by travelers or tourist asking for directions to Vera Falls and they were on foot! The road leading to the falls has been improved so we were kinda lucky we don’t need to hike several kilometers to get there.

Vera Falls

It was a long way down but we can hear the loud roar of the water. When we It was a grand sight especially for Teloy. I cannot compare it with the other waterfalls I’ve seen because it has it’s own enchanting beauty. With the sun high up, the pool glisten invitingly. My boys did not require a second invitation to waddle in and enjoy the cold refreshing water.

Teloyskie loved the mini pools and mini water falls that seeped out from the walls and rocks. The two also took their time getting a water massage under one of those low pools. Soon the place is packed with locals and tourist looking for some refreshing treat amid the summer heat.

We decided to go home to Tiwi after a couple of hours. We still haven’t had our lunch and we will still be travelling back to Legazpi. Our little tot seemed to enjoy the place so much that even when he’s already shivering and his lips has turned blue from the cold, he still wants to extend our stay. Our first time (except for Baba) in Vera Falls was quite a refreshing experience. It’s no wonder the place has been talked about since we were in our teens.

Where to Eat in Legazpi: Revisiting Lana’s Halo Halo and Obat

Recently, Baba and I had been scouring downtown Daraga and Legazpi for thrift and vintage shops. Checking out some shops and stores located at the Legazpi public market led us to a memorable dining spot for me. Lana’s Halo halo used to be a favorite hang out for me and Reylen – a close friend of mine who was six years older than me. She would take me there when she feels down or simply wants to relax and get away from the troubles of her home. 

It had been years since I last visited Lana’s and I am really excited for Baba to try the house special since he comes from Tiwi where a certain store is also famous for their halo halo. We are going to compare the specials he thought so we settled on to a seat and ordered two specials. I also asked Baba to buy cheap dimsum at the Siopao Center a few stalls away. Special halo halo at Lana’s costs P50 while the siopao was only P8 each.  Cheap dates has never been this enjoyable!

Where to Eat in Legazpi City: Small Talk Cafe

This quaint little restaurant has been much talked about since my high school days but it wasn’t until I was working and earning that I was able to sample the much coveted Bicolano gourmet foods offered at Small Talk Cafe.

Half Bicolana and half Capricciosa Pizza

Marie exploring the menu

 The first time I’ve been here was a treat from my boss after hectic workshop. We ordered several pasta and pizza foods that filled us to the brim. When a couchsurfing couple asked me to take them around the city this year, I also brought them here for a hearty, Bicolano-gourmet dinner. And finally, my classmates in UP came-by to visit last June and I also took them here to taste some great foods.

Bacon and Cheese Carbonara

Small Talk Cafe is located in the heart of Old Albay District. Landmark is the Episcopal Church, Jolibee Albay, Bicol Medical Plaza and LCC Expressmart.

This restaurant do have some of the most ingenuous fusion menu.  Some of Small Talk’s specialties include the Laing Pasta, Bicol Express, Pasta Bicolana Pizza but my favorites here include Spareribs, Bianca y Verde Pizza and Bacon and Cheese Carbonara. My classmates Marie ordered Chicken Cordon Bleu while Kuya Dennis was a bit more adventurous and ordered Bicol Express Pasta. Teloyskie and I shared a plate of my favorite pasta. We complemented our meal with a combination pizza of Cappriciosa and Bicolana. Teloyskie also called out for dessert and we had a slice of yummy cookies and cream cake.

Cookies and Cream Cake

Small Talk Cafe will remain to be an iconic dining spot in Legazpi with it’s good food and cozy ambiance. However, if your too hungry and want food to eat at once, you have to reconsider because despite the popularity of their gastronomic creations, Small Talk Cafe also is notorious for their slow paced service.

24/7 Balikbayan Fun Resort in Bariis, Tiwi, Albay

It was a Maundy Thursday when me and of my Bff’s decided to do Visitas Iglesias in the first  district of Albay. Her family hails from Tabaco City, about an hour away from Legazpi. Since Tiwi, Baba’s hometown is nearby, I decided to pay his parents a visit too. Unknown to me and Jane, a mini reunion/gathering is happening there. After paying a visit to the church in Tiwi, we headed to Baba’s home. One thing led to another and we soon found ourselves driving to a beach resort en route to Joroan, a coastal municipality on the boundary of Albay and Camarines Sur.




Balikbayan Resort probably is a favorite hangout for vacationers and locals in Tiwi and Joroan. It is located just along the highway. The beach is a bit rocky for swimming but the view is gorgeous.  Too bad me and Jane are totally not dressed for the venue!There is a lap pool, a dip pool and a kiddie pool. I haven’t really explored the first district of my province and visiting this one beach resort makes me curious about other sights and experiences we might have here. There are not a lot of fancy resorts in this side of the province, and Balikbayan is a good place to go when you want to experience a quiet and simple luxury.



Baba’s family prepared food and fed us until we can’t take anymore. We stayed in the resort for a couple of hours salivating over the crystal waters of the sea and the cool comfort that the pools can bring. We took a few more pictures and then courteously asked permission to go. We drove back to Tiwi and took Mama back home. This day’s experience was a bit stressful, yet the visit to the beach eased all the tension and I found myself being welcomed warmly into Baba’s family. To thank Jane for being my official driver, I treated her one of the best halo-halo joint in the whole province.

We went back to Tabaco, rested a while and resumed our Bisita Iglesia with her parents around Tabaco and Malinao.

Mayon ATV Tour Experience: Extreme Adventure Worth Taking

My first ATV experience in Boracay can be considered mild if not for my freak accident with the gas, an incident which left me with gashes on my legs and Baba with a horrifying picture of me almost being thrown off the machine. The incident made him a bit paranoid about me getting into other motorized vehicles on my own so when Sheng invited us to join them and experience the Mayon ATV ride, I kept mum about it and decided to tell Baba what I did after the experience.

Woke up early that Sunday and headed to Bebe’s house to meet up with her, Gang and Joa. Then we dropped by Rochelle’s place before heading to Bogtong where the ATV company would fetch us. I’ve heard and seen “Your Brother” ATV in Legazpi but have never really thought about giving it a try. The tariff price, Php 1500 for the activity seems too pricey for me, good thing Sheng is treating us today.

After some prep-talk and two rounds to warm up, we proceeded to the gully of sand and stones. We started at around 9:00 in the morning but the temperature is fast rising. We loved the view of Mt. Mayon from our trail and the guides are very attentive to our needs – photo ops and all. But just a short distance from our starting point, Bebe fell off her ride which worried the whole team. A guy with some sort of medical training checked her vitals and for anything out of place and applied first aid. Once we are sure that she’s okay, we resumed riding, but this time, she was just a back-rider on Gang’s ride.

The trail going to the Lava wall really was challenging. Compared to the short ATV ride we had in Boracay, this one truly is extreme. The price was justified with length of the ride and the distance covered. Finally, we arrived at the Lava wall, had some water break and excitedly hiked up the wall of rocks formed from the Lava that Mt. Mayon spewed out. It was already noon and the sun was blazing hot so we hurriedly took pictures and got back to our bikes, despite the lovely view we have from there.

With the Mayon ATV Experience, you will really ride through all-terrain possible! From rocky, to sandy to muddy, river crossing and finally, some much needed flat grounds. We returned to “Your Brother” ATV headquarters all feeling battered and broken. Each bone and muscle in my body seem to be aching and in pain. When they announced that we still have a free zipline ride in  Lingnon Hill, we all declined feeling we had had enough adventure for the day.

After having lunch together, we all went home tired and sore but happy otherwise. I went straight to bed and woke up late in the afternoon, decided to call Baba and eventually admitted to doing what he was afraid I would do. Fortunately, he was only a bit sore and was just cool about it!

Interested in Mayon ATV Tour? Contact:
Your Brother Travel and Tours
Brgy Pawa, Legazpi City
(052) 742-9871 / 09054557594
www.mayonatvtour.com

Magayon Festival’s Legendary Monsters

Living in my home province for the past couple of months have limited my explorations at the moment. I have met several couchsurfers for dinner or coffee and that have contented myself with the travel stories they have shared.

For the month of April, some things have changed and improved. My son finally is with me and there’s Magayon Festival running to entertain vacationers and tourists during this hot summer months. Magayon Festival was originally celebrated in the month of May. I remember coming to the Beer Plaza during college (some 10 years ago) and drinking with my best buddies til dawn. 

Over the years, the government of Albay have enhanced and improved the program of activities for the Festival. One thing that me and my son have enjoyed in this festival is taking pictures of the monsters displayed at Albay Park. We were not able to see the Parade of Giants but no worries for us because they were displayed for photo ops purposes in the park!

buy my pumpkins please!

 These monsters are the only ones that took my son’s fancy. The scarier the better! After the photo ops, we all headed to Daraga Night Market to buy stuff that mom will bright to Masbate. Teloy once again wished to be photographed with the vegetables on sale!

Settling In To Settle Down: Testing the Waters of 2013

2012 gave me a lot to be thankful for. As the year slowly close, I did not feel the same excitement that I did last year. I received something really big this last quarter – a promotion and I’m so grateful to have something that many of office mates covet. But of course, some things come with a price, for this one, its a pending reassignment to Region V, specifically in my home province, Albay.

Since learning about the promotion, I prepared myself for moving yet it still felt hard to let go of the things that I’ve been used to for the last 7 years. Yes I’ve stayed that long in Manila and the family I had there at work as well as all the conveniences and entertainment it offered seemed to have spoiled me. When the order came out, the days seemed to fly so fast and I’m feeling mixed emotions as my scheduled settling in came close.

“Cold feet” as they say, but what really stalls me from feeling excited about settling is to my home, it already sounded like settling down. Do this mean I’d soon give up scratching my itchy feet and minimize my travels? It’s the struggle between my desire to continue wandering and the pressure of settling down. I’m yet unsure about what 2013 will bring me and the family that I’m starting to build, yet we’re testing the waters.

I’m here in Legazpi now and my boss says I’m going to be bored here soon, I might but  I hope to get my old-perky self back up. There’s no use mopping around so, I weighed the perks of being here, I’d have my Teloyskie with me all the time and we can plan our trips together soon.

It should be easy, where I am right now lies the Majestic Mayon Volcano complemented by sapphire waters of Albay gulf. I am just a couple of hours away from the friendly giants of Donsol, Sorsogon, undiscovered crystal blue beaches in Matnog, Sorsogon, and also a couple of hours away from CamSur Watersports Complex and a lot more around waiting to be discovered.

2013 have just started and though a lot of things seemed unsure yet, that will be the thrill of it!

Albay Parks and Wildlife: Visit to the Zoo and A Bit of Bonding

If someone would ask me what’s the sweetest deed that Baba has done for me, there would be too many – but most of it were his efforts at bonding with my son and family. I feel his genuine sincerity in caring for Teloy and even for my sister and baby Enzo. I know that even without me around, he would treat my son like his own, and that he would do it not because me, but simply because he wants to. 

Our visit to the nearby zoo was no different. It was a Sunday and for quite a time, my sister wasn’t able to go out much so we took her and baby Enzo with us. We heard Sunday mass first and headed for the zoo. Despite the heat, the boys, Baba, Teloy and Enzo enjoyed looking at the animals. There were other families in the zoo, they were prepared with packed lunch and picnic baskets. Teloy was hungry soon and so we left and dropped by Palamigan in Daraga Market for our lunch.

All this time, Baba carried Enzo, called out to Teloy while he played, took them to check out the birds and monkeys. It was a smooth, easy and fun trip for the kids. I always claim to be independent and able to do things without guys around, but Baba has made himself an irreplaceable part of my life, and he’s making his way into Teloy’s and my family’s life.

Teloy’s First Swim-Swim; Amater Spring Resort Malinao Albay


April 3, 2010

Black Saturday
For the longest time, my tropa has been spending summer breaks and sembreaks in Amater Spring Resort. This is owned by my friend’s parents and we get to spend an overnight or 2 nights stay there for free. All we have to arrange is the food and our things. After like years that we haven’t visited the place, we now decided to spend a day swimming and bonding – even if there are only very few of us now. I also took this change to bond more with my kid and take him on his first swimming outing.
We left home at 6am, went to ninang Roslee’s house and waited for tito Arnold. Tito bought Teloy some burgers for breakfast and then we headed to Legazpi Central terminal to catch the fx going to Tabaco and meet tito Niben. We then arrived in Tabaco at 8 am and prepared for our trip to Malinao which is around 30 minutes away. We bought cooked food and roasted chicken for our lunch, some snacks and drinks.
When we arrived at the resort, it seems that it was over-flowing with people! I prepared teloy for his first dip and was really surprised that he was afraid to go down!. Well the water was really “too cold” and soon teloy was shivering and maybe it was also because he was scared and crying. I took him off for a while and let him play near our cabin, but soon i brought him back to the water. Good thing we were able to borrow a float for teloy to sit on, and then he was able to enjoy paddling around.

Because of Teloy’s reaction, I’m pushing for his swimming lessons so that his fear would vanish and so that he’d enjoy swimming rather than be scared and panic.