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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Caramoan Chronicles – Matukad Island’s Enigmatic Lagoon

Matukad island boosts one adrenaline pumping activity that other islands in Caramoan do not – discovering the enigmatic lagoon! Soon as we arrived in Matukad the third island on our island hopping itinerary, Kuya Sonny, our guide said that we should go and explore the hidden lagoon. Teloy is left with his companion because he think that my son won’t be able to carry on with the climb (though I think Teloy could have done it easily).

Our guide headed the way and lead us to a rock wall. (My thoughts was: “What? hey that’s a rock wall! Are we going to pass through there and magically come out in another place?”) Then he pointed that we are going up – yep we are going to climb the rocks with jagged edges with all our sweaty palms and soles. The sun was already up and blazing so some of the rocks that we held on to were hot. Thankfully there are sandy spots to cushion our soles as we huffed and puffed our way up then down these jagged edges.

The lagoon is enclosed and kept hidden behind walls of sharp and pointed rocks. We needed to climb a few steps finding stable footing to see the enchanted Milkfish living in the lagoon. According to Kuya Sonny, no body knows how these fishes came to the area and how they grew so big – approximately six kilos at the moment. Also according to our guide, there used to be two Milkfishes in the lagoon, but a local speared one of them and fed it to his family, then they all died the following day. And because of this event, the Milkfish was considered to be enchanted and no one else dared harm the remaining fish in the lagoon.

Aside from this enchanted tale, this lagoon also boasts some of the most breathtaking views of Matukad beach and the surrounding Caramoan islands. We would have stayed longer on the top of the lagoon but we soon worried about Teloyskie who might be throwing fits for being left out of the adventure. So we hurriedly climbed down and enjoyed our time at Matukad Beach.

Museo Pambata in Manila: Where Learning Begins and Fun Never Ends


It was Teloyskie’s first time in a museum and it is also my and Baba’s first time in this museum too. On the way here, we passed by the National Museum and asked the boss (Teloyskie, coz it’s his day)  if he like to check this one out or the Children’s Museum, to which he choose the latter of course.

Museo Pambata is located along Roxas Boulevard just beside the US Embassy.  We took the Proj 2-3 – Kalaw jeepney at E. Rodriguez Ave and in Kalaw St. We walked a few blocks and asked for directions and easily found our way.

We paid for our entrance fee and started our exploration of the different theme rooms in the museum. At that time, two exhibit were closed for renovations but we still have several to go so we set right off at the “Old Manila” wherein miniture tranvia, Spanish galleon ship and cathedral can be explored by our tot.

Next we explored the Global Village and Teloy tried playing the traditional Filipino instruments such as the kulintang. The Karapatan Hall sits right next to the Global Village and it displayed the different rights every child should have.

The second floor of the museum have the Career Options Exhibit, How my Body Works, I love my Planet Earth and the reading room. The former two exhibits are closed so we simply took our time exploring the latter exhibits. Afterwards we headed down to explore the last two exhibits – Kalikasan and Pamilihang Bayan.

What’s really unique about exploring the Museo Pambata are the interactive and hands-on exhibits so that they can discover the different concepts as they learn and play. It was not only the tot that enjoyed the Museo, even me and Baba took our time re-learning things that we have overlooked as kids.

The Top Unmissable Attractions in New Zealand

New Zealand has such a variety of attractions to experience that it’s hard to know where to start. Firstly there are the natural attractions, from waterfalls and nature reserves to heritage sites and animal parks. Then there are the sporting activities, like world class golf courses, rock climbing, skiing and mountain biking. For the lovers, New Zealand also offers a wealth of stunning coastline, golden sands and warm, emerald waters to spend your days in. However if you’re travelling with your family, then you’re going to need some excitement to keep the kids entertained. Let’s take a look at some of the top Unmissable attractions that New Zealand has to offer this summer.

New Zealand (Source)

Flying to New Zealand
Flights from Australia only take around three hours; so you shouldn’t feel any jet lag once you arrive. If you know where to find the cheapest flights to New Zealand, you’ll be able to save money that can be better spend making sure you family has a holiday of a lifetime. Always use travel comparison websites before you book to ensure you get the best deal.
Golfing
With over 400 amazing golf courses, many of which are world class resorts where you can treat your family to a holiday of fun activity, New Zealand is the home of outdoor sport. If you’re in to your golf, then the selection of courses spread out across the spectacular landscape will keep you entertained for weeks, and you’ll leave New Zealand with a perfected swing and an even better putting technique. No matter where you holiday in New Zealand, from Wellington to Nelson, you’re never too far away from a golf course, and if you rent a car then getting to one won’t be a problem.
You could even base your family from one of the superb resorts and explore the rest of the city whilst catching up on your golf at the weekends. New Zealand has produced some magical golfing legends, from Michael Campbell to Sir Bob Charles, Lydia Ko, the 15 year old prodigy, looks set to become world champion one day. So if you’re thinking of a golfing holiday, look no further than New Zealand. Research courses like Kauri Cliffs, Jack’s Point and Cape Kidnappers to give you a feel of the type of golf you’re going to play, and a look at the resorts too.
Mountain Biking
There’s nowhere better in the world to rent a mountain bike and explore your natural surroundings, and it makes it so much easier when you’re surrounded by beautiful coastline and huge mountains. Mountain Biking is a passion in New Zealand, and it can be a great way to spend time with your family, especially in the Tongariro National Park. With over 40 mountain biking trails, from beginner to professional, this park is fast becoming a hotspot for cycling enthusiasts, so if you’re an adrenalin junkie looking for a break away, you know where to come! Places like Rotorua, Queenstown and Woodhill Bike Park in Auckland and great places to start off your adventure holiday.

New Zealand (Source)
Rugby

If there’s one thing you associate with New Zealand, it’s the sport of rugby, and from the smallest towns to the largest cities, the influence of rugby can be seen everywhere. Introduced to the country by Charles Monro in 1870, New Zealand’s teams over the years have come up against the world’s great sides, and overcome them one by one. If you want to include some sporting culture in your trip to New Zealand this year, make sure you visit stadiums like Eden Park, as well as museums and cultural exhibits.