It took me 41 years and traveled to 35 other nations in 5 continents before I laid eyes on the world’s perfect cone shaped volcano in my own country. Mount Mayon. Because of my limited vacation days from work, I only wanted to squeeze in a quick trip to see the famous Mayon volcano, document her beauty on photos, and indulge in authentic local dishes. So I brewed a game plan, booked a return ticket for the same day, departed Manila, and spent 12 hours in Legazpi City, Bicol, Philippines!
Marháy na ága saindó gabós (Good morning to you all) !
When I took the earliest flight of Cebu Pacific from Manila to Legazpi City at 04:55AM-0:600AM, I had high hopes to see Mayon in her full glory despite I know that November is the wettest season in Bicol, and rain can pour incessantly in a day, worse, the threat of typhoon is inevitable!
True enough, I did not see Mayon when I deplane upon arrival. She was literally blanketed by thick clouds, so thick that it can pass with high standards and export quality if there’s such a thing!
While exiting the most humble airport I’ve seen, I was telling myself not to fret much if I couldn’t see Mayon in her perfect symmetry, as I still have plan B – to sample and pig-out on Bicolano food!
Without fixed travel itineraries and no reserved day tour package, I walked my way out of the airport and opted to hire a tricycle driver than a taxi cab or take the public utility jeepneys. His name’s Mang Gimo (whose contact details appear on one of the photos below), a certified tricycle driver cum local tour guide in Legazpi City.
On a whim, I decided to visit first the Cagsawa Ruins, followed by Daraga Church or Our Lady of the Gate Parish, and the jetty or Port District of Legazpi, or more popularly known as Embarcadero de Legazpi along Legazpi Boulevard. These are few of the places where Mount Mayon can be viewed best. Other locations that offer unparalleled vista of Mayon volcano include Lignon Hill Nature Park and Sumlang Lake Resort.
When it started to drizzle at around 10AM, I requested Mang Gimo to take me to the nearest shopping mall where I can while away time, and eat in a restaurant that serves home cooked dishes. If my memory serves me right, it was Pacific Mall where he brought me before we parted ways.
Within that mall, I chose to eat lunch at 1st Colonial Grill where I ordered a plateful of Pinangat, Bicol Express, perfectly paired with 2 cups of rice, capped with Sili ice cream and washed down by a pitcher of cold house blend iced tea.
Here’s a random photo essay of my 12 hours in Bicol.
Magayon (Beautiful) Mount Mayon from Cagsawa Ruins.
My tricycle driver, Mang Gimo could arrange tourist’s adventure packages in Legazpi City!
Blanket of clouds parted, Mount Mayon appeared before my eyes from Daraga Church.
Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Parish Church, known as Our Lady of the Gate Church or simply, Daraga Church.
Lesser clouds, clearer view.
Interiors of Daraga Church.
Can’t take my eyes off you!
Belfry of Our Lady of the Gate Parish in Daraga, Legazpi City.
Fluffy clouds started to cover Mount Mayon as viewed from Embarcadero de Legazpi.
Beauty seen from Legazpi Port District.
Pinangat is made of fish or shrimp wrapped in “gabi” or yam leves and cooked in coconut milk. It tasted so good than it looks on my photo. I kid you not!
Bicol Express! Pork stew with long chillies, shrimp paste, coconut milk. OMG!!! Love it!
Sili (chillies) ice cream! When in Bicol, must sample this dessert!
The iconic belfry of Cagsawa ruins and Mayon are symbolic of Bicol region.
Of course, @gelothebear was there to accompany me!
Till we meet again, Mount Mayon! Dios Mabalos (Thank you) !
Iyó na nánggad iní (This is really it)! Although my first trip to Bicol was too short, as I crave for more of those Bicolano food generously infused with coconut milk and spicy chilli, and I want to explore more places in Legazpi City and beyond, it really felt so good inside that I gave it a green light!
Have you been to Bicol? What places did you go to? What food did you sample? How was your experience?